October 9, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet: Supporters, Dismissers & Repressers

The OWS movement needs a redressal of what brought it into existence. Supporting all that it is capable of evolving into can shrivel up the economy to a fraction of its current size, while perpetuating the protested injustice and Corporate-Wall Street prepostriety with dismissal and repression will only fuel it ever more.

The story of the #OccupyWallStreet movement is rather simple. The United States was running a FIRE economy that imploded. The flow of money that enabled economic transactions was sustained by a credit bubble managed by Wall Street with bamboozles ("stock prices are a 'leading indicator' of the Real Economy”) and half truths ("property prices only go up"). While all this 'worked', Financial Institutions employed a lot of people, and took out big rewards for themselves for ‘serving’ society, ostensibly as a fruit of Capitalism. When the shaky system collapsed, Wall Street was able to extract props from the Government in the shape of bailouts and other policies. It, however, now began to worry about currency collapse in the face of huge public deficit. Thus began the demand for austerity.

Whereas the demand for austerity isn't wrong by itself, austerity has to begin with removing subsidies for the sectors that have lost their importance in the economy, so they can shrink to size and compensations that they can legitimately afford by themselves, not with props like suspension of mark-to-market, zero interest rate policies and Quantitative Easing and Fed buyout of toxic assets. THAT is where the Occupy Wall Street movement arises. Austerity needs to begin with removal of Wall Street and Corporate Welfare, rejection of the wasteful Top-Down Reaganomic money introduction, which is now a spent force with a crippling public deficit as its accumulated side effect. Austerity can, and should, also involve shedding of Governmental activity that does not add value to the life of the people, only subjects them to fear and constraints around what they can and cannot do. BUT austerity CANNOT morally begin with cutting Schools and Healthcare umbrella for the people. 50 pupil classrooms, with no music, arts or drama, is essentially a Developing World Education, not something to emulate as a first step towards deficit cutting and austerity.

The OWS movement has its origin in the fact that there is extreme entrenchment in the current configuration of the Wall Street- Corporate Economy, where it’s business “leaders” can screw up royally, and still get maintained in their positions – and compensations, and get to continue running the show, while adding to their own compensations as they lay off more workers. This is like say, a Michael Phelps getting to stay the reigning Champion no matter how his performance lately! and increasing his celebrity brand endorsement fees to whatever he might fancy.

Failure to address the root causes of the OWS movement will harden it along rather simplistic anti-Capitalist and anti-Corporate lines. Needless to say, that would be very destructive. Yet you cannot suppress the movement, nor blindsupport wherever its headed -- only its root causes can be addressed with the removal of ZIRP, QE, all Corporate Subsidies, tax loopholes and Top-Down public spending support to Corporate Toplines and Bottomlines.Introduce money at the roots, and enable the Corporate Economy to target earning this money with sharp, capable, well compensated, motivated workforce.


In context, it is also relevant to point that runaway Executive Compensation, while laying off workers, became possible under the Top-Down Corporate Support paradigm. While this paradigm is dismantled, it would be best to also create some legal limits to Executive Compensation linked clearly to the cash flow from operations that the company is achieving. Leaving it to the so called “Shareholder Democracy” doesn’t help, for it does not exist. Most shareholders in public listed companies are invested in them through mutual funds, and are only vaguely aware what’s even in their portfolio! Much less that they can in any way decide what the CEO can take out from the company.


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