I Never Even Spoke with Anyone from the Occupy Wall Street Movement
Full disclosure part I: a month ago, while on my way to a business meeting, I saw a few OWS folks “camping” in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Market street in San Francisco. I did not even have the time to take a picture with my iPhone, let alone chat with someone. This is the closest I ever got to touching, or being touched, by anyone in the movement.
So, I do not even know whether folks in the movement will agree or disagree with my simple interpretation of their overarching message:
- Our financial system is badly broken.
- Rather than letting it continue with business as usual, the Federal Reserve Bank should take over the banking system.
- Many of the services provided today by banks can be provided (once the Fed takes over) through devices such as iPhone just as they do in rural India.
- Substitutes could and should be developed for the services that can’t be carried out through iPhones or similar devices.
- Developing such services is no different from developing alternative sources of energy or health care services.
- Once the government puts in the appropriate policies (to encourage development of such services), a ton of entrepreneurs will jump at the opportunity.
I have no doubt that there are zillion details that I am not aware of that need to be figured out. I am a software engineer, not a banker.
But, I believe that at a very high level bullets 1-6 above capture some aspects of the message folks in the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to get across. Hence, I am really surprised at the question I see cited so often “But what do they really want?!” IMHO they simply want a major reform of the financial system. The details for so doing are better left to experts.
Full disclosure part II: I have to admit my blood boiled today when I saw the videos from UC Davis. As I said in a tweet an hour or so ago, it starts feeling like the brutality inflicted on the Bonus Army in 1932. Tim O’Reilly goes one step further in his post in which he brings up the loaded topic of Banality of Evil.
So, I might be writing this post with some strong emotions. But, I think the thesis I pose is directionally correct.