Of course I support Krugman's army. Not because they have answers; but because humans are the neurons of the mass mind. OWS is thinking in action. If nothing else, it's a start on a very long struggle.
At a medical-innovation conference in Cleveland this week, I heard chief executive officers complain about being treated like “criminals,” about profit being regarded as intrinsically suspicious, about the president saying unkind things about oil companies, about exemplars of hard work and success being viewed as greedy rather than productive. Like Rodney Dangerfield, the rich may be making money, but what they really want is respect.
Even worse, they said, was the fact that their every suggestion for getting the economy back on track was denounced as a self-serving grab for more profits. Shouldn’t it be obvious to everyone that it’s better to give corporate America a tax holiday for overseas income, because otherwise the money will never return home? Isn’t it clear that we need more high-skills visas for foreigners? Have we seen the airports in Asia? Doesn’t the U.S. realize that if Germany and China and South Korea roll out the red carpet for companies, giving them every tax advantage and regulatory break to locate there, that the U.S. must up the ante?
The CEOs have a point. Not on the tax holiday for overseas income -- that’s a scam. But the U.S. could make it easier to do business here. We do need more high-skills visas. We do need to reform our tax code, reduce our deficit, upgrade our education system and repair our infrastructure. We even need to compete with the incentives these companies receive to relocate their factories and research centers; it’s a fact of the modern economy, and we can’t pretend otherwise.
But the self-pitying, self-righteous tone of these complaints misses the big picture, and makes the underlying problem worse: The rest of America doesn’t trust corporate America right now. The rich have been getting fabulously richer, corporate America is sitting on trillions in cash reserves, and where has that gotten the rest of the country? A shabby, jobless recovery in the early Aughts, followed by a credit bubble, followed by a crash in which ordinary Americans had to bail out Wall Street, followed by the worst economy in generations...
Krugman has said the something similar -- the OWS gang can't be as dangerously incompetent as the titans of industry and Wall Street. My recent post on the crummy option for middle-class investing is partly a reflection of this global mistrust. Why should we trust the financial statements publicly traded companies are producing? And if we can't trust those statements, how can we trust stock funds?
Good job OWS and OccupyMN. Keep at it.
The rest of us don't have to merely stand and wait. Even if we can't physically join OWS, or even local movements like Occupy Minnesota, we can donate though. Start with $25. (PS. The donation worked without providing a phone number of email address. The inevitable paper spam will at least help our ailing USPS.)