Occupy Is a Simple Response to a Complex Situation: Who to Blame For a Broken Economy

Posted on November 27, 2011

From "The Next Convergence" by Michael Spence

President Obama is fond of referring to America’s “millionaires and billionaires.”  To-date, we have more of them than anyone.  Even with the recession, there are still about 10.5 million millionaires in the US.

Our national fiscal demise is a complicated issue.  The mid-management jobs that enabled the middle class to thrive are not here in great numbers anymore.  With their loss, the ranks of the middle class have become decimated and unemployment and/or $7.50 per hour jobs have proliferated.  Opportunities for mobility have been lost – especially in foreign or family-owned firms.  On CNN’s GPS this morning, Fareed Zakaria had economist/author Michael Spence, author of  The Next Convergence, as a guest. He made the frightening point that since 1990, the only job growth has been in health care and government.  Throw in corruption in government and finance and you have a dangerous recipe for recession – even depression.

The foundation of the US economy is now based on consumption and service not manufacture.  Consumption levels cannot be maintained if there is no job growth.  We are living in a fools paradise.  Worst of all, the encouragement of consumption has flipped our value system upside down.

Occupy Wall Street seems now to be getting somewhere in its quest to spearhead reforms. They have at last targeted Washington as the next center of their activities.  It should have been their first destination or at the very least one of two initial destinations.  You can occupy every city in this country but in the end, Washington is the epicenter of this crisis.  The government including successive administrations has enjoyed the benefits of millionaire or corporate payouts and the ability to write their own checks for everything from financing a larger deficit to voting in their own pay increases.  Where else can you live like a king unchallenged?

The challenge is here to attack the complexities of this situation.  However, the millionaires and billionaires are in the forefront of their sights.  The men and women who control the tax code and its reform should be.  Working to elect new members of Congress should be.  Demanding investigations into key areas of government and business activity should be.

The class warfare many in Occupy fall back on only leads to the possible tumbling of one group of privileged people only to be replaced by another.  Does anyone doubt that Putin lives better than anyone in Russia?  Does anyone doubt that on his watch, corruption has escalated and that the return of the Soviet state is anticipated?  His lifestyle is surely more comfortable than the average citizen.

The first indication that the Occupy movement is diving deeper into the social fabric of this country as something in need of reform  rather than the government and financial systems came with language used by a young member of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Manhattan.  As a group of protesters moved into the street, a reporter asked one of their number if blocking patron access to a local restaurant was not an affront to the owner’s right to make a living.  The protestor said in a dismissive tone “he’s just a member of the bourgeosie” and could afford the loss.  Takes you back to 1917 doesn’t it?  Worst of all, it doesn’t do anything to move forward to a solution.  It merely moves forward a confrontation.

So much for thought, compassion and understanding being employed to fuel a decision on how to proceed.  Occupy needs to move from victim mode with a target on a certain strata of society or businesses and  to enter a mode of cooperative work at creating a solution to the problem.

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