May Day

We are told that May Day is an international day of celebration. I spent May 1 on the west coast this year and witnessed no celebrations, only a few marches and signs. Three of them caught my eye.

1. “We demand our rights.” Somehow I suspect that the guy carrying the sign wasn’t sure what he was demanding or who was going to pay for it.

2. “Banks are immoral.” Banks provide a storehouse for money. They facilitate transactions with checking accounts and debit/credit cards. They provide access to capital for thousands of businesses–big and small–to keep the economy moving. I just don’t understand the point here. If banks are immoral, then what means should be employed to fulfill these critical functions?

3. “More unions, more jobs.” I understand the argument for unions; collective action places pressure on firms to provide better wages, working conditions, and benefits. The irony here is that union activity tends to be associated with job losses, especially in the private sector. Most of the jobs that have been outsourced overseas have been in union-controlled industries. Say what you want about McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, but they always seem to be hiring.

Of course there were other signs as well, some of them a bit more rational. My point here is that many of the demonstrators just don’t seem to understand how the economy works. I never cease to be amazed watching those who protest one system without proposing another, or those who demonstrate in favor of the very institutions and activities that create their livelihood. They say that ignorance is bliss, but this ignorance is taking a real toll on our economy.

6 thoughts on “May Day

  1. i want to hear the rational arguments of these protestors. they think wealth is evil but they are demanding it themselves.

  2. It seems that McDonald’s and Wal- Mart hire all the time, but this is because their high employee turnover. Employees leave them because they are paid minimum wages with no benefits. Labor unions would not have allowed that and that is why Wal-Mart doesn’t want to hear the word Union.

  3. People leave mcdonalds and wal mart because they gain enough experience and skill to move on to higher paying jobs. Put another way…if mcdonalds were unionized, would anyone pay $5 for a cheeseburger? Because that is what it would cost.

  4. Maybe this is a good time for my college rant. For me, college was mostly about getting a job after graduation. Everyone was involved including the faculty. They arranged interviews and stayed after you to keep your grades up. They were proud of their placement numbers. Now it seems graduates can’t get jobs, or at least the jobs they want. Tuition is rising at the rate of health care and we need the government to do more with student loans. And we have college students doing the Occupy and blaming capitalism.
    Where do the Occupiers think the money for their rights comes from? Taxes, sure but who pays the taxes? Greedy corporations and they should pay more, i.e., their fair share. Where do they get this stuff? Is teaching capitalism and free market in college going the way of creationism?
    I don’t have the answers, just the questions.

  5. “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…”
    Despite all the merits of capitalism, it might be that Marx was not completely wrong afterl all. Exactly from those reasons you mentioned (tuition, healthcare) and others your American fellows ( the 99%) say “enough is enough, I can’t no more…”. It seems that “Winds of change…” are blowin’ in America

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