Patrick Nee: Against Wall Street and Big Corporate Influence? Join The Tea Party
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Most of us by now have heard the incoherent rantings of the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd over the last couple of weeks. The protests that began in lower Manhattan have reached Kennedy Plaza in Providence and downtown Boston amongst other cities. Predictably, this movement is motivated by the traditional, as well as new, left wing grievances against greedy capitalist bankers, corporate crooks, manmade global warming, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the protesters themselves find it challenging to stay on message, I’ll attempt to dissect the chief complaint of this misguided group of rabble rousers. They have certainly picked an enemy in “Wall Street” that finds few outspoken defenders and deserves plenty of criticism based on their behavior over the last decade. However, the conclusions reached and political leanings of this crowd suggest an inability to connect the dots.
Obama Benefited From Wall Street
While both major political parties benefit greatly from the financial support of “Wall Street”, it is important to note that the Obama campaign coffers were overflowing in 2008 from “Wall Street” donors. Goldman Sachs employees were the second largest contributors from any individual company. Is this the same Goldman Sachs that inspires the protesters to sing “We Shall Overcome”? Are these some of the same protesters who are calling for the re-election of President Obama? While it would not be accurate to assume all the protesters are Obama supporters, it certainly looks a lot more like his base by the day.
President Obama is certainly not unique in this respect. The Establishment of the Democratic and Republican parties have long benefitted from cozy Big Business and “Wall Street” relationships. One only has to look at the growth of the K Street lobby over the last couple of decades to understand this unhealthy relationship and the way it cuts across party lines. I’m not sure this is the bi-partisanship people have been calling for. While we know that the politicians and the special interests benefit from this arrangement, we need to start thinking about whom if anyone suffers. Large multi-nationals have legal teams to help navigate expensive and complicated regulations, and have teams of corporate accountants to navigate a tax code that is over 50,000 pages long.
Large multi-nationals have armies of lobbyists who push for special deductions, subsidies, and “loopholes”. Case in point, General Electric has taken heat over the last few months for paying a shockingly low corporate tax rate relative to other companies their size. They also happen to pay hundreds of accountants millions of dollars in order to pay the lowest effective corporate tax rate possible. Here’s the kicker, it’s all perfectly legal. As a side note, the CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, is the Obama “jobs czar”. Does this outrage the protesters? How about Solyndra? Another politically connected company that appears to have received special treatment. Where does the “Occupy Wall St” crowd fall on this one? How many “shovel ready” jobs could have been paid for with the 535 million dollars we “invested” in Solyndra?
Perpetuating A Failed Model
In the spirit of fairness, both major party establishments in Washington have contributed to the growth of government, and as a result the growth of “government capitalism” and a system where politicians pick winners and losers. While the Establishment has coddled the giants of industry, the majority of job creation and growth has come from small business and entrepreneurs, and this is the only way forward out of our current economic malaise. These are start-ups and small companies who cannot afford K Street lobbyists and an army of lawyers and accountants. The barriers to entry protect the powerful and stifle everyone else. As a result, the American economy suffers, and the American worker suffers.
As with most problems we face in life, we can find a silver lining if we look hard enough. An enthusiastic, organic and truly American movement was sparked on February 19th of 2009. Unlike our friends across the pond who turned towards government regulators and bureaucrats to lead them out of deep recession, the Tea Party movement was born in America. A group that opposed Wall St. bailouts, auto bailouts, Big Government “stimulus”, and tax increases. Undoubtedly conservative and libertarian in their views, the Tea Party has challenged the Jeff Immelt’s, Solyndra’s, Goldman Sachs’ as well as the Establishments within the Republican and Democratic Party who have benefitted from the status quo. Like the skunk at the garden party, the Tea Party is dismissed by Democrats and Republicans alike as a nuisance or worse. They are a threat to the Establishment as the only organized force in America for truly free markets, limited government and real tax reform. Whether the Tea Party supports a national consumption tax “Fairtax”, a flat income tax, or a combination similar to Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, all these ideas have something very important in common. We are all treated equally in a Tea Party world. No more special deductions, subsidies, or “loopholes”. No more K Street favors, no more Solyndra’s, no more General Electric’s. Shouldn’t that be the goal?
I call on all those who oppose corruption, uneven playing fields, and are yearning for a positive and uplifting way forward to join the Tea Party. This includes the misguided “Occupy Wall St.” folks who honestly believe in the founding principles of this great country. We only ask that you take a shower.
Patrick Nee is a Retirement Plan Consultant who resides in Boston, MA (home of the original Tea Party).
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