In the beginning I had mixed feelings regarding the recent protests against Wall Street, banks and the extremely rich Americans. After all, this nation is built upon a capitalist system. Land of the free and home of the brave, where opportunity abounds creating the opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, take some risks and with a little luck turn nothing into a billion dollar industry. From our earliest settlers in Jamestown to the recently deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs, capitalism is wired into our DNA. Our history is filled with successes and failures in all shapes and sizes. It’s what drives us as a people.
From the time we arrived on the shores of the “New World,” Americans pushed west to establish farms and ranches where they could own the land and reap the rewards from their backbreaking work and dangerous risks that faced them in their quest. This has always been the American Dream and while that dream takes on many different forms its basis is deeply rooted in our society.
Our little publishing company could never have gotten off the ground back in the late 1940s and survived through seven decades without this wonderful system. We’re no fortune 500 company but we’ve been able to survive the ups and downs of the economy, changes in technology, the fates of poor mistakes, some luck and even a few natural disasters. Capitalism provided the incentive to work hard, set our own pace and then reap the fruits of those labors.
Marching against such a system, even with the flaws that will appear in any system somehow didn’t feel right. But as the protest has grown it’s very apparent that it’s not just about greed or banks, bail outs or abuses, jobs or even homes. It’s really about frustration and the fear that the American Dream no longer exists or has been slowly stolen to be controlled by the select few, who seem to have far too much control and have removed all risk. In other words they’re playing with a stacked deck of cards.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.