Why I’m Excited About Occupy Wall Street

Photo courtesy http://www.phawker.com

Yes, I have an MBA from one of the top business schools in the country. Therefore I understand that business serves an important purpose and businesses become big because they’re good at what they do. I also know the purpose and impact of the stock market. However, I think beyond raising capital for growth, the stock market is just another tool for compulsive gamblers. Companies become too focused on increasing shareholder value, making decisions that benefit their quarterly earnings but harm their long-term sustainability.

Power corrupts, there’s no getting around that. Money is an important tool, but living with the sole intention of making more money doesn’t usually buy happiness. Plenty of research has been done on the subject, and shows that once we’re able to comfortably meet our basic needs, most people are happier than when they’re making more money. Wikipedia.

So the bankers who claim their companies are “too big to fail” and require bonuses even when they’ve run their companies into the ground are the ones I think need to be fed to the rabid masses. Not all companies are bad. Not all industries are all bad. Even the worst companies in the worst industries do some good. But there needs to be more oversight. Our government is too weak, too enmeshed, too well-paid by the very companies they should be regulating.

Economies fluctuate cyclically, like anything. But allowing the few to profit at the expense of the many while real income growth is much less for most Americans is criminal, and should be stopped. I’m happy that these people are brave enough to protest, and I really hope this leads to actual reform. One of the main reasons I went to business school was because I saw that protesting no longer works. Looking at the Seattle protests of the WTO, and how they had no measurable impact, I felt that if I could infiltrate corporate America perhaps I could influence companies to make more responsible decisions. To make choices that don’t just benefit shareholders at the expense of their other shareholders.

Well, I’ve yet to infiltrate the ranks, being perhaps a bit too entrepreneurial for my own good. But most of my classmates have, and one of the things I loved about Kenan-Flagler was that so many of my classmates, even the ones in Finance, are good people who want to make the world a better place. I only hope they aren’t brainwashed by the old guard.

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