The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.



) -- At first, he thought Occupy Wall Street was dangerous. Now, Mitt Romney understands the source of the group's anger. It is though America's anger. The people at the center of a global financial crisis have been laughing all the way to the bank, on the coattails of taxpayer-funded bailouts and by maximizing personal wealth at the expense of shareholders and employees.

As a presidential hopeful with private and public sector experience, Romney is able to understand the source of this anger and he would be right to champion resolving it. Wall Street is not a symbol of what's wrong in America. It is the source for what's wrong with America.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney

America's economic health and wealth has relied on private ownership and free market capitalism. Wall Street's reckless risk takers caused foundational institutions to be propped up by state bailouts. That's a solution used in communism to paper over its failings.

Americans have always been motivated by meritocracy. Wall Street has the scent of kleptocracy. This is what happens in dictatorships and with crony capitalism. This is not supposed to happen in democratic, free market capitalism America.

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American businesses, unlike others in the world, have always had a laser focus on maximizing shareholder value that has driven enormous wealth creation for the nation. Wall Street too often focuses on personal wealth creation and maximizing the compensation of executives and traders.

Americans have always taken pride in being honest hard workers who find public assistance humiliating. Wall Street celebrated public assistance because it augmented their bonus pool.

In America, risk takers are either rewarded or they lose their shirt. On Wall Street, they take the risks and the American people lose their shirts.

America has earned a global reputation as a nation of innovators: a country that creates products that make the world a better place. The innovations from Wall Street have sullied this reputation by innovations that brought the world a global financial crisis.

The American dream used to be every American's dream. The aftermath of the financial crisis, leaves many unable to dream.

America has always been a faith-based nation, with a strong moral compass. Wall Street has made clones of Gordon Gekko the face of America.

American management has been a source of America's world beating productivity that has led to a high standard of living. Wall Street leaders giving themselves enormous payouts while their workers get next to nothing set the stage for a nation in decline.

A great source of Americans' strength has been their ability to be honest and repentant about their mistakes, and the nation's ability to forgive. On Wall Street, there have been no apologies, just hubris. A giant festering wound occupies Wall Street, infecting the entire nation.

Romney's experience in the private and public sector will be valuable because solutions to resolving America's anger will come from Washington and Wall Street.

His plan must stay focused on fixing Wall Street. As a leader he knows that you must focus on fixing what's broken.

His plan should include meetings with Wall Street. They should be asked what their plan is to lessen the American anger that they instigated. This is not vilifying Wall Street. It is holding them responsible for their actions, rather than the American people.

The private sector always asks government to let them manage their own problems. They don't want regulators creating more problems than they solve. This can be their chance.

When it comes to what role the government will play, Romney's plan should include fine tuning section 162(m) of the tax code. In 1993, Washington revised it to limit the tax deductibility of executive compensation for the top five highest paid executives to $1 million. For additional compensation to be tax deductible, it had to be performance based.

The idea behind performance-based compensation is that it would motivate the right behaviors, also known as maximizing shareholder value. It obviously has not worked on Wall Street. Instead of performance-based compensation, giant pay plans have been created for "performance" that a dead man could meet. This has to be tightened up.

Bankers are allegedly rewarded because they stoke economic growth by making money available to businesses. In 2009, more than 65% of their revenues came from fees. Performance needs to be tied to growing the economy, not slowing it down by taking money out of consumer's pockets.

Performance needs to be tied to maximizing shareholder value, not executive or trader value. "When the banks did well, their employees were paid well. When the banks did poorly, their employees were paid well. And when the banks did very poorly, they were bailed out by taxpayers and their employees were still paid well," said Andrew Cuomo in July 2009.

Performance must be tied to metrics that clearly identify long-term stability. There can never be a repeat of CEOs collecting hundred of millions of dollars in the run up to the failures of their banks.

Performance is normally tied to innovation. For Wall Street there can be no bonuses for innovations. It costs the taxpayers too much.

Performance needs to be tied to increasing productivity that generates profits. Big bonuses have been paid on revenue when banks have lost money.

One other change, for Wall Street, rule 162 (m) should be expanded beyond the five highest paid executives to include every employee whose compensation rivals an executive. On that same note, shareholder say on pay votes should include all people with executive-type pay packages.

To the people who say this last suggestion would result in the best and brightest going elsewhere; that is the point. Too many of America's best have been attracted to the unlimited riches on Wall Street. We need America's finest to be motivated to be the next Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs who made America a better place and who Americans remember fondly -- wealth and all. This is another Wall Street-inspired wrong that needs to be made right.

In addressing the Wall Street problem, Romney could note different responses to errant bankers around the world. For example, bankers who let greed be their compass rather than economic growth are executed. Or executives who bring shame to their companies and countries take themselves out.

Romney should be Occupy Wall Street's advocate. If he can demonstrate that he knows how to fix Wall Street, he will demonstrate that he knows how to fix the nation. This would be his ticket to Occupying the White House.


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