The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

IS A PUZZLEMENT

In 1951 the play, “The King And I” premiered on Broadway, the third collaboration between Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II.  The play had a three year run and in 1956 was made into a movie starring Yul Brynner as the King of Siam.  The play has some wonderful songs and has been staged repeatedly in community theaters and in revivals almost non-stop since it’s first performance.

One of the songs that the king sings is entitled, “Is A Puzzlement”.  He has hired an English school teacher to help modernize his view of the world which is, at the play’s beginning, very Siam-centric and to bring him into the modern world of the 1860’s in which the play is set.  But the new ideas which Anna, the teacher brings to him are, in many cases, in conflict with what he has learned and believes.  Yet, he sees some of the truth in what she tells him and he expresses his confusion in “Is A Puzzlement.”

This week Facebook began what Wall Street commonly calls its “Road Show” as it begins to gauge investor sentiment before it becomes  a public company next week.  The purpose of this “Road Show” is to determine how many shares will be issued and what the offering price will be.  Current estimates are that the company will come to market with a value between $75 – $100 Billion, turning founder Mark Zuckerberg who  will retain a 51% controlling interest into another member of the elite 1%.

As I thought about this remarkable public offering, the largest in history, I wondered how the OWS movement might respond to this and to the events which led up to it.  For some reason, the king’s song from the “King and I” came to mind.

In speaking with a number of people who are part of that movement I realize that there is a lot of frustration about the fact that many are mad because they made the effort to earn a college degree, now have the expense of that education hanging over their heads and are unable to find a job using that education.  I can understand that frustration.  Three of the members of the elite 1%, Bill Gates of Microsoft Corp.; the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Inc.; and now Mr. Zuckerberg of Facebook were all college dropouts.   It doesn’t seem fair and truly, “Is A Puzzlement.”

But there is something that the members of OWS can do to express their sense of unfairness.  They can turn off their computers, whether Windows or Apple-based; refuse to buy or use any I-Phones or other Apple products and resign their membership in Facebook.  Since by their own admission they are the 99% and since these companies all depend on large numbers of users for their continued success that should have a profound effect on all these companies’ bottom lines.  Otherwise, OWS members are supporting some of the various entities that they so abhor.

Will this happen?  Will the members of OWS honestly live up to their rhetoric?

Is a puzzlement.

Comments on: "IS A PUZZLEMENT" (17)

  1. Can you blame them {OWS} as they’ve been lied too all of their lives. I too would be angry if I did all the right things like going to college and then couldn’t get a job because of the greed of the 99% who cause the crash of the economy with their get rich quick scheme.

    The simple fact is that had the Conservative Republicans and the Democrats involved in dismantling the regulations needed to restrain Wall Street from recreating the boom bust cycle. Truly served the people who elected them into office and left those regulations in place instead of removing them at the behest of their corporate masters our economy would not have experienced a recession.

    The USA has tried the conservative experiment and met with disaster before during 1920’s when the country was led by a republican Pres. Coolidge during the boom – who was succeeded in office by Pres. Hoover – who applied conservative principles after the crash of 1929 which made the great recession far deeper and worse than it had to be. Resulting in the rebellion of the 1% who ran Hoover out of office by voting FDR as President and gave him the political support needed to bring Wall Street and the 1% to heel whose regulations put a stop to the Wall Street’s financial depredations.

    The stagflation experienced during Carter’s turn at the helm began under Nixion when he allowed the Fed to begin destroying the economy in order to get inflation under control and Carter allowed the Fed to continue their policies during his term.

    By the time Reagan was elected most of the electorate had forgotten what happens when Wall street is given free reign and allowed Reagan to begin the war against the regulations that restrained Wall Street. Which was continued under Clinton and both Bush administrations and the great recession of 2008 was the result.

    To put it bluntly Conservative Economy Policy was written with the single purpose of enriching the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the population.

    • “I too would be angry if I did all the right things like going to college and then couldn’t get a job because of the greed of the 99% who cause the crash of the economy with their get rich quick scheme.”

      I presume you mean the “1%” in this sentence. Specifically, to what are you referring by “their get rich quick scheme?”

      While awaiting your definition of “conservative” …

      “The simple fact is that had the Conservative Republicans and the Democrats involved in dismantling the regulations needed to restrain Wall Street from recreating the boom bust cycle. Truly served the people who elected them into office and left those regulations in place instead of removing them at the behest of their corporate masters our economy would not have experienced a recession.”

      Specifically, to what regulations are your referring? The fact is that Wall St. is not overseen by Congress but by the SEC which has had a regulatory mandate since the acts of 1933 and 1934 were passed.

      “…voting FDR as President and gave him the political support needed to bring Wall Street and the 1% to heel whose regulations put a stop to the Wall Street’s financial depredations.”

      As a person who frequently invokes history, I would remind you that the first Chairman of the SEC was Joseph P. Kennedy who made his money as a rum-runner during Prohibition (not only in violation of the law but of the Constitution) and was one of the most notorious stock manipulators on Wall St. Apparently FDR chose him with the thinking that as one of the great all-time crooks, it would be easy for him to spot other fraudulent activity. That’s quite a resume.

      “The stagflation experienced during Carter’s turn at the helm began under Nixion when he allowed the Fed to begin destroying the economy in order to get inflation under control and Carter allowed the Fed to continue their policies during his term.”

      In the act which created the Federal Reserve banking system, the Fed is given a dual mandate of responsibility. The first is to attempt “full employment”; the second is to make sure that inflation is under control. We are the only central banking system with that duality – all others merely seeking to reign in inflation. Obviously, those who believe in the validity of having a central bank worldwide believe that inflation is and can be a serious problem. But I gather that you disagree. I don’t know how well you would fare giving a speech to a convention of worldwide central bankers.

      Since it is historically obvious that the Fed has not always achieved its two goals, perhaps you would be in favor of abolishing it – something that Congressman Ron Paul has advocated for years. Do I take it that you are a supporter of his?

      “To put it bluntly Conservative Economy Policy was written with the single purpose of enriching the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the population”

      I was not aware that there is a single reference book which details “Conservative Economic Policy” but would be very interested in reading it if you would furnish me with an author and title. But if you think about it, by definition the wealthy are few and the “non-wealthy” are many. It surprises me that given that fact there hasn’t been a massive uprising of the non-wealthy population against the inequities heaped upon them. Or is that something that may be coming …?

  2. The answer, of course, is no. Good to have you back. It’s been a few weeks, hasn’t it?

  3. You are far too kind – but I am never one to turn down a kudo. Thank you so much.

  4. It’s a worldwide financial mess we are facing today. Obviously there needs to be some limits assigned to those who play games with our world currencies.

  5. I absolutely defer to your economic acumen, since my own level of mathematic intelligence is, to put it bluntly, embarrassing. But I think (and please educate me if I’m wrong – I need all the math lessons I can get) the one percent of America is about 3M people. On average, earnings of aprox. $300,000 puts a person in the 1%. If this is correct, Zuckerberg has long been been in the 1%. He was already richer than Steve Jobs (who did not own Apple), Bill Gates & Warren Buffet – which puts Zuckerberg in a percentage by himself in America with a value now of nearly $100B, doesn’t it?

    And I would argue that Jobs, Gates, Buffet & Zuckerberg were/are not your typical mindset – they were/are, demonstratively, of a level of creative ‘genius’ not seen in the majority – or we’d all be such brilliant innovators, right? So, the typical path to a college degree was not for them. I mean, we all forge our own trails according to our own levels of innovative initiative, creativity, courage to veer from the status quo, etc. We have the freedom to do that in our non-Socialist society. I met some of the most brilliantly innovative people I’ve ever met in Cuba, but they were stagnant, stuck, trapped, no way to demonstrate their brilliance & no way to leave the country to demonstrate it elsewhere. It was truly heartbreaking!

    Anyway, back on topic, this is a terrific post because it stimulates all kinds of thinking about so many issues revolving around OWS, the 1% & the state of our nation. I practically cheered aloud at your statement that “…many are mad because they made the effort to earn a college degree, now have the expense of that education hanging over their heads and are unable to find a job using that education.” Amen! So freaking true! I’m one of those people! But I don’t begrudge genius from flourishing, you know? I applaud those courageous, HONEST innovators (which, btw, I have no idea how honest Jobs, Gates, Buffet or Zuckerberg are/were so I am not specifically attaching the word ‘honest’ to them) who are able to bypass college education & head straight for ‘GO’ without a ‘Get Out of Jail (i.e. college debt) Free’ card.

    Also, there is no denying your statement that “…there is something that the members of OWS can do to express their sense of unfairness. They can turn off their computers, whether Windows or Apple-based; refuse to buy or use any I-Phones or other Apple products and resign their membership in Facebook. Otherwise, OWS members are supporting some of the various entities that they so abhor.”

    I completely agree with this. You make a very valid point here, which would place the power in OWS hands. But, realistically, how is this possible in today’s world?

    • You know why I like hearing from you SB? Because you are thoughtful – and, more importantly, honest. Both of those are rare commodities today – and, perhaps always have been throughout the history of man’s existence in the world.

      Your math skills are not as deficient as you would have us believe. Yes, 1% is approximately 3MM Americans – and yes – Mr. Zuckerberg already qualified to be in this category long before the “Road Show”. (Artistic license).

      And yes, you made a point that I considered incorporating yet declined to make – the three gentlemen I cited indeed conceived something quite brilliant and out of the ordinary. But in a world where brilliant and out of the ordinary are presented as egregious and mercenary I decided to refrain from making that point. I do, however, thank you for doing so in your thoughtful comment.

      Most importantly, I appreciate the honesty you presented in it letting my readers know that you are a member of the group looking to utilize her degree – and are currently unable to do so. Granted, we’re cyber-strangers and may never meet, but I feel a kinship with you because of your love of animals. To me there is nothing more telling about a person’s outlook on life than whether they have compassion for those who are weaker than they. That is a gift from the divine – and if more of us were gifted with that gentleness – this would be a much kinder and more loving world.

      Thank you for the example you have set for all of us.

      • Thank you for these very kind words, J. I feel the same way about you – our love for animals is a wonderful bond, isn’t it? 🙂 But I would say YOU are the ultimate example of forthright honesty, gentleness toward those weaker than us (Gracie agrees wholeheartedly), and conscientious living. These qualities bring me back to your blog like a bee to honey. I’m so very happy you’re back. Had me worried for a bit that you’d given up on helping us right the world with your mind-bending posts!

      • “The love for all creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” – Charles Darwin

        Well, to be honest SB I must admit to having reached a sort of nadir in my “crusade” a few weeks back – wondering whether I was in any way making a positive contribution. Then I happened to be watching Turner Classic Movies and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” was aired. And there was Debbie Reynolds belting out, “I Ain’t Down Yet.” It gave me a boost – and now I’m back and not out. Thanks for your concern.

  6. Reblogged this on A Heapin' Plate of Conservative Politics & Religion and commented:
    Juwanna suggests that the Occupy Wall Street crowd won’t abide by their own rhetoric. She makes her case with her usual eloquence.

  7. Two Billion reasons why Federal Regulations of the big banks and Wall Street are necessary:

    JPMorgan loss sets off call for heavier regulation http://www.ajc.com/business/jpmorgan-loss-sets-off-1435334.html

    Juwanna suppose you and Tom Quiner explain again how the “self interest” of the banker’s on wall street will prevent them from taking improper and unnecessary risks thus making Federal Regulations of the banks too large to be allowed to fail.

    • Thank you for your comment regarding the trading loss at J. P. Morgan Chase.

      First, let me say that effective regulation of the banks, other financial institutions and government are necessary. I have always believed that. Please note the adjective “effective” in this statement. The much touted “Volcker Rule” would have had no oversight over this issue.

      Second, while I am happy to provide this blog as a forum, if you have a comment for Tom Quiner I think it would be more appropriate to address it to him at his blog. I’m not sure that he reads all the comments here – so if you are looking for a response from him, that would be the appropriate venue.

      Third, on two separate occasions (one of them in an earlier comment on this post) I asked you to furnish your definition of “conservative”. In order to have an intelligent discussion or debate, first we need to define our terms. I would sincerely appreciate your doing that at your earliest convenience so that we might continue to have a dialogue on an intelligent level.

      Thanks in advance for your co-operation.

      • Juwanna when will you learn that it isn’t words – what one says but one’s actions that count. The real question isn’t what is my definition of conservatism or conservative but the actions that conservative’s take which all too often are the exact opposite of what they preach.

        (Note – three paragraphs deleted).

        To put it simply a conservative is a two faced individual who claims to promote small government and individual responsibility while intentionally voting for big government politicians whose first duty is to serve their corporate masters.

        To put it bluntly the average politician is a “Political Prostitute” who spends his/her election campaign convincing the average voter to vote against his/her own best interests; which the voter then rationalizes as voting for the lesser of two evils while consoling themselves with the ideology of conservatism.

      • Thank you for your reply. I totally agree with your first sentence.

        I truly dislike censorship and other than correcting a typo or fixing a grammatical error have never engaged in it with anyone who has commented on a post – until now. As much as I dislike censorship, I believe it is inappropriate for any commentor to attack someone who is not able to defend his or her position – hence my deletion of the three paragraphs which I noted before posting your comment. As I said before, if you disagree with someone who has commented on a post in this blog – please do not use this as a forum for your dispute – go to their blog. “Ad hominem” argument is the lowest form of debating technique – and I am sure you are far above resorting to it.

        Thank you for providing me your definition of “conservative”. Given the fact that there are only a handful of people who run for public office who truly believe in the limitation of the size and influence of government, I guess that your solution is that most of us who do believe in those principles simply don’t vote at all – otherwise we would be violating our own principles. Somehow, I don’t see how that will fix the problem – but I’m open to suggestion.

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