Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street? Who Cares?

Will occupy Wall Street make a difference?  To who about what?  Most people seem to be more aware of the pathological disparity of wealth and income.  Some appear to be aware that it is not a matter of some people doing well in the old fashioned American way while others are just not trying hard enough, or, perhaps, not lucky enough.  Something has happened that has tipped the table, rigged the game, so to speak, so that some have the opportunity for enormous profits while most do not.
So is that it, awareness?
If the intent is to force a change on Wall Street it will fail.  Wall Street doesn’t even have to wait them out.  Wall Street just goes on about its business as it always has knowing that the large pension and investment funds, major corporations and world wide bond traders are the ones who count, and no one else.  The occupiers are little more than an annoyance, and not all that inconvenient at that.
It would help if Americans would get over the idea that major corporations headquartered in America are somehow American.   As one corporate representative said on NPR recently, if we don’t get the government subsidies we want we will move our production overseas.  Corporations began as creatures of the state, authorized to do business deemed in the public interest.  Now, with the ability to incorporate anywhere, produce anywhere, sell anywhere and buy anywhere, they are creatures unto themselves with no national loyalty.  Their only loyalty is to the bottom line and Wall Street analysts, both of which they are perfectly willing to manipulate.  The question is, who are “they.”  They are not the investors, of which I am one.  They are not the board of directors, at least not often.  They are not even the overpaid, marginally competent executives.  They are some undefinable combination of all of them that the Supreme Court has the audacity to proclaim is a person.  It’s like something out of a bad science fiction movie.
The only pressure points that might result in useful change are located in D.C. and the several state capitals.  It is public policy and only public policy that establishes the conditions under which wealth and income are generated.  The makers of public policy alone are able to shine the uncomfortable light of public scrutiny on corporate practices that may be harmful to the well being of the community.  The Occupy movements across the nation may be able to make that happen.  It all depends on the 2012 elections.  Two things must happen.  The adherents of Tea Party ideology have to recognize that what they truly desire cannot be found in right wing policies, or they have to be outnumbered at the polls.  If candidates championing the far right can be defeated, if representatives who are willing and able to take a more pragmatic view can be elected, if classic American liberality can prevail, things might change for the better.  We shall see. 

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