These storied rises from “rags to riches” are what make America the unique and prosperous nation it is. Some critics would have us believe that the American dream is dead. But that’s a view purveyed by those without the vision, the grit, the energy or the single-mined determination to build a better mousetrap. Starry-eyed inventors and entrepreneurs have no doubts about that dream. They know it exists and that they are going to achieve it. Maybe not on the first try, but eventually. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit that drives competitive markets, that not only makes the American dream come true for some (the 1%) but also improves life for the many (the 99%).
What really motivates the OWS movement is not resentment against the 1% but a sense of futility in grappling with a weak economy. With unemployment hovering around 9%, and with all the recurrent plant closings, foreclosures and cutbacks in public services, there is a lot of anger to vent. But class warfare isn’t the solution.
Our frustrations are more the product of Washington than Wall Street. We have been promised a lot and received little. Obama (who made millions in book royalties the last few years) sowed the seeds of disillusionment when he overpromised what his February 2009 stimulus package could deliver. A series of policy failures and political deadlocks has left people feeling disenfranchised and forgotten. Calling out millionaires and billionaires as the culprits in this economic saga is disingenuous and ultimately self-defeating. Those 1 percenters are not an avaricious “them” but in reality the most entrepreneurial of “us.” If we had more of them and fewer grandstanding politicians, we would all be better off.