There’s been no shortage of media coverage for the expanding “Occupy Wall Street” protest movement across the country. When it started in New York, you could tell that folks were angry, but interviews showed that many were gathered, but not to protest a common grudge. Everyone seemed to have a beef, but more often than not, it was different from the next person. That should have been a tip.
In an effort to justify protesting, the media tried to compare the O W Streeters to TEA Party protesters but if you ever attended a TEA Party event, you never saw a spectacle like what has devolved in cities like New York, Denver and Oakland. Certainly both sides have bad apples, but I can’t recall a significant TEA Party event where anyone got hurt, let alone be murdered. TEA Partiers police their own events so the focus is only on the protest. In spite of the fact that the TEA Party is not centrally organized; every chapter champions generally common goals; smaller government faithful to the Constitution, providing for the common defense, protecting personal liberties.
Not surprisingly, most of the media still insists the two movements are the same; in spite of the violence on the left. I can’t help but wonder how they can spin that fiction even when confronted with the facts.
Some of the protesters given a chance to voice their reason for protesting, point to “fat cats” on Wall Street for their lack of jobs on the one hand but maybe the lack of opportunity to be “fat cats” themselves on the other. Most of the interviewees complain about how they graduated from college with huge college loan debt expecting to be hired by some big company only to find they are unable to secure a job. Few gave much thought to who might be their prospective employers as they were signing those loan papers but all have concluded it was a Wall Street conspiracy. Unless they were planning on a public service career in which case they are angry for a different reason.
Occupy Wall Street protesters allege that robber barons with Wall Street addresses engineered the system that allowed them to get filthy rich(er). Few of them really understand how the system works. If they only knew.
When I was a Snohomish city council member in the 1990′s I encountered a land developer who made the point so clear to me when he told me he had preferences but he really didn’t care what regulations we passed, he would analyze what the regulations allowed him to do, what they wouldn’t allow him to do and decide whether it made financial sense for him to invest in a project. If it made financial sense to him, he would invest.
If that simple lesson doesn’t explain how business decisions are made and who/what is responsible for the debacle our country has endured over the past few years, then I guess I won’t get through to you.
Another thing, chiseling isn’t reserved just for capitalists. If it were just capitalists gaming the system, they would have been driven away long ago, but then, who would have provided the jobs and the products and the tax revenue that pays for everything else? Think about how you learn the rules in your world and interpret them to your own advantage. Taking advantage of loopholes or stretching the truth or as a former accountant used to say, “venturing into the gray zone” is a behavior practiced by a good many of us. Using poorly written laws and regulations to your advantage is not a crime, it isn’t even unethical. In many circumstances, it’s thought of as being clever and ingenious. That is of course unless it doesn’t benefit you.
Being able to capitalize on a scale that might make you wealthy may be an advantage for folks who already have money, but it doesn’t deprive you or me from enjoying the same opportunity if we have a good idea and are willing to work really hard.
It’s clear to me that the burden for our dilemma lays clearly on the shoulders of those who pass the laws and write the regulations; City Councils, Legislatures and our Congress but don’t forget the regulation writing bureaucrats that work for them all. Where would we be without our friends the bureaucrats?
If you are unhappy because General Electric exploited the tax code and ultimately paid no federal corporate income tax, look to the government that created the loopholes. I have no great affection for General Electric but they didn’t write the rules, did they?
While I am singling out GE, can we really blame them for moving their jobs to foreign countries when our government eliminates incentives to keep jobs in America while at the same time telling them how important it is to develop a world economy by raising the standard of living in foreign countries. Even if succeeding at that goal comes at the expense of jobs at home? Ask yourself who promotes the “world economy” thing the most and if they are supporting a world economy are they doing so at the expense of our American economy. Every manufacturing job that goes overseas in the name of world economy chips away at the middle class in America.
If you really want to blame someone because there are no new jobs in many industries still doing business in America, just look at the regulatory burden heaped upon those businesses and go back to the lesson I described above. If it doesn’t pencil out to hire because of uncertainty or tax burden, blame the government not the business owners. As much as you may not like it, share holders do look at profitability and the bottom line and sometimes make the choice to not invest in America.
Go ask your elected officials how they failed to propose, negotiate and pass legislation that either prevented middle class family wage jobs from heading overseas or created jobs in America by reducing risk and uncertainty to a business thinking about locating in your town.
The answers the protesters are looking for will not be found in New York, Denver or Oakland but in Washington DC and every state capital in the land.