written by Norm:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Norm at
Lots of opinions have been floating around about the Occupy Wall Street protests. So here are mine.
Let me state that I support free speech and the right to lawfully assemble. "Let the People Speak" will always be the American way.
So now we have "Occupy" groups in many cities all around the world. Good! Let off steam! Send a message, or several messages, or lots of messages. But what about those of us who are listening? What are we hearing?
The messages I hear above all the others is that the people who have wealth are greedy and that wealth should be spread out more evenly among the general population.
First, let's discuss greed. My dictionary defines greed as the "intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, food". We all desire wealth, power and food. Come on, admit it. Only monks say they have enough wealth and food to meet their basic needs and don't desire more. Power comes in many forms, like a promotion that gives us the authority over others, or being elected to a public office, or being a teacher who can control the classroom. I submit that greed shouldn't be a dirty word. We all have it in some form or another. Too much greed is bad but the desire to accumulate wealth or food or power isn't bad. After all, the more of these things we have, the more we can give back to others less fortunate. It is the "selfish" part we have a problem with. "Selfish" means being concerned with one's own profit and not being concerned with others. Not a good trait. So if we can find a way to accumulate wealth and also be altruistic, then we have a good citizen. I think we have plenty of those kind of people, even on Wall Street. Let's not assume everyone is selfish and uncaring.
The idea of the distribution of wealth from the "haves" to the "have-nots" is an old theory. The problem is that it never has worked. The Soviets tried it and it didn't work. The Chinese gave it a whirl but have discovered there aren't enough "haves" to support the "have-nots". Same is true in Cuba and Venezuela. Ideas and work create wealth. Government cannot create wealth and without wealth a society stagnates and doesn't grow. And there is the problem of the end game. Let's say we tax the rich at 75% of their income and return on their investments. Will the rich work harder to make more to keep 25% of what they make? Not probable. But what about all that money we now have to give to the "have-nots", and just who are these "have-nots"? Let's say they are the middle class wage earners, not students or seniors or the street people. So the middle class gets a gift of cash, maybe in the form of a tax break or gift card or cash to pay off debts. Let's be generous and assume that this gift is $5,000 for each adult. Great! They take it and spend it (sounding a bit like greed). More money is pumped into the economy and jobs are created. Great! Now jump ahead a year. The rich aren't rich any more. No money to redistribute. The middle class was happy but not now. Some want to go downtown and protest.
I admit I missed a few things in these examples but the point is that when people demonstrate they should think through what they protest against or want. Go ahead and pitch the tents and stencil the posters but please, first think about what will happen when you get what you are asking for. Then I'll listen.