What a great time you must be having. I used to demonstrate a lot myself. In the 1950s and 1960s we marched and picketed for civil rights for black Americans and we accomplished a lot. In the late ’60s and ’70s we demonstrated to end the war in Vietnam and “bring it on home to Babylon…” as we often said. The results were a catastrophe for the Cambodians but probably good for the U.S., which was caught in a meat grinder there in Asia.
My wife and I also danced and screamed and sang for the Black Panther Party. That was a bit of a mistake but we were at Yale and we didn’t know any better.
But we always had specific goals: voting rights. Equal housing and accommodations. Bringing the troops home.
What are your specific goals? It means zero to be against greed. Greed is a basic part of animal nature. Being against it is like being against breathing or eating. It means nothing.
And, what does it mean to be against corporations? Corporate ownership is by far the most efficient, responsible way of organizing industrial production there has ever been. It is a billion times more democratic that the Marxist forms of organization some of your speakers are advocating. Marxism is so much uglier than capitalism it’s not even in the same universe. Marxism is just systemized envy, violence, and repression.
Besides, your parents and grandparents are the owners of those corporations through their retirement investments. Do you want to impoverish your own parents and grandparents? Do you want to impoverish yourselves?
I agree that there are some bad apples on Wall Street. I spent about ten years exposing corporate and financial fraud for Barron’s magazine and I found a lot to write about.
But the overwhelming majority of the people on Wall Street get up early, work an incredibly long, hard honest day, mostly trying to make money for your parents and grandparents and for the endowments of your universities — and for a very few wealthy people who often leave their money to your schools.
To tar all of Wall Street with the same brush is outrageously unfair and false.
Look, many of you have educations. If you want to fight the evil you see in finance and industry, get to work reading the corporate filings, see if there has been fraud, and where you find it, report it to the SEC or write about it or blog about it.
But don’t just whine and beat drums about people you don’t know and don’t mock the best political and economic system there has ever been. Do something specific and constructive, and if you are willing to work as hard as the people on Wall Street, you might just accomplish something.