October 14, 2011 | Leadership

It is fall up here in Vermont and, of course, you know what that means—time to prepare the financial forecasts for the business. (I know some of you thought I was referring to our wonderful foliage season, but I am an accountant—I don’t notice these things.)

Can we emerge from the economic doldrums?

In assessing the prospects for the general economy, my thought process went something like this:

  • With unemployment, I anticipate we will be in a holding pattern for the next twelve months while the presidential election takes p

lace and a new Administration determines what its policies will be.

  • By the time this happens, we will be in mid-term elections, so the inertia will continue for another eighteen months, after which we are back in the presidential election cycle. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • The cumulative effect is that the economy may not turn around for another six years, and then not at all unless we see some real courageous leadership in our country.

Signs of hope?

As I was thinking about this, I read that:

    • Belgium has not had a government for over a year, and, as a Belgian citizen colorfully expressed, he really does not give a hoot as his government is useless anyway.
    • The Occupy Wall Street protest movement has been underway for a month and is gaining momentum across the U.S..

If you put these pieces together, the conclusion is that people are not happy with their government; they are trying to do something about it; and the Belgian people seem to be managing just fine without any government.

This is good news. It gives me hope that, despite a dysfunctional government in the U.S., we the people might be able to overcome the current financial crisis.

So, what next?

In recent months, silent majorities were able to start whole movements using social media. This has been particularly effective in countries where governments try to suppress free speech. In the U.S., both fledgling and major political parties, such as the Tea Party, have used it effectively as well.

The disgruntled and normally-silent majority has an opportunity to use the Occupy Wall Street movement as a way to force change—to get politicians to solve our problems rather than squabbling.

While the Occupy Wall Street movement does not have a single coherent message, it is focused on the money trail in politics.

In All the President’s Men, Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward to follow the money to find the cause of the corruption. If the movement can bring to light how members of Congress fund their campaigns, we may finally succeed in holding them accountable for addressing the issues they were put in place to solve.

Optimistic? Certainly. At least the Occupy movement is something. For those disillusioned people among us, let’s add our voices to the mix and see if we can’t get out of this futile cycle.