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Democracy Versus Mob Rule

Written on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 by

In various cities across the country, mobs of mostly young, mostly incoherent, often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrators are making themselves a major nuisance.

Meanwhile, many in the media are practically gushing over these “protesters,” and giving them the free publicity they crave for themselves and their cause — whatever that is, beyond venting their emotions on television.

Members of the mobs apparently believe that other people, who are working while they are out trashing the streets, should be forced to subsidize their college education — and apparently the President of the United States thinks so too.

But if these loud mouths’ inability to put together a coherent line of thought is any indication of their education, the taxpayers should demand their money back for having that money wasted on them for years in the public schools.

Sloppy words and sloppy thinking often go together, both in the mobs and in the media that are covering them. It is common, for example, to hear in the media how some “protesters” were arrested. But anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I protest against all sorts of things — and don’t get arrested.

The difference is that I don’t block traffic, join mobs sleeping overnight in parks or urinate in the street. If the media cannot distinguish between protesting and disturbing the peace, then their education may also have wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money.

Among the favorite sloppy words used by the shrill mobs in the streets is “Wall Street greed.” But even if you think people in Wall Street, or anywhere else, are making more money than they deserve, “greed” is no explanation whatever.

“Greed” says how much you want. But you can become the greediest person on earth and that will not increase your pay in the slightest. It is what other people pay you that increases your income.

If the government has been sending too much of the taxpayers’ money to people in Wall Street — or anywhere else — then the irresponsibility or corruption of politicians is the problem. “Occupy Wall Street” hooligans should be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

Maybe some of the bankers or financiers should have turned down the millions and billions that politicians were offering them. But sainthood is no more common in Wall Street than on Pennsylvania Avenue — or in the media or academia, for that matter.

Actually, some banks did try to refuse the government bailout money, to avoid the interference with their business that they knew would come with it. But the feds insisted — and federal regulators’ power to create big financial problems for banks made it hard to say no. The feds made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

People who cannot distinguish between democracy and mob rule may fall for the idea that the hooligans in the street represent the 99 percent who are protesting about the “greed” of the one percent. But these hooligans are less than one percent and they are grossly violating the rights of vastly larger numbers of people who have to put up with their trashing of the streets by day and their noise that keeps working people awake at night.

As for the “top one percent” in income that attract so much attention, angst and denunciation, there is always going to be a top one percent, unless everybody has the same income. That top one percent has no more monopoly on sainthood or villainy than people in any other bracket.

Moreover, that top one percent does not consist of the “millionaires and billionaires” that Barack Obama talks about. You don’t even have to make half a million dollars to be in the top one percent.

Moreover, this is not an enduring class of people. Nor are people in other income brackets. Most of the people in the top one percent at any given time are there for only one year. Anyone who sells an average home in San Francisco can get into the top one percent in income — for that year. Other one-time spikes in income account for most of the people in that top one percent.

But such plain facts carry little weight amid the heady rhetoric and mindless emotions of the mob and the media.

To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is


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  • The Enemy

    Raw democracy and mob-rule are synonymous. That’s why our wise Founding Fathers gave us a Constitutional Representative Republic. Few liberals understand the difference. And those who do are trying to destroy the system our Fathers gave us, which has made us the greatest country in human history. And, who is leading the charge of destruction? The king and his czars, of course. The Soviet Union had 30 czars. Our king has 46 and counting.

    • Ilene

      The conservatives need to frame BO just as he is and emphasize what he laws he has obstructed in this country.

    • http://ThePatriotUpdate Michael G.

      You have that one right.

    • http://x Washington22

      The Dems and Ozero are so twisted, so ignorant, that they think this “mob” {OWS} is actually going to help them……….to represent them, to be a way for them to keep the Whitehouse……………That’s how far gone they are………..that’s how marxist/communist they are. They are so UNAMERICAN…………………..God bless us all and forgive us our evil ways……..

    • John Buch

      Indeed, that’s exactly what I was going to comment…WE LIVE IN A REPUBLIC, not a Democracy. A true Democracy can lead to Tyranny.

  • Mike Knight

    True Democracy is mob rule. The Constitutional Republic ensures a righteously ruled nation. That is if the people keep the government in check, and demand they obey it. Unfortunately we failed in that duty, and now we live a corporatist globalist regime.

    • AceMan

      I agree, It’s the same thing that is happening all overseas. Now these countries are flat broke and don’t have a chance. That’s what Soros and Obama want! They want to destroy this country! Click on my name to visit Right Wing America! 100% Free, 100% Uncensored. No PC Police. Join today!

    • http://verizon Ann Rand

      Mike K. Hopefully, not for much longer.

  • Philip Polizotto

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
    Thomas Jefferson

  • BobG_of_Iowa

    Send in the Chicago Police. They’ll show you how to clear out rabble rousing socialist/ marxist/communist jackasses. Why haven’t there been more arrests. Why do these people get tax exemption while the “Tea Party” has to pay fees to march and protest? Sounds like Obama BS to me.

  • Archangel

    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

  • Archangel

    It is interesting that those of who espouse the sociopolitical ideology of Socialism, Marxism and Communism and who are intent on raining destruction and chaos upon The United States of America and our CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC simultaneously cry out for the protection of that which they are intent on destroying! HOW MARVELOUSLY HYPOCRITICAL OF YOU!

  • Marte

    Well said. Thank you.

  • LTCB

    Get over it people. We’re not now nor ever were a “democracy”. THis nation was founded as a Constitutional Republic. The Demoncratic party only pushes the word to get name time with people to make it sound like they’re somehow more American than a Republican. THey’re far from it and Republicans need to understand our form of government.

    • AZ Don

      It says it in the Pledge of Allegiance. Consequently everyone should know we live in a Republic.

    • Archangel

      It is stated quite clearly in Article IV, Section 4 of our Constitution: The United States shall “GUARANTEE” to every State a Republican form of government,…….

    • Ilene

      Well, the democrats don’t want to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and love to rewrite history to their marxist leanings.

  • Reddbehrens

    The protesters are spoiled, whining, brats whose parents didn’t raise them properly, and who have had everything given to them. They want all of the goodies that other people worked years for, but without the hard work.
    They expect good paying jobs without having put in the long hours and years that other people did. They need to grow up and act like adults.

    • Ilene

      How do you explain Michael whale Moore, Sean Penn, Afleck, Damon, Streisand, Sarandon, Behar, Whoopie Goldberg, Oprah, Morgan Freeman, Kayne West, Buffett, Yoko Ono and the lame media who are the working bees of the socialists, and team up with the anarchists of the serial protestors of Van Jones, and Soros.

  • Archangel

    This is not a Democracy, this is a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC and unlike a Democracy where the majority feels it can dictate to the minority, here, the rights of the Majority or Collective are no greater than the total sum of the rights of the individual; and the Collective,or in this case the protesters, have absolutely no right to interfere with, infringe upon, contravene or abrogate any rights enjoyed by AMERICAN’S in their rather specious pursuit to PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE and PETITION the GOVERNMENT for a REDRESS of your GRIEVANCES!

  • Villa Merkle

    There it is again! Thomas Sowell saying we have a Democracy.

    We do not have democracy in the USA, we have a Republic!

    There is a world of difference between a Republic and a Democracy!

    A Republic is a higher level of freedom, where individual rights, once given, are respected and cannot be struck down by a majority vote!

    In a Democracy if a Right is voted down by a majority of tyrants that Civil Right becomes toast!

    Democracy = Three wolves and a sheep discussing what’s for dinner!

    Stop letting these Globes persuade us that what we have is simply a Democracy – this weakens us and that is why it is popular for them to refer to the citizens of the USA, to be in a Democracy!

    We are being conned out of our “God Given Rights”, every day by these dam Satanic worshipping Bilderbergers, CFR members, Trilateralists and Oligarchial Illuminatti!

    Most are still not aware of this, but the truth is rising to the surface more and more everyday!

  • m. sharpe

    The deception of Progressives is to convince Us that we live in a Democracy,which there is no such animal;A Republic,Socialism,Dictator,Communism.We must Un-Educate folks that We have a Republic Form of Government and hold leaders to that Oath to the U.S.Constitution and its protection against all enemies…..

  • Jonathan Gartner

    What the liberals have come to espouse is mob rule in that in the chaos they take control of everything these poor sheep (the ones who stay) will certainly turn it into chaos theft, rape, looting all in the name of the “people” and the Democratic party

  • tod

    Hey who left the comminist out? Close the borders now!!!

  • Buck

    Democracy IS mob rule , just supervised and enforced by a government as administrator .

  • Linda

    Greed can take on many forms. Yes those who love money can’t get enough of it. But those without wealth can be greedy too. It seems to me that these young people on the street (OWS), are so greedy they insist that someone else pay for their schooling, and their other basic needs. To take from the rich will only leave the rich bankrupt. Then where does the money come from?

  • http://verizon Ann Rand

    Who cares?? I am one of the 357 party.

    • http://verizon Ann Rand

      That is 357mag.

  • Jim

    Democracy v Mob Rule. The mobs i’ve seen on TV are young and angry missfits. Mob Rule is out of order if no proper assembly law is not filed to have the gathering it is against the law. Law is law. It is apperent the gathering is not organized but found to be supported by Unions, If this is fact, municipalities have a recourse by suing the unions for cleanup and damages inflicted on city property and will be held accountable. Taxpayer will not incure liabilities or damages. In future stop gathering immediately before it is oganized.

  • memurphy

    Read this morning that a jobs application table was set up at OWS,with numerous jobs available,resulting in 2-3 applications being filled out.What a bunch of parasites/freeloaders/lazy hypocrites!!Since one of the OWS complaints is lack of jobs,you would think the offer of jobs to be had would be greeted enthusiastically.

  • tweety

    As a student of history, democracy always seems to be the right answer. But what exactly is the will of the people? Different people want different things. Some people want jobs, but I already have one, so I might want lower gas prices. Not everyone can have everything, so we have to cope. I’m not willing to become violent for not getting my way, however. As I watched the violence, I had to ask “Where is the President? Where is the leadership in this country, saying this is not the way? Sorely lacking, I’m afraid. Our President tacitly encourages this stuff — maybe then he can impose that martial law which may re-elect him.

  • tweety

    Alas, I have been “chopped” again…..

  • Carolyn

    Just an excuse to band together and cause chaos and confusion. They do not have a specific purpose. Just a bunch of people doing their own thing at the expense of others damaging properties as they go along.

  • DanBritt

    I work every day. I earn my pay. Wife and four grown adult children. Many trials and tribulations throughout. My life has not been perfect, nor a wish. The garbage on Wall Street is not all laying on the ground. Most of the trash are walking and talking. My advice.. Get Real, Get a Job, Make your own life. Don’t ask me to pay more to the Government to take care of your foolishness ! Get off your butts and do something for yourselves ! Quit wishing, protesting, and begging ! Get to Work !

  • Tom Stewart

    Have You Noticed How Sloppy All Mob Rule “Union Type Organizers” Operate, Yikeess, Sloppy Words, Sloppy Thinking, Sloppy Protesters, Sloppy Sore-Ass Media Runs The Same Show “World Wide”, Now What Does That Spell Dhimmitude Muslim System Of Controlling Non-Muslim Population, Yikeess, Wake-Up America Put A Stop To This Mob-Rule In The Good Old USA, Anything With George Soros Money From Radicasl Muslim Brotherhood To Jihad Islamists Arrest And Send To GITMO. God Bless America And The Tea Party Patriots.

  • Patricia

    Obama’s “kids” parrot his words.