Occupy Wall Street protesters are understandably angry at the support given big business, while individuals struggle against high unemployment, costly health care coverage and shrinking social services.
A little while ago, opponents of universal health care coverage in the United States claimed that it was a “moral hazard.” The argument characterized people as lazy and irresponsible, prone to “abuse” the system at significant cost to society but none to themselves. The logic and economy of preventative care was largely ignored, as was the fact that access to health care is a human right.
Fast forward to Occupy Wall Street, a grassroots movement protesting the failure of government to hold corporations and financial institutions accountable. The US government’s bailout of banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies and the auto industry over the last three years is demonstrably a moral hazard. Why should powerful corporations behave responsibly when they are “too big to fail” and the government – using taxpayer dollars – will step in to protect corporations and their highly paid executives from the consequences of their recklessness and greed?