In the beginning I had mixed feelings regarding the recent protests against Wall Street, banks and the extremely rich Americans. After all, this nation is built upon a capitalist system. Land of the free and home of the brave, where opportunity abounds creating the opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, take some risks and with a little luck turn nothing into a billion dollar industry. From our earliest settlers in Jamestown to the recently deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs, capitalism is wired into our DNA. Our history is filled with successes and failures in all shapes and sizes. It’s what drives us as a people.
From the time we arrived on the shores of the “New World,” Americans pushed west to establish farms and ranches where they could own the land and reap the rewards from their backbreaking work and dangerous risks that faced them in their quest. This has always been the American Dream and while that dream takes on many different forms its basis is deeply rooted in our society.
Our little publishing company could never have gotten off the ground back in the late 1940s and survived through seven decades without this wonderful system. We’re no fortune 500 company but we’ve been able to survive the ups and downs of the economy, changes in technology, the fates of poor mistakes, some luck and even a few natural disasters. Capitalism provided the incentive to work hard, set our own pace and then reap the fruits of those labors.
Marching against such a system, even with the flaws that will appear in any system somehow didn’t feel right. But as the protest has grown it’s very apparent that it’s not just about greed or banks, bail outs or abuses, jobs or even homes. It’s really about frustration and the fear that the American Dream no longer exists or has been slowly stolen to be controlled by the select few, who seem to have far too much control and have removed all risk. In other words they’re playing with a stacked deck of cards.
Throughout our history we’ve seen these battle lines form before as the system balances out the inequities when things get out of control. But this time may be different then anything the country has experienced in the past. Several years ago we saw the right leaning Tea Party protests and now we see the left leaning Wall Street protests crying foul. Could it be that most Americans now agree that the country has lost its way and needs to take serious corrective steps to curb the abuses of Capitalism that holds many captive?
Earlier this week, the CBS evening news did a news piece on the FDA’s approval of the drug Colchicine. It seems this drug predates the FDA, thus it’s never been approved, but has been used for over 1,000 years to treat gout and inflammatory conditions. The pharmacy company URL Pharma decided it would take the ancient drug, generally sold for about 10 cents a pill, and attempt to get it approved by the FDA. Unlike most pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs from scratch and study patients for years, this company saw an opportunity to side step the traditional approach and in doing so the FDA granted URl exclusive right to sell the medicine. In the example used in the news segment a bottle of 60 pills prior to URL’s take over cost $34.83. A month later the price went to $306.90. The company expects sales to exceed $500 billion dollars.
That type of excessive greed is at the root of whats frustrated people, that along with CEO’s drawing salaries and benefits in the hundreds of million dollars. I don’t think the American people begrudge anyone from working hard and living the American Dream. But taking excessive advantage of the people and using the government to aid and abet is what drives us all a little crazy.
So despite my initial reluctance to support these protesters who have no one specific issue but varying concerns with anti-greed, I think it’s time for America’s course to be corrected and all roads appear to be converging as we head into the 2012 presidential campaigns.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.