What do you believe in? I don’t mean the kind of Santa–Cubs miracle–latest non-profit crap. But truly something you believe is right, with your heart, with fire. What would you stand up for? Take to the streets for?
Now imagine that you are arrested for those beliefs. Pepper-sprayed. Beaten.
How do NYU MBAs view Occupy Wall Street? As a new student at Stern I’ve been surprised at the categorical acknowledgement by my peers of how bankrupt our country is both economically and politically.
That said, acknowledgement hasn’t translated into action. We are apathetic, disinterested, and tired. We focus on what we can control & influence: our careers. But, we are also victims of cognitive dissonance — the corporations we hope to one day lead are the very ones extending the money-lined handshakes eroding our country.
These companies are motivated. They are winning. The names change, but for each issue (e.g. fracking, copyright, bailouts) they have an asymmetric stake in the outcome, says Charles Hugh Smith of oftwominds. For each special interest, it means massive rewards – rewards worth fighting and paying for. Meanwhile, the disenfranchised individual voter endures a thousand paper cuts. The private market for government influence is thriving.
Occupy Wall Street threatens this paradigm by showing that the people can still fight. They are not fighting for one small reform, they are fighting to change everything. In this battle, the stakes are balanced. This is not a one-sided battle, and the other side doesn’t like a fair fight.
We are at an important crossroads. The injustices perpetrated against peaceful Occupy Wall Street demonstrators (whether you support the movement or not) exemplify the systematic rape of our personal freedoms — freedoms that have been assaulted for a decade under the banner of security and order. At the same time that our constitutional rights and power as a citizenry are being stripped from us, corporations with their “free speech” money are exacting more influence than ever. The hypocrisy that corporate rights are now more revered and protected in this country than human rights, should not be lost on any of us.
This is not matter of party, both Democrats and Republicans are addicted to the money teat. This is a matter of democracy at its most fundamental level.
We as MBAs consider ourselves leaders, now is the time to lead. Here’s how to get started:
- Sign: Put your signature on this petition for an amendment to end corporate money in politics (then get everyone you know to do the same).
- Vote: Refuse to vote for or give money to any candidate (of any party) that does not put campaign finance and corruption as their first priority.
- Move: Transfer your money to a local bank or credit union (Apple Bank is a good option in NYC).
- Read: Educate yourself by seeking out information from credible sources (e.g. Business Insider, Naked Capitalism, oftwominds, and Republic Lost by Lawrence Lessig).
- Lead: If you have any way to influence your own company’s lobbying, drive them to support getting money out of politics, not short sighted giveaways/tax breaks.
- Suggest: Add your ideas in the comments section below.
* * *
You might also like from MBAsocial:
- How to Make Sure a Recruiter Remembers You by Esther Choy
- 2 Perks, 2 Challenges and 1 Good Reason to Become an MBA Social Entrepreneur by Naomi Korb Weiss