Occupy Wall Street: Another Call for Reform

Andrew Nyquist

Every election, we hear politicians tell us that we are in need of change, along with the 19 different ways that they are going to deliver on it.  They run tons of commercials and promise us the moon; with plans, charts, and a who’s who of political economists supporting their economic ideas… par for the course, I suppose.  But here’s the problem:  The system is broken.  Asking incumbent politicians to change a political process that they were allowed to create, and one that they have been operating under for years is like asking a kid to give up candy.  And although many may have good intentions, they are hamstrung by their need to keep the campaign coffers flowing.  And so the game goes on.

Moreover, it is for this very reason that politicians are having trouble wearing their party-selected populist hats.  The people just don’t trust them anymore.  They haven’t delivered on the reform and their promises for a better tomorrow are beginning to fall on deaf ears.  Deep down I think most politicians understand that they are riding on a social mood wave unlike any other.  Their typical attempts to feed the people what they want to hear aren’t working like they used to. So, the clock is winding down, and people are starting to find their voice.  They are beginning to understand that true change can only occur when they are ready to demand it.  And, for better or worse, it will be up to the people to deconstruct the political game and bring the power back.

So what does all this have to do with Occupy Wall Street?  Or Occupy [insert state]?  Well, first and foremost, the demonstrations are yet another example of people organizing for change.  And although their messaging is somewhat disorganized and unclear, they are largely taking aim at what Dylan Ratigan refers to as “bought” government and corporate interests.

occupy wall street movement
Occupy Minnesota, Downtown Minneapolis

From wall street to the government to corporate america, people have made it clear that they want to reform the powerful.  And, right or wrong, for many that reform starts with the government and trickles outward to corporate america.

Clearly, bailouts and corporate interests haven’t painted a pretty picture for many americans that are struggling to get by.  And although Government officials would be right in pointing to certain bailouts that have succeeded in assisting select sectors in need (i.e. cars, financials), there is one major problem with their argument: psychology.  Or better said, enablement.  When corporations push the limits and play with financial fire, they need to know that failure has its consequences.  This is a core virtue of capitalism.  Some burn out, but this allows others to flourish.  Consistently intervening or intermingling interests sends the wrong message… especially when times are tough and green shoots few.

So here we are, four years into one of the most severe financial downturns in history, and the people are beginning to stir (i.e. Occupy Wall Street).  Social and economic trends are proving more powerful than additional stimulus and quantitative easing.  Consumers are saving more and loaning and spending less.  Wages are down and people want the government to stop spending.  Take heed of these trends because they aren’t going away anytime soon.  And whether you agree with the message or not, take time to understand that the call for change is upon, and it will be up to the people to sharpen their message and craft responsible change.  But, again, make no mistake about it, we are entering a period of strong social change and, for better or worse, it is the people’s turn.

And as a personal aside, and I can do this because I am writing this blog after all (insert smile), I am a supporter of funding for education and social outreach/concerns (i.e. social work), as I feel that these areas are less of a capitalist ideal as they are a necessary piece to rounding out societal values.  And they take up much less space within the budget pie than many lead on.  Furthermore, I feel that education and social outreach are extremely important during economic downturns.   Note also that I am an Independent that doesn’t care for any of the political parties as we know them today.

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