I was sitting in a Japanese restaurant with my friends slurping down noodles when the conversation turned to OCCUPY WALL STREET. My two friends and I agreed that the only way this movement will be taken seriously is if it either gets violent, or, and this would be the preferable solution, if they would hold the banks virtually hostage. This means mounting a viral action through the Internet of epic proportions that would force the bank executives to stop and listen.
I had been thinking about the country’s economic woes ever since our president was faced with this growing, financial meltdown crisis. Long before Congress voted to bail out AIG, before CEOs of Chrysler, and General Motors flew to the nation’s capital on their private jets to beg for money, before Fannie and Feddie, and the banks wallowed in their misery for having cheated homeowners, I had found the solution.
There are apx. 132 million households in the U.S. according to the most recent census. If you don’t know where I’m going with this, let me enlighten you. A true bailout should have consisted of dividing 2.6 trillion dollars among the 132 million American households. This would mean 20,000 dollars each. Most likely, even more if we eliminated NBA, baseball, and NFL players, top billing actors directors producers etc. I would definitely leave out politicians of course.
Imagine that. Imagine, households adding more than 20,000 dollars to their income at a ridiculous loan rate just like the banks have (0.something?). The timing couldn’t be better. Jobs are scarce. People are struggling. Imagine…this amount is more than many families make in a year. Imagine…homes on the verge of foreclosure, rescued by moneys that didn’t go to the perpetrators, but rather to the victims. Many would have been able to pay off their loans or their homes, or at the very least lowered their mortgage rates. We might have avoided a housing market crash all together. Imagine…people putting this money in a savings account. Instead of making the banks solvent, they would be transformed into actual service institutions. They would be dependent on us, rather than the other way around. Granted, the bank executives and CEOs would have to get by without big bonuses but I don’t think anyone that’s not an executive would care. Imagine…the post office wouldn’t go broke just yet, because these checks would be sent by mail to each household. Suddenly, they’d have more mail to deliver than in the last five years.
The advantages are endless. The added household cash would do what the bailout failed to achieve. With 20,000 dollars more in our pockets, I can speak for myself, and I think for many others when I say, we would go shopping.
However, we all know what really happened. Nothing. Nothing at all. Everything is as it was before the bailout. The housing market is in the toilet, the banks aren’t lending, the economy is at a stand still, no on is hiring. Just like before, CEOs and bankers have pulled their private jets out of the hanger for company weekend retreats in Antigua …on us.
And how about Hewlett Packard? Executives are whispering among themselves that this is the place to get hired. Mark Hurt, the previous CEO was escorted out of HP for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment paid off…literally. He left with 12 million in cash and 30 million in stocks. He was out, on to the next, new CEO of HP, Leo Apotheker. But fear not, he too was well compensated for being a failure and getting fired. He got the boot and 13 milion dollars...for 11 months on the job.
Now, I don’t know much about business, but I always thought that bonuses were for those who went beyond what is asked of them in their profession. In fact, Webster’s Dictionary gives these examples for the word ‘bonus:’
“As a bonus for good behavior you can stay up late” Well, we know this wasn’t Mark Hurt’s case, the good behavior part. Or,
“Staff members were given a bonus for finishing the project on schedule” Leo Apotheker didn’t finish anything. He got sacked.
So, what are the so-called bonuses?
Why don’t we call them by their real name. Blood Money. Blood money is made off the backs of others. It’s money they did nothing to earn and that they don’t deserve and shouldn’t get. Period.
The top 1% (anyone who makes over $250,000 a year) own 42% of the wealth. The vast majority of them work hard for their income. None of this is a problem. The problem is tightly related to the financial sector and their practices, namely Wall Street.
OCCUPY WALL STREET is a group of peace-loving people who want to make a statement and bring awareness to a variety of problems through guitar playing and lectures. Except for one thing. The people they’re trying to reach…they’re not listening. The cynicism permeating offices of upper management is stronger than ever. They intend to hold on to blood money as long as they can. In their smug way, executives live and breathe Gordon Gekko’s (Wall Street, 1987) words, “Greed is good.”
Like a virus, they need to be contained. They won’t do it themselves and government is unwilling to step in. We, the people, are feeding this virus. It should be up to us to remind them who’s really in charge. Imagine…one well thought out action plan from the people, and by the people mounted and executed thanks to social media and the Web.