Occupy (a Private Park near) Wall St.

I’m intrigued by the fact that the Occupy Wall St. protestors are occupying a private park, rather than a public one. It means they are there at the forbearance of the park’s owner, and their protest is not solely a First Amendment issue. It also points out that the 1% are not solely selfish capitalists who do nothing socially beneficial with their wealth–an open-to-the-public park is a quintessential public good, undersupplied by the market. But not, as we can see, wholly unsupplied.

It’s uncertain what was really behind the park owner’s initial demand that the protestors be removed so the park could be cleaned, but I love the way that has worked out so far, with the protestors showing their willingness to clean it themselves (here’s a good story on that) and the owner’s acceptance (at least for the moment) of that. That’s a win-win situation.

I don’t have any sympathy with those protestors who think their protest rights trump the park owner’s property rights, but I also wouldn’t have much respect for the park owner if they didn’t show the protestors a fair amount of forbearance. So far, except for New York’s terrible police force, it’s all working out as it should in a country that wants to think it’s civilized.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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7 Responses to Occupy (a Private Park near) Wall St.

  1. Matty says:

    It appears that entry to the park is free of charge so technically I think it counts as private charity rather than market provision.

  2. James Hanley says:


    That’s a matter of definition, I suppose, but in my view that’s all part of the market. The market is not just about exchange of money for goods/services, but voluntary exchange. I argue that free is a price; a really really good price.

  3. dr x says:

    I didn’t look at the story, but it would appear that the price is clean-up. The protesters buy an arrest-free site, and the park owner, who has a low if not zero marginal opportunity-cost after clean-up, might see the exchange netting him/her/them a bit of good will. Or it might be similar to paying thugs operating a protection racket, which is a market activity, but one with distortionary effects arising from coercion. I don’t know if the park owner(s) saw a threat in this or a simple opportunity to generate goodwill or just to just feel good. At some level, the owner saw more subjective value in allowing than prohibiting, unless he/sheit/they just flipped a coin to decide.

  4. dr x says:

    That’s she/it. cringe

  5. dr x says:

    For a bit of ironic lack of occupier self-awareness, scroll down to But tonight I remembered


  6. James Hanley says:


    No need to swear.

    Then again, after reading that blog, that’s one of the most appropriate words I can think of.

  7. BSK says:

    It seemed to me like they backed off the plan to clean because the protesters threatened to escalate the situation. I’m sorry, but if you are on the land because a guy is nice enough to allow you to be there, even if you think he’s lying about letting you back on, you get off when the man says get off!

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