we need leaders, not nannies

During my usual morning ritual of cyber surfing,  I saw a post from one of my friends about the Occupy Wall St. phenomenon. I commented on this thread, and so did a Harvard man, telling me I was a hypocrite if I supported the protest and had a 401K or an IRA. I assured the man– I was no hypocrite. He made a remark about America being a nanny state and the protest the equivalent of babies having bottles pulled from proverbial mouths of those who found themselves at the bottom 99% of the economic wealth scale in America. I found the hubris of this comment disturbing. As I moved from that exchange and continued surfing,  I saw a lady’s comment about being so happy to see a comment about Wall St. that wasn’t mentioning the Occupy Wall St. protest, “How are we supposed to take these kids seriously?” She writes over a link for the Zombie walk of  Occupy Wall St. where the marchers chanted “We are contagious!” She didn’t get it. I got it, the idea is contagious and it will spread and it did spread because now there are Occupy Wall St. events happening all over the country  during October, 2011 and maybe beyond.

Just because the elites don’t get it, doesn’t mean the statement has no value, just because they can’t wrap their minds around what it takes to raise a family of four on $1,000 a month doesn’t mean that reality doesn’t exist for a lot of people. Just because they don’t go hungry doesn’t mean that 1 in 4 children in America don’t go to bed at night wondering where their next meal is coming from.  As a matter of fact, I wonder how people who are supposedly so smart (so says their financial portfolio) appear so dumb. Why can’t they figure any of this out? People are tired of mega-bonuses at the top while those working on the front lines with the customers are kept in a constant state of economic uncertainty and stress about paying their basic bills. People can’t believe that after what I call the Wall Street Rape of 2008,  no justice was mitigated for crashing not only the domestic, but global economy, with the sub-prime mortgage scam and the shady derivative markets.

“That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
― George Carlin

People are looking at the bleak prospects of their future, not only for themselves, but their children. Americans in their 40’s are looking at the very real possibility that they will be caring for their parents, themselves and their children, meanwhile not being able to plan for it,  because their 401K  is on some psychotic roller-coaster and the Congress couldn’t legislate itself out of a wet paper bag. It is all very disturbing and frustrating as the country gets held hostage over a financial cliff for seemingly mundane decisions. But the legislators themselves are in no risk, their healthcare and pension prospects are not in question, their salary not cut 60% as many of their constituents have experienced in the last two years.

Working American people are not looking for hand outs, we don’t need to be spoon fed by a nanny state. That is not the point, and it’s insulting to say, it is not about entitlement. What about the feeling of entitlement of the upper 1% to assume all the money is  theirs. You may create jobs, but our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers risk their lives at those jobs. You benefit from the security of the military, but who sends their children to the front line to die? You eat the food that the working class grew and put on your table, as the saying goes the wealthy would be eating money if someone didn’t grow and prepare the food for them. Not that one class is better than the other, everyone has a purpose that makes society work well,  but let’s put some things in perspective here.

If your company uses American labor, it behooves you to pay for world-class  education to have the best in an educated labor force.  You want that investment in employee training to have longevity, especially now that labor needs to work to a more mature age, make sure they have good health insurance so that individuals can work longer and be more productive.  You need military support, make sure they have the best resources, and are taken care of when they return home, thank them for the fact that you and your family didn’t have to be in harm’s way. Allow workers  access to nutritious food and kids great parks to play in and become strong citizens, body, mind and spirit. Allow people the ability to squeeze some living out of this life before they pass on, it makes for better workers.  These aren’t great mysteries. This isn’t asking too much. These are the types of ideas that Occupy Wall St. is about.

We’re Americans. Together we prosper, we all have to work together. It used to be understood that wealth and privilege came with a level of responsibility, of community and stewardship, that we all worked together to make capitalism work. But this bastardization is no longer capitalism, it’s corporatism and it’s killing Americans, it’s killing America, and that ‘s what Occupy Wall St. folks are standing up against. They want to restore the possibility of the American Dream, the American ideal. I support them 100%. This type of guts demands respect. This brand of courage makes me even more proud to be an American.

we need to focus on main street, not wall street

A rising tide lifts all boats. This is a phrase originally used by JFK in the 1960’s and it still rings true today. Through the years the phrase has been distorted by conservatives to justify trickle-down economics. You make things “almost free” (as the salesman on a Mexican beach may say of his wares) for the top 5% of wealth holders in America and they will be so touched by the generosity of the nation as to be inspired to make that money rain down on the nation in the form of jobs and abundant prosperity for all. –Amen.

Well things have been trickling down for the last twenty years but it hasn’t been prosperity. It seems to be a mechanical problem. I propose the trickle up theory of economics. It seems after reflection that America would have been better off giving a check of $500,000 to every American rather than giving it to the banks. The banks who by the way still sit on lending money. True many institutions given TARP money have paid it back. However, the lending to stimulate the economy didn’t happen.

What happened was record profits and bonuses. Well good for them. However, it still doesn’t solve the problem. So here’s the thing I am thinking about Wall St. vs. Main St. Wall St. can invest anywhere and they have. They create derivatives and hedge funds to protect their portfolios. Again fantastic for them. They know how to make money and they have the resources to do it. I feel no need to punish them for being good at what they do.

At the same time Main St. who isn’t going anywhere is being fiscally starved of capital. If America were a business Main St. would be our regular customers. They aren’t going anywhere else, they couldn’t if they wanted to at this point. They spend their money locally and it circulates locally, nationally and internationally to manufacturers and customer service centers abroad. Where Wall St. is the spleen and marrow creating and storing the blood of the economy, money. Where government is the veins, arteries and capillaries guiding the flow. Main St. is the heart, keeping things pumping and when the heart isn’t pumping the whole system dies.

“Rising tide lifts all boats”. ~John F. Kennedy

What good is having things to sell if there is no confident consumer to purchase it? The cycle of the economy needs to be complete to work. Main St. doesn’t have the resources that Wall St. has and the people of Wall St. used to understand the important part it played for the nation. I think Wall St .has lost it’s way. When did it become so “Me” and so not “We” where did the patriotism go? And if it is gone forever then the whole dynamic must shift to reflect that. To see Wall St. in an expatriate status.

Main St. isn’t going anywhere. It is the nation. When Main St. does well, everyone does well. It is time that public policy more accurately reflect this reality. The nation has tried the “voodoo economics” of the trickle down theory for a few decades now and it is a failed experiment. I say we put more money in middle-class pockets and they will distribute the money in a very capitalistic way. Rising tide lifts all boats. Grow the tax-base and the rest of these problems will take care of themselves.