Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear, Occupy Wall Street. You are the "1%" too.

As many of you know... My greatest annoyance - by far - with the Occupy Wall Street is the privileged "white whine" on display across the country. A facebook friend tagged me in the following image. Have a look, please:

I didn't make this, but I love it.

So much of these protests are - and should be - ridiculously insulting to the literally billions of people around the world who must worry about where their next meal is coming from, and if working a 20 hour day is even going to be enough to provide for themselves and their families.

These problems aren't the failings of capitalism. Quite the opposite.

Real poverty seen around the world is virtually without exception caused by societies that fail to respect private property in any way, shape or form; societies in which the state controls the majority of the economy directly and indirectly; societies in which redistribution of wealth is common place; societies in which trade is reviled and prohibited... In short, in socialist societies.

When you must go through your politically motivated masters to get permission to start a business, or to simply trade with your neighbor... When you risk the products of your labor being stolen without recourse by the state or its operatives... When you are in constant fear of physical violence as so much of the world is... Your opportunities are vanishingly small.

When you live in a country like the United States - for all its major and minor failings, and in spite of the self-evident fact that it's guiding principles are being eroded into that of a third-world kleptocracy - you still have opportunities of all kinds. Some people have so many opportunities that instead of even attempting to work, they can hang out all day and whine about how college costs a lot and someone else should have to pay for it.

Like this girl:

I did make this. And yes, that's a real girl at a real protest I really talked to.
Yes, college is expensive. Yes, so is top of the line health care (mediocre, average health care isn't that costly though and most prevention is pretty cheap). Yes, Wall Street sucks... Though they suck for taking handouts from a government that shouldn't have power to give them out - and in other news, I have yet to meet an "Occupyer" who isn't seeking some kind of hand out for him/herself from the state as well. Of course, they are not greedy. Right?

I'll even add that it also sucks that you have to be extremely productive and add a huge amount of value in America - way more than most places around the world - to even warrant getting paid at a rate that most people consider "good" or "livable". So... Yes, when you're young, you're probably gonna need a roommate. Or two (I have two). It also sucks that between the Fed inflating the shit out of our currency, and the government adding cost after cost to people's living expenses in regulatory compliance and taxation, the bar for what is "livable" keeps shooting up and it often compels some employers to find alternatives to high-cost American labor - be that robots and other capital machinery or a part of the let's generously say 6.5 billion people around the world who are poorer than the poorest American and seeking work.

Just maybe the truly priceless young woman above could simply lower her expectations of what life owes her just a tiny bit and stop spending so damn much, and she'd be fine. Pretty sure she didn't need to go to Harvard. I know she didn't need to wear $198 Ralph Lauren boots, after all. Privileged girls being oblivious to their privilege is funny... But not that funny.

So, to wrap this up... Occupy kids (I will happily stop calling them kids when they start behaving like adults)... Stop acting like you are the new "Arab Spring". You're not.

American women are in no danger of getting whipped for wearing make-up or painting their fingernails, small children are in no danger of being mutilated or having their limbs chopped off with machetes, and families are in no danger of disappearing in the middle of the night because someone mouthed off about the government on the internet. Real people, all over this planet, have real problems. The overwhelming majority of nouveau, not-remotely-radical, pro-establishment, pro-"the man" hippies I've encountered at these events just... Don't. At all.

As far as I can tell, they are mostly college educated, middle class kids who spent between $20,000 and $200,000 on degrees in philosophy or English, that have mysteriously turned out to have not prepared them to be valued by employers in the US or anywhere else during the rough economic times we're experiencing. 

So... Occupy Wall Street trustafarians: Pleeeeease just shut up about how awful your lives are before I am forced to call the waaaaambulance.


Unknown said...

I agree with what your saying to a point.

You may want to check your definition of socialist state, or at least define what type of socialist model you are referring. Versus a totalitarian state. Which I feel is your real grievance.

Capitalism is in no way all bad, it isn't all good. And certain totalitarian states have evolved from capitalist economic systems.

True. People in the first world are much better off than many people in other countries. That's why its called the first world.

BUT that doesn't mean that the minority within the first world should actively be allowed to continue to increase wealth at the detriment to the majority. It is ok to be rich and recognise this.

Just think if the banks and financial institutions of the world are shafting the very people who do the day to day grind in their own offices. Do you think they will care about the third world starving?

And the way I understand it in the states healthcare is frankly a joke. You can work hard, you can pay for moderate health care, you are ok. You get diagnosed with cancer, your healthcare doesn't cover the treatment. You either sell the home you have made with you family, to instill hard working values into to your children, and move to a slum. Or you can die.

An extreme example maybe. But there is a bit of truth in it.

You should really examine and think about way the world works and put yourself into these situations - how would you feel?

The occupy wall street protesters are raising an inherent problem with society, with capitalism. Its good that you care about all the people in the world who are worse of than you. But do you care enough to Occupy Wall Street, and try instigate change peacefully?

Sean W. Malone said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jackylhunter...

I felt that many of your points deserved a more complete response, so I took the time to do so here:


Hope you check it out.

Unknown said...

I somewhat agree with your sentiments, but the condescending tone is quite a put off.

Are you saying we don't have a right to protest unless we are to the point of a third world country? I guess I don't understand what you are trying to say. The fact of the matter is that there is a huge wealth disparity in this country. People are beginning to realize that they are no longer able to find an occupation and their thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt with little to show would make anyone unhappy.

However, I agree they are targeting the wrong people in my opinion. OWS should be targeting our government. They are the ones that are backing the banking industry's lending for college. Why is college so expensive now compared to decades ago? When did it happen? What we find empirically is when banks started allowing X amount of money to be loaned, tuition increased to match that value. Why are banks so apt to lend out such huge sums of money? Because the government will back those loans 100%. It's a messed up system and the government is the major blame.

I guess I don't see a point in marginalizing a group of people that are attempting to make their lives better in a mostly non-violent manner. Some of them may be asking for hand outs, but a lot of them just want to be treated fairly in this country and they feel as though they are being nickel'd and dime'd.

Not all of the "demands" of OWS are to get "free hand outs." For example, getting money out of politics. Money should not be the determining factor in getting elected into office or making a decision about legislature.

OWS at least realizes there are problems in our country, they just don't appear to be targeting the right institutions.

Sean W. Malone said...

"The fact of the matter is that there is a huge wealth disparity in this country."

So what?

There is a huge wealth disparity in every country.

A lot of that disparity is not only not a problem, but it is a good thing. Rewarding people who create value provides a pretty powerful incentive to find ways to meet other people's needs in the market and get rich.

The fact that disparities exist in economic success is to say that disparities exist in the world in people's talents, skills, motivation and entrepreneurial foresight.

I'm going to assume that we can generally agree that pure envy isn't a good reason to be upset with wealth inequality... So why is the inequality an issue?

If I might submit an answer: It's because some people have managed to use the state to obtain money through subsidies, bail outs, politically targeted tax-breaks, etc. as a way of profiting off of the tax-payers in the US.

The problem then is not at all about "inequality" - which no one would have any cause to care about if the inequality was the result of some people working harder and creating more wealth than others - but about some powerful people using their connections to obtain economic "rents" from the public by force.

Is that an adequate explanation of the real complaint in your view?

Because if so............. Then the only way to get "money out of politics" is - to put it simply - to get politics out of money, and to reduce politicians' ability to provide those rents to favored organizations.

Doing a video on this very topic right now, so come back and check that out.

Sean W. Malone said...

Also... You are dead on about the cause of inflation in higher education tuition. Thanks for making that point.