Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Free Advice for the Occupy Wall St. Movement

In early August I wrote about how the urgent settling of the debt crisis was anything but a solution and lamented the lack of concern and action evident at the time on the part of America's youth.

I should have known if I waited a month or two America's youth would not disappoint me. In fact, the American people of all stripes (except most of the wealthy) are now rooting for, and in some cases, participating in Occupy Wall St. activity around the nation. If you can't guess, while I do not support all of the points of view of Occupy Wall St., I vigorously applaud the uprising.

The most common criticism I hear about Occupy Wall St comes from the media and political types who suggest that the movement is without a point. Republican candidates for office and the bozos on FOX News contend that the movement is made up largely of poor people, those who are underemployed as a result of their own failings, and idealistic, perhaps radical-minded students. Later, I will offer a summary of what I think the point of the Occupy movement could be. But first, some background.

Back in December of 1991, Sandy, my wife, and I sat watching the news reports about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Sandy isn't particularly interested when it comes to politics or world affairs because her cynicism runs deep and wide. She asked me what I thought the fall of the USSR meant. I replied, "We're next."

It's been a couple of decades, but I believe we have seen the steady decline of American capitalism in the past few years. Admittedly, what we had looked good compared with other options like the Soviet system and various forms of Communism and Socialism. It was made to look more appealing through our Washington leaders and the Media who painted the Soviets and others as enemies bent on our distruction. America's leaders have always understood our passion for wearing the white hat, and how easily we will get behind a cause if we think the other guy is evil.

America has always needed an Evil Empire or foe against which to position itself and distract the populace. Going back before the British, this nation has always set its sights on a threat. Early settlers had Native Americans. There was the Soviet Empire, the Axis of Evil, Al Qaeda, and all sorts of enemies. Make no mistake, there were many legitimate evil doers. Many of them did/do wish harm to us as a people, and have done their best to inflict pain. However, if one did not exist at the time, our leaders planted the seeds of fear nonetheless. Through suspicion and loathing we buttress the system and advance their capitalistic ambitions.

If our government leaders were serious about rooting out the origins Al Qaeda, why did we not use diplomatic, economic or military means to go after Saudi Arabia, the home of nearly all the 911 hijackers? Simply put - oil. If we wanted to bring an end to organized terror why did we not impose penalties on Pakistan such as cutting off billions of dollars of foreign aid? It was long suspected that nation was harboring bin Laden. To this day, Al Qaeda moves freely across Pakistan boarders.

Why did we invade Iraq? Two reason: to control the oil fields and to generate obscene profits for the war machine companies with financial links to our political leaders. Why did we invade Afghanistan? It wasn't to root out Al Qaeda or the Taliban. That part of the world is largely unihabitable except by a relatively small number of goat herders and nomads. The value is in the mountains. Buried beneath them is gold, silver and literally trillions of dollars worth of titanium, exceeding any other spot in the world. Control those mountains, and you control the world's wealth and capitalistic pursuits for generations to come.

Over and over again the critics of Occupy Wall St. contend it is nothing more than the ranting of jealous people who want a handout. They support this view by insisting the movement is without a central or unifying purpose or proposed actions.

As a brand strategist, I offer here my professional assistance to the leaders of Occupy Wall St. - free of charge.

While there are many issues being represented by lots of different people camped out in the parks, on the streets and marching in front of the homes of America's wealthiest citizens, I believe there are three central themes under which all Occupy Wall St. issues fit:

1. Capitalism, which started out as the ability for anyone to maintain a business and derive a profit after recovering their costs has morphed into "Seek limitless profit, without regard for the value you deliver, the impact you create on the lives of others, or the general harm (environmental, medical, social, etc.) done." The obscene salaries, exorbitant profits and manipulation of unfair tax laws by Wall St. cannot be justified simply by saying, "If someone is willing to pay it . . ." The folks that tell you being anti-capitalism is socialism (or worse) may find themselves on the wrong side of the greed scale as they seek to defend the perverted form capitalism has taken. Here's an analogy for you: How much fun is to watch a coach of a football team runs up a score of say, 58-0 simply because he can? Excess is not sucess. However, I contend reasonable profit still has a place.

2. Our political system has been seized by special interest groups and lobbyists. Politicians are owned lock, stock and barrel by these manipulators on behalf of business and organizational interests.  Healthcare, education, employment, social security, public safety, transportation and a host of other issues are all way too expensive or unattainable to many because of these people who live in the shadows of government control the system to the benefit of their special interests. We must completely dismantle the influence of these people who make a living advancing the causes of their clients. This is will be a far harder fight than any the people of this country have ever undertaken.

3. The Founding Fathers never intended that public office should be a lifelong career. Today, people running for office not only seek to stay in office for the lucrative salaries, benefits and life of privilege not afforded average Americans, but also to capitalize on their positions with sweetheart side benefits and perks, secret investments and cushy deals after they leave office. The quickest way to get extremely wealthy in this country is to play professional sports or get elected to public office. It's time our system is overhauled with term limits for every office, stricter limits on what a public servant can do after service, and most importantly, revised standards that see to it that the benefits of public office do not exceed that of average Americans. If we have to live within the contraints of the modest rate of return on our investments, Social Security, private healthcare, and shrinking retirement packages, so to should our elected officials - ALL OF THEM. Public service is a privilege not an anointment or heirloom to be handed to family members. To all those people who say if you make it less attractive to serve, good people won't run, I say, let's find out. At present, most office holders are white men over the age of 35. That means we are represented by a segment that makes up about 6% of the population.

There you have it, Occupy Wall St. - three good focal points:
1. The distortion and excess of profit at the expense of others;
2. The control of our entire way of life by self-serving, third-party influences;
3. The excesses of public office holders.

Here's an added tip: The powers that be are counting on, and the American public is expecting that cold weather will bring an end to what to this point has been seen at best as somewhat annoying behavior toward the richest. I urge you to take a lesson from the Viet Cong and other military victors. Begin planning your spring offensive right now while your organizational structure is at its strongest, your supporters are most enthused, your lead time to marshall resources is greatest and your opposition is most uncertain of what you are capable of doing next.

You're welcome.