Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street (edited)

I reread what I wrote yesterday, and had to edit a little bit. I haven't really thought about OWS too much until now, even though they have been so "in my face". But now that I have begun to pay attention, my thinking slowly evolves.

I may have mentioned once or twice that I work in the world of finance. Just so happens that the Zuccotti park where the OWS'ers have camped since 9/17 is right outside my office building. As most Wall Streeters I am a bit confused about the message and what they are hoping would be the result of the protest, but unlike most Wall Streeters, I do symphatize with them. The overall philosophy against corporate greed is something that I can wholeheartedly support. In my opinion publicly owned corporations should have strong independent boards that are more than just a rubber-stamp for the executives, and should be steering the company in way that benefits the society, environment as well as their clients. In the long run this is the best (the only) way for sustainable success. Instead, today's decisions are made by CEOs and top executives to maximize the stock price in a short run (to better benefit from the stock options they own). The compensation of top executives is out of control; supposedly to be able to hire and keep the best talent. I can just ask, as my 8-year old would say: Really? Really? The most screaming injustice are the huge exit packages that CEOs get, no matter whether the stock price is up or down, or event if the company is bankrupt. These exit packages are designed so that CEOs would not fight takeover bids in fear of losing their jobs, but it's just gone too far.

Obviously, I am a capitalist. I believe in meritocracy, pursuit of excellence, and working hard to get ahead. That is the philosophy  that America was built on. And that is still to this day, the beauty of this country. Immigrants come here and build themselves good lives. But something along the way has gone wrong, and values such as honest work ethics, honor, good old productiveness, have given way to greed and entitlement. Capitalism has become a predatory sport.

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