Playing a major role in the street protests against Wall Street were activists for many religious groups, Christian organizations, and ministers. This inclusion provided an important opportunity for members of the media to claim that these protests represented a broad spectrum of the population.
What does religious commitment have to do with protesting Wall Street? To look for a clear rationale here is pointless. This is today's fashionable cause, and the driving passions are little more than a desire to blame something for the hard economic times in which we live.
Looking more carefully, the stock market is a creation of the voluntary social order. It is a venue for exchanging property titles on the ownership of company stocks and bonds. This trading is essential so that these titles can be properly valued in the market. It allows companies to raise money to provide goods and services. The stock market democratizes the opportunity for ownership.
What's to protest? Well, many people continue to be angry at the bailouts of large companies arranged by the Bush and Obama administrations and made possible by the money-creation powers of the Federal Reserve. These bailouts have accomplished nothing but a prolongation of the pain of recession, and they have left a gigantic debt.
Note that while some people on Wall Street benefited directly from these bailouts, they were not made possible by the stock market. They were made possible by the government and the central bank. Does it not seem obvious, then, that these protests are rather misdirected? Of course. If we want to end the bailouts, we need to restructure the interventionist system that made them possible.
The more controls you put on the right to trade, the fewer opportunities are available for building civilization.
Your support of the Acton Institute helps bring rationality to this debate over the place of faith in the economic sphere. Thank you for all you do.
Rev. Robert Sirico, President
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