Sunday, October 16, 2011

Taking Over Wall Street

I highly commend those brave men and women all around the world who are standing up to the status quo and demonstrating against corporate greed.  This anger is long overdue but I have to wonder, is it enough?  Will mere demonstrations alone be enough to make the changes we desperately need in these horrible economic times?  Frankly, I doubt it.

What I think we need is a plan of reform.  It seems to me that the real problem here is twofold; first, that too few people are holding too much money; and second, that too many jobs have been lost needlessly.  Let me address these in order.

Our corporations are completely out of control when it comes to salaries.  While base salary is one indicator of the problem, it is far from the truth.  Entire compensation packages, including stock options, benefits and bonuses are often ridiculously high.  To illustrate, according to Forbes in 2011 the head of Bank of America will earn $1.9 million.  Several other corporate heads show even higher salaries:

Wal-Mart - $18.7 million
Exxon-Mobil - $28.9 million
General Electric - $21.4 million
Ford Motor Company - $17.9 million

These salaries are beyond obscene.  No one person on this planet needs that kind of income to live their life.  Period.  What's worse, these people are not making these salaries because they wrote a best selling book or found a cure for cancer.  They earn these salaries by charging the American people for services.  Bank of America, for example, has recently announced that they will charge $5 per month ($60 per year) to any customer who uses their debit card for purchases.  Note that these salaries are for one person; the head of the particular corporation.  Other executives make similar salaries.

The second problem is that too many jobs have been lost.  When the economy began to sour, corporations laid off large numbers of employees.  They also outsourced much of their work and in many cases, to foreign countries.  All the while, executive salaries and compensation remained high.

These are the problems that I see with the current situation and these are the most immediate problems that must be addressed.  To that end, I would like to recommend the following:

Using the above-referenced corporations as a starting point, I would recommend a boycott of their goods and services until such time as they agree to a) reduce all salaries to not more than $500,000 annually, including bonuses, benefits, stock options and all other compensation and b) return all jobs to the United States that have been outsourced to other countries.

These steps sound easy but in actuality, they require careful planning.  This would mean closing accounts with Bank of America and opening them with other institutions.  Avoid Exxon and Mobil gas stations, as well as products made by these companies.  Do not shop at Wal-Mart (or Sam's Club).  It also means not supporting Care Credit, Universal Studios or NBC (all owned by General Electric) and staying away from Ford Motor Company and all its subsidiaries.

This will undoubtedly hurt people in our own communities but only until their corporate officers agree to change their ways.  Once they do, then the boycott must move to other companies until ALL corporations in America follow this scheme.

If the people throughout the country demonstrating against corporate greed would start with these moves, we would see a change in our economy before the end of the year.  Personally, I think this would be much more effective than merely protesting on the streets.  Make your voices heard with your wallet and you WILL see a difference.