When I first heard about the bailout of Bank of America and other nefarious companies, I thought it was necessary (having so many financial institutions fail didn’t sound an appealing alternative), albeit excessive. However, I also thought it highlighted the dark side of capitalism. Rewarding business’s so obviously toxic (not to mention corrupt) and allowing them to further exploit the lower/ middle class created an even larger gap in economic equality. When I read that 75% of the initial $20 billion given to B.O.A was allocated to pay Merrill lynch aristocracy their executive bonuses, despite a 4 quarter loss of $15.31 billion, I was infuriated. Something had to change. Something had to be done. The OccupyWallStreet protests are not it.
To illustrate, I have spent days reading blogs, watching videos, talking to people and have yet to hear a cogent answer to the following questions: What is the goal of the protest/ what do the protesters hope to accomplish? I suspect some corporations on Wall Street employ people with deplorable morality in addition to a serious addiction to money which fuels their hoggish behavior. I fully support the protesting of our current economic status and the direction this country is headed in. However, at this point the OccupyWallStreet protestors seem to be addressing this problem psychologically, by simply identifying with the statement “Wall street is bad” and rallying around the word change, rather than dealing with it mechanically. Let me explain, no there is too much, let me sum up:
The lack of a clear mission statement from the protestors sends a message of disorganization and weakness resulting in an inability to be taken seriously. The vast resources in American history they could have drawn upon for guidance, but didn’t, is causing the public to be further disengaged. Here are a few sources of said guidance:
Boston Tea party: After the passing of the Tea Act in 1773 the American people refused to be taxed by the British parliament in addition to their local representatives. The culmination of this protest was highlighted by the dumping of taxable tea into the Boston harbor. Possibly a spur of the moment reaction, but I’m sure the British understood the message.
March on Selma: A key event in the American civil rights movement, the goal was clear: African Americans wanted equal voting rights in Selma, Alabama.
Million Man March: you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what the goal of this protest was (if you don’t know, save face and google it now).
There are countless other protests I could list but there are other issues I’d like to get to. From what I have read/ seen, the message of OccupyWallStreet protestors is “Greed is bad” and the goal is a self-serving desire for attention.
Another reason I have a serious problem trusting the political rhetoric of the protestors is their obvious detachment from reality. It is tragically comedic when you are holding a sign protesting Corporations and Wall Street while holding an iPhone (Apple is traded on Wall Street) or an iPad and uploading videos to youtube (Owned by Google, traded on Wall Street). It’s almost to the point where I think this whole “protest” is just a new way to advertise: “Hey kids don’t forget to bring your Sony D-6A9 camera to the protest!” It is a bold strategy to protest Google making money, by helping Google make money. It is blatantly obvious these protestors are spoiled suburban brats that are there to garner the attention they didn’t receive as a child. At one point the number of protestors amplified due to the rumor Radiohead (part of capitol records, owned by Citigroup, traded on Wall Street) was going to perform! Unfortunately the rumor wasn’t true so most returned to their cushy trust fund lifestyle. Also, the twitter posts about taking down Wall Street are brilliant. I don’t know if the protestors realize this, but the monopoly guy doesn’t exist. That’s not what Wall Street is, some guy with bags of money and a monocle.
Before I move on I’d like to address the masochistic desire of the protestors to be involved in police brutality. Honestly, I’ve never seen police officers be more restrained as a group of privileged monsters attempt to goad them into violence; Chanting “the world is watching” while holding a video camera as some spoiled baby cries about hand cuffs being too tight or being dragged (they’re dragging you because you refused to move dummy) off to the nearest paddy wagon. If the world is watching they are giving serious thought to invading us. Hey protestors you think you’re being revolutionary like Libya and Syria? Go ahead and look at those protests and tell me if you still think the NYPD are being abusive. Oh and while you yell to those arrested, trying to get their name to aid in getting them legal counsel, please take an account of how many those law schools were established and funded by the free enterprise (that is the accrual of wealth). Surely, none of these law firms representing the helpless (yet stylish) “victims” have any history of shady political ties or funding from corrupt corporations.
Finally I’d like to address the idea of literally taking down Wall Street and how this was all caused by capitalism. As I stated earlier, I naïvely thought that this represented the dark side of capitalism. However, I realize now that this situation seems to be in contradiction with pure capitalism because most of the companies (see GM, Chrysler, AIG, Citibank) that had been run into the ground did not fail. Instead the government intervened, which is hardly laissez-faire. I should state that I don’t think letting B.O.A fail was a better option (I’ve seen Too Big to Fail and its apocalyptic description of that situation). While I don’t have the time to go into it (this is already long enough) a little research will help you realize this behavior has been going on for decades and we seem to be moving farther and farther from a capitalist society. Our currency serves as a wonderful paradigm of this: through misguided trust, our duly elected sworn public officials took our lawful currency and changed it to unconstitutional bills of credit (irredeemable Federal Reserve Notes), which continues to circulate only because of the public’s continuing, misplaced confidence in these notes. The word “legal tender” on today’s notes imparts NO intrinsic value to money, nor do they entitle the bearer to exchange these notes for lawful coined money. They are a throwback to feudal days when the sovereign could, and did, issue a proclamation declaring what was to be used as “money”.
I have seen a lot of arguments lobbying for economic equality among American citizens. This will never happen. Human Beings have attempted to create a utopia since the beginning and right now we are batting 0 for 4.55 billion years ± 1% (or 7,000 years if you really really like/ believe certain stories). There is a finite amount of resources in the world and to divide them equally among the human race is simply not feasible and not advisable. If you don’t understand why everyone in America can’t be given equal pay and equal assets, while still maintaining our stature as an economic power please see your local economics professor. Some protestors seem to think the constitution gives us all the right to life, liberty and happiness. This is not the case as it is the pursuit of happiness we are given. Some work hard, are lucky and attain it while others don’t. Some don’t work hard and are lucky and attain it while again others don’t. That’s what makes America beautiful, that you have the opportunity. There is no guarantee you will make it big in America and live that luxurious lifestyle, but I guarantee you in a society in which everyone is equal economically, no one will be living comfortably (again finite resources) and will end in starvation (see Mao Tse Tung’s China or Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union). Besides, ask piggy from lord of the flies how that initial paradise society worked out; oh wait he can’t hear you, he has a giant rock where his head used to be.
To conclude, I would like to say I empathize with the few OccupyWallStreet protests who understand why they’re there and what needs to happen to promote change. I think the majority of Wall Street is made of decent businesses trying to achieve prosperity through moral actions. Unfortunately these are overshadowed by the wicked who engage in back door deals and pay no mind to their fellow man. Those despicable animals do need to fail.
Author’s Note: I published this a little late because I now realize this entire “protest” is just a new form of Broadway comedy. The first act had its moments when some of the delicate flowers got a booboo from handcuffs and what was most likely bleeding from a hangnail. However, the list of demands in the second act revealed its true intention (comedy) and in my humble opinion brought the house down! Apparently they’re now doing a multiple city tour! They are going to clean up at the Tony’s next year!