Why Occupy Wall Street?

14 10 2011

By Doug Savage (www.savagechickens.com)

A friend of mine had a ‘gchat’ status up the other day that went something like this: ‘The occupy wall street is the 2nd dumbest idea for a protest. The first being the Korean protests over Dok-do’ (I apologize for the paraphrase). His reasoning placing the Dok-do dispute at #1 was due to how people were protesting, I am unsure but he was possibly referring to this: “Event to honor Nongae draws fire“. Though I do not sense the extreme nationalism that some Koreans feel concerning their ownership of the island, I do personally think Dokdo is worthy of protest due to its economic significance, though the methods of protest are another story.

As for the ‘2nd dumbest idea’ of a protest, this Occupy Wall Street movement does, in many ways, deserve that informal title, but mainly for two reasons. One, the cursory message of the protest seems awfully like socialism: “Distribute that wealth that those 1% earned through the system that we are ALL a part of.” And if it is true that this is the main message, then those holding up signs “This is not the world our parents wanted for us”, well, neither is the one you’re asking for. Second, I really do not think that all the people out there really believe the thrust of the protest, that is the nature of mob mentality, you join sometimes just to be part of the crowd and even at the expense of the truth (here’s an interesting article concerning that: “The Crowd is Untruth“).

Ultimately, what irks the protesters of this protest, I believe, is not the issues at hand but the childishness of the protesters. Meaning, they are not the 99%. Nor are they the 1%. But relative to the global community, they are above average, whatever that percentage may be. This makes the protesters look like they just want to be the 1%, it make them look as greedy as the people of Wall Street, just on a smaller scale. But this protest can be of some value if everyone knew for what they should be protesting. Someone who knows the difference between extreme poverty and the working poor (he defines it in his book, The End of Poverty) seems to shed some light. Jeffrey Sachs writes in his article “Occupy Wall Street and the Demand for Economic Justice“:

The sense of injustice, in short, is not just about the unfairness of a small part of society living in unimaginable wealth while so much of the rest of society lives in economic desperation. It’s not just about the top 12,000 American households with more income than the poorest 24 million households. It’s about the degradation of politics that turns wealth into power through campaign financing, lobbying, and the revolving door of business and government.

“Wealth into power”. That won’t change. Money by definition holds in it influence, which is power. But what must change is the “revolving door”. The destination of the power, so to speak. Is power, whether in the medium of money or anything else, being used to serve the people? Or is power being used to maintain power? When the revolving door keeps cycling power into itself, that is when politics truly degrades.

Sachs, ends on a positive note concerning the protests and is very supportive. I am still skeptical. Again, not because of what it stands for, but mainly because I do no think it will work. Call it pessimism, but this one I’ll throw in the basket of realism. Because I know that greed (along with pride) are the two biggest problems of humanity. They are what makes us inhumane. The solution? We need to find something that turns us outward, vacating the ‘I want’ of our primary concerns and replacing it with ‘how can I give?’. There is one thing that can do this, but I don’t think most of America has found it yet.

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