The Royal Heffernans

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Occupy THIS!!!

I apologize in advance for the views expressed in this
post, but I have a message for Occupy Wall Street.

I have been closely following the current Occupy Wall Street movement with interest and confusion. As the movement has evolved, I now consider it with disdain. What began as a protest against the greed that permeated the financial industry has evolved into what I would kindly describe as a "Whoa is me for all that America has done to me" hissy fit!™

I agree wholeheartedly with the original premise. Banking and financial corporations (wall Street) took some pretty big risks to make a profit, particularly on mortgages, and lost billions. Taxpayers had to bail them out hurting the little guys, and they go right on doing business as usual. It's clear now that the bailout did preserve the economic status quo, but it didn't help pull America out of it's recession. These guys should have been held accountable, and maybe a couple should have been allowed to fold.

However, now this is morphing into a pseudo-populist movement with slogans like "Need not Greed" or "99%". Furthermore, protesters are rejoicing now that unions have stepped in and added manpower and resources. Obama is now chiming in, as are other political leaders trying to leverage the movement into political gain.

I have a big question for these protesters. Is capitalism dead?

It isn't entirely clear what they are seeking. However, it is clear that they are fed up with corporate America. some of the rhetoric sounds a whole lot like socialism. I am a firm believer that if you work hard and bust your butt, you will be rewarded. I want to take the two mottos above and look closer at each:

Need not Greed
Unfortunately, human nature doesn't really support the "need not greed" aspiration. If you have a guaranteed salary, you are bugging out for home at 3:30pm today to get an early start to your weekend. If you are paid hourly, you stay to the end, and get excited when overtime kicks in earning time-and-a-half! Another example is pay for performance. If you have a task and get paid for productivity, you work harder! Ever wonder why car salesman are so pushy? Sure they make a salary, but they get bonuses for sales volume! Earning money is what makes our economy run. Is it greedy? I guess, but people just do better at anything when there is an incentive to succeed. On a bigger level, corporations have every right to try to make big profits. If you don't your stock plummets, executives get fired, and the company goes bankrupt (unless it is bailed out by Uncle Sam). Healthy corporations make for a healthy economy and more jobs. Greed and need really go hand-in-hand.

I won't say what side I fall on this, because I honestly don't know how much money the top 1% of Americans have. However, how can you begrudge someone in that top 1% what they have earned? With the exception of the spoiled heirs of family fortunes, most millionaires (and up) have sacrificed a lot, worked extremely hard, and taken enormous risks to achieve their wealth. Many have failed MULTIPLE times before, and sheer perseverance has enabled them to ultimately succeed. For every millionaire who made it, I'd wager there are 100 people just like them, maybe even more intelligent or driven who have failed. I wish I had the guts and drive to take a chance on an idea and do something amazing. However, that is never going to happen for me. I have too much to lose, and am pretty much a big chicken. I'll never make a million dollars, and will never be a billionaire. I don't begrudge those that are. I admire their determination. Think about the CEO of a Fortune 500 company pulling in a $20 mill salary and stock options. How dare he make so much??? Can you imagine the career of corporate meetings, butt-kissing, projects managed, crappy bosses and incompetent employees. How many times did he/she fear for their job after a merger or takeover? You can have that!!! I want no part of it.

The recent death of Steve Jobs provides an interesting foil to this movement. While the Occupiers bemoan corporate greed and billionaire CEOs, they absolutely REVERE Steve Jobs. He was the epitome of what they are protesting. He was a ruthless businessman who founded and then took Apple to the top as a multi-billion dollar corporate giant. He took his licks, but he stomped on many to put himself and his company at the top. Why is he any different than the CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan? Is it because iPods are so cool? Maybe because we can't live without the new iPhone 4S? Jobs builds these things in China and sells them to you for $299 or more for mega-profit. Then you have to buy a new one next year when it is "totally upgraded" or when your non-replacable battery runs out. You need apps, so you buy a few at the App Store, which Apple takes most of the profit from and sticks it to developers. Don't forget, you have to have a 2 year wireless contract, so AT&T, Verizon and Sprint get a cut too - after paying Apple for the right to sell their device, naturally!

In general, I guess I just don't understand what the Occupiers are trying to accomplish. I get that they are just angry. Perhaps they should actually DO SOMETHING about it other than stand around holding up snarky signs. Apply yourself at work. Get a new job. Take a chance in your career. Support a candidate or run for office. Just don't stand around complaining. It's hurting my ears.

1 comment:

ian said...

The ones I like best are the idiots complaining about their student loan debt and their inability to get a job. Join the club on student loans! As for the job, their are tons of jobs available if you're willing to suck up your pride. Don't blame corporate America because you chose to major in English Literature for $45k/yr.