Dam Wall Street: Making Wall Street work for Main Street

From CNN Money: Why Occupy Wall Street Isn’t About a List of Demands

This CNN Money article argues that lacking focus is not a problem for ‘Occupy Wall Street’ because it’s primary goal is to get attention. While this is somewhat true, an opportunity is being squandered by lacking a message: The protests have been effective at getting noticed; they shouldn’t waste that attention by not taking the next step and putting something more substantial out there.

Part of the problem is the wide spectrum of values and desires in the movement. Some are angry at the banks for causing the current financial crisis. Some are protesting deregulation. Some are fighting against the 30 year decline of the American middle class. You can argue that all these are cause for populist rage against Wall Street, but if ‘Occupy Wall Street’ wants to succeed in igniting some real change, they need to come back down to some practical goals.

The message should be about taming and using Wall Street to grow business; specifically small and mid-market business. And if they want a flowery sounding manifesto… here:

Great civilizations were born on the banks of rivers. These mighty rivers provided sustenance and safety. They provided the pathway to glory and riches. And sometimes, the power hidden under the majesty of the tranquil waters, would destroy everything. Till humans learned to dam the rivers.

Let’s dam Wall Street. Channel the ingenuity, the expertise, the power of Wall Street to give Main Street the edge. If Wall Street can humble sovereigns, divine the future and shape human behavior, surely that power can be used to help small and middle market businesses gain greater access to capital and better manage risks.

Finance is a part of business and Wall Street is very good at it.  Why not use that talent? The message of making big finance work for small and mid-market business is something that EVERYONE can rally around. It’s realistic and attainable. It’s a productive conversation rather than a militant one. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ is doing something valuable by getting the conversation started, but if it is to continue they need to move on from this broad unfocused anger. Championing small and mid-market businesses, the businesses that create jobs and grow the economy, could be a powerful pivot for the movement.