Occupy Eden: How did that turn out?

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One of the chief complaints of Occupy Wall Street is economic inequality. And because Americans have been conditioned to abhor inequality, thousands of us have been lured to support the movement out of an honest desire to achieve a fair and equitable distribution of wealth.

But as with most lures, the bait is not what it seems — and the end result is not what was intended. What seems to be fairness is merely a shiny bauble of socialist propaganda. There is nothing fair about taking wealth from one person who acquired it legally and reassigning it to someone whose main qualification is occupying space (pun intended). Nor is there anything equitable about distributing wealth so that those who earned it lose it, and those who spurned it gain it.

In the final analysis, like all utopian schemes, Occupy Wall Street is brilliant in the short term and fatal in the long term. It is brilliant because everyone wants something for nothing, especially people who prefer not to do anything (let’s not label them lazy; let’s just say they are work challenged). It also appeals to people who think that life should be fair, even though it never has been.

But it is fatal because it simply cannot work, despite the good intentions of thousands of people who hope for the best in the mistaken belief that hopes are the moral equivalent of a magic lamp.

What is so frustrating is that this socialist propaganda has been resurrected time after time in the past 150 years, and roundly defeated with common sense, the laws of nature and the indisputable judgment of history, and yet we continue to be plagued by the same tired rhetoric of “something for nothing” that is the essence of Occupy Wall Street.

Indeed, the recurring popularity of some form of “hope and change” as the proposed antidote to “reality and history” almost suggests that we are dealing with a genetic flaw in the human race — an inherent optimism that makes us prone to march happily off a Keynsian cliff like lemmings in search of economic justice.

Well, there are two kinds of justice. Human justice is debatable; divine justice is indisputable. Like it or not, mankind’s wish to impose “kindness” or “fairness” on providence is a fool’s errand. Providence provides, but not in the measure that any one of us mortals would mete out. Thus, the ineluctable wording of the Lord’s Prayer, “Not my will, but thine be done.” This is not a request, but a fact — a fact that does not bend to human “hopes and wishes.” We do not control the universe, just our response to it.

It is wise therefore to heed to evidence of the divine will rather than constantly trying to rebel against it. But when it comes to politics and economics, this is easier said than done. Socialism may be the best example.

The number of failures of socialism is beyond count, but one thing is certain, the failures are equal to the number of attempts. No matter how many times the utopian ideal of “equal shares” gets trotted out, it is run into the ground by the concept of “equal justice.” It will always be unjust to provide equal shares to laborers, citizens or shareholders who partake of unequal amounts of work, responsibility or risk.

As students of history know, it was just such a “single share” system that was in place when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Every person in the colony was granted a single share, and all the profits of the combined labor of all the colonists were to be shared equally.

A few years later, the Pilgrims’ governor, William Bradford, declared the experiment in communal living to be a dismal failure:

“The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”

Indeed, Bradford established for all future Americans just how hopeless it would be to do away with private property in a quest for economic justice:

“[T]his community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. ... And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery...”

Confusion, discontent, slavery: These are the inevitable results of socialism, but yet here we are again, listening to the same old pitch that someone has it better than us, somehow we aren’t getting our fair share, and there must be an easier, softer way.

Really? Experience says it isn’t so. Experience says that there will always be some people with an easy road, and some people with a hard road. Experience says that there will always be some “to whom much is given,” and others “to whom little is given.” Experience says that we can make much of what we are given, no matter how little it is.

Ultimately, the pitchmen who have been promoting the good life — the better life — to those who earn their living by the sweat of their brow are selling the same bill of goods as the original salesman in the Bible story. Didn’t the serpent tell Eve way back in the Garden of Eden that he had a better deal for her and Adam?

Sure, the serpent had a good line of blather about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “You will not certainly die,” he said. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We all know how things turned out that time.

The question is, how long can we blame the serpent for our own cupidity?

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