That is the implication as the movement beginning with a few college kids in New York has grown from a nationwide event to an international outcry on every continent save Antarctica of fed up Americans, fed up peoples taking out their frustrations on this country’s financial center. But with no clear message, no set list of grievances, no clear leadership analysts to politicians, to even some business owners are looking at occupy Wall Street as everything from idiotic, idealist college kids going to school on their parents dime protesting corporate America while eating Taco Bell and drinking Starbucks coffee, to members of the public blaming the wrong people, blaming Wall Street when they should be blaming Washington; on the extreme, those who see the protesters as nothing more than an unruly, angry mob willing to drag the wealthy out and kill them, a partial comment by Glen Beck . However let’s look at the naysayers claims ranging from older generations who in the beginning thought this was a bunch of college kids showing up for the camaraderie and free food when they should be in class, to people like Republican contender Herman Cain when asked about the protests responded by saying if you’re not successful in life, if you can’t get a job blame yourself don’t blame the banks. When the interviewer went on to probe didn’t the banks have something to do with what happened in 2008, Cain’s quick rebuttal was yes in 2008, but we’re not in 2008. We’re in 2011. Or other political scrutinizers who point out what they think is irony people taking time to protesting Wall Street talking about a lack of jobs rather than looking for a job.
The general consensus being those marching, holding signs, shouting things while taking to the street want to get something in life by taking it from those who had the education, nerve, gumption and work ethic to be successful, that these people want something given to them without earning it- wrong. These are smart college kids who know they don’t want to walk out of college and either have go get or continue working their job in fast food or retail just to be employed, pay down their student loan debt like so many before them. They are college kids who want opportunities not to be forced into whatever job is available thanking their lucky stars they have one while our economy stagnates, the rich are completely out of touch and only getting richer, as Washington isn’t listening either. But hold it, it’s not just college kids anymore, it’s labor workers whose union rights, pensions, healthcare have been stripped in the name of businesses, local governments saving a buck, people whose jobs are just gone for the same reason. It’s ordinary people who don’t understand how Wall Street is not only capable but, legally allowed to amass, not just profit but gargantuan profits, while the rest of us are making no money, can’t find work; occupy Wall street is comprised of ordinary people who know about the wealth disparity who see the top 1% making money hand over fist as the 99% suffer. It is an uprising of people directly impacted by what Wall Street is responsible for, like the man and his son participating precisely because the man nearly lost his house last year, a justifiable uprising by people who bailed out the big banks, saying this is what they get for their trouble, no help when they need it.
Further let’s look at the assertions of people like Herman Cain and others who seem to think what is needed is a dose of personal responsibility, especially for college kids who “know nothing about life,” who need to grow up, at least try to live adult lives. In spite what presidential hopeful Cain keeps saying to the cameras, the sound bite that keeps being played, the fall of big banks precipitated the housing bubble and the both together began to cost people jobs, states and cities money leading to where we are now. Meaning in practical terms as people lose jobs and states lose money public college tuition goes up, they have less scholarships, financial aid to offer; still think it matters that some of those college kids are whinny young adults going to school on their parents dime, since this impacts a parents ability to send their child/children to school at all? But that’s the individuals fault; it’s the young person’s fault that they’re not rich when they didn’t have access to the education, the vehicle to a good job, a good start in the first place? Take a young person willing to work, willing to put themselves through school unable to find a job to simply support themselves, never mind better themselves; fact is the teen and student unemployment rate is at least twice that of the national average. Are they to be accused of not trying hard enough, or maybe they are supposed to blame their parents who worked hard but couldn’t afford to send their child to school. Still think those college kids were silly, stupid to begin occupy Wall Street? Mr. Cain and people of identical mindsets are quick to point out we are no longer in 2008, Washington stating the recession ended in 2009; both ought to try telling that to thousands who saw their 401K, retirement and pensions swallowed by what happened, persons who were preparing to retire, now 3 years later having no idea when they can retire. Someone should try selling that to the people who lost a job in 2008 still without a job including a paralegal sending out 1,800, yes 1,800, rèsumés in the intervening 3 years, getting all of 3 interviews and still no job. While Cain may be chronologically accurate he is wrong on the economic state, the job state of the way things are; we might as well still be in 2008.
In actuality what is needed is a dose of reality and that reality is the top 1% of Americans make an average annual income of 1million dollars, as opposed to the other 99 who make an average of 30,000. During the recession 99% of individuals saw their incomes drop nearly a half a percentage point, the top 1%’s income grew by just as much. Even more egregious, it is not a new phenomenon; since 1980 the top one percent saw income increases 11 times what the rest of us saw, all according to ABC news. Another reality, the means by which most of these Wall Street money makers got their money, unlike the founders of Taco Bell and Starbucks, acquired it by actions, strategies amounting to creative stealing vs. coming up with an idea, taking the unrealized potential of an idea and turning it into a multimillion dollar product, a billion dollar industry, a household name al-la the creators of, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bing, shoe giant Zappos, videogame makers, young enraptures. Instead Wall Street tycoons use their wealth to hire fancy accountants who know every tax loophole then use their connections, government and otherwise, to avoid paying taxes they should owe; revealed during the financial crisis were the bundles of adjustable rate mortgages traded on the stock market, how they were traded, some playing both ends to meet the middle, don’t forget how they were sold in the first place. President Obama insists that most of what was done in the financial sector, within big banks was immoral rather than illegal; outside economist, analysts, legal experts say no there are laws with which to prosecute such people. This is what the public wants to change; they want the accountability, they want individuals, corporations brought to justice and they want the laws changed so it can’t so easily happen again.
So where are these people supposed to be if not occupying Wall Street, people who can’t find jobs, one profiled out of work for 18 months others who have been out of work for years? People that have tried to do for themselves who might as well try something else, try getting the attention of their government the only way they believe they can. Yet political figures belittle them for the month they have spent protesting a mere drop in the bucket compared to their job search efforts. We already talked about the man who almost lost his house; what about people who already have? They may not have a home to go to; many are living in cheap pay by the week motels, working part time, minimum wage barely able to keep a roof over their head and that of their family, no money left to get out of the cycle they’re in, save a deposit on an apparent, afford to maintain one. Where else are these people supposed to be when one of the first things to be done was the attempt to disband, in some cases even outlaw, unions, remove pensions, too many times from workers rendered incapable of working until the standard age 65 by the very job they do, people who will need their pension and medical services to survive. Where should people be who don’t have a job but job training, retraining are the first things on the chopping blocks for cities, states, the federal government, whose latest round of cuts includes slicing what, job training. Where are these people supposed to be when they are on food stamps and still can’t feed their 1-2 children well? Where are these people supposed to be who are retired and looking at plans to cut their social security, Medicare, who really can’t rejoin the workforce regardless of whether they want or need to. Where are these people supposed to be, ones who already don’t know when they will be able to retire looking at plans that indicate when they are finally forced to by disease, old age they could be completely destitute? Many would say they are in exactly the right place, trying to stop this before it goes any further.
Despite the absence of a clear message, any sign of clear leadership, common themes and demands keep popping up including accountability for what Wall Street and the big banks have done; it’s not like the prosecutions are taking a long time, no one has started, no one is trying. Accountability for the dubious foreclosures revealed by news outlets in the years since the housing bubble, the predatory practices plaguing current home owners trying to keep their pride and joy, their piece of the American dream. Secondly prevent the crisis of 2008 and all it’s repercussions from becoming a reoccurrence; reform the tax code so these modern day Robber Barons aren’t able to create their wealth fleecing the other 99% of the population, fleecing the federal government of money it needs to operate. No more bail outs, proper disclosure from banks, housing lenders about what individuals, families are getting into, using the funds meant to aid home owners until it is gone rather than the program being canceled for lack of persons who qualify. Give more help to struggling Americans, force banks, who were bailed out by the people, to reciprocate by negotiating with underwater home owners vs. ignoring their attempts to come to an agreement, the newest shady tactic of using words like loan modification to get people to temporarily pay less, the rest of the debt not being satisfied, not explaining that, then taking their home eventually anyway. Or, emboldened by the foreclosure crisis, just pouncing on homeowners the moment they miss a single payment. As opposed to the Tea Party rhetoric of would be representatives like Mr. Cain, chastising the amount spent on social welfare in the form of aid, food stamps, who want to up end Medicare, Medicaid if not abolish it all together, taking a fair tax from the rich giving more to the 99% simultaneously increasing job training, retraining and placement so these people can get back to work and won’t need aid any longer.
Instead politicians strategy includes dismissing the group as irrelevant, calling them everything from an angry mob to extremist, attacking presidential candidates and holders of current political office who support the movement, completely sidestepping people’s right to protest in this country, to peacefully demonstrate, leading one to wonder if maybe they should pull out a copy of The Bill of Rights and read it. The tea party trying to latch on and make like comparisons between themselves and the occupy Wall Street demonstrations when they are fundamentally against, for example, some tenants of civil rights in going after unions, in advocating states’ rights to the far end of the spectrum, something that was used to discriminate against minorities pre civil rights. The tea party along with fellow republicans who have stalled President Obama’s jobs bill, something the public support almost 2 to 1 the more they hear about it. The latest tactic involves the private property owner of the park the New York demonstrators live in demanding they leave, only avoiding severe clashes with the police when the company decided to postpone scheduled power washing of so called unsanitary conditions. Demonstrators seeing it as a ploy to stop the movement, diminish its power; obviously this isn’t going to go away, people aren’t going to be deterred nor placated so easily. Because occupy Wall Street was never occupying stupidity, it was never about childish camaraderie, it was and is about, many elected a president who talked of change, they have seen things change for the worse, the congressional races were a referendum on business as usual, all the people have seen since is more gridlock. And while some politicians claim the Wall Street protesters are going after the wrong people, they should focus on Washington; it seems they are going after both. They want Washington to do something about the corporate greed that impacts jobs, effects home foreclosures, causes states to have to choose drastic budget cuts. They are equally trying to break Washington out of its selfish, bickering stupor to do their job and work for the American people. They are forcing everyone to take notice, everyone to comment, everyone to look at them, finally hear their voices. If only politicians and presidential hopefuls could get that.