Transcript: I was asked a couple of days ago if I'd be willing to record a message to Occupy Wall Street about Occupy Wall Street from somebody who's been very successful in the world of business.
As many of you know, my name is Rinaldo Brutoco, president and founder of the World Business Academy. One of the reasons I agreed to do this is because I am so grateful, and I believe all of the business community should be as well. I am so grateful for Occupy Wall Street.
What they have done is return the conversation to the issues that we need to discuss. They've returned the conversation to what's really important in this country and, frankly, for this economy.
So many of the people in the business community, you should know, are completely aware that what's gone on in the financial sector has been crazy; that it needs to be different is also clear. But more important than that, I think, is that the fundamental issue of Occupy Wall Street is economic justice, in the envelope of social justice.
So, it's not just about Wall Street, and it's not just about business. What it's about is the fact that we've decimated the middle class in America, and this economy doesn't work well when you do.
So, it's time for us to look at our priorities. And I would say, on behalf of the business community, and on behalf of the one percenters, of which I am a member: I am grateful that Occupy Wall Street is asking us to look at how do we fix the economy, which will benefit us all. It'll benefit the one percenters; it'll definitely benefit the business community. Why?
Because the US economy, and I would argue, the economy of the Western democracies, does not work without a vibrant middle class. We need to make it possible again in the United States of America and ultimately in other countries around the world where this isn't true – and in many countries in Europe it is true – where you can go through college and not come out deeply in debt.
Where you can go through that college no matter who your parents were if you have the ability to get there, and the college education you'll get will be second to none.
We need to make it possible again for people to feel reasonably safe that the next generation will have it as good or better than their generation.
We need to make it safe to own houses, to invest in stock markets that aren't gambling instruments.
We need to be able to feel safe again that we can create a society like we did after World War II, built on an enlightened egalitarianism, the sense that when we all did better, we all do better.
So, it's time now to drop the aristocratic pretensions that a few of us should be allowed to fly around in jets, a few of us should be up above the atmosphere of the pain, the sorrow and the toil going around among the middle and lower classes in America and other Western democracies.
It's time for us to stop the silly conversation about deficits because at this stage they don't matter – jobs do.
And it's time for us once again to join hands and join hearts and realize that what we do for each other, in fact, we do for ourselves.
You know, as it was said a long time ago by the poet John Donne: “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” In the United States and Western democracies' economies, the middle class being driven to the point of fear, concern, and, at this point, I would say, a pervasive sense of foreboding, to that middle class it's time to say: “We get it. The bell's tolling for us, too. We will all be better off.”
And I'll leave you with just this one last thought: the highest history of deficit ever to Gross National Product (GNP) in the history of the United States was recorded in 1946. It was so high that no one could conceive of how we'd ever pay the debt off. And what happened from 1946 to 1966 is, we experienced the greatest economic miracle of all time. In the process of doing it, the debt shrank as a percentage of GNP without anybody having to do anything at all except enjoy the fruits of a society that actually was equal and fair.
It's time for us to return to that society again, and when we do, we'll create wealth at every level that we've never, ever seen before. And we'll find that all the that choices we thought were trade-offs really aren't. Because at the end of the day we do not live an economy of scarcity where it hurts me to help you. We live in an economy of abundance, where the better you do, the better I do.
And at this point, I'm all for all of us doing better.
Thanks very much for listening, and I wish you all the best of luck on Wall Street and all the other Occupy movements around the globe.