Monday, October 10, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" Highlights Problems, Offers No Solutions

The “Occupy Wall Street” protest continues and has been spreading to other cities. It is obvious that the protesters are unhappy with the economy, the lack of jobs, and corporate greed. It’s a good thing for people to protest when they think something in this country need fixing. Sadly, their protests – at least at this point in time – offer no real solutions to the problem.

Here in the United States, the economy is based on capitalism, which means that profit is the goal of any business. During the course of turning a profit, companies employ people, buy products, sell their products, and use all kinds of support systems (such as transportation, service, banking) to move their product, service their product or customers, and move the money. Capitalism makes the wheels of employment turn in this country.

Part of those wheels are in Wall Street, not the location specifically but what Wall Street represents – bankers, brokers, investors, fund managers, etc. These are the people who are involved more in controlling how money is invested and where it is invested. The movie “Wall Street” featured the character Gordon Gekko, whose tag line was “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Greed may be good for Wall Street workers, but that greed is likely what helped to destroy the economy. But being greedy is not illegal.

The Occupy Wall Street protests seem to have a whole list of varying complaints – they don’t have a job, they don’t make enough money, their own investments in the market (as in 401k programs) are in the toilet – the list goes on. But no one is offering solutions. There seems to be no leadership within the Occupy Wall Street group, so there doesn’t seem to be central spokespersons to help drive the message home. And exactly what is that message? It seems to vary by person and even by city.

The Occupy Wall Street will help to draw attention to the plight of the lower and middle class working men and women who are struggling to survive in a dismal economy. But Occupy Wall Street needs to take that attention one step further by offing solutions for change, whether it be to propose new legislation or new ideas for to create jobs. It won’t be easy; if it were easy, someone would have done it already. It’s important to note that the greed in Wall Street is only one of the symptoms of the problem. The real issue is that our current laws allow Wall Street to have enough loopholes and/or lack of controls which encourages making money sometimes by simply moving money, or by using tax loopholes. Occupy Wall Street may be protesting the wrong people and area. They should be looking toward their own legislators and to Washington DC and how those legislators allow for laws – which includes a skewed taxation system - that only make the wealthy wealthier.

Our current legislators appear ineffective in creating an environment where job creation can thrive. No one truly cares if the rich get a little richer if EVERYONE can earn a good wage and can live a comfortable life. But jobs do not appear out of thin air, and it can take money in order to make money. We still need business owners to invest their own capital in order to create businesses and industries that create jobs, and these business owners deserve to reap those profits. Sometimes “Wall Street” can help make those businesses happen. There is no doubt, however, that those on Wall Street that create wealth by the use of smoke and mirrors - who get away with it because the laws allow it - need to be curtailed. Occupy Wall Street can help fix this problem – IF they can gain focus and make their rag-tag protests into a clearly defined movement with a real plan and a real purpose. Change is good – but change also can be very hard work.

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