Why the OWS isn't the Tea Party
There is a lot of talk amongst the learned pundits, who occupy chairs of importance, within the Mainstream Media about how the new “Occupy Wall Street” movement is the leftist, excuse me, I meant liberal, equivalent of the constitutional conservative-spawned Tea Party movement. There are indeed some superficial resemblances, but the differences are far greater than the similarities. Let's consider the similarities first. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is, indeed, a movement which is made up of people who are tired of getting the same old story from the power-brokers in Washington, D.C., as is the Tea Party movement. But that's as far as the similarities go.
The differences begin with the approach to government action which the two groups take in general. The OWS people see crony-capitalism as an evil of our system of government and they have that right. Where they go wrong (and it's only the greatest of the things which differentiate the Tea Party and the OWS movements) is in their call for yet more government-enforced rules and regulations. The new rules are to be designed – in their fantasy-castle world of socialist harmony – to prevent such things “from happening again.” That's always the mantra of the liberals – make more rules so that “this”, whatever “this” is today, will “never happen again.” You see, it's the conceit of liberalism that man is perfectible, if only enough rules are made and laws passed to prevent individuals from doing wrong. It never occurs to them that it is the proliferation of rules, and the multiplying of government bureaucracies which brings most of what they see as wrongs into being. The truth of the matter, and this is where the Tea Party movement has it right, is that it is government itself which is the problem. A Federal government which no longer bothers to even give lip service to the Constitution under which it is supposed to operate – let alone pay any real attention to the basic law of our land – is at the heart of most of our nation's problems. In almost every instance, which I can think of, in which some social ill is concerned you find, at the bottom of the dung heap of rules and regulations so beloved by liberals, a Federal government which has overstepped its constitutional limits. The OWS people see crony-capitalism as a Bad Thing, and I happen to agree with them. It is one of the great evils of our society. But whereas the OWS mobs call out for more government regulation, maybe combined with a cathartic riot or two, I see a problem with the Federal government at its root.
How can this be so? Are not the Federally-controlled bureaucracies which oversee the most minute operations of our financiers, banks, and corporations supposed to guard us against the evils which we see in our midst? Yes, they are, but human nature assures that the arrangement will not work as desired. The current situation is a reminder of how wise this nation's Founding Fathers were in creating a central government with only enough power to guarantee freedom to its citizens, guard the borders of the country against foreign military aggression, and ensure that interstate commerce rules were identical wherever one went in the nation. But, that system has been gradually perverted out of all recognition. In its place liberal do-gooders (for I don't believe that most of them are deliberately malevolent) have created a monster which will surely devour every individual liberty and bankrupt our country to boot. And the process began long ago – well before the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt – whom many conservatives see as the epitome of “liberal” evil (not that they're wrong). The growth of government began to really take hold in the 1880s when the Interstate Commerce Commission (see; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Commerce_Act) was set up to oversee and ensure the “fairness” of railroad freight rates. What began as a small operation grew in size and in the complexity of its regulations. The passage of the Hepburn Act (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepburn_Act) during the administration of Teddy Roosevelt gave the ICC much more power. By the late-1960s the ICC with its plethora of rules, regulations, hearings, and other trivia so beloved of bureaucrats slowed the railroads' ability to respond to economic and technological changes so much that it brought about the bankruptcies of most of this nation's eastern railroads. That event resulted in the birth of Conrail (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conrail ), a corporation created and controlled by the Federal government until well into the 1980s (a constitutionally doubtful act). The result of Federal regulation of the railroads was the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and the destruction of huge amounts of capital investment (the Penn Central bankruptcy (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_Central_Railroad ) – at the heart of the eastern roads' failures - was the largest in the nation's history to that point). The creation of the ICC brought about the growth of a bureaucracy which was effectively destroying the very industry it was supposed to be regulating for the common good – the goal at the heart of what the supporters of the ICC's creation told everyone in the late 1800s. The simple fact was that the ICC was a constitutionally dubious creation, as multiple lawsuits filed by the railroads tried to establish. But the Supreme Court said it was legal for the Federal government to take control of how private enterprise priced its services – a classic example of how the Federal government gives itself permission to violate the Constitution.
After passage of the Hepburn Act the ICC continued its meddling with the operation of private industry. Its bureaucrats went so far as to tell the railroads what lines they had to keep open, whether or not they made money, and the level of service the roads had to provide on their lines. With the growth of power needed to enforce its many decisions came an arrogance that has become commonplace in Washington, D. C. What was the railroad industry's response? It was to use the ICC's regulations as a way to put in place barriers to entry of new competing railroad companies. The railroads also learned how to use the Federal bureaucracy to slow growth and change in their already existing competition. It was one of the first examples of regulatory capture, wherein the industry being regulated convinces the regulators that the rules need to be constructed and interpreted in ways convenient to existing firms. The fact that the rules added extra expense to start-up companies, thereby lowering the amount of competition within the railroad industry was an intended side-effect. The railroads had a good thing going by the early 1900s, but they were beaten by a new form of transportation provider - the trucking industry. Of course, the truckers were helped along by extraordinary amounts of government subsidies in the form of a system of highways which the trucking companies didn't have to pay to use. The railroads were burdened by the need to pay property taxes on every inch of their rights of way, and also had to pay for any improvements they made themselves. By the end of the 1970s it was doubtful whether the railroad industry could continue to be operated as private enterprise. Luckily, the Stagger's Act came to the rescue and railroads are now strong and profitable, again. Now, I've simplified the tale, but I think I've made my point – the Federal government overstepped its Constitutional limits and created a mess, which resulted in the government being called on to undertake yet more regulation in a misguided attempt to correct the situation it created. Politicians of both wings of the “Big Government” party love it when such things happen as it opens up new opportunities for them to perform “constituent services” - a polite way of saying rigging the game to benefit those who pay bribes in the form of campaign donations.
Correcting this problem is, theoretically, easy. All that is required is to make the Federal government abide by the Constitutional limits on its power. But those who benefit from the system as it is will fight hard to prevent that happening. One of the ways in which they do that is to use what magicians call misdirection. The statists who benefit from the tremendous growth of Federal power are primarily from the left side of the political spectrum, although the leadership of the Republican wing of the Big Government party have been glad to help out with growing federal power when it was of benefit of their friends. As good little socialists, the statists who have control of the levers of power make sure that it is difficult for the public to see through their power-games by educating the people to think of the government as a benevolent entity. That's right, the government is concerned only with what is best for the people. Meanwhile those in power gain money and more power by ensuring that groups such as the OWS make a ruckus calling for the aggregation of yet more power in Washington – all to help the “little people” don't you know. And it all stems from allowing that first usurpation of power by the Federal government back in the 1800s (and the ICC wasn't the first such, merely one of the best known). The OWS movement complains about corruption in a government dominated by crony-capitalism and yet fail to see the direct link between increases in government power and increasing corruption. The simple fact is that, if we force the Federal government back into its constitutional box, from which it has escaped, the amount of corruption will automatically be decreased. You see, no one will undertake to bribe a politician who has no power to grant them favors – and that's the system as our Founding Father's intended it to be. All we have to do is to take back the Constitution and force the Federal government to obey its own laws. For that's what the Constitution is: the fundamental law of this nation, the law which governs government and it is flagrantly violated every day by the Federal government. It will be a long fight, and not for the faint of heart, but victorious we must be if our children and grandchildren are to have any chance of enjoying true freedom from government interference with their lives.