I was in NYC last week and stopped by when they were in Times Square, and saw them again in Zuccotti Park (twice from a tour bus.) What these protesters have found is another plane of thinking – many Americans don’t even understand it. Maybe it’s because they’re so brainwashed by the 1% that it’s hard to explain? Or is it the labeling that they’re the fattest laziest dirtiest scum in our society?
Matt Lauer this morning, on the Today Show, sat there and criticized them for not having a message. Many friends on Facebook don’t get it. And that’s just the way huge business likes it. Our tour bus guide even said it “What’s the message?” I asked him “What kind of crazy signs were they carrying?” He named a few about jobs, big bank bailouts, environment, so I told him that I guess they got their message across.
I’ll summarize the message this way: “Oppose the system of big corporations and the incredibly rich that selfishly exploits our democracy at the expense of the common person.” (I won’t go into the multitude of ways this occurs.)
When our tour bus passed the protesters, the whole bus cheered, thumbs-up’ed, and the protesters cheered back! It was an exciting interaction. Our guide says that happens every time. He explained the mix of people that ride the buses. People ride from all over the country, every race, gender, age, political persuasion. Heck, many of the riders were from all over the world. And from the response of the riders, it reflects the sentiment of the 99%.
OWS protestors, if you’re reading this, I was one of those thumbs-up’s you got from the bus, and here’s another one! You’re fighting the righteous fight – keep it up. I’m hunting a credit union to move my investments to right now…
I work for a big corporation and I was a little reluctant to post this. When I reflect on big corporations and the behaviors they exhibit – favoring the rich at the expense of the poor, I don’t believe they do it on purpose. The CEO doesn’t wake up and think “how am I gonna screw the little people today?” They simply have a job that requires them to make as much money for their shareholders (and themselves) as they possibly can. And it appears to come across as selfish because it is. And if they don’t, someone else will put them out of business. If they don’t outsource jobs, the competition will, and it will give them an unfair advantage.
That’s where government comes in. They have the power to break the vicious cycle. I’m not talking about communism, as some in the Tea Party or other conservatives have suggested. I’m talking about putting the reigns on a system that has run amok. Pure capitalism will never work – it’s a divide by zero equation – the zero being greed.
But, can the government fix it? Can Democracy prevail? Can the people overcome a electoral cycle that’s funded with a bottomless bucket of money with the single intent of placing a candidate that will drive the stockholders’ bottom line, even if it turns out America quits making things (thanks to the worst decision the Supreme Court ever made)? Can we stop the system that’s draining America of its intellectual capital?
So here’s my list of demands of America:
- Campaign financing reform – start by making all donations over a certain amount public information, eliminate PACs and Super PACs. Now you can see who’s in who’s pocket.
- Incentivize companies to stop outsourcing American intellectual capital. When we outsource “menial” or “tedious” jobs to another country, what we lose are entry-level jobs where our young people, blue or white collar, to learn the basics. Where will our experienced people come from?
- Make competition fair. Corporate greed is driving American companies to find ways into that emerging consumer market. At what expense? Share their company secrets to do so? China is so good at enforcing international patents, sharing shouldn’t be a problem, right? Yeah, right. They’ll steal our secrets, then turn around and clean our plow with cheap labor.
Yes, we want cheap products. But, it needs to be fair. Does China really provide businesses zero interest loans, while American small businesses ? Our emerging technologies and industries (like solar) are in jeopardy. And their industries are just short of ignoring environmental concerns.
- Get out of the Middle East wars. Though this was a fantastic jobs stimulus plan conceived by our former President Cheney (and George W Bush co-pilot’ing) it’s still sucking up resources with no contribution to our total import/export position. So maybe we developed some new technology in the process, but China will just steal it. In the mean time, we have to pay back the $1 trillion for the next couple decades.
- Make the best stuff we can. Make the best cars – ones that outlast the imports. Make sure that anything coming from America is the best. When you buy American made, it will be the best and your grandkids will still be using it (I have a garage full of very old tools and they work great!) When we’ll buy our own stuff, the rest of the world will too!
- Fix unions. First, stop allowing laws that bust unions – they fundamentally fight for American jobs. Second, unions should take their responsibilities very seriously – they have to make sure workers are efficient, expert and are creating an excellent product. This is a very very serious responsibility.
- Preserve our quality of living. Take a look at the standard of living that other countries have. Do they live in shanty-towns with open sewers? Do ten people share a one-room apartment? When we outsource, what we’re ultimately doing is lowering our standard of living towards theirs.
- Young people, get smart. Other countries continue to learn, and they won’t stop trying until they get what you have (and maybe take it away.) And I don’t mean book smart. Learn a trade. Read. Work to understand things. And use what you learn in innovative ways. And work hard at it.
While I’m on my rant, let me remind Americans that the time is running out for us. At the end of World War II, the only country that hadn’t had it’s industrial base bombed to oblivion was the United States. That gave us an industrial advantage for decades – the world needed us to rebuild. And they have rebuilt and are thriving. As well, the myth of “Buy American because things from ching chang are junk” allowed us to let our guard down. Our over-confidence has let us slip. We have to recharge our base.
So, there you go. That’s what I had to say. OWS protestors, when you’re huddled up under those tarps in the cold rain, when the police surround you and intimidate you, know that the country and the world is supporting you. Keep up the good fight, work hard, get tough. You’re the next generation of leaders that will make this country even better.