“I have a feeling that right now, this human experiment on planet Earth is hitting the wall.” -Kalle Lasn, the man behind Occupy Wall Street

According to Cynthia Crain and Dwight Lee, authors of Profiles in Economics: Milton Friedman (a Morgan Reynolds title), in the 1940s and 50s, Milton Friedman, now famous for his theories on the free market and monetary policies, believed that “the nation was losing some of its freedom and opportunity. He believed that democratic capitalism was under attack; government control and regulation of the economy were on the rise. Freedom was being buried under an increasing number of government policies enacted to protect and take care of people and control the economy.” The cause for Friedman’s concern may once again be relevant to today’s economy, only this time with a slightly different spin.

During the last month and a half, Occupy Wall Street has dominated headlines  in response to the struggling economy around the globe. It has been debated on whether protesters know what they are protesting for, but Bloomberg Businessweek sums it up succinctly enough:

They want more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards. They also want to reduce the influence that corporations–financial firms in particular–wield in politics, and they want a populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks. . . . Capitalism may have triumphed in China–even in Vietnam–but in America it’s in a quagmire. This is what has brought the protesters to Wall Street.

But it’s not just America that’s suffering from the sagging weight of a stagnant economy. Europe has been working through its own financial woes as well. Countries are in serious debt from spending too much, and several banking institutions are imploding and having to be bailed out by their already indebted governments.

Wearing slogans like  “Get money out of politics,” the Occupy Wall Street protesters are arguing against financial institutions’ involvement with government policies and procedures.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in response to the protest, “People are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what’s happening. They blame, with some justification, the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they are dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington. And at some level, I can’t blame them. Certainly 9 percent unemployment and very slow growth is not a good situation.”

According to Wolfgang Rossig, author of Profiles in Economics: Karl Marx, the famous philosopher and economist Karl Marx once asserted “that history is driven by class struggle and . . . that capitalism would inevitably be replaced with communism.” And, as Rossig wrote, “Much of what he wrote about capitalism–for example, that it would lead to the concentration of huge wealth in the hands of a few people–has been borne out.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on how the US economy has grown and evolved to become what it is today, check out Morgan Reynolds’s Profiles in Economics series.

Profiles in Economics: Karl Marx by Wolfgang Rossig (ISBN 9781599351322)

Profiles in Economics: Milton Friedman by Cynthia Crain and Dwight Lee (ISBN 9781599351087)

Profiles in Economics: John Maynard Keynes by Crain and Lee (ISBN 9781599351094)

Profiles in Economics: Adam Smith by Crain and Lee (ISBN 9781599351070)

Published in: on October 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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