After being in the dark about the Occupy protests, I engaged several supporters on line to get a sense of what they thought. Through this very unscientific poll I think I’ve come to understand how so much energy could be directed at the wrong culprits.
Over the last few years, Americans find themselves being fired while their goods cost more money. To the uneducated mind, it would appear that companies have fired peopled and charged more for stuff. Conclusion: companies are greedy. As a theory, it seems to fit observation.
I suspect that people latch on to this theory because they do not understand how their government has recently doubled the money supply causing the inflation that makes prices rise. They do not understand how suppressed interest rates created the bubbles that caused labour and capital to be used in the wrong ways leading to eventual layoffs. For sure, these mechanisms take several minutes to explain if one is unfamiliar. Whereas “corporate greed” pretty much is understood merely by its name.
It’s easy for me to see how these people arrived at their theory. What I can’t see is how they stick to it when simple verification shows how little it explains. In a matter of minutes with the internet you can find a history of profit margins. You will find they hardly explain the collapse of the housing market. Likewise, a brief glance at the increase in the money supply verifies its effect on prices in a way that corporate profits absolutely do not. When I tried to inquire with the Occupy protestors whether they had considered these things, I was met with silence. Likewise when I inquired how CEO salaries affect the poor, I was met with the sound of crickets. Perhaps they would rather be angry than understand how things went wrong. Perhaps they hate admitting they don’t understand things as well as they thought. One can only speculate. I certainly found attempts at providing additional information to be a fool’s errand.
It reminds of “Day of the Dove,” a Classic Star Trek episode where Kirk discovers he’s unwittingly fighting the Kilingons to empower an alien life force. He discovers he is fighting the wrong foe but has difficulty convincing his crewmates who are caught up in the emotion of the battle.