The Difference Between Right and Legal

The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showin... I hate to say it, but I’m somewhat amused by the whole “Occupy Wall Street” movement. A lot of people are angry because government bailed out big businesses to prevent economic disaster on a national and even global scale. Yet, some taxpayers are miffed (and rightfully so) that there was even a need to do this. I agree with that sentiment.

Here’s the difference though. The whole movement doesn’t make any bit of sense to me. Wall Street has nothing to do with it. Investors, traders, and shareholders all take advantage of the system as best as possible. You always push the envelope of the law, right up to the edge. If you go over, then you end up like Martha Stewart or someone else that tried to make gains by overstepping regulations. But the problem doesn’t lie in Wall Street or the businesses that were bailed out. The problem actually lies in government who both bailed them out and didn’t actually fix the problems when doing so. In my opinion, the solution should have been the easiest reward and punishment type of scenario. You bait companies into those that wanted or needed help to replace their management (whom inadvertently created the problem) and change the entire structure with the money. Instead of just paying for it.

Let’s also not forget that much of the problem actually comes from the deregulation of the markets, again a problem caused by politicians, and not business. It’s the same story with the whole jobs issue. No one is bothering to dangle the whole string with carrot and instead they’re just throwing out the carrot and hoping that it does something. If I were a business, I’d take the contracts, use the same employees, and say, “Hey! Thanks for filling up my coffers!” And who wouldn’t. Same with the tax cuts. To actually move job growth, you have to force a percentage of workers back in by tying the money incentives to actual hiring.

Thus, I chuckled when some people wanted to argue with me on how Wall Street was the reason behind it all. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it. Capitalism and political play has been in play before I was born, and will be way after I die. There will always be people always pushing the envelope to the edge of legality. But the people that hurt us are those that change the laws to support more general bad behavior. The more generic and vague a regulation is, and the worst the enforcement, the more it allows for bad apples to exploit it. It’s the same as any situation. Most people will always choose the easier way to achieve the end if it’s open to them. And who wouldn’t? It’s legal.