What's With All the Mass Protests? (Hint: It's Not About Income Inequality)

Central Banks Haven't Bought This Much Gold Since Nixon Was PresidentProtests in Puerto Montt, Chile | October 2019
Photo by: Natalia Reyes Escobar | Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Quick! What do Hong Kong, Chile, Ecuador and Lebanon all have in common with one another?

The answer I happen to be looking for is that these countries, among others, are seeing mass protests at the moment. Hong Kong’s appears to be the longest-running at five straight months now. With so many of them happening around the world all at once, it raises the question: Are they related?

That depends on who you ask.

If you get your news from the “mainstream” media, you’re probably being led to believe that the protests are all about income inequality and that protesters are laying their grievances solely at the feet of the wealthy.

Although this may be part of it, the inequality narrative completely ignores the fact that the demonstrations are, at the end of the day, in response to government incompetence and failed socialist policies. If you look across the spectrum of global unrest, you’ll find that the common denominator is not billionaires and other successful people but corrupt, power-hungry bureaucrats and politicians.

In Hong Kong, residents are demanding democratic reforms and greater autonomy. In Lebanon, it’s corruption, a lack of accountability and bank secrecy laws that allow officials to steal tens of billions of dollars in public funds. The protests in Chile were sparked by a hike in subway fare in Santiago, the nation’s capital.