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Torches and Pitchforks

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When President-elect Obama says, he will turn the economy back around, let's offer this gentle observation.

He'd better.

What he will really need to do is rescue it from the greedy gang-that-can't-shoot-straight which is holding it... and us... hostage.

He'd better.

Quite frankly, growing numbers of people in the United States are plain and simply disgusted.

Their lives are being damaged by a greedy incompetent few, who hoard unbelievable riches, while forcing more and more into economic uncertainty.

Repairing this is not optional: We are beginning to see the first glimmers of ordinary people/victims act on their disgust.

Witness the "occupation" of the Republic Windows and Door factory. The 250 workers there felt nothing less than betrayed, by company ownership and creditors who suddenly flew the coop They gave three days warning they'd be shutting down. We are now making a big deal of the fact that the illegal takeover worked. The shafted protesters were able to force the owners and creditors who betrayed them to throw a few crumbs when they got called out for their bold-faced thievery.

There is a glimmer of hope: The fact that these perps caved under public pressure demonstrates that they are not ENTIRELY shameless.

By the way, don't ignore that group in Florida either, the one that is helping homeless people take over foreclosed residences that are sitting as empty monuments to spreading desperation.

Otherwise law abiding citizens are starting to be fed up with a system that seems to be always stacked against them. What a shame it would be if the anger over a raw deal grows into more and more civil disobedience. Or worse.

This is not some call to "action". Quite the contrary. Unlawful defiance, no matter how justified, can quickly turn into mob rule...chaos.

That, of course would be a national tragedy. Ours is a country that has achieved historic stability based on a "Government of the people, by the people and for the people".

To cause those people to lose faith and start to take matters in their own hands could unravel our sense that we're all in this together.

It is imperative that those who have benefited by gaming our system, as well as those who will now govern us, do whatever it takes to correct the inequities with no more playing around. This is no longer some game.

For starters, we must address the knee jerk layoff reflex. At the first sign of a slowdown, companies fire their workers, choosing highest profits over the lowly employees.

It's not that all of these fat cats are amoral. Barry Diller, of the telecommunications Barry Dillers, just made a speech where he blasted so many of his fellow plutocrats, saying that letting people go in the pursuit of a better quarterly report is "... throwing people out to a larger, what is inevitably a larger unemployment heap for frankly no good reason." "Companies", he went on, "have obligations beyond that...".

Indeed they do. They speak a different language using words like "efficiencies" and "productivity gains" to justify their exorbitant salaries, translate to job losses for thousands, make that millions, of others. Also lost are livelihoods, homes, self-respect. In the process, these corporations breach their implied contracts to their employees, communities and yes the product that allowed them to thrive in the first place,

And before someone butts to point out a responsibility to stockholders, the investors also lose out when the deteriorating company inevitably drops in value.

So eventually everybody is angry, Forget "eventually". Everybody is angry NOW. They are starting to feel disenfranchised, and that franchise is the United States of America

So as our leaders in government and finance have their theoretical debates on the best ways to fix this problem, they must realize that if they don't clean up this mess, they're going to soon look out their windows and see huge crowds of the aggrieved marching with torches and pitchforks in hand, or the modern day equivalent.

The new President Obama will enter office with the very same advantage and disadvantage: He brings with him a hope for change. But that's also an expectation that his administration will be a force for meaningful, discernible change...not the work of the Keystone Cops we've been watching squander hundreds of billions. If he succeeds, he will have the thanks of his nation. If not, here's a stock tip: Invest in companies that make torches and pitchforks.