Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Occupy this...

Both sides now    “You must watch it, have to,” she told me. “I usually disregard most documentaries because their producers can skew facts. But this one related to what’s happening on Wall Street. It helped me understand the Occupy movement.  By the time it was over, I was fuming.”
We were in line at Office Max at the copy counter.
“Please come to my class,” I said to her, a willowy 5’ 6” blond, “tell my students your thoughts about the Occupation. We study controversial issues.”
“No thanks,” she said, “I just want you to see Inside Job. You’ll see that more people need to be concerned, need to get involved.”
Hearing that, I repeated my request that she come as a guest lecturer. Again she refused. She paid for promotional materials she’d ordered for a media event being promoted by her employer, a TV station with an office in Danville. 
When I found that Inside Job won the 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, I wanted to watch it, wanted to see what, in the opinion of its director, Charles H. Ferguson, had produced the financial crash that had caused many national economies to teeter or topple, that had ruined, as the woman from the TV station had said, so many investors who are America’s “little people”.
“People like me and you,” she had said, “people who are the ones who are having to pay for the bailout.”
She was upset that none of the culprits had gone to jail, that many of them had actually made huge profits despite the staggering losses they had caused. “That’s controversial!” she had insisted.
Our conversation ended before I could discuss the merits of capitalism versus communism or socialism. From what I’d seen and heard from the protestors near Wall Street, many were clamoring for more than cleaning up the system. Some were leading anti-Semitic rants. Others used the gathering to promote Islam, its opposition to usury, the mistreatment of Muslims, the need for more people to pay attention to Muhammad, and especially, what passes as his final sermon.
Among the other voices I heard was that of my youngest nephew, a high school senior. In a pertinent essay, he had written, “...investment bankers on Wall Street began buying enormous amounts of mortgages...and selling them to private investors. Because housing prices were always going up, there appeared to be no risk involved. If a homeowner defaulted, the bank would be left with a house with a value greater than the mortgage, a house that would sell quickly. Lenders started believing they had beaten the system, and began providing mortgages that were almost sure to default.”
My astute teenaged nephew concluded, “For our prosperity as a nation to be safe, we need more regulations on the market. Of course, it’s easy to say this now, but, in times of plenty, we need strong, knowledgable leadership to take a stand against ‘free money’ for the good of everyone.”
Before deciding to present my nephew’s views to my class so that we might explore the dynamics of the “knowledgable leadership” he envisions, I read  Congressman Allen West’s Weekly Wrapup of 10/31/11.
Fortunately, he, too, shared thoughts about the protests against capitalism. In the best of all worlds, I would prefer to see him debate Charles H. Ferguson in my classroom while my nephew and the woman from the TV station were in attendance. I wonder how they would respond to Congressman West. Might Mr. Ferguson produce a sequel to Inside Job, a documentary about remedies and responsible leadership?
That thought excited me as I read West’s remarks:

The thought on the top of my mind as I am writing this is the “Occupy” movement and the liberal progressive mentality towards capitalism in America. The problem in America is not capitalism but rather “crony capitalism” whereby our federal government selects winners and losers by way of subsidies. 
As well, we have a federal government which now considers itself as the preeminent “venture capitalist fund” in our country. There can be no doubt that we now see the federal government using taxpayer dollars to fund companies aligned with a certain ideological agenda. 
The hypocrisy is therefore obvious.
When I think of capitalism -- production, manufacturing, investment, innovation, ingenuity, craftsmanship -- I got a firsthand vision of it this past weekend.
The Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is second only to that held in Monaco, and we are working hard to make it second to none. Everyone should know that Fort Lauderdale (with the greater South Florida area) is the marine industry capital of the world. 
With all that stated, it was rather odd to have the “Occupy” protestors marching out in front of the boat show. I would have preferred them taking the time to go inside. If they had, they would have seen American craftsmanship and ingenuity at its best. They would have seen the time-honored American tradition of ship building. Yes, America is still a maritime nation!
My question to the protesters is simple, “What would you prefer? We create nothing in our nation and everyone just finds subsistence from the bureaucratic nanny-state?”
As I walked along the floating docks and spent time speaking to vendors and yacht builders, it was easy to get a sense of pride in America. The Boat Show vendors are often family-owned businesses that have existed for years and will be handed down to another generation- that is unless tax policies such as “Estate Taxes” continue to ruin the American dream of building a business and passing it down to their children.
I had the pleasure of touring several of these American-made yachts, truly vessels of impeccable beauty and grace, filled with American components and artistry.
We conducted a Congressional summit on board one of these yachts and I was the only Member of Congress to attend. However, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart did send a staffer. 
At the Summit we discussed the concerns of the marine industry. The greatest concerns emanated from the “war” on producers and consumers. Liberals call these producers “ the rich,” and demand they pay their “fair share.” The other concerns discussed at the summit were linked with the over-regulatory environment affecting the industry.
The fear from the marine industry is this war against the private sector and the emphasis on growing bigger government. Government does not create wealth nor jobs.
We must have fiscal, monetary, tax, trade, and regulatory policies, which set the conditions to incentivize and revitalize our free market/free enterprise private sector in America.
                                            B. Koplen 11/1/11
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