This week’s Independent Weekly showed a cover of “we are the 99%”, in reference to the 99% of the nation that the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement says it represents. The 99% isn’t a precise number, but rather the converse of “the fact that income and wealth gains of the past 30 years have overwhelmingly accrued to the top 1% of Americans” (according Jonathan Weiler of the Independent Weekly).
My gut tells me that I should support the OWS movement. In spirit I am with them–I am discontent with both big business’ (and special interest as a whole) control of our government. But I have to ask myself if the occupation of Wall Street is the most effective way to achieve their ends. Afterall, unless Congress, Wall Street really doesn’t care about the ‘common person’–and even Congress caring about it is questionable.
The only thing Wall Street really cares about is stock value. So to really motivate any action from them, you have impact the stock values. But how do we really do do that? Can we boycott the stock market? Taking our money out of the stock market may be one way, but how much of the market is really controlled by individual shareholders? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a large part.
So what we really need to do is to go through a more indirect route. We need to impact the profitability of the companies on Wall Street. To achieve that, we need to look at where we’re spending our money. We need to switch back to buying local and buying from the small proprietor rather than the big corporations. Reduce the revenue going to big companies based on Wall Street and you’ll impact their profitability–which will impact their ability to meet their forecasts–which will cause the analysts to downgrade them–which will drive down their stock prices–which could potentially cause some behavior change. I say could because you never really know with Wall Street…it doesn’t really behave like a rational entity.
If we take our money out of the market, then what do we do with it? Put it in the bank? Definitely not, the banks are part of Wall Street too…remember the TARP craziness where we bailed out the banks? Even if you’re working with a local bank you have to look at what they derive their revenues from. If they are getting a bunch of investment income, well then putting you money with them is indirectly putting it back on Wall Street.
Which then doesn’t leave us with a lot of options. We could buy real estate, but real estate inflation is still very rampant (again think TARP) as banks and investors try to recoup their very bad loans or purchases. Plus really the only people that benefit from real estate transactions really are realtors. After all, they’re guaranteed revenue for pretty much any transaction. (Now there’s another pseudo-profession that needs reform, but that’s an issue for another post.)
In the end, the only thing that could come up with are Credit Unions. They usually pay a little better interest than banks, and the generally take the money you deposit with them and turn it around to provide loans to other credit union members–other individuals and small businesses.
Granted the credit unions aren’t any goldmine for gains. But come on, looking for the goldmine and profits is what is got us into this quandary in the first place. So go Boycott Wall Street: take your money out of the market, stop buying from big corporations, and find ways to reinvest in your community. The solution to our economic issues and even some political favoritism is to turn back to our communities.
The OWS protest while admirable is ineffective–show your dissatisfaction with Wall Street in a way that they will listen, by withholding your dollars from their coffers, both directly and indirectly. Boycott Wall Street.