What the 1% should say to the 99%

Protesters hold signs as they march to City Hall during the "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstration in solidarity with the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" protest in New York City on October 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The protesters slogan, "We are the 99 percent," calls attention to the fact that marchers are not part of the 1 percent of Americans who hold a vast portion of the nation's wealth.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

COMMENTARY Both Newt Gingrich and Paul Krugman need to be slapped. Since we're being honest, there's something the Occupy movement is missing too: Stop blaming the 1% and join them.

First, to Gingrich, who told the Occupy movement, "Go get a job right after you take a bath."

Newt, hush up and listen. People are mad because there aren't good jobs to get. More basically, they feel the American Dream has been stolen from them. If you're the victim of a crime, you report it. They did, no one listened, and so they banded together and took to the streets, not unlike the people who felt wronged and fought in the Revolutionary War. They don't need a moral finger pointing, they need opportunity, and it's the job of the people in power to provide that opportunity to them.

Then to Paul Krugman, whose op-ed pieces and blogs focus attention on how a generation of Americans is the victim of poverty brought on by bad government policy.

Paul, can we talk? America is a country that believes at its core that they can take destiny into their hands. It goes against the national spirit to call Americans victims, even when somebody has done something to us. My father didn't complain about the Great Depression or the rise of fascism in Europe. He enlisted in the Army, was discharged honorably after the war, went to school, and then to work. The opportunity he enjoyed was opportunity created by his generation.

Which takes us to OWS. Occupy, can we talk? The thing is, we've been kicked in the teeth by greedy people, government paralysis, and bad timing. The people who should have created a better world for you got distracted, and screwed up. Sorry. But here's the thing -- every great generation in this country was handed a crappy deal that they worked hard to improve. That's what makes this country unique in the world. We create opportunity when the rest of the world wallows in despair. It's time to claim your birthright as the next Great Generation and make something happen.

Since we're being honest, both Gingrich and Krugman are members of the 1%, in large part because they made opportunity for themselves. They should be saying: "Join us." And if they really want to be useful, offer how they will help.

The 1% are people who, in 2009, earned more than $343,927. These 1.4 million households do include the people who really need to be slapped -- the bankers who profited from tanking the global economy. But a greater majority of the 1% are small business owners, who, if left alone, will expand their companies, hire people, and do more for the economy than the next five presidents of the United States and all the op-ed writers put together.

What we really need is for the 1% to declare is who they are and offer to help. Not with a handout, but with opportunity. Together, we can reinvent the American Dream.

Why aren't the 1% stepping forward? Because it's become un-PC to talk about personal success today. The truth is that most of the pundits, newscasters, and op-ed writers who twist their faces into looks of empathy and outrage, are also members of the 1%. I almost drove off the road a couple nights ago when I heard a well-paid author on the radio refer to himself as "one of the 99%."

So, taking my own advice, here goes: I'm a member of the 1%. I got here because people invested in me, starting with my parents, and because I started a business that after almost 20 years is doing well. And here's how I've tried to make a difference and will try to continue to help: I'll continue to write blog posts to help others succeed in their businesses and careers. Most of what I post is free, as is the audio version of the most popular book I co-authored. And I will continue to grow my business to employ others so that they may gave the same opportunities that I was given. If you find any of this helpful, all I ask is that you do the same for others.

Other members of the 1%, what opportunities will you offer? Be honest: You're where you are because others helped you. Time to step forward and give back.

If you think I'm part of the problem, please don't Occupy my front lawn. Post a comment or send me an email if you've got something to say.

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    Dave Logan is a USC faculty member, management consultant, and the best-selling author of four books including Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance. He is also Senior Partner of CultureSync, a management consulting firm, which he co-founded in 1997.