To the editor:
On Oct. 6, a group of people pretentiously claiming to represent 99 percent of the people (even Napoleonic- and Saddam-era plebiscites rarely strained such credulity) marched on the Las Vegas Strip. According to Review-Journal reporter Doug McMurdo, one of the protest organizers claimed the raison d’être of the protest was to “fight the millionaires that control our politicians.”
You would think that 99 percent of the population would have no difficulty in sweeping themselves into office, but go figure.
Aside from traffic disruptions and verbal clashes with antagonistic tourists, the real juxtaposition of absurdity comes when we consider that on the day before, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died after a long fight with cancer. A millionaire many times over, Mr. Jobs saw a lifetime of tough economic times and rough patches in his professional career. Anyone who lived through the 1970s — a decade that saw oil embargoes, runaway inflation, wage and price freezes imposed by the president of the United States, and much else by way of dismal economic news — would certainly have some sense of economic desperation.
Yet, Steve Jobs (and other everyday Americans) did not pour into the streets to rail against capitalism or even to berate their fellow Americans who had managed to earn and save more than $1 million. Instead, Mr. Jobs and his countrymen worked, they saved, they produced and, in the case of Mr. Jobs, created tremendous new values that they could offer to others in trade.
They pursued prosperity the old-fashioned American way — they worked for it.
Times are indeed tough now, of that there is no question. But wasting time in protest against a system which isn’t in place — there was nothing capitalistic about freezing wages and prices in the early 1970s, and there isn’t anything capitalistic about Wall Street bailouts today — will produce absolutely nothing. And that’s the choice and the lesson offered to us by the example of a man like Steve Jobs and that put forward by the “99 percenters.” One is the path of hard work, thought, striving and success — modest or otherwise — and the other is the path of atrophy, cynicism, despair and failure.
This country, to survive, must exalt the former and reject the latter.