There has been a tremendous amount of coverage and outrage on the airwaves and in the “socialsphere” this past week about “Wall Street Greed”. Protesters want the 1% to shed their wealth and redistribute it to the other 99%. While Wall Street is not perfect, large companies at least produce goods, services and create jobs. Medium and small businesses are the bread and butter of our economy and are trying to stay in business in a tough economy while adjusting for actions hostile to free markets and capitalism from our Federal Government.
A better target for the “Occupy” protesters who really do care about the issues would be D.C. (Capitol Hill, White House, The Fed, Justice Department, IRS, etc.). The U.S.government has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars (your dollars) on bank bailouts (Bush), ineffective jobs programs (Obama), and poor energy “corporate loans” (Obama). Big government is the problem not the solution. Congress controls tax laws not corporations.
Here are three examples of 100% pure federal government waste of your hard earned dollars.
1. $535 million
“Loan guarantees” from the Obama administration to Solyndra, the solar energy company that laid off 1,100 workers and filed for bankruptcy in September 2011.
2. $9.6 billion
Annual cost of Medicare errors and improper payments. This is the amount of money we lose to fraudulent claims and other improper payments. Republicans and Democrats have failed to stop this money from hemorrhaging.
3. $829.1 million
Annual cost of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), a program created under Bill Clinton to put more police on patrol and reduce crime. Good idea but it has faltered and audits show massive fraud, abuse and waste.
These three examples of government waste alone total almost $11 billion dollars and there are hundreds of other examples. By comparison here are the annual profits of five of the largest Fortune 500 companies.
General Electric – $11.6 billion
Apple – $14 billion
Johnson & Johnson – $13.3 billion
Philip Morris International – $7.3 billion
General Motors – $6.2 billion
In addition, here are 10 salaries for those who “serve” us in the United States Federal Government. The lowest annual salary on this list is far more than most executives are paid in the private sector.
1. President: $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance
2. Past-Presidents $199,700 per year “pension”
3. Vice-President: $230,700 per year
4. Cabinet Secretaries: $199,700 per year
5. House and Senate Members: $174,000 per year
Note: there are 100 Senators and 435 House members – leadership positions get paid more but this is the base annual pay.
6. Senate Majority Party Leader – $193,400
7. Senate Minority Party Leader – $193,400
8. Speaker of the House – $223,500
9. House Majority Leader – $193,400
10. House Minority Leader – $193,400
Remember that these are salaries being paid to individuals who ran to “represent” and “serve” us at the Federal level. Many of these representatives fall in the 1% the protesters are targeting yet they do not decline to accept the annual wage as it is their right to do.
Wall Street is not perfect and I am not claiming so. I do not support sweet deals like million dollar executive golden parachutes. I dislike Hedge Funds and short selling practices. All of which add little value to the long term health of our markets and economy.
But for all the faults of Wall Street it is hypocritical for any American to protest productive job producing private sector companies when we are not even holding the one “company” we all manage accountable to those same standards. In other words, “We The People…” should focus these energies on cleaning up our government waste and corruption. It is our right and responsibility regardless of what “side of the aisle” your beliefs reside.
Occupy Washington D.C not New York, Boston, Austin or San Francisco. Occupy East Capitol Street and Pennsylvania Avenue not Wall Street. But before you leave your current location to address the real problem, please pick up after yourselves, thank the police for the long hours keeping order and give back to the small business owners who opened their doors (restrooms) to you all. Trust me…it only helps your cause!
So what do you think? Who is your target now? Companies that earn a profit equal to three examples of government waste or “Pork Incorporated” on East Capitol Street?