Response to Occupy Wall Street

11-02-11-sharon-valentine.jpgHey, just a minute Mr. Publisher. Could you possibly be misreading the Occupy Wall Street movement?

My read on the “sit-in” of 2011 is an American public angry with the Wall Street-Washington cartel that is gutting the middle class. It is not a protest against capitalism but the against a “bastardization” of capitalism that allows a Goldman-Sachs to post its first loss in earnings this quarter and still set aside $10 billion for year-end executive bonuses. It is frustration with hundreds of millions of dollars anonymously “invested” into national and state campaigns to assure ownership of politicians. (Did you know that Congressmen Chris and Dodds were the biggest recipients of Wall Street campaign largess?)

If you are the average guy earning $20 an hour in a plant you have no clout in Washington.

You state that this nation was built on capitalism and the vision of entrepreneurs. I agree with you. But capitalism requires “capital”.

The cozy deal between D.C. and Wall Street that struck down the firewall and allowed the investment banks to move into the conservatively managed arena of the commercial banks blew up the housing sector. This critical sector not only employed a lot of people and kept manufacturing humming but was also the original retirement account for most Americans — the equity in a home. Millions of homeowners are still underwater or facing foreclosure. Employment opportunities go unmet as potential workers can’t sell a house and move (i.e. BRAC).

Occupy Wall Street is demanding some answers on why our tax dollars were used to bail out the “big banks” and those government bastions of confl ict of interest: Fannie and Freddie. Local banks are in shell shock, very cautious and over regulated. The result is “no capital” capitalism — no mortgages, no business loans, no lines of credit unless you have enough money that you do not need a loan.

Other Occupy Wall Street frustration is directed at a tax code that helps the rich get richer. If you believe that the rich really pay taxes I have some shocking news for you. Do you recall that our treasury secretary got a “pass” on forgetting to file his return? The 1 percent has lawyers, accountants, corporations and a “favorable” tax code that has resulted in an income disparity that is outrageous. While we worker bees have had incomes that are “flat lined” for the last 30 years, the wealthy have soared into the economic stratosphere with not a responsible glance back at the ravages of their excess. Deregulation of the commodities market (that was once the safety net of farmers) has allowed hedge funds to “win” (not earn) billions of dollars. In a system that has Goldman-Sachs executives moving between major government positions and the bank, we can’t fix this system by just voting. It will take major structural changes.

That is why I give Occupy Wall Street a pat on the back. They are doing what angry, frustrated Americans do when they do not know how to change the process. They are in the streets raising awareness to our increasingly dangerous future. They may not have candidates — nor did the Tea Party originally. And they may not have the ballot answers — but neither does Congress, our President or our courts. They are successfully forcing the system to pay attention. They are demanding reform:

• Reform of an unfair tax code

• Reform of a broken political process

• Reform of a “rigged” economic system

• Reform of a system that favors 1 percent over 99 percent

• Reform of a system that no longer offers the dream of upward mobility.

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