The protesters are ignorant, smelly hippies. That about sums up my take. If you want the longer version, here it is:
The protesters are literate, and some are even educated in some specialty, but they don’t seem to understand economics at all. Some of them blame poverty and unemployment on “Wall Street”; others blame it on rich people. Either way, they engage in pure fantasy.
First, Wall Street. I assume they have no beef with the street itself. Maybe they just call rich people or corporations “Wall Street,” or at least that’s what my understanding of markets leads me to infer. They can’t be talking about the stock market–that is, they can’t be talking intelligently about the stock market. If you know what the stock market actually is (not a true entity, but a loose network for the free and open exchange of securitized goods) and who participates in the stock market (hundreds of millions–if not billions–of individual disparate entities, among whom nearly everyone is included, and none of whom can exercise anything close to what could objectively called coercion over the market), and the effects of a stock market on an economy (a great increase in productivity, availability of capital, and gainful employment), then you have a hard time understanding what the hell it is these people are talking about when they express rage toward Wall Street. They don’t even seem to have a workable definition of what “Wall Street” is.
Because rage toward “Wall Street” is utter nonsense, I must assume they have a serious–albeit irrational–problem with corporations and/or high net worth or high income people. They believe rich people and/or corporations are responsible for any extant hardship experienced by “the 99%.” But the rich, the corporations, the Apples, Disneys and Microsofts have exercised no force against us; on the contrary, we have engaged in voluntary exchange with them. We have voted with our dollars to make their owners wealthier than we are. The fact that they become so well-to-do that they escape the hardships of the rest of us is unfair, but it is not unjust. They have not forced us to give them our money. Any man who gives money to Apple does so because, marginally, he values Apple’s production more than his own–not because Apple has forced him to do so. If the people must slay a dragon, there is a convenient and sensible target; it is an entity that forces us to give it money and it has a monopoly on force, but it is not headquartered on Wall Street.
That dragon is of course the federal government, and I can sympathize with these protesters only insofar as interest groups (including corporations) control the government to meet their own ends at our expense. However, I see no real advantage in egregious (and probably unconstitutional) measures, such as depleting the wealth of interest groups, outlawing their association, or nationalizing corporations, which seem to be the sort of unjust solutions favored by today’s demonstrators. I do not suggest a new all-powerful leader of the flock, but instead suggest each sheep be allowed his sovereignty. I know such an individualistic position has never been and probably never will be popular–people like to be led, lest they wander. My policy to keep interest groups from controlling government is by binding government down under the chains of the constitution (see Jefferson’s “Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank”), which would make government a thing so small and insignificant–so limited in its powers of appropriation and bestowal–that no corporation would have any interest in controlling it, because it would be unprofitable to do so.