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The Burgeoning Occupation Movements Across the USA and Abroad

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The Occupation of Wall Street, Zuccotti Park and burgeoning movements across the USA and abroad have a singular aim, which is to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth to the lower and middle classes. More than a half million dollars in cash, clothing, food and other donations have come to the protesters in Lower Manhattan. Even some elected officials have come to the aid of the protesters. Sub-groups of protesters have emerged all over the United States.

When the occupation first evolved in Zuccotti Park on or about the night of Sept. 17, only a few hearty souls spent the night. At this point over 200 people including students, union members and other interested parties have joined the occupation.

The focal point of the movement is summed up as follows: “We are the 99 percent.” Ostensibly, the other one percent are the holders of most of the wealth in the United States. Over the past decades, more money has been flowing to the corporate top echelon as CEO and senior staff average salaries have ballooned from 40 times the entry level salary to 400 times and growing.

And so, the challenge is to deal with this aspect forthrightly. Only the boards of directors, professional human resource entities within corporate organizations and trade associations have the power, discretion and authority to adjust compensation more equitably throughout the respective member organizations. This is not something that any governmental unit can mandate except through moral suasion and perhaps changes to the tax code.

A number of corporate organizations have made successful changes in the equitable distribution of profits, among them Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Avis. From the outset, Ben and Jerry’s set the executive salary structure at a very reasonable level. Avis changed ownership multiple times in the seventies and eighties, becoming employee-owned in 1987.

President Roosevelt was able to limit executive compensation successfully by ultimately taxing exorbitant salaries at a much higher rate. The basic threshold was over $25,000, or equivalently, $350,000 or so in today’s inflated dollar. After $25,000, salary increments were taxed at 90 percent or more. These resources were used to pay down the national debt, which ballooned after the conclusion of World War II, which followed the Great Depression. In the days of the Great Depression, corporate organizations increasingly found other forms of non-cash compensation such as stock options to reward the top corporate executives and alleviate cash flow problems.

A mainstay of the protest is that the organizational structure is organic or non-hierarchical which may limit the effectiveness of the struggle. The participants have yet to formulate a clear vision with specific goals and conditions precedent to ending the occupation or translating the movement into a political force like The Tea Party movement and others.

The Civil Rights movement was a proactive movement of people with an important mission to advance civil rights throughout the United States and even beyond. The factor which coalesced the movement was a mission and assertive leadership at the top of the organization.

Another important dynamic in satisfying the quality of life issues that plague the Wall Street protesters is bringing unemployment and underemployment to much lower levels. The extreme automation, downsizing and computerization of American industry have replaced people with machines at an increasing rate. However, the United States inevitably will experience a labor shortage as the baby boom generation retires this decade and thereafter.

At bottom, the United States needs to export more goods and services, as well as nourish the growth of new industries and processes such as solar and wind energy, the artificial sun, whole/organic foods production and distribution, electric and natural gas vehicles, the electronic grid, small business, patenting, home remodeling, municipal transport systems and the whole infrastructure area in general.

The small family farm has been dying for decades. This cottage industry needs to reformulate and grow. This act alone would serve to bring down food prices, which have been on the rise.  

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • jamminsue

    Thank you for a well-written, clear-eyed look at a very complex issue. One thing you indicate, which is good, is the issue of excessive compensation is not something new, and has in the past been considered destructive to business. Please write more on family farms.

  • John Lake

    You do a disservice to the demonstrators when you say their only aim is redistribution of wealth. You may be correct if you broaden the interpretation of that plea for redistribution to include an objection to an obstructionist Congress, many of whose members are merely the foot soldiers of large corporations.
    Roosevelt may have kept in mind that the super-rich and the super-large corporations are those who benefit most from our foreign wars, nation building, and support of freedom seekers. They realistically should pay their fair share.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    To go beyond the aforementioned concerns, John, don’t you think it’s about time the people should start about the business of producing their own wealth? Fuck redistribution. It’s like a thief stealing from another thief.

    All told, a rather pedestrian treatment of a movement whose future no one really knows but which could turn out to be very promising indeed. It’s also demeaning to the reader that authors such as Dr. Maresca or Scott Nance keep on exposing their audiences to such a pedestrian fare, especially in light of other articles published on the subject, such as by Ms Hartman, for example.

    One gets a distinct impression that these and like-minded authors aren’t really interested in any dialog but are intent on using the BC forum for no other reason than to hear themselves speak, devil take the rest.

  • http://www.lunch.com/DrJosephSMaresca Dr Joseph S Maresca

    There are plenty of jobs in infrastructure, energy and even something as simple as the good old family farm.

    The pay inequities are things that only Boards of Directors and human resource functions can ameliorate together with industry associations.

    The middle class in this country has lost ground in the previous decades. Salaries have stagnated yet productivity has increased due to miniaturization, computerization, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and other super technologies. This process will continue.

    Counterbalancing these things will be the retiring baby boom generation. Replacements will be needed in every profession and in every trade. Herein lies part of the solution together with an increase in the volume of foreign trade to bring a favorable balance of trade surplus. A growing economy, a flat tax and a withdrawal from foreign entanglements should help to take care of the rest.

    There should be a job in place for every graduating college student as there was when my generation finished college. Small business is another great opportunity center for aspiring entrepreneurs. Who can disagree with anything I’ve noted?

  • Igor

    “…don’t you think it’s about time the people should start about the business of producing their own wealth? Fuck redistribution. ”

    That’s a strange thing to say, since the people of the USA have produced the tremendous wealth that we DO have, but have been deprived of their just rewards by a greedy upper class that has skimmed off the benefits of increased production for their own benefit, not because they deserve more or have worked harder, but merely because of the power they had. And THAT is the de facto ‘redistribution’ that has occured.

  • http://www.lunch.com/DrJosephSMaresca Dr Joseph S Maresca

    American Industry has to address pay equity and job security more forthrightly to maintain credibility with workers on a continuing basis.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Not a strange thing at all, or very strange come to think of it, when it comes to appropriating the fruits of your labor.

    Have you given this a thought?

  • Arch Conservative

    Predictably, this so called “movement” has devolved into meaningless violence.

  • http://www.lunch.com/DrJosephSMaresca Dr Joseph S Maresca

    So far, public urination and excessive noise have been the biggest problems on the protest site. The United Federation of Teachers donated some dock space so that toilets could be installed nearby.

    Winterized temporary structures should arrive soon so that this protest can continue in bad weather. With certainty,the oncoming winter will bring on all kinds of pneumonia cases in local hospitals. Hepatitis could become another big concern along with mononucleosis and other diseases which are difficult and costly to diagnose and treat.

  • troll

    predictably, king con’s comments about ows have devolved into meaningless right-wing rhetoric — not surprising considering

  • http://www.lunch.com/DrJosephSMaresca Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Mayor Bloomberg has taken great pains to allow the protest to continue. And so, violence has been kept to a minimum. Now, noise is the biggest problem to solve. Once winter comes, disease may be the biggest concern, as I pointed out in the above comment.