It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Occupy Wall Street, the group alleged to be the left’s answer to the tea party. But you might hear more about these messages yesterday from the group expressing apparent approval of the wrecked state of New York City post-Hurricane Sandy:
I don’t think the person tweeting from the OWS account really believes things would be better in a world with so much physical destruction (although, in light of the way OWS treated the Manhattan park where it held its famous rallies last year, I may be giving him/her too much credit). I do, however, think these messages betray an astounding lack of recognition that free-market capitalism is the most accurate system mankind has yet devised to represent how members of a community want to interact with one another.
So, when OWS tweets,”Insurance is the capitalist answer to what should be an effort of mutual aid from the community. #sandy,” while philosophizing, “That community you’re experiencing, in the face of crisis? It’s always there. Think about what it is that usually obscures it. #sandy,” it’s missing the point that people usually don’t “experience” “community” in this way because they’d prefer to make other arrangements and not live like the world is collapsing around them. Arrangements such as insurance.
But whither government? After all, liberals like to say government is “simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” That sentiment, however, suggests everyone is always on board with what government takes from them and does on their behalf. The more government does, the less that’s true.
Back to the topic at hand: That doesn’t mean conservatives think government should be out of the disaster-relief business altogether — even if some of us think government should refrain from some other spending and set that money aside to make sure we don’t have to borrow money to cover these expenses, while others believe the more local and state governments can handle emergency management, the better it will be done. (Not to mention that the private sector is often quicker and more efficient in delivering aid than government agencies, as Wal-Mart famously demonstrated in post-Katrina New Orleans.)
This topic tends not to get the thoughtful treatment it deserves in the midst of a crisis, and then it’s usually forgotten once the crisis leaves the headlines. So, we get broad claims about Mitt Romney’s alleged heartlessness based on one brief segment of one interview in which he promoted a federalist approach to disaster relief. Which is about as fair as it would be for me now to point out that President Obama has said nice things in the past about OWS and argue he must necessarily subscribe to its anti-capitalist view of how the world works.
– By Kyle Wingfield