The irony of the #occupywallstreet movement against “corporate greed” spreading across the country amazes me.
There are now thousands of people gathered together using their iPhones (APPL) to upload videos to YouTube (GOOG) on AT&T (ATT) and Verizon (VZ) networks, sipping Starbucks (SBUX) and taking bathroom breaks at McDonalds (MCD). They are dressed in clothes from GAP (GPS) and American Eagle (AEO), writing on paper signs from International Paper (IP) with markers and pens manufactured by BIC (BIC). People are demonstrating against the very companies that they depend on every day to provide them everything from food and clothing to communication and entertainment.
The idea of corporate greed is altogether wrong.
Corporations don’t have desires, people do. People are greedy. People want more. They want more service from companies for less money. They want higher paying jobs. They want cars and homes they can’t afford. They want a better lifestyle for themselves and their family. They want it not because they have earned it or because it makes fiscal sense, but because they feel they deserve it. Entitlement spans the entire gamut of society from the rich to the poor.
This is the real greed that is ruining our country.
We need to look no further than our government to see the collective greed of the people. We are $14.8 trillion dollars in debt and have an annual budget deficit of $1.3 Trillion. The government is hemorrhaging money and we continue to increase the debt ceiling to fuel the unrealistic demands of the general public. We all want more… we push our politicians to get more… and we are drowning in debt as a result.
We are in this situation because most of our politicians don’t have the strength to say, “NO”. Our system rewards the short term “YES” despite the consequences and long term fiscal health of our country. Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter. Politicians get reelected on platforms of increased allocations, not cuts…tax reductions, not revenue generation.
The exact opposite is true in the corporate world. CEOs are selected and rewarded based on their ability to grow the top line, manage the bottom line and make the hard cuts when needed. Most major public corporations are profitable. It is not because they are greedy, it is because they are fiscally responsible and have a duty to their shareholders. I am not going to say that their aren’t issues with corporate governance, but I wish our government was managed more like a corporation.
Every CEO would love to pay their employees more, offer more benefits, increase dividends, upgrade infrastructure and make huge investments in the future. The reality is that there is only so much money to go around and they can’t do it all. CEOs can’t print more money… but the government can and does because of us… because of the peoples greed.
Corporations are not our problem. We are our problem.
Redirect the Energy
The energy of this movement is exciting and intense; I just feel it is wasted and misguided. I believe unemployment is at the heart of the unrest, causing people to point fingers and look for a scapegoat. Protesting about corporate greed doesn’t create more jobs. If anything it freaks investors out, drives the markets down and devalues the very corporations that could be hiring. If the organizers of the movement really want to have an impact they should change the message to be one of job creation and entrepreneurism.
What if those thousands of people came together to create startups instead of protesting? What if we were able to harness all that negative energy, hate and resentment to turn the world into a better place? What if those gatherings created hundreds of new companies, with new lives and futures for people who are currently unemployed? What if the organizers actually welcomed corporations to sponsor the movement and provide seed capital to the new startups?
Instead of #occupywallstreet how about #startupwallstreet?
I believe that there are positive ways to approach any problem. America was built on optimism and capitalism, let’s not sit around complaining about corporations keeping us down… lets go out there and create a the next generation of corporations.
We need corporations, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change the way they are run. If you think you can do it better go out there and start your own!