Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Occupy Wall Street - Too Preoccupied for Their Own Good?

They call themselves the 99%. Their cry is for the Everyman - the hard working American making up the the backbone of our middle class- the paradigm of our collective standards. They admonish big business and whip us into a frenzy with horror stories of greed, corruption, and apathy. They laud those who stand up against the status quo and aren't afraid to brazenly follow their own ideals.

This September commemorates the one year anniversary of the original OWS movement and hundreds of protesters once again descended upon lower Manhattan. Their signage boldly proclaimed messages of revolt and hope and they spoke passionately of changing the world. They crowded the city streets, crammed into parks, and held rallies in the shadows of iconic New York store fronts.

But for all of the outward display of enthusiasm, perhaps there was one simple quandary in omission. What if one was to turn his / her attention momentarily from the showy spectacle and peer into one of those shop windows? Would they see the face of an emboldened patriot ready to join in the fray and spearhead the next charge?

Perhaps not. More likely one would find a frustrated small business owner who is withering slowly and painfully in the choke-hold of the very movement that claimed to be his champion. While the movement speaks of Wall Street fat cats lounging in ergonomic thrones high above the city streets impervious to the throngs below, the hardworking small business owners of New York are instead met with the backs of disgruntled masses that are literally creating human barricades between them and their livelihood. No right-minded New Yorker is going to fight through an angry mob to make a purchase and with tales of police activity and random acts of violence, not to mention the added sidewalk congestion, non-participators are most likely to avoid the area in question altogether. Thus a huge wedge is driven between the entrepreneur and his potential clientele. During the original OWS movement, countless small businesses were negatively effected, and this time around seems no different.

How ironic that a grass-fed movement hell-bent on the promotion and betterment of a dwindling middle class is simultaneously stabbing the wound it is trying to suture. Rather than indulging in a inharmonious cacophony of platforms and agendas, would it not be more effective and idealistic to actually promote small businesses and the hard-working citizens behind them? Why not be proactive rather than loitering on the streets? As the old adage goes "actions speak louder than words," and if OWS wants America to listen, they better start DOING something.
Wall Street Walks is an independently run small business built on the dreams and passions of one woman who abandoned a lucrative career in finance to build a fulfilling, meaningful business. What could be more American than that? However, instead of being applauded and supported, tours were forced to be canceled due to OWS-related crowd control thus putting everything she has worked for in jeopardy.
To truly overtake the 1% and reclaim our country back from large corporations, perhaps the best ammunition is an appreciated, supported middle class. And who better to exemplify that valued Everyman than a small business owner?