Giving Meaning to Occupy Wall Street

So, Wall Street has been occupied for several weeks.  We all know that things need to change.  We all know that the 1% has been living off  the backs of the 99% for far too long.  There are far too many issues behind the current protests to enumerate.  However, there is one cause for the protester’s frustrations…corporate greed.  I don’t think anyone would argue that corporations don’t have the right to earn a profit, but what I would argue is that they should not have the right to make a profit at the expense of the communities in which they operate, their employees, the environment, or the cultures that promote and allow their existence.

Occupy Wall Street

In 2002, Robert Hinkley, a corporate lawyer turned activist, wrote an essay entitled “How Corporate Law Inhibits Social Responsibility”.  In it, Hinkley details the real problem behind the corporate stranglehold on this country and it was enough to make him turn his back on his career and forge a new path forward.  What Hinkley began to understand in his tenure as a corporate lawyer was that corporations are only doing what they are LEGALLY mandated to do.  While corporate governance laws vary from state to state, their fundamental legal purpose is the same…protect the interests of the corporation and its shareholder.  In plain terms, make money for the company and people who own it.  That’s it.  That’s all.  As this article shows, that’s at least how the CEO of Bank of America sees it as well.

We are seeing now the effects of this kind of corporate structure.  While making a profit is not wrong, it should not be done to the detriment of everything else.  In a society like ours, the gap between the rich and the poor or the haves and the have-nots should not be growing.  It should definitely not be so vast.  There should not be people struggling to eat or get help when they are sick, and they should definitely NOT be told, Herman Cain, that it is their fault they are in that position

So, while the protestors may be resentful of the media asking them about their “demands” as if they have hi-jacked a Boeing, I think it is in their best interests to begin to formulate what will be said when the time comes for the “leadership” of this movement to have a true dialogue with those in power.  If they fail to do so, history will mark the movement as a failure and the protestors will come out of this just as they are being portrayed.  However, if they can find that single idea or small collection of ideas capable of galvanizing the many voices with many complaints into a few concise policies that can be used to actually build a dialogue, then they may actually see progress.  I think one of those ideas should be changing the legal structure that mandates the purpose of a corporation. 

A change in the way they are forced to play the game may just level the field.  We live in a land that brought the electric light bulb, the phonograph, the television, the computer, the internet, and of course, the iPhone.  We are a creative and proud nation, but when our corporate citizens are not forced to live in the same socially responsible manner with which the rest of society is required, then we start to see the disconnects and reactions that Engels and Marx warned us about.  As Hinkley stated in 2002, we can make that change in 28 words:

…the directors and officers of a corporation shall exercise their powers and discharge their duties with a view to the interests of the corporation and of the shareholders…

… but not at the expense of the environment, human rights, the public safety, the communities in which the corporation operates or the dignity of its employees.

With the rich history of innovation that this nation holds, I am sure that American corporations can find the talent available among the droves of protesters to help them find ways to generate profits while living within this new framework that is being demanded by those just looking for affordable healthcare and a sustainable living wage.


Web Two point OH!

Web 2.0 was quite a buzzword until some internet wise guy came up with Web 3.0 and a semantic web.  So we’re all stuck in this primordial internet soup, unsure of whether we need to sprout Wi-Fi antennae or bud robotic legs for our first few steps onto the new digital turf.  Well, the answer is both, and so much more.  So how does one navigate the maze of connectivity to eek out a social, personal yet collective, and financial living?

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

The answer is very deliberately.  The idea of Web 2.0 is based on the idea of web communities and the technological concept that these communities need to be served more flexible web-based applications designed around new web programming languages instead of static HTML coding.   Powered by more powerful coding languages such as AJAX, Ruby, Python, and Java, Web 2.0 is capable of bringing rich, streaming content, and interactive, socially connected web applications to a world of eagerly awaiting users.

So how does one decide which of these new services and applications to use and to which to provide their personal information.  Again, very deliberately.  In the world of Web 2.0, we, the users have become the product.  Sure, there are actual products, but a semantic web cannot truly function without knowing or learning more about what you like and what behaviors you exhibit on the web.  Big Brother is watching and it is big business.

So…we are the product.  We are being monitored.  We are having our data mined so that we can have products marketed to us directly.  Therefore, we must be prepared with Intelligence 2.0 or we will be left with our information overlords telling us what we want to hear or see or what we “meant” to search for.  I think this leaves us to rely on the social aspects of Web 2.0 to spread the word about the bad and the good.  We have to build communities out of these networks of users that are there to support us in the same way that the village raises the child.  In the end, the internet is just a machine and its code, told what to do by humans, queried by humans, and…coralling humans.  Oh well, I’m getting on Facebook.