My God, What Do They Want?
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          The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, when recalling his years of medical practice, some involving a couch and some not, covering uncounted interviews and conversations, when asked to name some of the hardest cases he was asked to deal with, didn't hesitate. "Women, what do they want, my GOD what do they want?" I ask myself that question when I see the protesters around the country carrying signs that read OCCUPY WALL STREET!
           We all knew the meaning of SAVE THE WHALES and I LIKE IKE and even DOWN WITH HOT PANTS. But OCCUPY WALL STREET, that's got me confused. Do the carriers of that banner want to get a job there? Rent office space? Get some inside tips? (Would they be marching if they did?) Or maybe start a mad rush into the stock exchange and, by force of arms, shut down the ticker tape? What would they have us believe they would do then, imprison the stockbrokers, steal any cash on hand or on the books? Do they have a plan in place as to what to do when the local or state police or National Guard troops steps in like they did when George Wallace denied the black student entry to college in Alabama? What do they mean by occupy?
          Back in WWII, Germany "occupied" several European nations, ruthlessly getting rid of the government in power and changing the way of life of all their citizens by setting up a totalitarian government. After they "occupy" Wall Street, will the marchers head for the White House next? To some, the word "occupy" has connotations that go beyond just "objecting to", or "disagreeing with." I'm sure Polish citizens living in Warsaw in the late thirties and early forties would agree.

           You hear the words, and see the words "corporate greed" on some placards. I detest the insinuations in that phrase as much as anyone. Greed is rarely popular with the buying public. I would guess John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and most, if not all, other icons of industry may have had a hand in not selling products just to earn a decent living. More than likely the prices companies that stay in business charge will be more over-priced rather than under-priced in the minds of the consumer. And the overcharging is often referred to as greed. Most businesses charge what they can get away with, whatever people are willing to pay, whether it's a "fair" price is beside the point. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mr. and Mrs. Annenberg, and other business tycoons didn't get rich by asking only for a fair return on their labors. In business, you don't earn billions without charging an extremely greater amount for goods and services than they cost to deliver. Greed is nothing new, whether in a free enterprise system where many get rich, or in a dictatorship, where very few control the purse strings.
          Race tracks across the country offer a service that gives a person an "equal" opportunity to either win or lose. To get rich, or to get poor. And it is basically out of the gambler's control what happens, as he cannot read the future. And there are relatively few alternatives to choose from. But there will always be a winner in each race, it just may not be the one chosen. And no one is forced to go to the track and bet. It is a choice one makes freely. Besides this, the owners of the track, whether individuals or groups, are free to do what they want with any profits made, within prescribed limits, which includes salaries of employees. At Santa Anita, you make a choice and win or lose, but it's your choice. Isn't it much the same with the stock market?
          Now let's take another look at the protesters, especially if they are in fact blaming the Wall Street system, primarily the Stock Exchange I imagine, for the mess the economy of the country is in and their personal plights. Doesn't the Stock Exchange offer an investor a chance to make money or lose money, potentially a substantial sum either way. Doesn't the investor make the choice of what stocks he purchases, no one forcing him, and you either win or you lose. But in the market, of a limited number of choices an investor will realistically make, no winner is guaranteed. A risky venture indeed, it seems to me. They say only invest what you can afford to lose. And in a free enterprise system, the people who run the Exchange are able to spend any profits they make any way they choose, within limits, which includes salaries.
          Certainly there is a large difference in volume of money changing hands between the Stock Exchange and the race tracks around the country. But a case can be made for a similarity of risk and return, in terms of freedom of choice and blame for failure to make a profit, in a situation where it is clearly a risk takers environment. I am inclined to think that if you subscribe to the theory that running a business does involve risks, and that the operators of the business will suffer if they aren't successful and rejoice if they are, then a rush by consumers of their products to find fault with the business when times are tough, needs to be tempered. Do you think maybe the CEO's who received the gigantic payouts as a result of the government bailouts, inspired by Obama, when many citizens are struggling to keep their heads above water, are what really bothers those chanting Occupy Wall Street. Maybe it's not just the people on Wall Street who are being criticized. They, like the rest of us, are out there trying to earn the best living that their situation in life will allow. Maybe it's also the government that allows the activities that turn out such a great number of the wealthy class as a result of investing in the stock market. And of course, incidentally, it is a segment of the wealthy class that donates the most to campaigns of those running for offices that pass laws regulating the economy. Would you imagine that if any of the protesters had made a killing in the market that they would be in the parade of sign carriers? So what do the Occupy Wall Street protestors want? I doubt if many of them even know, exactly. Let's hope it isn't just more government handouts.