I’ve wanted to check out one of these regional Occupy Wall Street rallies, but I just can’t seem to get away from work.
Seriously, I’m interested in seeing the Occupy Wall Street crowd in action, to hear their complaints. However, as someone who runs his own service-based business, I can’t carve out the time to make that happen.
I am also not mocking those protestors who actively seek employment, as I’m sure many of them have and continue to do so. I’m simply saying that I’m personally (and gratefully) too busy working, supporting my family and, ultimately, paying taxes to venture out for an afternoon or several days to take in an Occupy Wall Street rally.
Maybe my priorities are off base. Maybe I should be more interested in participating in a populace movement and making a social statement. After all, I haven’t been attracted to the Tea Party movement either. These days I fear I’m hopelessly politically apathetic, joining so many others on the sideline that are deeply frustrated with our broken governmental system that, in many ways, is in the situation it is in because of its alignment with special interests. The political party doesn’t matter, the message doesn’t matter. The system is aligned with special interests, and we all know what that results in.
But it occurred to me while watching news coverage of recent protests in Oakland that the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements aren’t that different. Some may think it’s a stretch. There are clearly philosophical differences and I’m probably guilty of some wishful idealistic thinking here — but if you break it down at a fundamental level, both movements are based on disdain for the status quo.
One represents disdain for corporate wealth, the other disdain for big government gone wrong. And it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that government over the past several decades has allowed the creation of an environment that has allowed corporations, aka Wall Street and its elite, to flourish — often to the detriment of the working class.
The report from the Congressional Budget Office released a week back essentially proves this, indicating that the richest 1 percent of Americans have become richer over the last three decades while the middle class and poor have seen their after-tax household income hardly grow at all. Again, it’s not a party or particular administration issue; it is an issue of how our existing system operates.
It’s no wonder we’re hearing about creative suggestions to change the political system in regard to financial reform from budget adoption to campaign contributions. Sure, Warren Buffet is a financial icon who made his fortune in investments, but at this stage of his life, you have to believe he wants to see the country return to the right track when he advocates federal elected officials be ineligible for reelection when a budget deficit exists of more than 3 percent of the gross domestic product.
Another novel suggestion from the Get Money Out movement being advocated via the Dylan Ratigan Show calls for businesses to not be allowed to make contributions and individuals to only be allowed to make campaign contributions of $100. Granted, both of these examples come from the financial community, but it’s hard to deny their simple logic, given how we know our current system operates. In fact, it’s rather exciting to think about how the current system would be shaken to its core if movements like these gained serious traction.
Which brings me back to the notion that the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements really aren’t that different. Both movements are demanding change from the special interests, the 1 percent, that is aligned with our government and drive the country and the economy. We’re all subject to the effects.
Indeed, capitalism, by its very nature, creates winners and losers, and I’m personally not advocating for an America where hard work, skill and preparation aren’t rewarded. But imagine what could be accomplished if the two movements and people from both sides of the argument joined together and came to some middle ground. Maybe then lasting and true change could be achieved. Until then, it seems the wheels will keep spinning.
Dan Francisco is an El Dorado Hills-based public relations consultant to the high-tech industry.