The epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement is Zuccotti Park. It’s become a significant problem for the Mayor of New York City. Mayor Bloomberg has thus far successfully walked the tight-rope. He has to keep the City open for business and, at the same time, not infringe the right of Occupy Wall Street to protest how that very business is conducted. I’m not without admiration for Mayor Bloomberg. But, brilliant and measured, as he is, he doesn’t understand what the Occupy Wall Street Movement is, or is becoming. Consider this quote, as reported in the New York Times:
“My personal view is, why don’t you get out there and try to do something about the things that you don’t like, create the jobs that we are lacking, rather than just yell and scream,” Mr. Bloomberg said Thursday. “But if you want to yell and scream, we’ll make sure you can do it.”
Perhaps it’s his personal wealth that blinds him. Mayor Bloomberg is clearly at the top of the 1%. He is reported to be the 12th richest person in the country with a net worth of $19.5 billion, most of it from and still invested on Wall Street. http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/; visited 11/7/11. He sees the Occupy Wall Street Movement as just kids yelling and screaming in a park in his city. He supports their right to yell and scream but like the many of the rest of the 1%, he’s not listening, yet. He probably thinks that the movement will go away, perhaps with bitter cold in a winter only weeks away. I hope he’s wrong. I hope that Occupy Wall Street will prove that it can’t be driven away so conveniently. Perhaps then Mayor Bloomberg and more of the 1% will begin to hear what is being said.
If Mayor Bloomberg was hearing what Occupy Wall Street was saying he wouldn’t make a comment that essentially boils down to “Get a Job!” Isn’t that the point here. We have rescued the machinery that the 1% uses to create and hold their wealth. But, they aren’t putting that money to work on Main Street. They’re sitting on it. Credit for small business and ordinary people remains tight, despite attempts by the government to ease it. Unemployment remains above 9%, despite government attempts to reduce it. Job creation is improving but remains tenuous and anemic. Current job growth will take many years to make a substantial reduction in unemployment.
Occupy Wall Street is trying to tell Mayor Bloomberg and others that there are too few jobs. They are pointing out that the 1% is hording money and not putting it to work where it can create jobs. The furor over excessive executive compensation is but a first focus on this problem. But,it is something Occupy Wall Street is clearly pointing out. The admonition to quit yelling and screaming and get a job in these circumstances evidences ignorance and avoidance of responsibility. Who has the greater ability to create jobs, the folks in Zuccotti Park or Mayor Bloomberg and the 1%? Who is failing the nation on this issue?
Beneath the ignorance evidenced by Mayor Bloomberg’s “Get a Job!” statement is an even more troubling lack of perception. The “kids” in Zuccotti Park and whether they have jobs isn’t the whole issue. They are just the tip of the iceberg. They really do represent the unrest, dissatisfaction and desire for change in the way business is conducted of much of the 99% . The amount of money held in the IRAs, 401Ks, and straightforward savings and investments by the 99% is substantial. It is a little bit greater than the amount held by the 1%. Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the 1% need to listen to the yelling in Zuccotti Park. It’s a warning. They are the voice standing on the tip of the iceberg . They are yelling: “Change course for your own good!” The 1% would be wise to listen.