Sunday, November 6, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Sorry but I wrote this kind of quickly but hopefully it has some coherency.

This is still a relatively young movement but that is growing popularity.  Although they have no concrete purpose or resolution, some of the ideas that they have brought up inspire some interesting questions and it also inspired my Halloween costume for this year. 

Many people are frustrated with the lack of jobs, poverty, and income inequality prevelant in America today. A big part of the cause for the recent recession was due to practices occurring at banks and wall street.  The same banks that “failed” were so called “too big to fail” and received government bailout money, while many hardworking Americans had to suffer the blunt force of the recession through lower wages, longer hours, losing their jobs, and struggling to find work.  So while big corporations are paying their top executives millions of dollars, many hardworking Americans struggle to feed their family. 

I understand the frustration and their reason to direct at wall street but I don’t support their cause, mainly because I still don’t know what it is and frankly neither do they.  Do they want income redistribution, higher taxes on the rich, to let banks fail, lower CEO salaries, a job, higher wages, lower student debt, a gov’t check, and etc?  They probably want all of it.  I think though they want to have a purpose and right now their purpose is fighting what they see as inequality and injustice. 

Yes, CEO’s get paid a lot of money but don’t they deserve that after going through many years of school at top programs and paying their dues in order to get to that level?  I am currently surrounded by people who strive to work for wall street and do investment banking, knowing all the hoops they have to jump through to get there and all the long hours they will have to put in to do it.  I know people who fly out to NY and SF just to get to know the people at the banks so they have a better chance of landing an internship.  They meticulously edit their resume and cover letters and spend hundreds and thousands of dollars just to network so they can get on wall street.  Once they get to wall street, they average 90+ hours a week, which is more than two normal full time jobs, doing technical and stressful work.  Do they deserve to get paid so much money?  Well considering the fact they essentially work twice as much as anyone else, they should get paid at the very least twice as much.

The other day I saw another movement pop up in opposition to the occupy wall street protest, which also go by the 99%.  This movement is called, “we are the 53%”  based off records that show only 53% of Americans actually pay taxes.  They view the 99% group as lazy people who just want a free ride.  The 53% express the hard work, long hours, early mornings, budget cuts, and many personal sacrifices they have to make in order to make ends meet and provide for themselves and their families.  The 99% respond saying that is no life to essentially enslave yourself to a paycheck. 

I support the 53% and their hard work ethic but I sympathize with the 99% who think that life shouldn’t be that way.  Are we really slaves to these big corporations.  We spend the majority of our life working for them.  Is this really the American dream where the husband and wife work full time and part time jobs to send their kids to day care, pay off the mortgage for an expensive home, pay insurance, pay phone bills, and etc.?  Is it really the American dream to work so much and slave away that we don’t have time to spend with our families?  Yes hard work is a valued quality but has it gone too extreme with some of these 53%ers?  Is it really a society worth living in where we spend the majority of our lives doing something we hate just for the sake of getting by?  Is this really the American dream?  Also has it become for some people that the American dream is where we have our food, housing, jobs, and decisions given to us by the government?  Has money become too much of a driver in our decisions in life?

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