The “Occupy Wall Street” protests have been getting a lot of press. One has insinuated that it is a “moment” not a “movement” since there is no vision, just protest. Others, may say it is a swelling populist movement against what is know as corporate greed. I disagree with both statements or ideas. First, there is more than a moment happening since a vision for a more equitable and accountable business culture is being forged in the conversation. Second, I believe the whole idea of “corporate greed” is a myth. People are greedy, not corporations.
Whether we can agree on the vision or not, there is a huge shift in our thinking when CEOs of large companies can make huge sums while failing at running these financial institutions. We have been failed in trust because of seedy operations such as lending money to people who should not have been given home mortgages in the first place. And, there are worse things as well. The vision is to see accountability. Perhaps, the vision is to see equitable redistribution of wealth or a more “socialist” bent in either regulation, taxation or both. People are mad. I admit that I am, too. I am not for giving money away to redistribute wealth as an ideal. However, I am for accountable practices. One thing hard for some to understand is that today’s movements are not top down affairs. They are tribal and viral and very real.
Now the idea of a corporation being greedy is just not true. People are greedy. The financial barons, CEOs and board members who oversee these institutions in many cases have enriched themselves at the cost of hard working people. Wall Street was bailed out, and the average home owners who pay their bills were not. We lost. They were too big to fail. But, we also have our pensions, 401Ks and investments in these very same companies. Think of the teachers, firemen and shop keepers who have money in mutual funds. Are we greedy, too? Perhaps.
Occupying Wall Street is an effective symbol at getting attention, but who is the real enemy? Are not we all? We buy the iPhones and the Tom’s Shoes and shop at Target. We are employed a lot of the time by these greedy corporations. So, are we not as part of these institutions culpable for the behavior as well as the guys and gals at the top of them? Perhaps.
I am not ready to cheer the protesters on, but I will not discount them either. I am not ready to cry foul that corporations are greedy, but I will not allow status quo to persist. If we are going to protest then lets do it to those who can really make a difference. Might that include an honest look at ourselves as well as the logo bearing yet faceless corporation?
What do you think: are the corporations greedy or could it be all of us?