Paul H. Rubin —  18 October 2011

The Occupy Wall Street idiots claim that they represent the 99% of the people who are normal, not among 1% super-rich.  They have it backwards.  They are actually among the bottom 1% of the society, the 1% losers.

Paul H. Rubin


PAUL H. RUBIN is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics at Emory University in Atlanta and formerly editor in chief of Managerial and Decision Economics. He blogs at Truth on the Market. He was President of the Southern Economic Association in 2013. He is a Fellow of the Public Choice Society and is associated with the Technology Policy Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Independent Institute. Dr. Rubin has been a Senior Economist at President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, Chief Economist at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Director of Advertising Economics at the Federal Trade Commission, and vice-president of Glassman-Oliver Economic Consultants, Inc., a litigation consulting firm in Washington. He has taught economics at the University of Georgia, City University of New York, VPI, and George Washington University Law School. Dr. Rubin has written or edited eleven books, and published over two hundred and fifty articles and chapters on economics, law, regulation, and evolution in journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Legal Studies, and the Journal of Law and Economics, and he frequently contributes to the Wall Street Journal and other leading newspapers. His work has been cited in the professional literature over 8000 times. Books include Managing Business Transactions, Free Press, 1990, Tort Reform by Contract, AEI, 1993, Privacy and the Commercial Use of Personal Information, Kluwer, 2001, (with Thomas Lenard), Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom, Rutgers University Press, 2002, and Economics, Law and Individual Rights, Routledge, 2008 (edited, with Hugo Mialon). He has consulted widely on litigation related matters and has been an adviser to the Congressional Budget Office on tort reform. He has addressed numerous business, professional, policy, government and academic audiences. Dr. Rubin received his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1963 and his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1970.

15 responses to 99%


    You’ve certainly lowered the bar on “academic commentary” with this one. Think I need to take myself off your mailing list.


    I probably shared Paul Rubin’s feeling about OWS a week ago. But my wife has convinced me to take a deeper look and listen with a more open mind to what they are saying. This isn’t a unified movement, obviously. Many people have rightfully pointed out they have a lot in common with the Tea Party, at least as pre-Christine O’Donnell.

    Many of them are very well informed and surprisingly sophisticated. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the most committed have advanced degrees.

    They are not idiots. A woman on my local radio station provided a very enlightened approach to cutting student loan debt which the radio interviewer proceeded to incorrectly sum up as “debt forgiveness.” The protester never mentioned walking away from her burden.

    They might be losers, but that’s the problem. Why are so many very bright people so very fed up?

    The movement will probably fade away and soon be forgotten. But the finance types I deal with on a daily basis are wrong to think it does not have a lot of soft support. Give them the right leader with the right electrifying message and it might become a “cross of gold” moment.


    I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Rubin’s obloquy on the occupy wall street protestors. However, I strongly object to Dr. Rubin’s concession in his latest reply to his post. It is far too charitable to impute coherent and consistent policies to this haphazard movement. They haven’t a clue how financial markets work, what legislation is currently being proposed to address financial market-related problems, what the current debate about this proposed legislation is about, what the Constitution says about financial market reform, or, generally, what it means to be a socialist or conservative. I would be willing to bet that if you approached any one of these protestors and said, Why do you identify with the “hard left,” they would look at you with a blank stare. Truth is, they probably don’t have a clue about what belonging to the “hard left” means.

    My only reaction to this movement is this: When these people carry around hate-filled signs saying that “This is what Democracy looks like,” I quite naturally begin to question the propriety of democracy as a political institution.

    To suggest that the beliefs and opinions of the rabble today should trump the principled beliefs of people like Hume, Locke, and Paine seems to me altogether absurd. Let’s be honest: I disagree with this Occupy Wall Street movement not because it is hostile to financial markets (their hostility is totally uninformed) but rather because it represents pure democracy — and that is something to be feared.

    Robert D'Agostino 18 October 2011 at 10:50 am

    What is troubling is the apparent embrace of these ignorant occupiers by the Democrat Party. In their advocacy of coerced equality, confusion of mob rule with ordered democracy, rejection of individual worth, and claim to speak for 99% of the people, one cannot help but be reminded of Rousseau’s “General Will” and its subsequent adoption as a guiding principle by the 1789 French Revolution. Even if he didn’t say it, Chou En-li was right that it is too soon to tell what the the historical effect of the French Revolution will be.


    I did mot mean this to be a deep comment, but it has generated more anger than I would have expected. North Fork Investor, sorry you were so upset. I don’t understand your “pot, kettle” comment. Tamara, I did not really expect to convince anyone — just thought to make a minor point which struck me as worth noting. English teacher, I thought that readers would be aware of the beliefs of the protestors, and did not see a need to explain them. Readers of this blog can be presumed to understand the workings of markets and the protestors are pretty explicitly against markets and are in fact of the hard left. (See today’s Wall Street Journal, Polling the Occupy Wall Street Crowd ) David Rosker, the goal of these people is to make all of us much worse off (if we were to adopt their socialistic policies) and I see no need to be polite to them.


      So you meant for it just to be a shallow comment? Interesting.


      It is regrettable that anyone with a platform such as yours sees no reason to be polite to people with whom you disagree. Should we read your future posts in the same way we listen to, say, Rush, knowing that you are only preaching to the choir and that ad hominem attacks are just part of the fun? Or do you wish to convince “these people” that your opinions are more than the smug superiority of the ivory tower?

      northfork investor 18 October 2011 at 11:58 am

      I’m not upset, I just emphathize with some of the frustrations of the OWS protesters and I’m a hedge fund manager. you are just digging yourself in deeper with your reply.

      Man-up and apologize for your simplistic generalizations that do not do justice to this blog.

      “Pot calling the kettle black” was the reference.


    Paul should be capable of better. So, you have to dig deeper to understand his motivation. To start off the discussion of what led to him to make these comments, I offer three theories. First, perhaps Paul has decided to run for Congress. Second, perhaps someone called him an idiot and he has simply lashed out. Third, perhaps he got up on the wrong side of the bed. I’m sure that other TOTM readers will have other theories. And, any confirming or falsifying evidence would be more than welcome.


    I’m sorry that your disdain for their cause has morphed in to a disdain for them as people. These are real people with real concerns, and Economics as a profession forgets that at its peril.


    Paul's 9th Grade English Teacher 18 October 2011 at 9:38 am

    D +. Please see me after class. You have the beginnings of a thesis, but you stop abruptly without explaining your argument. If you don’t develop your argument, you’re left with nothing but empty platitudes. Also, your use of words like “idiots” and “losers” is inappropriate, particularly if you fail you explain why such people deserve these derogatory labels. I expected better from you, Paul. After all, you supposedly have a Ph.D…


    This is the sort of comment I would not have been surprised to see on Above the Law. Above the Law actually had more nuanced observations. http://abovethelaw.com/2011/10/atl-field-trip-a-visit-to-occupy-wall-street/9/
    Name calling rarely does much to advance a position or to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree.

    northfork investor 18 October 2011 at 8:50 am

    unbelievable you would post something like this. pots and kettles. just lost my vote as a top 25 blog site.


    I would enforce the law and otherwise ignore them.


    And how would you respond to the 1% “losers”?