I sympathize with the upset throngs participating in "Occupy (fill-in-the-blank)." I'm upset, too! But, the blame for the current economic situation needs to be shared among all responsible parties.
Just as I would oppose a police policy of bursting in on home invasions with shotguns blazing, I oppose indiscriminately blaming a street (Wall Street) and all parties working there for something perpetrated by a small percentage of bad actors. And, by the way, many of the "perps" are not on Wall Street, so let's not forget them.
Here are a few things to remember:
• Both political parties supported maximizing home ownership via sub-prime mortgages and easy qualifications.
• Real estate lobbyists, developers and construction businesses supported this, and a lot of people in related jobs made good money in that climate. .. while it lasted.
• The SEC stood by as low-quality mortgages (poor credit and high down-side risk) were bundled into investment vehicles and sold.
• Credit default swaps were allowed to flourish without any real effort to substantiate the backing behind them.
• Those who have walked away from homes have essentially left us (the remaining homeowners) and the banks to foot the bill for their decision.
• Many of our politicians are so busy attacking the other party and creating "spin" that they have no time, interest, or energy to act in the interest of the majority. And, the media is strikingly incapable of holding them accountable for this failure to work together to move the country forward.
• Let's not forget Europe (might as well throw everyone into the pool). Little Greece, with an unsustainable percentage of government workers and irresponsible government retirement system, is wagging the Eurozone dog and holding back (along with fears related to Italy and Spain) a world-wide recovery.
So, while "Occupy Wall Street" is a catchy banner, it really doesn't illustrate an understanding of the breadth of causes behind the current discontent. Nor has the media captured and clarified legitimate, substantive structural changes that some of the protesters have in mind.
Instead of insightful discussion of potential changes (higher homeowner equity requirements as in Canada, tougher requirements for mortgage-based investment vehicles, re-instatement of the "uptick" rule prior to shorting stocks, elimination of 2X directional ETFs, etc.), we generally get media coverage of sound bites from an eclectic collection of upset citizens and few coherent thoughts on what can be done to prevent future excesses. There seems to be more constructive discussion actually taking place on Wall Street than elsewhere. And, the solutions are well within the power of our politicians and regulators, if not yet within their will to act.
• Bob Beane is an economics graduate of the College of Wooster and an MBA accounting graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He has been a resident of Ahwatukee since 1992.