Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Wall Street? Then What?

I received an email from my son this week asking what I thought about Occupy Wall Street. I guess my first thoughts were that I have not been following it closely enough to have an opinion. By this I mean, a "thoughtful opinion." I know that knee-jerk opinions are out there in ample quantity.

It is my understanding that the group behind the Occupy Wall Street movement is Adbusters, an anti-consumerist, pro-environment organization founded in Vancouver, Canada. I have read some of their magazines, and even agree with some of their aims. Extreme consumerism is what has led us into the enormous debt we see our nation mired in. Personal debt is encouraged in every direction you look, all for the sake of having more things than one can afford or even appreciate.

Because I make a living in advertising, however, I see things a little differently than some might. Many in the anti-advertising camp complain that people who make bad spending decisions and get into debt buying all these expensive toys are helpless victims, as if they have no personal responsibility in the matter. It's as if consumers have been manipulated against their will to own cars they can't afford, etc.

One of the problems of the current situation in America is that we're uneducated about how things in the economy really work, and have contradictory desires. For example, we want more jobs and better jobs, but when we find oil and natural resources in abundance within the borders of the U.S., we pass laws forbidding anyone to dig or drill or mine for these things, which would produce jobs as well as wealth.

Another example. We complain about billboards being an eyesore, but guess what? Those billboards exist to help commerce, which puts paychecks in peoples' pockets. Not only do the businesses buying billboard space benefit, but the billboard companies benefit as well. Ted Turner's roots were in a family-owned billboard business which he parlayed into ownership of the Atlanta Braves and a huge media empire. His personal businesses have provided salaries for tens of thousands of people, entertainment for millions and generous quantities of charitable giving.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has gained momentum because there really is injustice in the world. But what solutions will we see offered up by these people? Anarchy and revolution are hardly solutions. Hate is not a solution. It is an infection that does equal damage to the hater. Hate blinds people so that they are more easily manipulated.

America's problems will not go away soon. Maybe the good part of Occupy Wall Street is that is reminding us that there has been a lot of discontent roiling under the surface in our contemporary society and its causes need to be more seriously examined, not simply brushed aside and jawboned by pundits.

3 comments:

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Excellent and thoughtful article. What I find most disturbing however is that a movement that criticizes an economic sector (which surely deserves it) without extending the criticism to other more powerful political players is giving us proof that it has an interested political agenda of its own.

online ged said...

After reading your post i have a better understanding of what Occupy Wall Street? really is.
Your post have the information that is helpfull and very informative. I would like you to keep up the good work.
You know how to make your post understandable for most of the people.

Thumbs up and Thanks.

ENNYMAN said...

Thank you for this encouragement.
e.