There is an easy solution for upset protesters

I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

Coastal Point •  File photoCoastal Point • File photo

I get the frustration felt by those collaborating across the nation to get out their feelings in public demonstrations against big business. I understand exactly how upsetting it is to work your fingers to the bone and barely be able to scrape by, while some people at the top are taking home huge bonuses despite the fact that the businesses they run are losing money, or staying up all night trying to do your tax returns while companies like GE are paying, well, no taxes.

I get it. And I buy a lot of what they are selling.

On the other hand, I read and watch a lot of news, exposing me to opinions and views from all angles, and I also see that the people who are really getting behind what the protesters are doing are those who already agree with their stance.

Many conservative pundits are ridiculing the protests, or, more accurately, the protesters. They are laughing openly at the “great unwashed” and dismissing the protesters as people who are homeless or unemployed and are wasting their time with protesting while they should be out working harder at their current jobs or finding new employment opportunities.

Since those who do not agree with what the protesters are saying are barely paying attention to them, one could surmise that the protests are really doing little good for their cause.

Just take a look at the political climate in this country. A Democrat will not listen to a logical point made by a Republican, and a Republican will not listen to a logical point made by a Democrat. The same thing goes for religion or abortion arguments — people have their thoughts and beliefs, and you really can’t change their minds with a catchy slogan or public protests.

If the Occupy Wall Street protesters really want to make a significant difference, I’d argue that they have to do something that truly affects those they are rallying against. Hit ’em in the wallet.

I have received a digital image several times over the past week or so that relates to this movement and strikes me as an important notion. It is a photo of a sign, and the words it carries could actually have some impact.

It reads, “If you really want to occupy Wall Street, do your holiday shopping at a small, independent merchant.”

And there you go. I’ve long been of the opinion that, before the United States should provide aid to foreign countries, we should be providing aid at home. I share that same belief now as our country has been going through an awful economic period — take care of the locally-owned shops and restaurants before the international corporations. It’s a belief in community-building that we show with this paper if you have noticed our “Shop Local” advertising campaign featuring some locally-owned businesses.

David Carr of the New York Times wrote an interesting piece last weekend, titled “Why Not Occupy Newsrooms?”

He talked about how Craig A. Dubow recently resigned as Gannett’s chief executive, and how Dubow’s tenure saw that company’s stock fall from a high of $75 a share the day after he took over six years ago to about $10 a share, and how the number of employees at Gannett dropped by about 20,000 people in that period.

Dubow walked away with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits, on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses the past two years.

Carr also discussed the Tribune Company (which owns The (Baltimore) Sun and Chicago Tribune, among others), and how it is paying out tens of millions of dollars in bonuses as part of a deal to exit bankruptcy. Tribune lost more than 4,000 jobs since 2007, but the remaining leadership is eligible for a bonus pool ranging from $26.4 million to $32.4 million under the current plan.

See anything wrong here? Between the two companies, that’s close to 25,000 human beings losing their jobs while more than $60 million goes out in bonuses to the chosen few.

There are flaws in our system. I support capitalism and believe people who earn money should make money. But I also believe people who lose money should not be rewarded.

Hit them where it hurts. Shop local. That’s capitalism.