Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Goes GLOBAL...What It Means

Occupy Wall Street has gone GLOBAL--demonstrations broke out in cities worldwide, including Australia, Taiwan, England, France, Spain (over 300,000 people), Italy (where they broke bank windows and tossed fire bombs inside), and even "down under" Australia. Saturday's protests affected 950 cities in 80 countries. People in Europe and Asia were walking around with the same "We are the 99%" signs!

They are.

There IS a common theme--"Anger at austerity and unfair economic systems,” where the rich get special breaks and the gold while everyone else gets the shaft. In the U.S. the top 20% now control 84% of the wealth! That means the bottom 80% are trying to live on 16% of the wealth, and it doesn't work. The top 10% control 56% of our wealth. The top 1% control 33%. Wealth disparity has never been this out of control in America's history.

In Taiwan the protesters were saying the same thing as the Occupy Wall Street people in New York—a blatantly unfair economic system that has concentrated wealth causing a huge disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots.” As someone who has traveled the globe beginning with the Fortune 500, I know this to be true. 

In short, the U.S. economy is beginning to look like Mexico’s economic pyramid – a few people at the top control most of the wealth and fly to work in helicopters while everyone below them has nothing. That disparity has not been limited to the U.S.

Consumers worldwide are frustrated by austerity and unfairness, saying that they have had "ENOUGH! Who can blame them? Recent polls show that a majority of Americans--73%--agree that we should raise taxes on millionaires instead of forcing more cuts on little people that have been the theme of the austerity crowd. It’s a repeat of the mistake of 1937 during the Great Depression when too much austerity led to budget cuts that caused a double dip recession.

The anger over a blatantly unfair economic system that has concentrated wealth at the expense of America's (and the world's) middle class is made worse by a broken political system--where one party seems focused on preserving the advantages of the top 1% and the other party doesn’t have the majority to impose a 5% tax on millionaires to fund a Jobs Bill that would increase growth by 2%--putting at least 2 million people to work, doing things like repairing the one in four bridges that are deficient before they collapse into the waters below. Cutting regulations won’t repair 50-year old bridges and crumbling roads.

The economic frustration is going global. With Europe also obsessed with austerity and facing its own economic meltdown, these protests are not likely to recede in the coming months. If you are out of work, it leaves plenty of time for carrying signs on the street.

However, I heard something positive today. At breakfast Saturday I overheard young people in the next booth talking about these global economic issues, and much more. I stopped on the way out and said: "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation, but it's the most intelligent thing I've overheard in a restaurant EVER. Keep it up!"  The older gentleman pointed to a young man and said, "It's all coming from him." I hope we have an entire generation of Americans like that young thinker and the young girl with braces sitting next to him. They are our future.

Surviving a layoff and lessons from failure are the themes of an eBook I will soon publish. It also lays out an American “Agenda for Greatness” for America’s comeback.

Click "Follow" or "subscribe" at  to get insight into these global challenges and get the book release date. It traces a career starting as an Iowa farmer to becoming a Fortune 500 negotiator who got laid off. That led to being a TV terrorism analyst and a global entrepreneur that proves you don't have to be Steve Jobs to survive a layoff. The result was unimagined adventures...

Michael Fjetland
Global American Series

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