Occupy

After visiting the Occupy Toronto movement this past weekend and reading reports in the media, I’ve noticed a sort of hysteria around the fact that there is not yet a clear vision or goal of the protesters. I’m not sure that this is true.

Although the messages from protestors I saw this weekend were admittedly quite diverse, I definitely think there is some common theme to everyone’s frustration. And in order for Occupy to become a real movement, these central themes must take centre stage of the fight.

So, here are the core messages that I propose the Occupy movement embrace:

1) Free markets are not perfect.
The unwavering faith that the free market always and everywhere maximizes social welfare is false, and governments should not be making decisions based on this rigid ideology.

2) More equal societies are better.
While reasonable incentives should exist to promote innovation, creativity, efficiency, hard work and maintain individuality, reducing inequality is a worthy social goal. Insisting that wealthier parts of society contribute higher taxes towards this goal is not unreasonable.

3) Government can do great things.
Government, as the representative body of the people that elects it, has the central role in achieving social goals. Government is not everywhere and always bad, inefficient and wasteful. Governments provide public goods that the private sector cannot and regulates areas of society where the free market fails to maximize social welfare. Governments provide financial stability where free markets provide chaos. Governments are crucial to funding education, healthcare, police and fire services, and constructing crucial economic infrastructure such as roads, highways, electric grids, telecommunication systems, sanitation, public transit, subways, airports, among others. The ideology that we always and forever need less government is neither reasonable nor constructive.

I think with these three central messages, the Occupy movement can attract significant support and have a real voice in shaping the political scene in the next few years.

I sure hope so.