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Wall Street Woes

By Ken Poland
Analysis | October 9, 2011

COLBY, Kan. - What is Occupy Wall Street all about? What are they protesting or supporting? How many of the participants have any idea of how to correct the inequities they are protesting? How many of the masses have the ability and fortitude to accept responsibility, if given the opportunity to manage their own financial affairs and daily work agenda and schedules?

I admire their willingness to face the elements and stand their ground in protest. I agree with them in their assessment of unfair rewards for individual contributions toward the success of the capitalistic system of commerce and manufacturing enterprises.

But, protesting the status quo of the system without realistic proposals for more equitable distribution of the profits is not going to improve their station in life or society. Back in the days when 'marble shooting' was a favorite pass time on the playgrounds, the kid who knew how and had the ability to shoot straight always ended up with all the marbles at the end of the day. You could make him divide the marbles equally with his peers at the beginning of the next day, but if his peers didn't know how to shoot straight he always ended the day with his sack full of marbles again.

How many of those people on the streets can name their senators or representatives? How many people, even if they can name their legislators, know how they vote on specific issues or programs? More disturbing to me is the evidence that so few even understand the concept and workings of our government system. Do they know the difference between Administrative Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch of our government? Do they accept the responsibility of 'we the people' in setting priorities and standards of government? Slick salesmen and advertisers (lobbyists) have unbelievable power, but it is the ultimate consumer who sustains the honest and just business world.

How many of the protestors have a vested interest in their employer's business other than a paycheck waiting for them on payday? How many have moral or ethical standards that go beyond their own needs and wants? Do they really want equitable distribution of wealth based on individual ability, responsibility, and contribution?


9 Comments

Ken, I understand your frustration. Many of those same questions can be asked of Tea Party participants too. I am sure that those who are out there protesting Wall Street and the huge gap between the wealthy and the poor have many different points of view and levels of understanding. However, they do seem to be united in their dissatisfaction with how wage levels have been plummeting for that last 15 years due to jobs being sent overseas as a result of the free trade treaties. They also seem united in their dissatisfaction with the loosening of regulation of corporations over the last 30 years which has also contributed to the loss of employee pensions, workers rights protections and jobs. The protesters are saying, "We've had enough of this injustice and we're not going to take it anymore."

I, for one, am pleased to see this. This groundswell, if it continues, may have an effect on legislation and regulation. It may indeed turn the tide, finally. It may have long-term effects on public policy similar to that which the Vietnam War protests had on government war policy. How about the tremendous difference the civil rights protestors had on public policy? Then, the protestors didn't stop, either. Nor did most of them have expertise in political science or economics. They were just sick and tired of the government heading our nation in the wrong direction.

I don't think it necessary for dissatisfied Americans to achieve knowledge in political science or economics in order to exercise their rights to free speech.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words!

I'm drawn to the words of that famous civil rights song:

Well don't you let nobody turn you 'round
Turn you 'round, turn you 'round
Well don't you let nobody turn you 'round
You got to keep on walkin', keep on talkin'
Marchin' to the freedom land

Well don't you let the policeman turn you 'round
Turn you 'round, turn you 'round
Well don't let the policeman turn you 'round
You got to keep on walkin', keep on talkin'
Marchin' to the freedom land

Well don't let the politician turn you 'round
Slow you down, slow you down
Well don't let the politician slow you down
You got to keep on walkin', keep on talkin'
Marchin' to the freedom land

Well don't you let the army general burn the world
Burn the world, burn the world
Well don't let the army general burn this world
You got to keep on walkin', keep on talkin'
Marchin' to the freedom land

Well don't you let nobody turn you 'round
Turn you 'round, turn you 'round
Well don't you let nobody turn you 'round
You got to keep on walkin', keep on talkin'
Marchin' to the freedom land


I am glad to see action. I don't think they need to be well versed in politics...these people know two things. 1. They are getting screwed and 2. They are being lied to.

Politicians know how to fix the system and what needs to be done.

Many people said the same things of the protests in the '60's. We look back differently on it now. At the time it was, a bunch of kids who didn't know what they were talking about.


Ken,

This article echoes my concerns about the protests. Protesting is a great way to draw attention to an issue. The protests in Wisconsin are a great example of that. In Wisconsin there was a clear cut demand. Public employees wanted to keep their bargaining rights. In New York things are much more vague and that makes it more difficult to push change.

Christina- I agree that they don't need to be well versed in politics, but they need to understand civics. They need to know how the change they desire can be achieved. Playing drums in a Wall Street park isn't going to cut it.


Street demonstrations and political rallies are an important part of our political system. The Constitution guarantees the right of public gatherings to protest perceived inequities in legislation and enforcement.

But, without leadership to maintain unity and focus on doable solutions to those inequities, nothing changes.

As I stated in my article, I agree with and admire those who are willing to stand up and demand public attention to solving their perception of inequities. I cannot agree with the Tea Party rallies and demonstrations, because I don't agree with their political agenda to right what they perceive as wrongs in our society. I can't agree with all protestors but I'll defend their right to protest.


Ken, At least the tea party people have proven themselves capable of being a political force. Republicans are vying for their blessing. Sadly I dont see any leaders emerging from the OWS protests to do the same.

It would be interesting if this had happened during an election year with a democratic field vying for votes. Who would the OWS protesters endorse then? At this time I doubt they would endorse Obama and it may very well be that a 3rd party candidate may come out of this.


Brad, the tea party had many corporate donors and their own news channel. It took weeks for this to even be picked up.

Independent Kansan- The 1960's there were many drums beat. The "kids" wanted many different things. Equality for blacks, Equality for women, the war to end. I dare say they accomplished a lot, and they didn't need to fit it on a bumper sticker.


Brad, the tea party political force is made up of Liberterian (limited government), Conservative Republicans, and radical Religious Right. None of which have ever shown any real inclination to address the inequities in the economic system. They have received large donations from the likes of Koch Brothers and Corporations.

I don't expect the OWS movement to ring in any wealthy donors. Their organizers and donors will mostly come from the 'little' folks in society, very few of whom have any real poliiical clout.

If they can maintain their momentum into the heat of the 2012 election campaign, they will mostly likely have some influence on the Democratic Party's platform and some of the Democratic candidates. If they endorse 3rd party candidates it will split the Democrat electorate and most assuredly guarantee a Republican sweep.


Ken, the "individual responsibility" line is effective strategy from the corporate right. Translation: they don't want organized resistance. Few would argue with any merit that each of us isn't responsible for our actions to the degree that we are able. However, the problem today echoes that of the Industrial Revolution from, let's say, 1850 to 1940--when individual workers had infinitesimal power and influence with those who controlled their wages, benefits, and ultimately their living conditions. Today when the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us is the widest since the Great Depression and the unemployment, under-employment and discouraged workers are 20 pct of us (including many of those protesting on Wall Street & elsewhere, the situation is increasingly similar: anger and frustration appear before organization. There are some common positions, I'd say: tax the rich more (which includes eliminating tax loopholes), stop off-shore tax breaks, stop allowing American multi-nationals from off-shoring jobs to get cheaper labor at the expense of American workers, stop cutting social programs when the wealthy run off with big bonuses and corporations sit on trillions. Begin a new WPA program to put money in consumers' pockets. No business expands or begins when nobody's buying what they sell, and consumers whose pockets are empty and those who are frightened they'll lose their jobs aren't buying. Neither are older Americans whose income has been reduced by pitiful interest rates.

Repealing "Citizens United" would be a start, and working to get some common sense into average Americans who've drunk too much tea. And every version of "Christianity" should be examined for its social and economic justice efforts, as well as the lack thereof. Much of the success of reform efforts before, during, and for years after the Great Depression were the result of Christian activists, predominantly women.

I propose a new movement: SEA Party. That means "Screwed Enough Already."

I do agree that too many Americans are ignorant, not just of who their politicians are, but how the corporate right wing propaganda machine works, who the think tanks are and who funds them, and about the history of the labor movement in this country--and what brave men and women had to go through, including beatings and killings, to achieve some measure of economic and social justice.


Brad, give the OWS movement a chance. It has been remarkably peaceful and well organized. Of course there will be some hanky panky and unacceptable largesse involved. But, hopefully skilled individuals will emerge that can enter the political arena with courage to address the very ligitamate cries of the protestors.

Most all social wrongs in history have been attacked and addressed by those willing to stand up in protest. Quite often those who stood in protest were never requited for the injustices, but society, in general, were definitely beneficiaries of the protests.


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