Simply engaging in political diatribe isn’t going to change anything. Further, the scope and scale of the current financial crisis and impending world economic disaster make those who are responsible guilty of crimes against humanity—we’re not talking gross negligence, malfeasance, or financial felonies any more—the impact of what’s coming will be so huge we’re talking crimes against humanity. As Americans, we often denigrate the French for their socialistic tilt, but there’s a reason for that tilt. Their Revolution was very different from our Revolution. After more than two hundred years the privileged and ruling classes of France are still haunted by memories of “Madame Guillotine” or “The National Razor”, so when the public gets angry, they pay close attention—and actually do something about the public’s grievances! Does anyone in the OWS movement think the current Congress, or any of the financial titans who are still profiting from this, or any of the obscenely paid CEOs who have gutted our once great companies in pursuit of short-term profits—are really paying attention? Do any of them even care if the rest of us are being ripped off, or about whether our children can get an affordable education, or whether we have a roof over our heads, or if we have access to healthcare, or security in our old age—or whether we have JOBS! As long as there’s still money to be squeezed from the system, they’re just laughing at you!
So…what would it take to finally get their attention and compel them to fix the problems they’ve created? Maybe they need a dose of the same paranoia that the rich and ruling classes of France have—fear of the “National Razor”. Before I begin, I must state that I am not advocating ever shedding a drop of human blood…just providing some really good theater to make it clear that we mean business.
We need to create a tipping event (a flash point)—something that breaks the inertia of ‘business as usual’. Toward that end, I recently approached a film producer and another adviser about putting an alternate reality in front of the American people—life as it could or should be. I proposed running two TV series in parallel. One would be fictional courtroom drama, not constrained by the current judicial paralysis, but true, swift justice the way most of us would like to see it handed out. Characters mirroring their real-life counterparts would be put on trial for their crimes, their illicit gains clawed back into the working economy, and appropriate punishments meted out—real ‘feel good’ drama. This is fiction, so we could really play to the current public mood, and hopefully have everyone glued to their televisions each week. The second series foots to the first, a fictional political drama, where congress finally gets their act together and starts governing the way they should for the common good, setting a bold new course to serve all Americans well into the 22nd century—I’m talking really bold with all the attendant drama, debate, and hand-wringing. Examples of outcomes might include: 1) full ‘war-time’ mobilization of the entire nation to recapitalize and re-industrialize America—get everyone off their asses and pitching in; 2) mandatory National/Civic Service to train and socialize each new generation of workforce; 3) a new, updated constitution that will allow our democracy to evolve as the world changes; 4) carve out a portion of the economy to be focused on concepts of public capital, public profit, and public wealth by nationalizing key public services—defense, education, banking, utilities, healthcare, pharmaceutical—services that the public and broad sectors depend upon that shouldn’t be subjected to the speculative excesses of Wall Street greed; 5) required civics training and mandatory voting—if you have to pass a test and show proficiency to drive a car, we should ask just as much for the privilege of voting; 6) elimination of the two party choke-hold on the electoral process and elimination of the electoral college all together; 7) re-regulate capital markets and put back the firewalls to regain the public’s trust; etc; etc. The series would demonstrate a government that actually learns to work together for the greater good of the American people. I know the concept is pure fiction, but that’s the beauty of fiction—we’re not constrained by current economic and political thought and can ‘write’ our way forward to a better future. In a fictional format, we can explore the current challenges, move past them, and thoroughly overhaul the economic thinking and policy making in this country.
Of course both the film producer and the adviser said no one would touch the project; networks wouldn’t be interested because their advertisers wouldn’t be interested—they’re all part of the Wall Street money machine. But I wasn’t ready to abandon the concept yet and started looking around for other ways it might get done. Ah…how about all those ‘actors’ in the Occupy Wall Street Movement!
So here’s my latest dream scenario—instead of network drama I’ll settle for public theater:
- Members of OWS read this blog and decide to erect a set of public stocks, a jail house, and a functioning guillotine next to the Wall Street Bull at Bowling Green Park in Manhattan.
- Somewhere nearby, other OWS members with some knowledge of jurisprudence begin delivering mock indictments and holding mock trials for the financial titans who made vast fortunes at the public’s expense, for CEOs who received exorbitant compensation for habitual job cutting and driving their businesses into financial distress, and for members of congress, the Fed, and others whose actions or inaction facilitated Wall Street’s rape and pillage of the world economy. Other OWS members would build full-sized effigies for each man or woman indicted, which would sit in a prisoner’s box until judgment was delivered. Those who profited most from the current crisis, either politically or financially, would watch their effigy’s head being lopped off by Madame Guillotine on the nightly news, the pavement awash in pork blood—symbolic because these people are pigs. Other effigies would go to either the stocks or the jail house, depending on how they were judged, and left to rot in the rain. These mock trials would be based on rules we create, new rules of fairness and common sense, not the special interest laws and regulations that facilitated current behavior and still protect those most at fault—think trial and punishment scenes from Tale Of Two Cities.
Done right, with the current social and economic tensions, I think this would get their attention, and in the process, may give all of us a bright line to follow for getting out of this mess—there can be no going back to ‘business as usual’ on Wall Street or in Congress. It’s time for change agents who aren’t heavily invested in the current paradigms to take charge of the political and economic arena to facilitate a great leap forward—it’s time for each and every one of us to come off the bench and either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.