Yesterday's post where I finally answer several hundred peoples' request to share what I think about the Occupy Wall St. movement
garnered quite a lot of feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Huffington Post. While most people support the movement and thus supported my stance, there were detractors and naysayers who stand against the movement, decrying it as "the unified whining of entitled liberals who are mad that they don't have it as easy anymore," to quote one poster. Or "stupid people who spent too much on their mortgage having nothing better to do," to quote another.
This movement is about accountability. Period.
When you sell to a middle class American the dream of home ownership, consumer bliss and higher social standing (the very tenet our American Dream is built on) by literally giving them mortgages they cannot afford and encouraging $40,000 -- $80,000 lines of credit based on the overinflated property value of the home, the purchaser is a moron -- but you're a predator. And you should be held accountable.
Just like con men who steal from the elderly their life's savings because the old rarely keep up with the nefarious ways of the young, these con men must be held accountable. That's what this is about.
"But those people were STUPID!" you might say. "They should know better!" Well, whose responsibility is it to educate the consumer? It's the consumer's, ultimately. Responsibility of self lies on self. However, that does not absolve responsibility from corporate marketing which appeals to the stupidity of the consumer. The consumer's crime? Ignorance. The Fast Food industry, subprime mortgage lenders, and banking industry's crime? Malevolent and willful manipulation of the stupid.
And here's the kicker: the honest, intelligent people who could afford their homes but lost their jobs because they worked for a small to medium business that went tits-up due to the ensuing financial meltdown? The middle-classer who lost their insurance when their factory cut jobs and now has medical bills they can't afford or a sickness they refuse to get checked out because they can't pay for it? Not stupid. Innocent. And fucked.
All because the top 1 percent of this nation decided to willfully profit on the stupid.
To include in the conversation "Well yeah, but if they stupid got smart, the problem would be solved" is sidestepping the issue. Because once they get smart and stop the cycle of pain, what then? Do we just shrug and go "Okay, well, that's over?" No. We punish the guilty. The stupid were punished during the process, with mortgages they can't afford and food that makes them disgustingly fat and oil prices that send profits soaring for the barons and fat cats in the industry.
The malevolent MUST be punished after, once the education takes place. And that's what Occupy Wall St. is all about. Yes, there are people who treated their house like an ATM and borrowed far more than they could afford to pay back on houses worth 1/3rd what they paid. Yes, there are people who succumbed to the siren song of modern American middle-class lifestyles, who bought cars and Xboxes and flat screen TVs and cameras and other toys on credit, which they then defaulted on.
But also, there are good, honest people who worked a good, honest job who no longer have that good, honest job. They cannot afford insurance. They scrape to afford food. They saw the American Dream slip from their fingers, not from their willful spending and gluttony, but because the circumstances simply suck. And these people combine with the stupid folks above to form a movement that says "Hey... You got greedy and preyed on the stupid, which caused the honest to suffer. Now, the stupid are smarter, and the honest and smart victims are pissed. We're coming. You cannot hide. You WILL be held accountable."
That's what's happening in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas and Atlanta. And it's happening in more cities every day. Each person who joins the movement adds another punctuation mark to the statement "You WILL be held accountable." Each city that the movement spreads to shows solidarity for the movement. This isn't going away anytime soon, no matter how much the corporations and their wholly-owned mouthpieces, the mainstream media, wish it would.
If you don't understand the movement, do yourself a favor: GOOGLE IT. Read the tweets and blog posts and Tumblrs of people who are there. I'm not linking to them, because a) they're easy to find and b) we just discussed above, the responsibility of education ultimately rests on you. If what I've written yesterday and today haven't motivated you to just do a simple Google search on Occupy Wall St. then you're lazy or willfully ignorant -- and you're part of the problem.
And when you finally wake up and realize what this is about and it dawns on you that you're actually a part of it, and these people are standing up for you, you'll do exactly what subprime mortgage victims and fast food victims and credit victims -- all of whom were "stupid" -- are doing now. You'll stand up, too. Unless, of course, you're the willfully ignorant, obtuse, "I HATE HIPPY LIBERALS" type. In which case, go enjoy your Tea Party.
And just for clarity, this Vinn Diagram explains the difference (and similarity) between Occupy Wall St. and the Tea Party:
I think the comment exchange I just shared with someone on Facebook sums this up nicely. Lisa said:
"I don't want to be in debt, I want a good paying job, I want a bright future" is something that everyone needs to achieve on their own, and since there are people out their doing it, the opportunities are there. We all can't be winners, we all can't be part of the 1%.
Lisa: how do you go get a job on your own when there are no jobs? Oh, I know, start a business -- but wait, it takes capital to do that -- capital these people don't have. And it takes business sense and some education -- education these people don't have.
I am an exception. I started my own company, and I do okay. But I also started that company during a fruitful time, when I had the capital to do so. If I tried to actually start one now, it'd be difficult if not impossible -- and I'm no dummy. I've read the books and know the information.
I don't want anyone to get handouts. I want people willing to work hard to be able to work hard. And lack of a job because you're lazy? I get that. Lack of a job because the ensuing fallout from a financial crisis caused by greedy bankers and investors who plundered our national wealth to line their own pockets? SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. And that's what this is.
And as an aside, look for a similar situation to begin occurring in the next three years around the obesity epidemic vs. the fast food and corn syrup industries. Just like subprime mortgages, I feel that when you can package a "happy meal" full of corn syrup infused bread along with beef less beef, a toy and an apple, and call it "healthier" because you got rid of the fries, you're preying on the stupid. Which, while yes, they ARE stupid, you're still preying. And eventually you'll be held accountable, too.
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