Whereas the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is generally regarded as the left wing of American politics, the Tea Party is considered its right wing counterpart. Although the media tries to draw comparisons between the two, both sides rebuff the other. Their tactics and general philosophy may be different, but the two are actually not as far apart as you might think. To illustrate, OWS organizers recently articulated a list of demands they want the government to implement (see “The 99 Percent Declaration”; alternate Site).

Interestingly, their grievances are essentially no different than the Tea Party’s; for example:

* Both sides want to implement campaign reform and revision of lobbying laws.

* Both sides want to enact term limits for government officials.

* Both sides want to implement reforms to our current tax system.

* Both sides want to reduce the national debt.

* Both sides want more jobs for Americans, and curb outsourcing.

* Both sides want to reform our immigration policies.

* Both sides want to ease excessive costs resulting from our military policing of the world.

* Both sides want an end to currency manipulation.

* Both sides want to implement banking and securities reforms, not to mention ending the Fed.

* Both sides want to reform public education.

* And believe it or not, both sides are interested in protecting the planet.

The two sides are far apart on some issues though, such as universal health care, forgiving student loans, mortgage foreclosures, and abolishing the electoral college. However, they are actually not as far apart as you might believe.

The difference between the two groups though is HOW these issues should be addressed. The 99% Declaration lists specific remedies for solving these problems which I believe is a fatal flaw in their declaration. Instead, it should simply define what the problems are as they see it. Maybe their solutions are acceptable, and maybe they are not. The point is, there is too much of a temptation in this country to “leap before you look”, to try to offer solutions before we understand the problem. That is like prescribing a treatment before having a doctor examine you. As a patient, it is your responsibility to try to articulate your perception of an ailment to a physician; in contrast, it is the doctor’s responsibility to interpret your symptoms, diagnose the problem, and prescribe a suitable treatment, and there may very well be several different treatments to solve a particular problem.

Let me give you an example, Article 4 of the Declaration’s grievances discusses, Term Limits: “Members of the United States House of Representatives shall be limited to serving no more than four two-year terms in their lifetime. Members of the United States Senate shall be limited to serving no more than two six-year terms in their lifetime.” That is a solution. The problem is that people are tired of career politicians who make their livelihood from politics and become less responsive to the interests of their constituents. Their solution may be flawed as well, e.g., are terms to be consecutive? Can they go from one chamber of Congress to another? How about simply abolishing their Congressional pensions instead? Why this particular combination and not something like, “no more than twelve years in Congress” (and let them figure out how to spend it).

In other words, I believe the 99% Declaration should contain nothing but a definition of the problems and then hold a separate convention to discuss alternatives and formulate a suitable solution. Instead, the 99% Declaration is another prime example of “Fire, Aim, Ready” that plagues this country.

As someone who has taught planning and has read many feasibility studies over the years, I commend the OWS for their efforts in producing the 99% Declaration, and recommend all concerned parties read it carefully, including the Tea Party. It is a good first draft, but it needs a considerable amount of polish to make it palatable to Americans as a whole. My recommendation to the authors: concentrate on defining the problem as precisely as possible, deliberate on alternatives, select a suitable solution, and then pitch it to the country. Just remember, it’s “Ready, Aim, Fire”; any other sequence is counterproductive.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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