Saturday, August 18, 2012

Where do I stand on the opinions of Occupy

I'd like to say first that I completely disagree with the manner in which the Occupy movement is acting. Occupying campaign offices (even the President, with whom I totally disagree, has a right to not have his offices tormented). I think that Occupy supporters and protesters across the nation are vulgar, rude, violent and generally not very nice people and there is plenty to back up that concept...  

I think that the positions of the Occupy movement are Socialistic and quite frankly short sighted. That's not to say that I don't see any validity to their outrage. I do believe that we need to change the way we regulate our financial industry, I certainly agree with auditing/ending the Federal Reserve Bank and I even see their arguments with regards to the amount of control large banks have, the increase in student loans costs and healthcare and even to some degree the idea that foreclosures are not always the direct fault of the person taking the loan. With that said, I think that the Occupy movement has seized on these things as an opportunity to force their leftist agendas. For instance, "a liveable wage" sounds grand. It sounds nice, like who could be against a liveable wage...until the nuts and bolts come out and you realize that in order for that employer to pay a "liveable wage" as defined, he/she has to cede control of their payroll to government and will likely have to fire employees to make ends meet.  I think that the Occupy movement has used a few very unique and rare instances of unfairness (and in some cases completely fabricated) as evidence of some widespread problem. It's rather shameful in my opinion. But I digress, I think that we can come up with much smarter and more effective solutions to our nations real problems, than a massive government takeover and huge government run programs.

To take each point from this listing ( in order...Corporate Influence and Corporate Person-hood I think we can address together...I think they are both issues that are fabricated or played up by the left.  Of course there is corporate influence in our government...that's to be expected when we as a society place a higher value on money and material things than we do on being decent and good people.  Now, I'm a Christian and I happen to believe that if we were a moral and religious society (which by the way, John Adams said was who the Constitution was written for), we wouldn't have as many of these problems but let's exclude religion for a moment, if we just elected men and women of conscience who understood that America is great because America is good...and not that we do not have blemishes, we all do, but that in the grand scheme of things, our nation has done more to influence and promote individual liberty across the globe than any other nation ever created...if we elected men and women who understand that the reason for America's greatness is the greatness of our unchained (at the risk of sounding like Biden) minds...if we elected men and women who BELIEVED that Americans can do anything and are capable of self government, we'd rid ourselves quite quickly of the majority of people in our government who are corrupt and willing to sell out the taxpayers for their friends (Solyndra, Fisker, etc.). 

As for corporate person-hood and the Citizens United decision, I heard absolutely NOTHING from the Occupiers and the left when the Unions, Media Matters and other left wing organizations dominated the political landscape and spent tens of millions of dollars to elect candidates to do THEIR bidding.  Now, when the businesses who are, quite frankly, often being strong armed by labor unions and anti-capitalist organizations with their arms all over government, get a voice, the radicals are quick to pounce.  If anything, Citizens United leveled the playing field but I suspect, when it comes down to it, that Microsoft and Apple and other companies owned by left wing billionaires (part of the 1% no doubt?  Amazing how many Starbucks cups and IPads are carried by anti-capitalists...) can join in with their labor pals and have a wonderful time ripping the conservatives and Republicans.  Corporations, in my opinion, deserve no more and no less consideration than any other group, which is to say that they should be allowed a voice but not a vote.  That is the way of things today and I think it's the right thing.  The problems arise when you have a society that doesn't have its bearings and is not electing men and women of decent character who can swat away the special interest groups and focus on the wishes of their constituency.

Student Debt... While I agree that the skyrocketing of student debt is a problem, I disagree with the idea of WHY it's been going so high.  Certainly the economic downturn has not helped but let's face it, America's declining education has very little to do with the economic crisis.  In fact, you might just as easily blame it on the previous economic booms which produced so many jobs that schools found it prudent to offer degrees to larger and larger class sizes in fields like Art History, Philosophy, American Studies and Music Therapy to name a few (more here... now, the site I've cited here goes a bit further with their language than I do, these aren't "worthless" degrees in my opinion, but they are certainly not economic drivers.  The reality is that there are but a few places where degrees like these can be used and most of them are filled by the professors you're learning from!  No, what's driven up the costs on student debt and driven so many young people into debt is the idea that the only way you can be respected is if you have a degree.  Hogwash.  Trades people who break their backs everyday to build and sustain this nation and its infrastructure have been around for some time...hundreds of years in fact but only in the last few decades have we started pushing those folks into college classrooms and forced Shakespeare and the Karl Marx down their throats.  Am I saying that "some people shouldn't go to college" based on any decision I or another can make?  No.  I'm saying that some people shouldn't be forced into college as some extension of their childhood.  College has never been, nor should it be, 4 more years of expected school attendance.  It should be for individuals who seek a career path that requires the extra school time like Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, etc.  And yes, it should be for the few who seek to really make their career in Art History.  Be honest, how many of us know kids who have majored in "Liberal Arts" who leave school unqualified to do almost any job and become another statistic?  Now, with all of this said, having all the education in the world doesn't mean squat if we don't have jobs and that's why getting our economy back on track and creating jobs ties into the student debt woes.  Also on the radar, inflation...not only are the school populations inflated but as the government prints more and more money and drives up monetary inflation, so too does it drive up our costs on everything, including tuition.

Wrongful Foreclosures - Again, Occupy places all the blame on the banks and they have their fair share of blame for sure but...what about us?  What about those out there who signed onto the balloon loans thinking that the worst could never happen?  Who can shield us from disaster?  Government? I think not.  WE are required to prepare on our much as it may pain us to admit it, much of this could have been avoided if we hadn't been so arrogant and so quick to sign that dotted line.  The mortgages written, (many at the behest of the government under Clinton) were irresponsible and so were the signers.  Maybe, just maybe, we have to look in the mirror and realize that our problems are less about big banks and more about our choices.  With that said, many folks lost their jobs through no fault of their own, their situations changed and you know what, I do think it's an ethical problem that there are banks who didn't recognize that and immediately work with those home owners to address their delinquency without foreclosure wherever possible.  I think that as a free market society, we need to consider who we do business with and make sure that we're looking for an ethical and responsible company, not just the best deal.

Too big to fail banks - While I certainly agree that our financial problems were compounded by financial companies getting into businesses they didn't belong in like futures trading and insurance, I also consider the comments of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon earlier this month when he talked about how JP Morgan can finance $20 million loans for companies like Caterpillar to grow anywhere in the world.  Is it criminal to be big?  Not necessarily.  Where I will agree with the dislike of the bailouts.  No corporation or group of corporation should ever be able to hold us hostage for taxpayer money. Likewise, I think the infusion of bankers and former bankers into our government and the Federal Reserve is problematic.  We've got to reign in our reliance on large banks and create a monetary policy that doesn't endanger our nation when businesses (even banks) fail.  I'm thinking we might consider, I dunno, a return to the gold standard?

I suppose, since common sense seems to offend folks...that we can just say on healthcare and living wage (answered above) that the answer, is in the free markets NOT government intervention...and I've got plenty to back those up if those answers are sought out. As for the 99% budget cuts...they all seem to be government worker related...uh...sorry but 99% of the country isn't employed in the public sector (although I know that's where you occupiers want it to go! :) )... Then again, I do agree that we the people, not the government, should be doing for others. That's why my family and I went to Dallas in the middle of July to serve the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with 35,000 others in the largest coordinated volunteer effort in history. That's why my family and I volunteer locally at food banks, at the Sunday Breakfast Mission and with other organizations. It's why we do work through our church and organize local outreach events. Because WE have to be the change...and we are...the more we love and care for one another, the more we can accomplish.

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