This Occupy Wall Street Stuff

If I am honest I feel kind of guilty for not posting more about this Occupy Wall Street movement. I’ve been following along and there have been many interesting things that have occurred, I just never felt this was a topic I wanted to poke. Because to me the message of the movement has always been clear, but — problematically — the end goal of the movement has always been elusive.

An end goal of: “Help Us” — well — that’s not really a goal.

As best as I can make out the movement has some very legitimate objections — too many people are getting screwed over while under the false pretense that they are/were doing everything “right”. However, it would seem that the goal (though I could not find it explicitly stated) was to have someone — someone else — fix the problem. I completely get that, hell I take my car to a mechanic when I can’t figure out what is wrong, but it seems to me that the problem of the “99%” is not a problem that we should be relying on the “1%” to fix for us — the 1% created the problem (or had a hand in creating it) and therefore should not be trusted to fix it and therefore the movement is Occupying the wrong streets.

Earlier John Gruber linked to this post “by” Lemony Snicket in which there are 13 observations noted. Let’s take a look at number five:

  1. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

That’s a pretty apt summary of what is going on here — everyone is hungry for more money all while the very elite few hold the vast majority of it. It is, simply put, not fair.

The problem though is that the world isn’t really designed to be fair.

Acknowledgment of that fact does not in any way minimize the grievances of the movement — you just need to accept the unfairness before you can reasonably expect to change the world. That is: the issue isn’t really about “that’s not fair”, but the solution must recognize that we do not live in a world where perfect fairness has been proven to work.

You see, the real issue I have here with this movement is the intended solutions. If you take the above analogy (cake) as the basis of the problem that needs solving, there are but three obvious solutions:

  1. Stingy rich guy solution (currently in practice): “It’s not my fault I have cake — I learned how to make the damned thing. You go out and make your own.”
  2. Guilty rich guy solution: “You can’t have my cake — it’s mine. BUT, I will teach you how I made my cake so that you too can make cake. All you need to do is get the ingredients.” (a.k.a.: The I feel guilty, but not that guilty, solution.)
  3. The 99% solution: “Share your cake.”

It should be obvious to any reader here that none of these solutions work. We have stuck with the second for most of my life, because it eased the guilt of the obscenely wealthy while “inspiring” the poor. That, and the wealthy are in power.

The third can be twisted into meaning communism, or more intelligently seen as a plea to stop hoarding all the money (depending on if you are Sarah Palin or not).

The first is what happens when people stop noticing that we have a severe lack of number 2 and 3 happening.

Snicket, again:

  1. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

If you have read this entire post thinking that I am a jackass who doesn’t agree with the Occupy Wall Street notion — then you, sir, are wrong. In fact I agree with all of their grievances — every single one.

What I don’t agree with is their methods for trying to change things, asking the 1% to concede. It seems to me that nothing gets the Occupy Insert name of City Twitter accounts more excited than the thought of potentially being arrested. A goal of a protest should never be trying to get arrested, it should be to try and get the cops on your side — that’s a winning movement. You take to the streets when you aren’t being heard, which is problematic for this movement because:

  1. The message isn’t clear.
  2. The “leadership” isn’t clear.
  3. The goal isn’t clear.

People will only listen to complaints so long before they stop and ask: “and what would you like me to do?” There seems to be a profound lack of a clear answer to that question — the only question that really matters.

You see it is easy to agree with a movement that has no goal, just a common complaint. I am asking for a goal.

The Wrong Target

At the end of the day, my biggest complaint here, is that the Occupy Wall Street movement is targeting the wrong people. The fat cats on Wall Street aren’t the problem — they just saw a shorter check-out line and stood in it — the real problem is the government agencies made to protect us from these situations and their failures to do just that: protect those that elected them, preferring instead to protect those that paid to elect them.

We should be Occupying DC and every government office and asking them to get control of the 1%, which is — after all — their job.

You can be mad at someone who learned how to make the system work exceptionally well for them, but should you get pissed at the system for not paying attention when people circumvent it.

That is: should we be mad at Wall Street for doing their jobs exceptionally well, or mad at the governments for doing their jobs exceptionally poor?

Originally posted for members on: October 20, 2011
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