Occupy Wall Street is a legitimate movement airing real grievances. We can accept the premise certain financial institutions (NYSE:XLF) imploded the economy with the aid of lobbied politicians … and that sucks. As we’ve said many times for the past few years, financial terrorists need to be jailed for these crimes. However, we cannot just go around jailing every person who is a “capitalist” or working for a “corporation”.
Despite the apparent ignorance of millions of people, we need capitalists and businesses to keep our economy running. If you’re bitching about being unemployed or genuinely wanting work, you’ll need a capitalist or a business to create a job for you. And if you want a job with the government, then you should know that job exists only because the government takes money from capitalists, businesses and the people who work for them (these are called taxes) to create government jobs. So, as we can all plainly see, capitalists and businesses provide lots of value.
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Need an example? How about Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was an inventor, a genius, a world-changer and, yes, a capitalist. In fact, Jobs was worth over $6 billion at the time of his death. Clearly, Jobs is in the top 1%. But does that automatically make him part of the “evil” 1%? Uh, no. There are good people and bad people in the world. It’s human nature. There are amazing people who are poor as dirt and, believe it or not, there are amazing people who have as much money as Steve Jobs. The problem with Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party is the blanket judgments. Steve Jobs created one of the most valuable companies in the history of the world. He unequivocally added value and pleasure to the lives of hundreds of millions of customers. His companies employ tens of thousands of people. Moreover, as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt and Netscape inventor Marc Andreessen noted on Charlie Rose, businesses making money in relation to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Pixar (NYSE:DIS) products and services employ “millions” of people. That’s millions of people who have money for all their needs (and maybe even wants) because of Steve Jobs — capitalist par excellence.
Of course, there is a dark side of capitalism: it’s called untethered human greed. But that same greed attributed to Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM) can also be found in your local municipal government and in non-profits around the world. Why? Because, once again, it’s human nature.
Last night Fox News (NASDAQ:NWSA) anchor Greta VanSusteren chewed up Fox Business reporter Charlie Gasparino after Gasparino came on echoing silly right wing propaganda that Occupy Wall Street is not important because they don’t have “a coherent message” (the idiotic meme of the day). Seems to me the message is very clear: people from all walks of life are sick and tired of playing by the rules and watching their jobs, retirement money, and who knows what else get ripped off by bad people with money and political power. That’s the same message from the Tea Party. The Tea Party was disjointed at first, but it doesn’t take long for people to start articulating a common message after spending a few months saying it in all their different ways. Even a Fox News anchor like Greta admits so much.
I am currently in the 99% Occupy Wall Street claims to be representing. But my brother and I are capitalists who started a business during the heart of the 2008 recession and now proudly employ an amazing and ever-growing staff of people. Like the other 99-percenters, I have been a strong and vocal advocate for campaign finance reform (read: legal bribery), executive compensation reform, and a list of common sense boundaries for financiers and business persons. However, unlike part of the current Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party message, I don’t believe simply punishing or taxing all rich people does anything good — unless you count making ourselves feel better about our status in the material world.
If Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are to become the organizations this country needs, they will have to actually use their brain cells and distinguish between the evil doers in the 1% and the other 1% like Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and others who enhance the world and create a livelihood for billions of people. We have to pick out the people who are making the world a better place and support them with lower taxes, favorable business and invention environments, and hosts of other encouragements to carry the rest of us on their backs. If we can extol those people and businesses while making the challenging effort to weed out the thieves, cronies, and leaches, then we have a fighting chance for fair wages, acceptable living standards, plentiful jobs, and a strong economic backbone. However, if we want to be so ignorant and lazy that all we can do is indiscriminately aim a shotgun at “the rich,” we might as well put that gun in our collective mouths first and pull the trigger.
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