Will you allow this question to “occupy” your minds for a moment? Seriously, what would happen to our country if we all chose to do nothing but take up space on “public” property (or even on other people’s private property as some of you have done), consume resources at other people’s expense, and spend several days in a row not producing things? Have you even thought of what might happen, if the rest of us followed your “example?”
Participants in the nationwide “occupy” movement would probably be shocked to know this. But the fact is, their oh-so-important demonstrations are able to occur as they do because the majority of us in America do not think and act the way they do. In fact, to be even more precise, their choices are enabled in no small part by – gasp!- American-styled Capitalism! Yet just as those who burn the U.S. flag fail to understand that the object they desecrate is emblematic of the freedom they exercise, the occupiers fail to see that the “C-word” which they loathe is precisely what makes their occupying possible.
Consider the property on which the demonstrations are occurring. Most of them have happened on public property – city streets, public parks, and so forth – while some of the protestations have migrated on to privately-owned commercial and residential property. In either case, the demonstrations have occurred on property that belongs to somebody - property that has been purchased with money, and that is “owned” by some group or individual.
The occupiers seem to convey a vague belief that land just simply “exists,” and it rightly belongs to “everybody.” Yet if they were only interested in “land” on which to hang-out, then they could just as easily gather in the virgin forests of upstate New York or the un-refined terrain of the rural Nevada desert.
But that’s not what the occupiers are doing. Oh, no, they’re enjoying the modern comforts and conveniences of developed land – land entailing well-built and maintained streets and sidewalks, and nicely manicured lawns – all of which were created by somebody else’s labor and purchased with that dreaded thing called money.
And guess what, occupiers? The labor that built the streets and walkways, the education that prepared the laborers, and the capital that purchased the land and paid for the labor, were all brought about by capitalism and our free-market enterprise system. Even if you’re on “government property,” the government bought it with tax dollars that were generated in our free-market economic system.
Speaking of labor - how would you like it, occupiers, if both government and private-sector workers in and around your demonstrations chose to join you, rather than to continue working at their jobs and continue serving you? Imagine, for example, if the NYPD officers assigned to patrol Wall Street – no doubt dismissed as “oppressors” or “the man” by the occupiers but who nonetheless keep the demonstrators safe – were to stop working at their jobs, and chose instead to become occupiers themselves. Might you, occupiers, become a bit inconvenienced, or maybe even endangered?
And what if the workers and managers at the local Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other service businesses chose to protest with you, and allowed their stores to remain closed? Might that create a little problem, occupiers?
Or what if the owners and operators of these for-profit capitalistic enterprises actually became as greedy and evil as you characterize them to be, occupiers, and they started denying you entrance in to their facilities? What if you could no longer do your potty breaks and your after-the-overnighter-in-the-park wash ups in their restrooms that are paid-for with the wealth of the business owners?
The occupy movement appears as though it will be with us for the foreseeable future. And perhaps the only thing worse than the selfish, narcissistic, vacuous behavior and rhetoric of the occupiers is the fact that our President and members of his party in Congress have given their blessing to it all.
The good news is that a majority of us Americans do not speak and behave as the occupiers do. We choose to both consume, and to produce, and we choose to think as well as to feel. We understand the basic tenet of capitalism, that one earns a day’s pay by doing a day’s work.
We also realize that if too many people choose only to consume and live off the largesse of others, then our nation is doomed. And as the late, great “one percenter” Steve Jobs might say, a majority of us choose to “think different.”
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.