The problem of corporate greed doesn’t stretch its tentacles as far as Homer, it may seem. Here, safely out of its grasp, we are free to worry instead about ocean acidification or invasive species or whether winter comes early this year. Yet, such movements as Occupy Wall Street tend to inch the issue ever closer when our town chooses to organize its own event in support of others around the world. On Saturday a sizable crowd gathered at WKFL Park to stage their own protest.
Are we immune from the ravages of stock market greed? Corporate bonus overdose? Housing fraud?
Unfortunately no. If an economic problem as big as this one pinches our brothers and sisters in the Lower 48, it pinches us, too. We are part of the federation of states that are alarmed at America’s $14 trillion debt. How are corporate greed and debt tied together? Well, ailing corporations and banks got bailed out on the premise they would then create trickle-down economic opportunities and jobs. Their bailout would be shared like a blanket.
It didn’t happen.
Let’s see. Could it be because of corporate greed? The wealthy hung on to their money, tight.
These are the kinds of maddening circles an irrational period of America’s history is in the midst of writing. To merely characterize the protesters as a lazy generation of tweeters and texters is taking aim at messengers and fails to get to the point.
According to a chart showing the ratio of pay for a chief executive officer compared to the average worker’s pay, Japan came in 11 to 1. France, placed 15 to 1, and Venezuela ranked at an average at 50 to 1.
The United States? Our ratio of CEO to average worker pay is 475 to 1. (This statistic comes from a blog called “Middle of the Road, a Centrist view.”)
That number stands out not only for its brash tallness on a chart — it towers above the nearest country nine times over — but also for its real consequences for America’s majority of working-class people. At some point in the United States academy of business ideas, ambition wasn’t merely a desire to provide well for your family. “Well” is defined as the ability to provide a comfortable home for the family and send your children to college. Many will tell you we lost that a long time ago. Instead, “well” was transformed into “wealthy.”
In the “occupy” movement, Americans of all shapes and sizes just want something to be done. People are frustrated and disenfranchised, and willing to turn out in great discomfort and constant threat of arrest. They’re willing to do this in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Columbus, Cleveland, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and a list of other cities across this nation.
And even in Homer.
Not because they’re lazy and unemployed and expecting handouts. Homer residents didn’t turn out at the WKFL Park on Saturday just for something cool to do. They’re hoping, even demanding, that something be done.
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