Among the colorful images of Occupy marches and camps over the last few months, one stood out this past weekend.

As several hundred Occupiers marched through downtown Portland on the evening of Saturday, December 3, one wore this sign on his back: “Capitalism is not Democracy.”

Besides the fact that capitalism is a moral economic system based on voluntary exchange, while democracy is a political system, the sign brings several relevant thoughts to mind.

Occupiers seem to have a visceral dislike of capitalism, mixing it up with the cronyism that really should be the focus of their attention. It is a powerful government dishing out favors to its friends (cronies) on Wall Street that is at the heart of Occupiers’ complaints. But those favors would be dished out almost regardless of our economic system. Socialism is rife with such favors also.

But democracy isn’t the answer to Occupiers’ prayers for a more just society. They ignore the fact that taking from one group and giving to another based on a majority, or even consensus vote, has its own moral problems.

If they studied American history as diligently as they chanted and marched, they would recall it was founding father Benjamin Franklin who gave us one of the most colorful and thoughtful descriptions of democracy:

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”*

So, no, capitalism is not democracy, and thank goodness it isn’t.

* While this quote is often attributed to Franklin online, no primary sources have been found to confirm it. The author may actually be unknown.

 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

 

Other Publications by Steve

Is Oregon Getting More Business Unfriendly?

Steve Buckstein | February 10, 2016
Oregon is known as a small business state. Few large corporations are headquartered here, and current policy debates in the legislature and measures headed for ...  read more

Oregon’s Minimum Wage Law Perverts Compassion into Coercion

Steve Buckstein | February 2, 2016
Picture two Oregon workers. One, a highly skilled and educated woman named Kate, earns well over $40 per hour based on a 40-hour work week. ...  read more

Will Oregon Price the Least-Skilled out of the Workforce…Too Slowly?

Steve Buckstein | January 20, 2016
As Oregon’s February legislative session approaches, Governor Kate Brown wants to head off a contentious minimum wage ballot measure that would raise Oregon’s rate up ...  read more

More On These Topics

Not One Dollar More

John Charles | February 3, 2016
The State of Oregon will sell 84,000 acres of the Elliott State Forest by March 2017, in order to make money for public schools. However, ...  read more

Taxpayers Bear the Risk of a Very Rich Oregon Public Employees Retirement System

Randall Pozdena | January 12, 2016
By Randall Pozdena The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) fund is, once again, in the news because of its weak financial condition. The Oregon ...  read more

New Transportation Funding Bill: Going Nowhere FAST

John Charles | December 9, 2015
Last week Congress passed H.R. 22, a five-year transportation funding bill known as Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST. Under the terms of FAST, the ...  read more