Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider
Someone in the newsroom just reported that, having been thwarted in their attempt to close the New York Stock Exchange this morning, the Occupy Wall Street protesters are now headed to Union Square.And there were faint, but audible, groans in the newsroom.
Because Union Square is near our office. And that means the protesters might snarl up traffic and mess with our commutes and appear to be protesting us–just for doing our jobs.
So I’ll just go ahead and admit it:
I think the protesters have a point. And I think they have made that point here in New York.
And I wish they would now take the message to Washington, which is where the problem really lies.
Yes, the bank bailouts were odious. Yes, Wall Street bankers make boatloads of money. Yes, income inequality in this country has hit a level that is wholly un-American and has not been seen since the 1920s. Yes, the unemployment rate is still shockingly high. Yes, corporate profits are at an all-time high.
But as much as its cool and popular to hate on bankers and corporations, the fact that they’re loaded and making huge profits actually isn’t their fault. The bankers and corporations are just aggressively trying to beat their competitors and grow their businesses, which is what bankers and corporations in a free-market economy try to do. For the most part, they’re playing by the rules set for them by…Congress.
So if folks are unhappy with the circumstances the rules have produced–and they have every reason to be–they should take their complaints to the people who write the rules.
Yes, I know, the idea is that the big problem in our society is the money in politics–the fact that huge corporations have huge lobbying budgets and can persuade Congress to write rules that they want.
But, again, if this undeniable fact is producing lousy rules, the ultimate responsibility for that still lies with the people who write the rules.
If Congress’s decision-making has been corrupted by Wall Street, then its Congress’s fault. If the lobbying rules that Congress has written make it impossible for Congress not to be corrupted by Wall Street, then that’s still Congress’s fault.
And until Congress grows enough of a backbone to write rules that appeal to folks who don’t make their livings from banks and/or corporations (a small percentage of the country, actually), you can’t blame the banks and corporations for playing by those rules.
The job of any competitor, whether in a sporting event or a competitive industry, is to try to win while playing within the rules. (Obviously, the more admirable athletes and corporations also play with high integrity and sportsmanship, while the less admirable ones don’t, but you’ll have both kinds of players in every league.)
Most American banks and corporations are playing within the rules.
Given the extreme inequality, joblessness, and corporate profitability those rules have produced, they should probably be at least moderately adjusted.
So, again, we hope Occupy Wall Street now decides to go Occupy Congress. And then persuades the rest of the country to vote the bums out.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.