Brooks on Fairness and the Occupy Movement

Fantastic points in this WSJ piece on OWS.

I also think it’s a mistake for libertarians of any stripe to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street crowd. In spite of being full of hard-core leftists and the economically ignorant, they do make some very valid points, even if their proposed remedies are often far off the mark.

Arthur Brooks: Fairness and the ‘Occupy’ Movement – “The Occupy Wall Street movement has just passed its two-month anniversary. The protesters’ calls for greater income redistribution and their denunciations of capitalism have become shriller, and the protests are becoming more violent and destructive.

A major topic of debate in conservative circles these days is how to respond. There are two schools of thought. One advocates the firehoses-and-handcuffs approach. The other is to ignore the movement and hope it fades away.

Neither is correct. Conservatives and free-enterprise advocates should seize the moment to show their own passion for the issues being debated—and, where appropriate, even embrace the protesters’ moral critique of America’s distorted and depressed system.

Unsurprisingly, the White House has found this class-struggle leitmotif quite handy to divert attention from its economic record.

Free-enterprise advocates should view this as a rare opportunity to expose mistaken and misleading arguments about income inequality. The dreaded top 1% earns about 20% of income today, we hear. Yes, and they also pay 37% of the federal income taxes, according to the Tax Foundation

The Occupy protesters are dead wrong on income inequality—but they are not so wrong in indicting our system today for unfairness, and for being wracked with crony capitalism, insider dealings and corruption

Greater fairness means rewarding hard work and innovation—not handing out stimulus cash to politically well-connected corporations and campaign donors. It means lowering disincentives to invest, not trying to squeeze more money out of private entrepreneurs while protecting public-sector unions.

Want less crony capitalism, fewer insider deals and a smaller lobbyist-industrial complex in Washington? Then shrink and reform the government.”