In the past few weeks, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement has expanded to “Occupy Boston” and “Occupy Seattle,” and other cities. These locations are becoming part of the revolution that is about to take over the entire country, which is exactly what Michael Levy ‘13 writes about in his article “The Voices of Discontent,” in Volume 16 CXXXIV.
Levy says that the revolution needs to expand with a higher level of organization and it “must focus a common anger to articulate and outline a list of demands.” He goes on to extend the demands to include “liberation of the United States from Wall Street rule,” and then blames the huge divide between Wall Street and Main Street on the financial system of the United States of America. But this revolution on Wall Street is misdirected and could be dangerous.
If the revolution proceeds and enlarges, it will start damaging the infrastructure, forcing the government to react. If the revolution escalates, the existing government can crackdown on the uprising, or it can fix the problem that enraged its citizens. If the government doesn’t crackdown or fix the situation, however, revolutionaries could upend the government, forcing the United States into a state of unrest. In the worst case, this unrest could lead to violence.
So far, the activists behind the “Occupy” movement are not so serious that they are willing to die or damage the government for their cause, and I don’t think they ever will be that serious. The two realistic options regarding the fate of “Occupy” movement are that the uprising fizzles out as people lose interest, or that the government does something to appease the people. But, what could possibly appease the people? “The people” on Wall Street cannot agree on their demands.
Levy captures the usual demands of “Occupy” supporters when he says that they want America liberated from Wall Street rule and to lessen the divide between Wall Street and Main Street. Their first demand is nearly impossible. I can only assume that by “Wall Street” they are referring to publicly traded companies and bonds, which are impossible to separate from the American economy.
The occupiers want to separate America from something that American itself depends on. The government uses bonds to get money to run the country, and without bonds would have to rely much more heavily on foreign loans to operate. Publicly traded companies are a huge part of the nation itself.
Most Americans live by working for publicly traded companies. This is a fact of capitalism that directly affects the United States. Many jobs are created by these companies; without them, the job situation in the United States could be much worse. If you look at the Forbes 100 or any list of the wealthiest people of the nation, the way most made their money was through companies, including people like Bill Gates of Microsoft and the recently deceased Steve Jobs of Apple. These people didn’t crash our economy; they fueled it.
The fact that the wealthiest 1% have the net worth of the bottom 90% might actually be helpful when you look at companies growing. As these people get wealthier and wealthier, their companies are growing and growing, pumping money into the overall economy of the nation and producing jobs. If the revolutionaries want to decrease Wall Street’s effects on America, that would require a change in the economy of the nation, whether to an extremely regimented capitalist economy or worse, a socialist economy.
I, personally, hope the Occupy movement fizzles out. Chances are no change will come about from this revolution. While it is good for the new generation to take action on important issues, capitalism is not the problem. These voices of discontent should stay content with America’s economy and focus on issues of world hunger or public health, things that actually threaten humanity.
Ben Manuel is a four-year Senior from Mt. Pleasant, SC.