The problem is that their anger is misdirected. While many on Wall Street did benefit from government bailouts, it would do us well to remember who provided them. I call it crony capitalism, and it has ruined real capitalism.
As I tried explaining to some of the protestors here in Lexington, capitalism was never supposed to be in partnership with government — that’s how it got screwed up. The problem isn’t capitalism, its government meddling. Their eyes glazed over, and one of them called me a “typical Republican.”
They seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that General Electric, who’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, sits on Obama’s jobs advisory board, made $14 billion dollars in profits last year and paid nearly zero taxes while shipping jobs to China.
They were completely ignorant of the fact that Solyndra, the failed California Solar Panel company that received $535 million dollars in stimulus money, was packed with high level Obama fund-raising bunglers. They had no idea the Obama administration pushed for approval of the loan despite warnings that the company was not on solid ground.
The list of green companies and financial companies that are tied to the Obama administration and received bailout or stimulus cash is endless, yet if you ask one of these protestors to pinpoint their anger, they will start mumbling something about the Bush administration.
To be fair, Republicans do deserve a great deal of the blame. In some ways, they paved the road President Obama is driving on. I’ll never forget the chill that went up my spine when President Bush stood before the cameras after the TARP bailouts and said, “I’ve given up on my free market principles to save the free market.”
Capitalism is not rocket science. It’s simply the free exchange of goods among willing parties. Profit is the goal, jobs and economic growth is the guaranteed byproduct.
Capitalism isn’t greed. It’s not an emotion. It is the economic system that has improved more lives around the world than any other in history. Whether they realize it or not, capitalism has greatly enhanced the lives of the "Occupy Wall Street" protestors. It relies solely on initiative, ingenuity and individuals. Only when government — Republican or Democrat — tries to control it, to adapt it, or re-engineer it, does it get messed up.
If only the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters knew that the system of government they are advocating doesn’t trust them and doesn’t think they are capable of managing their own lives. If only they knew that it’s the very system that led to the problems they are angry about.
Capitalism on the other hand, believe it or not, believes in them and their individual potential. It knows what they could achieve if they put their minds to it. And it’s waiting for them and for all of us, to bring us wealth and prosperity again — if we let it.
Leland Conway is co-founder and executive editor of www.conservativeedge.com and host of the Pulse of Lexington on News Radio 630 WLAP. He can be reached for comment at Leland@conservativeedge.com.