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

Tear Down Oregon’s (Self-Created) Berlin Walls!

Steve Buckstein | November 14, 2014
The Berlin Wall came down twenty-five years ago this week. The Wall, which separated East and West Berlin, was one of the most powerful visible ...  read more

A Time for Choosing

Steve Buckstein | November 5, 2014
Did you choose between a left or right in yesterday’s election? If that phrase sounds familiar, perhaps you watched an emerging leader utter it 50 ...  read more

More Tax Dollars for College ― Or Prepare Students to Succeed There?

Steve Buckstein | October 16, 2014
Oregon voters are being asked this November to authorize spending more tax dollars to help some students afford an arguably unaffordable higher education. Measure 86 ...  read more

More On These Topics

Scare Tactics Not Working in Road Tax Debates

John Charles | November 19, 2014
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently issued a report describing the deteriorating condition of Oregon highways. The authors estimate that the cumulative cost to ...  read more

Don’t Pay Twice for Public Education

Steve Buckstein | August 27, 2014
Last week, the American College Testing organization (ACT) released the results of its national college admissions examination consisting of tests in English, Reading, Math, and ...  read more

Small Business Owners Say: $15 Minimum Wage Is a “Mortal Threat”

Kathryn Hickok | June 4, 2014
This week Seattle became the first city in the nation to mandate a $15 minimum wage. But far from being a victory for workers, a ...  read more