Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I think those who are focusing on individual behavior, either by the protesters on Wall Street or by those who work in the financial services industry is (mindblowingly, in my opinion....btw..I trademark that word) missing the point. We all work hard, take pride in what we do, want the best for our families and are sincere in our beliefs and behaviors. But there is a culture, clearly in evidence in our political system and in certain industries, particularly financial services, that there is a self-serving system which perpetuates things that many of us, me included, feel is wrong. We have a Supreme Court that makes a judgment, against all logic, that allows for unlimited spending in political campaigns. Much of that cash is coming from the financial services industry, allowing for a political environment that not does not seek to regulate financial services to the good of the nation and the world, but seeks to end regulations to prevent things such as the packaging of toxic securities or other high risk and questionable activities. When teachers, firefighters, police officers, veterans and the elderly are asked to sacrifice, it is frankly obscene that it is considered blasphemy in many ranks to ask those in the financial services industry to undergo any sacrifice or accountability. Virtually no one has been prosecuted for financial fraud on a scale that almost brought the world economy to their knees. Hedge fund managers are paying 15% taxes on their money while nurses are paying double that. There is a culture of the financial services industry using its vast resources in order prevent any action that would result in shared sacrifice. When all of us know of those who are out of work or losing benefits or losing their homes, it just not feel right that one industry seems so intent on using its influence on Washington to not act in the best interest of the country but in the best interests of their industry, with the mistaken notion that the two are always necessarily are the same. There is a lack of specific demands because there is a total mistrust of anyone who could carry out those demands, from the courts, to the congress, to those who have the greatest resources to affect change. There is a system we can no longer be proud of and cannot believe they will do the right or the best thing. The White House seems to have the right values but a consistent lack of spine has allowed a small group of people, many of whom seem to lack, shall we call it "sanity", control the nations policy and agenda and, in doing so, the media. One can dismiss the Occupy Wall Street protesters as a bunch of unfocused crack pots, but they are tapping into a welling sense of disappointment and disheartenment (trademark) with not only where the country is going, but where it is now.

1 comment:

Brooke Allen said...

I'm one of the guys on Wall Street - not quite a 1%er, but much closer than most

I really appreciate what you say about Occupy. Although I think there are 10,000 crooks in my industry that deserve to go to jail for their individual behavior, there is a cultural thing going on that was best expressed to me by a Haitian cab driver a week before Obama's election. I asked how he felt about the fact we might elect a black president. He said it doesn't matter because the United States is not a community. He said he lives in a community of Haitians but he doesn't think most Americans would even recognize what a community looks like. It doesn't matter who runs a nation if it isn't a community.

My theory:

- Family are the people who will help you even if they don't like you.

- Friends are the people who will help you because they like you.

- Community are the people who will help you even if they don't know you.

- Everyone else doesn't give a s#%t about you (serving the important function of helping you realize you're not that important.)

It feels to me that we are a nation of people who don't give a s#%t about each other unless they are family.

I notice you once worked at Montclair Kimberly. We live in Glen Ridge and at one point we looked at MKA because we thought Glen Ridge schools weren't all they could be. But we decided against it, not because MKA wasn't better (it seemed it was) but because by keeping our kids in public school it meant that for our kids to get a better education we would be forced to care about the education our neighbor's children get too. (Of course, we deserve criticism for not actively caring about what all the kids in Essex County were doing.)

There is no point in aspiring to be in the 1% unless it is to have more resources at your command to be of use to people you don't know. Being median is good enough to have a decent life and making much more than that makes it hard to raise decent kids, especially if you spend it on yourself, or worse yet, on them.