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Posts Tagged ‘Middle Class’

I’ve heard this stated many times before… “When the revolution comes, they’ll not only want to know what side you’re on, but what side you’ve been on.”

I’m reading about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and watching the “Occupy Portland” protests skeptically. The protesters in Portland (estimated by police to be about 5000) gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland yesterday after marching from the city’s waterfront.  With so few news outlets in the northwest, we’re not quite sure what these protesters want.  Some say they want Obama re-elected, but claim to hate “Wall Street.”  You know the same Wall Street that gave its largest campaign donation in history to Obama, who in turn, bailed out the banks and made Goldman Sachs what seems like the 4th branch of the government!

99%

The one thing we do know is they’re angry, that 1% have all the money and they’ve got next to nothing and believe they are the 99%.

People are hurting. This is not a one party issue. This is a human issue. This is a fight over the future of America.  I’m not saying you can’t be rich, but you’ve got to pay your taxes.  How much should they be?   Let’s start the debate.  However, when people are losing their homes, their jobs, everything they’ve saved, and you don’t exhibit compassion, you don’t reach down to help them, then you’re on the wrong side.

We all know friends or have family members who have worked really hard all their life only to lose their home and get no support from the banks.  The banks are on the wrong side.  Greedy real estate bankers loaned money to anyone who could “fog a mirror” which then cratered the housing market and is now helping bankrupt the country.  Then they demanded taxpayers bail them out, a demand that complicit, corrupt politicians (yes, of both parties) were only too happy to oblige.

Occupy Portland

And, like most of the protestors I’m fed up with the political gridlock in Washington.  Both sides stand in the way of change.  At this point I don’t see any difference between George Bush than when Obama was elected.  The middle-class is worse off.  The gap between rich and poor is alarming. Because it stifles ambition. Why make the effort if you can’t get ahead?  And if you think the American Dream still exists, you probably live in Europe, the odds of going from the bottom to the top are much more difficult.

And suddenly all of this is a hot issue?!  Huh?

Some politicians and members of the media have chastised the protesters suggesting that they should stop protesting and go get a job or should instead start companies so they can help form a less self-involved, more gregarious and forward-thinking American capitalism.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Slam the folks trying to shed some light.

These people aren’t against the system. Most are not lazy people sitting around looking for a handout.  They don’t want to bring down America. They just want some sense of fairness restored to the system as it is, and they want a chance to participate and be heard. Instead, they’ve been marginalized by corporate money and ripped off by their banks and financial institutions.  They’ve been promised that hard work and a good education are what it takes to succeed, then slammed by a lack of opportunities, then told by sneering political candidates that if you’re poor, well it’s they’re own fault. It’s not really surprising that things have reached a boiling point.

This isn’t about protests; it’s about how banks, corporations and corrupt government policies are disenfranchising and bankrupting everyday Americans.  The protests are about taking proactive steps towards rectifying — or at least shedding light on — that situation.

Since the Vietnam War, I’ve never seen anything like this as a form of political protest. It’s wrenching, honest and true.  Personally, I can’t stop thinking about this guy,

Photos courtesy of AP (Map), Oregonlive (Pioneer Place) and We Are The 99 Percent.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Meetings.  Talking.  Meetings.

We’re always being reminded that political leaders, policymakers and industry leaders are “gathering” to hash out ideas on how to get the mojo back and what the key is to unlocking innovations and jobs of the future.  We’re suppose to feel good, but from my vantage there is little visible in the way of action.

The White House has made a quiet but extensive effort to reach out to corporate executives in a series of dinners and lunches at the White House with President Barack Obama.  Attendees have largely been kept secret or at minimum very quiet… until now!

Politico.com states Keith Wandell (Harley-Davidson CEO) had dinner with Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top White House officials.  Another comprehensive list is available HERE.  It’s not clear if it was at an off-site local restaurant or something more elegant in the White House.  Given the state-of-the-states, I seriously doubt the motor company will be creating any new jobs soon. In fact, the recent ratified agreement calls for a drawdown of nearly 50% of the employee’s base at the York, PA operations.  Asia or India look like expansion alternatives and I suspect it won’t be long before we hear about plants being set up there.  So, what did Mr. Wandell share w/ the White House chief of staff?  Would H-D coming to the government to offer ideas on how they can help be a startling conversation changer?  Does H-D have eyes and ears on future trends that they can grab and then be able to exploit?

I’m not sure, but do you think the U.S. is still the world’s center for innovation, or is it falling behind countries such as India and China?  Fueling the debate is a new poll on innovation published by Newsweek. One interesting finding: while 82% of Chinese citizens believe the U.S. remains a technologically innovative country, only 74% of Americans feel the same way.

At any rate,  the other industry officials who joined Mr. Wandell at the June 16, Rahm Emanuel dinner were:

Penny Pritzker, CEO, Pritzker Realty
Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners
Mike Fascitelli, CEO, Vornado Realty Trust
Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO, Alcoa
Dave O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron
Richard Smith, CEO, Realogy
Mike Ullman, CEO, J.C. Penney
Keith Wandell, CEO, Harley Davidson

I’m not attacking or implying that only favor-curriers are “sitting at the presidents table” but I’m not reading a lot about how the voice of the average lower and middle class American are being heard.  As the White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers has recently urged attendees at these dinners to “think about what your institution should be called on to do, not in its own interest, but in the broader national interest.”

Photo courtesy of Presidential inauguration.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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