Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"The Master's Tools...."

Note: this post is for my blog submission #2 on Week 3's readings.

So... did anyone else read Crucible 5 in "What happens next?" and think: "OWS. You totally predicted OWS."

Yeah. Just look at p.23: "...the gaps between rich and poor within individual nations are widening...risk is shifting to individuals in a market-drive global economy--and governments are increasingly responsible to help pick up the pieces... The risk of a populist antibusiness backlash is high" (my emphasis). [1]

Hellloooo, backlash.

But what is even more interesting is the authors' suggestion for fixing the wealth gap:

"Governments are facing legitimate and difficult decisions--and will be forced to make trade-offs. Business leaders would do well to acknowledge these problems and to work with governments to help solve them...Just as businesses need to recognize the legitimate challenges facing governments, governments must recognize the legitimate role businesses must play in contributing to the solution." [2]

Now, given the diversity of opinions within the OWS movement and the lack of an official platform created by the movement, I could be off in this assessment, but my guess is that OWS participants would disagree with this proposal of business/government partnership to solve wealth disparities. As the Occupy Wall Street "unofficial" website describes the movements purposes:

"#ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations...The movement...aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future." [3]

Something about that says to me that they'd be not-too-happy about business leaders being major players in the solution-creating process. I'd say participants' trust in big business' ability to make socially beneficial choices is nil.

But does that mean the authors' of "What happens next?" are wrong? I actually don't think so: "As the tax base for many governments shrinks and burdens grow, states too face a productivity imperative--how to increase services and decrease costs. Governments have been notoriously bad at adopting the lean processes and IT improvements that have driven years of productivity gains in the private sector. Creative approaches by businesses to help solve the public sector's problems will be part of the solution...After all, only a strong, expanding private sector can provide the revenue required to meet the state's burgeoning needs." [4]

Good point.

Can we sell OWS on this idea?

Well, if you frame it differently, more in line with the mind of a protestor--we, citizens, helped you, big business, to clean up the mess you made in your own house. Now you get to help us clean up the mess you made in our house--I think OWS could support that mentality.

But, it's also an argument for working within the system rather than outside it. I question if OWS could support that mentality. I question that not only because of the revolutionary tendencies of the movement, but also because I would expect the response, "The master's tools cannot dismantle the master's house."

And THAT just leads us to a WHOLE 'nother conversation.

[1] Bisson, et al. What happens next? Five crucibles of innovation that will shape the coming decade. 2010. McKinsey & Company.
[2] See [1]
[3] About. Retrieved November 16, 2011 from
[4] See [1]

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