Occupy Wall Street

Posted: October 13, 2011 by Keith Stone in dinero, Occupy Wall Street


“I don’t know what to do about the depression, inflation, and the Russians, and the crime in the street. All I know is first, you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a human being, god dammit. My life has value.'”

I stopped by the Occupy Wall Street protest in Washington Square Park the other day. It was pretty chaotic. Lots of angry hippie-looking people shouting and holding signs. Some of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. I’m just beginning to wonder if it’s worth it. Will they enact change or even make people look at the world a little differently? It’s been hard to get a unified message out of the Occupiers but then again, America is so fucked up it’s hard to pick just one thing to rail against.

The difference between Occupy Wall Street and other protests is that the protesters are the majority. This isn’t women fighting for their right to vote or African-Americans fighting segregation, this is 99% of the population fighting against the 1% who are taking advantage of them. The protesters have a right to be angry. America is a capitalist country but it is also a country built on compassion and brotherhood.

People with innovative ideas and strong work ethics no doubt deserve to be compensated more than the rest of us, but not at our expense. America is not going to evolve if only a select few are able to live comfortably while the masses struggle to survive. We are only as good as the people around us. What good is having money if others are so hungry that they’re willing to steal it? That’s no way to be as a country.

I’m not complaining about the price of Yankee tickets, an HDTV, or a pair of jeans from Express. It’s the basic things. People shouldn’t have to take out a loan to afford medical care. Just because you can charge more for a appendectomy, doesn’t mean you should. Kids are going massively in debt to go to average schools and then are met by an empty job market. Just as bad is the janitor making $150,000 in “overtime.” Spread the wealth.

There are people that are buying homes and cars while school funding is being cut. Companies angle for tax cuts to help their bottom line so that stockholders (and especially executives with stock options) can cash in when senior care centers are closing. Why is executive pay increasing exponentially when employees are getting laid off? Is a $4 million salary really that much better than $3 million when that difference can pay for 20 employees that may be currently unemployed? It’s not a bad thing if profits go down because you hire extra workers.

Somewhere along the way, greed became acceptable in this country, and not just amongst the upper class. The sales for luxury brands like Gucci and Prada keep rising while the economy stays stagnant. I have friends that complain about being broke but still go out and buy $200 sunglasses. Sure, everybody deserves to splurge every once in a while but this culture of spending and consuming is out of control. Everybody wants more, so prices go up, first on jewelry, then on gas, then on milk. People can’t afford to feed their kids while some punk banker is buying $600 bottles of vodka at 1oak. That’s not fair.

That brings us back to Wall St. The reason it’s being targeted by the Occupiers is because the irresponsible bets made by the banks are the major cause of our current economic situation. At the same time, there was minimal accountability for those who were in charge and salaries and bonuses are still high even as the banks suffered massive losses and ordinary people lost their homes and life savings.

How about if a bank loses $1 billion, then its employees lose $1 billion worth of salary? Let’s see how many bros stay in finance. There are so many smart people that do nothing but push paper and money back and forth working for these banks. It’s a shame they choose to work there instead of making advances in medicine and technology or solving important problems like global warming. Why are people only considered successful when they can afford cars and boats and not when they actually accomplish something?

It’s hard to figure out how to make a change. That’s why Occupy Wall Street exists. They don’t know what they want; they just know that things need to change. When a bully picks on you, there are two choices: do nothing or stand up to him. Judging from their new members and monetary and emotional support they’ve gotten from around the country, more than just the Occupiers are starting to do the latter.

The trick is to convince the general public that the movement isn’t just filled with crazy people which is kinda hard considering that most of them look like they are. Some people think they’re just jealous or angry about being unemployed, and publicity stunts can only work so much before people tire of them. A few intelligent, coherent, and attractive (hey, it helps) leaders need to step up to give this movement a real voice with smart ideas. Occupy Wall Street is not going to overhaul the system, but really now a push in the right direction would be a big help. This is America, people! We have to be good to one another. A buck isn’t worth putting in your pocket if it hurts another person.

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Comments
  1. mike judge says:

    your rant is pretty incoherent. you are upset that there is corporate greed. congratulations. yet you fail to provide any remedies other than every dollar lost should be a dollar lost to a finance bro. so your argument (or lack thereof) sounds as confounded as you are, only exacerbated by your loose grasp of the english language. so let me spell it out for you- the world of finance is shrinking and most of the so called fat cats that almost ran the banking system into the ground are no longer running the banks. open any 10-k (yes i am aware you do not know what that is) of one of the banks from this year and compare it to years prior and look at how much the employee pool has shrunk. let me give you an example, bofa currently employs ~284k people around the world and very recently announced they are letting go 30k. do the math and you’ll see that is greater than 10 percent on top of the cuts they have already made since ’07 (10% is also > the nation’s unemployment rate so seems like they are certainly sharing the burden).

    unfortunately some people will always be unable to feed their kids. that doesn’t mean that those that can afford to do so (and live somewhat extravagant lifestyles) are bad people. that course of logic is obvious in its attempt to hide your own failures and general laziness as demonstrated by your lack of understanding of the problems at hand and the correct solutions to remedy them. if someone on your street wins the lottery and decides to move out east to the hamptons or out west to malibu is there any expectation that they should instead take every dollar they won and distribute it to everyone else living on the street? would you protest outside their house if they didn’t fork over the money to you? that would be pure folly but what would be less folly and would address the problem at hand would be to protest the government for creating the lottery system in the first place and handing out huge awards to people based on luck rather than seeking to use the funds for the overall benefit of society. you can’t be angry at banks for taking the bailout money and using it in any way they deemed appropriate. rather you should be angry at the government for not attaching more rules to how banks operate (and lend) if they elected to receive bailout money. you and the occupy wall st protesters should be outside of capital hill angry at the government for creating a system where corporate greed can flourish. where were you in 2010 when the supreme court decided to remove any limits to corporate spending on elections/lobbying? there is a reason that banks have so much sway in the government and therein lies the problem- but you don’t even bring that point up because chances are you are unaware of that recent judicial decision. you and most others part of occupy wall st need to grow up and stop making this about class warfare and instead try to understand the real issues at hand and use your time more effectively to bring about change to the right institutions.

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