Guest Blogger, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

VSB Guest Post: #OccupyWallStreet?

[***Admin Note: Today we’re going to have a guest poster in longtime VSB reader and commenter, Tunde aka MadScientist7, grace these hallowed halls of VSBU. Kick off your shoes and relax your feet. Read ninja.***] 

First I want to thank Panama for allowing me to grace VerySmartBrothas. When he asked me if I wanted to do a guest post I fretted over what to write about. On my blog I write about randomness so I figured that this would be no different. A couple of weeks ago while I was on twitter I noticed Talib Kweli was tweeting a lot about something called #OccupyWallStreet. I assumed that was the name of a new song or mixtape until I clicked the hashtag and I found out that it was something completely different.

Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing demonstration that opposes corrupt corporate influence in US politics. The aim of the demonstration is to protest corporate greed and social inequality. Personally I don’t know if I agree with the direction of the protests because it seems a little unorganized. They are trying to fight too many fronts at once. Personally I think they should stick to one point and focus on that. Occupy Wall Street has recently come into the media spotlight, not because of their political message, but because members of the NYPD pepper sprayed, punched and stepped on peaceful marchers. 

 Outside of the hoopla made over mistreatment of protesters the aim of the demonstrations actually got me to think which I’m sure was the original intention. I would see pictures like these scattered about the internet.

As Americans we are sold a dream from the time we can remember that to make it in this country the first step is get an education. After you receive an education you’ll be able to find a good job and make enough money to support yourself and family.

The American dream.

My parents moved to this country in order to provide a better life for my siblings and myself. So as you can imagine the American dream was beat into our heads double because of the sacrifices my parents made. That being said I made education my priority. I hold a PhD in Biomedical Research with a concentration in Biochemistry and Cancer Biology. I am currently at my first job and even though I grew up lower middle class it’s been a long time since I felt any of the hardships that the “99%” have felt. I’m torn between two very different and distinct emotions concerning education.

I empathize with a lot of the “99%”. As much education as I’ve received in my lifetime (and the more that I plan on getting) sometimes I wonder if I made the right decisions. I know education isn’t for everyone and the most valuable lessons learned in life aren’t found in classrooms. More importantly the fact that it’s not what you know but whom you know just isn’t fair. A person can spend upwards of $100K on getting “educated” and someone who barely graduated high school can get the job that was “promised” to them because the less qualified person is related to someone important.

You decided the path to walk. Growing up my favorite subjects in high school were history and math. I was good at other subjects but those were the two I got the most joy from. Naturally some people would major in one of the two when they went off to college. Not me. Why? What’s the projected average salary for a history major? I’ll pass on struggling to barely make in a year what I paid for a year of school. I picked a major that was more financially stable yet I still enjoyed. I got my history fix by watching the History Channel. I don’t understand why people get Master’s degrees in subjects like fashion merchandising then are surprised when they are in debt and can’t find a job after graduation.

While I find #OccupyWallStreet (and similar occupations that are taking place around the country) interesting I doubt any amount of protests are going to change corporations from paying minimal taxes while the working class carries the load as far as stimulating this country’s economy. I hate to be a wet blanket but in this capitalistic society the rich get richer and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have you heard of the #OccupyWallStreet? Do you think NYPD is wrong in the way they are handling the protesters? How do you feel about the American Dream? How important is a formal education to you?

Here are two great websites where you can find information on #OccupyWallStreet and see stories of those affected:

https://occupywallst.org/

http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/

- TUNDE

A little about Tunde: I’m an ordinary guy. Sometimes I do extraordinary things. If you want to read more of my randomness I can be found at http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com/ and at http://twitter.com/#!/BrazenlyVirile

 

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • http://mrweethomas.wordpress.com Mr. Wee Thomas

    I need to break out the credit card and order pizza for protesters!

  • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

    Thanks for a great post. Going from the Cold War to the War on Terror, the general populace has been distracted from the War on the Middle Class.

    • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

      Let me elaborate on that: globalization trends have allowed corporations that were formerly American, French, Dutch, etc. to become multinationals that have no allegiances. They can get the cheapest labor in the developing world, and that’s what they do.

      Due to NAFTA, the WTO, and other globalizing forces, the United States is no longer a net exporter of goods; it is an information and service economy. It’s no surprise that the respectable manufacturing jobs of yesteryear are almost nonexistent.

      Of course, the schooling that allows people to attain middle-class jobs in today’s economy is expensive and consequently causes people to take on debt that makes them save less. And don’t forget that our primary and secondary education systems don’t prepare most kids for college.

      Still, I disagree with Tunde’s position that the rich will just get their way: there were vested interests in slavery, segregation, and other forms of social injustice, but the concerted efforts of activists prompted progress.

      • Mo-VSS

        Good post. Everyone talks about NAFTA, but most people forget about CAFTA, which was originally signed off on and put into effect by Clinton. CAFTA is NAFTA except it’s focus is Central America and most recently the Dominican Republic (which I thought was part of Central America so why the special update renamed DR-CAFTA?)

        Both agreements made is much easier to establish worldwide, un-bordered companies with no ties/loyalties to one country, ideology or standard of doing business. It’s all for self now and the result is the obliteration of industries, a deteriorating market and a dollar that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

        • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

          Dominican Republic isn’t in Central America. It’s part of the Caribbean, so technically we don’t belong to a continent :(

          • Mo-VSS

            OK, I meant more part of the region and part of Central America in theory but not physically. Kinda like how Hawaii is part of North America but not physically bound to it.

        • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

          i thought bush signed nafta and was out of office before he could finalize negotiations. then clinton finished the job. either way if obama wants to clean up this economy he needs to get rid of nafta.

          • Mo-VSS

            Clinton was responsible for CAFTA…not sure who signed NAFTA.

            • http://uphereoncloud9.wordpress.com Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

              Bill Clinton signed NAFTA.

      • Humble_One

        @Wave Cap Willis

        “Due to NAFTA, the WTO, and other globalizing forces, the United States is no longer a net exporter of goods; it is an information and service economy. It’s no surprise that the respectable manufacturing jobs of yesteryear are almost nonexistent”

        And this is a HUGE problem. The lack of STEM grads is tied directly to the decimation of U.S. manufacturing. The service economy was pushed because it benefited the top brass, wall street, and shareholders of corporations. There is no tangible value in a service economy. The value is what you make, you name your own price. People talk as if engineers and scientists can create in the stratosphere without creating anything tangible. You can’t separate research and development, engineering, science, technology, and manufacturing. We’ve been trying that for 30 years and it hasn’t worked. Meanwhile China is beating us at what we excelled at. And we are willing to let them beat us for short term profit.

        • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

          Excellent elaborations. Thank you.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          America has no one to blame but itself for not being a net exporter of goods. American businesses failed it’s American customers by not making (or green lighting) investments in technology and assuming that people would buy a product simply because it was American made.

          • Humble_One

            @Sigma-Since 93

            It’s not that they assumed they would buy it if it was American made. It’s that American’s would buy it as long as it’s cheap. American corporations have no reason to invest in technology and business the way they should because it’s not financially beneficial. They let another corporation do it and then buy that company. The buy because “Its American Made” mantra is exaggerated. What happened to a lot of manufacturers is that they got a lot of Harvard MBA, Wall Street types, making business decisions. Their philosophy is that if it doesn’t boost the bottom line then it’s bad. I’ll sell you a crappy product as long as I’m making money off of it.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              @ Humble One

              So true but you would think the same Harvard MBA’s would have learned from the following case studies

              Automobiles – How many concept cars were scrapped that had safety features we now find standard due to lost litigation? When the people called for more fuel efficient cars in the wake of the 70′s oil embargo, the Big Three putzed around and let Toyota and Honda enter the marketplace. Most of the innovation that’s now standard is because the imports incorporated them into the cars. Do you remember when Hyundai was considered to be a garbage car?? Not anymore.

              Retail
              Woolworth vs. Kmart
              Kmart vs Walmart

              I could go on and on.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Great point but let me piggyback and add a few points:

        The U.S. can thank itself for not being receptive to innovation post WWII. Americans came up with the idea of TAM but was dismissed when suggested to established companies. The concept was used to rebuild Japan instead.

        The game changed and we didn’t have a comprehensive plan. America HAD a system where if you got an education (vocational, HS) you could still provide for your family. Today, you need at least an advanced degree to have the same opportunity to provide for yourself and start a family.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        The biggest (though far from only) problem is that why capital globalized, labor stayed local. Too many unions failed to see free trade coming, not to mention the technological changes in the workplace that creates entire new fields that are indifferent, if not actively hostile, to the traditional labor movement. Also, large chunks of the labor movement were indifferent to the large civil rights and women’s rights movements. Unsurprisingly the parts of the labor movement that are the strongest are dominated by minorities and women.

        Lastly, I can’t help but notice that so many on the left are playing checkers with economics when chess is the game. Too many thought the process was 1) Get people their rights 2) ??? 3) Jobs for ALL! The problem is that there needs to be a greater understanding of economics to help people.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Co sign on the last point!

        • Humble_One

          @Todd

          “Too many unions failed to see free trade coming, not to mention the technological changes in the workplace that creates entire new fields that are indifferent, if not actively hostile, to the traditional labor movement.”

          I grew up in a union family and support unions and I still criticize them for this. Until the recent recession unions in manufacturing companies were still acting as if it was the 1950s. Things changed and unions didn’t. Unions also failed to include more low level white-collar workers. There are some unionized engineers but there needs to be more.

        • Mo-VSS

          Since King was killed while in town (Memphis) for a janitors union summit or strike (I can’t remember which one) it’s safe to say that the labor movement is not indifferent to the cause of civil rights. Women’s rights? Maybe, but there are many instances of those in the labor movement working hand in hand with the civil rights movement.

          I used to work as a union organizer so I definitely was schooled on that.

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            I know a lot of labor history. There are a definite schism in the labor movement with regard to civil rights. Ironically, the ones that supported the movement most enthusiatically (like public employees unions and the service trades) are the ones that are still in the best shape. However, a lot of the more established unions in the 1960s US were tepid in their support, and a lot of their members went on to become the Reagan Democrats. Samuel Gompers, head of the AFL-CIO was somewhat notorious for his arms-length support of the union, which ultimately led to the hijinks of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.

            Simply put, the union movement as a whole was indifferent to civil rights. This isn’t to say that there was no support as much as it was far from universal.

      • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

        “….there were vested interests in slavery…”

        there was discontent with slavery because the north lacked the climate and the resources to profit from slavery. the north profited from manufacturing and some people infer that indentured servants were fundamentally better suited to the northern climate, crops, and tasks at hand. i doubt that the rich slave owners in the late 1800s would really give up the cash cow that was slavery.

        • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

          You’re right about the Southern planters needing a little bit of prompting from the North to abolish slavery.

          Okay, that was the understatement of the century. But one of the factors for the Civil War was the abolitionist movement. Perhaps the Northern industrialists did use the movement as a pawn in their power grab, but activism carried weight.

          What John Brown did at Harper’s Ferry is akin to what the #OccupyWallStreet people are doing: he took radical action that brought attention to an issue. However, I’m glad that #OccupyWallStreet is different from the Harper’s Ferry Raid in a lot of other ways, including its commitment to nonviolence protest.

      • http://www.greenafrodiva.com Green Afro Diva

        Good points, but I’m still on the fence when it comes to outsourcing. I understand that businesses have to be competitive because now we are in a global economy where it’s cheaper to manufacture in places like China and India versus the US. People want cheaper and quality because of the demand for it. Companies such as Walmart are then granted tax breaks and given tax havens in countries like the Cayman Islands.

    • H.

      I agree. I just hope people will come to understand the complexity of the situation and the actual causes – the monetary system, federal reserve, bailouts, tax codes, regulations, wars, unnecessary federal departments – and vote for someone who is willing to really fight for the right to the American dream instead of fighting to take money from one group and give it to another. I’m not going to say who that person is, but I’ll go ahead and say that that person is not black. This election is very important. Please do ample research on some of the candidates whose last names aren’t Obama. .

      • DQ

        ****I’m not going to say who that person is, but I’ll go ahead and say that that person is not black. ****

        So Herman Cain is out? Got it. I mean I suspected he wasn’t really what America needed anyway, but with your assurance that the person who will fight for the American Dream is not black, I can go in the voting booth with confidence that as long as I avoid the black candidate… everything will be alright.

        • http://www.greenafrodiva.com Green Afro Diva

          LOL!!!

        • H.

          No, I’m saying that the person who may best be fit to lead this country isn’t black. I’m not saying that they’re fit BECAUSE they’re not black; I’m saying that people should look into some of the other candidates and check their records, because everyone of your kind is not your color and everyone of your color is not your kind. With that being said, neither Obama nor Cain may be the one with real solutions. But I’m not going to say who you should vote for; only you can determine that one.

          • DQ

            **** I’ll go ahead and say that that person IS NOT black. ****
            ~H 9:21 a.m.

            ****I’m saying that the person who MAY best be fit to lead this country isn’t black.****
            ~H 12:16 p.m.

            Interesting… I believe I detected a verbiage shift. I’m not going to say which one of these statements represents H’s actual view; I’ll just say only you can determine that one.

            • H.

              Haha you can attack my word choice all you want, but the point I’m trying to make is that Obama is not the man who will bring prosperity, especially to African Americans. Sure, we’re better off socially because we have a black president, but economically we’re worse off, even worse than when Bush was president (unemployment is twice what it was under Bush). And black unemployment is even worse than that. If we want the economy to change for the better, there are a great number of policies that need to be changed – foreign policies, free-market policies, monetary policies, business and tax policies, etc – those of which Obama, and even Cain, aren’t willing to change. So, please everyone do research on candidates and on the problems of this country and see which candidates are willing to go to bat for America. Only then can this problem be fixed.

              • http://www.greenafrodiva.com Green Afro Diva

                not to attack you, but I think it’s insulting to say that we are better off socially because we have a black president as if racism will cease and social injustice will cease to exist because we have ‘one of us’ in charge. Black unemployment has been high for decades and sadly, will remain there. There are many of us, perhaps even some commenters here that are the first in their family to get degrees. Again, higher education is key, not that anything is guaranteed, but for many of us, it has allowed us to get our foot in the door and have a plethora of opportunities versus the ones our parents and grandparents were given. So no, to say that we are worse off now, than when Bush was in office, or hell even Reagan is a joke.

                • H.

                  I wasn’t saying we were good or set socially. I said we were better off, even if it is a tiny bit. There is still a LONG way to go.

              • DQ

                ****Haha you can attack my word choice all you want, but the point I’m trying to make is that Obama is not the man who will bring prosperity, especially to African Americans.****

                LOL, attack your word choice? Is that what I did? I actually felt more like I mocked your word choice. I didn’t challenge your right to make your original statement, I just challenged its wisdom. Context makes all the difference.

                It’s context that tells us that tells us it’s not simply sufficient to say that we’re worse off now than we were under Bush. We have to know why we are worse off. We have to know how we got that way. We need to know what metrics we should use to measure our progress (or lack thereof). We also need to know what things are artifacts of the policies and decisions of the last administation (i.e. the bill for the war in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, Tax Cuts, and Medicare Part D, housing implosion) and what can reasonably be attributed this administration and their policies.

                We also need to understand that having a position and implementing it, are 2 different things. We have 3 legislative bodies, that must be navigated to get any bills passed (a fact that my left leaning friends seem to have forgotten during the past few years) whether the President is a Democrat and faces a hostile Republican Chamber or the President is a Republican and is opposed by a Democratic Chamber – we need to consider can the candidate we’re supporting reach across the aisle and try to find common ground with those that oppose his/her ideas. I’ve seen Obama do that (hell I’ve seen him do it too many times if you ask me)

                Republican candidates that can do the same?

                • H.

                  Well Gingrich lead Congress with a democratic president and had balanced budgets, something we’ve not had since Clinton. I also support Ron Paul as far as ideology and policy goes. And you have to realize that Obama had a democratic Congress in his first two years. This blockade is only recent. Obama hasn’t stopped any of the wars, and has even entered us into another one (Libya) without Congressional declaration of war. Also, look into his bailing out and subsidizing of companies (Solyndra and other “green” companies). And as far as Wall Street, Obama’s major campaign contributors are the very same people who caused a great deal of problems (Goldman Sachs, etc). And as far as progress, we just have to ask ourselves if we’re better off now than we were in 2008. And we can use jobs and poverty statistics to analyze that.

    • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

      What’s more is that we’ve been too dependent on fossil fuels for our way of life. It’s the reason why we Americans can each bananas any day of the year. It’s also why we have such (comparatively) low gas prices.

      Even oil executives now are admitting that the world’s petroleum supply is bound to peak very soon (Harvard Business School: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6218.html), and the ensuing economic shocks could change our ways of life to radical extents.

      Here’s a graphic that explains the situation: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Peak-Oil-Infographic-%E2%80%93-A-Clear-Picture-of-Where-we-Stand-with-Fossil-Fuels.html

      And I recommend that everyone read the Omnivore’s Dilemma and realize how crucial petroleum is to the US food complex.

  • http://www.ThinkPrettySmart.com Ms. Smart

    I live in the DC area. Often, I’ve felt that we (in and around the beltway) are isolated from the reality of what is going on in the rest of the country and world. This seems to be especially true of Black people (New Negros, shout out to Panama). I think protests bring light to very ugly truths. Any logical person can’t help but re-think the narrative about who is unemployed, employable, etc. It causes a logical person to give thought to just how much power we have given corporations–through lack of actions or voting against our own interests. The unfortunate thing is that without some large scale civil unrest, little will change. I’m not calling for people to move from ‘peaceful’ protests to rioting in the streets, but…

    • Mo-VSS

      I wanted to move to DC a while back, but I just can’t. It seems like another world there. With the way things are moving, I’m definitely researching places outside of the country to live. The US isn’t the only place in the world and I plan to explore a lot more of it…maybe for good.

      • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

        The US isn’t the only place in the world and I plan to explore a lot more of it…maybe for good.

        Yeah, Brazil looks especially good right now: it’s an emerging market with a culture that’s more or less western. Plus the weather is generally good.

        • http://twitter.com/tylerg_thomas tgtaggie

          There is pretty big building boom going on down there right now. I think its because of the economic impact from holding the world cup and Olympics

        • http://twitter.com/simplysope simplysope

          My mother told me on the way to church this Sunday that if Rick Perry gets elected as President, we’re all going back to Nigeria. “That’s why its important to have a job that transcends a country, and that’s why its important for us to have a strong base back home!”

          I’m not sure if she’s kidding or not, but my Nigerian Passport is current, just in case.

        • Eddie_Brock

          I’d suggest doing more research on Brazil before booking your flight out. The police and government controlled areas that you see in tour guides are beautiful, but just outside of them in the favelas you’ll see extreme poverty and a drug war that’s been going on for quite a while. They’re doing their best to clean up the country for the Olympics, but it’s not all roses, puppies and rainbows down there just yet…

    • Rewind

      I don’t know. I used to live in DC. I used to go to Howard. That is one of the most polarizing places I’ve ever been to. The hood is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the White House. There are hookers on K Street at 3 am. There’s always proof of pain and suffering but it’s just accepted. Which is weird because no matter how many protests occur in DC…that issue is never addressed.

      New York is different. Here, Wall Street is on it’s own. The transition from rich areas to poor areas are intense but you have to go out your way to see them at first. This place makes you believe one thing, and live another, and I think that’s the outcome of these protests…especially because so much money can be made in New York and yet the living rate here is phenomenal. We can barely keep it together here.

      • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

        i agree with everything written. i’m from dc and i live in new york now. just in manhattan the contrast from rich to poor is so severe.

    • A Woman’s Eyes

      “It causes a logical person to give thought to just how much power we have given corporations–through lack of actions or voting against our own interests. ”

      The corporations have always had their power–for years. We are just realizing exactly what corporations can do to affect our lives.

      Many people don’t realize how someone can earn wealthy when a corporation goes bankrupt.

      Or how someone even becomes CEO of a corporation.

      Or why how or when corporations had so much power to make decisions that directly and indirectly impact our lives.

      The idea that ‘we, the people’ have the decision-making power on the fiscal side in this country is a great fallacy.

      Even Obama cannot control the corporations’ impact on our economy.

  • Mo-VSS

    The American Dream is sh*t and people still buying into it are delusional. Sure, in this country you have more of a chance than most other places of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” However, it’s so far gone that most of us don’t have any boots making it impossible to progress in such a way as other generations have.

    I’m grassroots so I love the protests. Also, I liked the movie Fight Club, but I have never thought too much about that type of “justice.” With the current crap banks are pulling, with Wall Street being what it is, with corporations shipping jobs overseas while turning a blind eye to creating/sustaining jobs in this country, I have to say that I definitely understand why Fight Club resonated so deeply with some people.

    While I do think people should pay their dues and choose work that will pay the bills and not just satisfy passions, the whole part of the “American Dream” is that we’re supposed to be able to do both. We’re not supposed to have to choose.

    Land of opportunity…

    • Humble_One

      The American Dream was a joke to begin with. It wasn’t meant for Black folks that’s why we had the civil rights movement. The elites that ruined the country in the 1920s have come back to take what they feel is theirs. Part of the reason they were able to do this is because Americans are ignorant of history. The prosperity that was gained post WWII was fought for with blood, sweat, and tears. The middle class is something new. The middle class didn’t exist in America 80-90 years ago. Part of the reason the middle class got created was because people were pissed about similar conditions we see today. It was either give the people something or they were going to revolt.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        Agree on the Civil Rights movement. The problem was that the American Dream required a very stratified society and for half of Europe and Asia to be smoldering from WWII. Now if people realized that government power to do for the poor can easily be translated to government power to do for the rich, maybe the poor can finally come up without people stopping them.

      • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

        ” Part of the reason they were able to do this is because Americans are ignorant of history.”

        this is very true. what people don’t realize is that a lot of things that are happening in this day and age aren’t new concepts. if you don’t know you’re history you’re doomed to repeat it.

      • http://www.greenafrodiva.com Green Afro Diva

        This is so true. It seems like everyone else is just catching up to what WE already knew. Reagonomics should have proved that back in the 80′s and now we are reaping the benefits for what happens when corporations are allowed to become ‘people’ per the Supreme Court

  • http://mrweethomas.wordpress.com Mr. Wee Thomas

    I’m getting a PhD. I’m not doing it for the potential earning potential, I already had plenty of that 4 years ago when I began, and will likely start out making less than if I’d stayed in the job market. I’m doing it because it’s what I always wanted to do, and I grew up with the belief and idea that one should work and do what they love, that the American land of opportunity was such that if the typical job available to a graduate with a degree in “history” or “art” didn’t pay as well as one for an engineering grad, you could still make a decent life for yourself.

    I think it is easy to get caught up in the “they should have made better choices” or should have focused more on an avenue that would make them more money, but that’s not the reason people are protesting and occupying wall street. Pay for history majors, english majors, or art majors have always not been that great. Yet we didn’t have similar uprisings ten years ago or twenty years ago. What has changed is the shift of wealth in this country where those with economic power appear to be seizing even more for themselves regardless of the effect that it has on those whose blood, sweat, and tears make it all possible.

    There was an implied social contract. I do this no so great paying job, service, whatever that I like and those with the economic power treat me fairly and don’t take advantage of the disparity in our status. That has not been the case for a long time. And I think some of it may stem from those with business, marketing, or economic degrees feeling both a sense of entitlement where they’ve worked and chosen a field that rewards them well and a sense that others barely deserve the scraps they are getting due to their own choices.

    When we completely lay the current financial outcomes of the 99% at their feet as a result of solely their own decisions to not pursue higher paying degrees or move to a cheaper city or have less kids or any other situation that they’re in which manifests itself by (now in this economic crises times) being a detriment to their financial well-being and forget to recognize the part that forces completely outside their control but well within the control of others in society, we’ll just further reinforce what seems to be a growing disparity between the current haves and have nots.

    • Humble_One

      @Mr. Wee Thomas

      “There was an implied social contract.”

      “.And I think some of it may stem from those with business, marketing, or economic degrees feeling both a sense of entitlement where they’ve worked and chosen a field that rewards them well and a sense that others barely deserve the scraps they are getting due to their own choices.”

      This is so true. People don’t realize that the only people that are doing good are those aligned with making money out of thin air and not producing a product or anything of value that benefits society on a whole. The exception is the oil and gas industry and medical fields and we all know how energy companies and health insurance companies are screwing us.

    • Curious Capital

      Thank you! Everyone isn’t cut out to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. I have no beef with any of those professions, but there are a lot of other options at the graduate level that won’t leave you hungry (or shouldn’t). The pursuit of knowledge and passion are generally frowned upon and can leave you broke as hell. Yet, Innovators in whatever field usually undertook a level of risk to pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, the so-called dream is being stifled by an economic system that thrives on inequality and refers to it as an externality. Corporations need to be held accountable for their actions and we don’t deserve to be treated as cogs in their economic machine.

      *woo sahs*

      • Sigma_Since 93

        +1 That’s why I said upthread that America didn’t have a comprehensive plan for the impact of globalization on blue collar workers. The one idea that can / will work is investments in our infrastructure; TR did it with the Public Works projects and we did it in WWI & WWII. Currently, the gridlock on the hill won’t allow us to get out of our own way.

        • DQ

          Call it what it is pimpin’. Currently the Republicans on the hill won’t allow us to make the necessary infrastructure investments. It’s not 2 sides simply disagreeing on how to ideologically jump start the economy, it’s one side deciding it’s political fortunes are more important than the country’s fortunes.

          • http://twitter.com/simplysope simplysope

            “it’s one side deciding it’s political fortunes are more important than the country’s fortunes.”

            That right there. I don’t like to get into an issue of “sides”, but I can cosign the actions of any person who claims to love America the most, but still cannot be bothered to make moves towards something that will benefit so many people. That “Me & Mine” mentality is killing America, and I wonder how long the !% think they can stay untouched.

  • http://www.awordorthree.com Crystal Marie

    While I agree that you “decide the path you walk”, I think it makes it a little more black and white than it seems. Many didn’t decide to graduate into a recession, or decide to have a natural gift for something that doesn’t pay well. While I believe you should be realistic and take projected earnings into consideration, I think it’s safe to say the recession has taught us there’s no such thing as a sure thing. So if there’s no such thing as a sure thing… why not study what you really enjoy?

    I guess you’re saying people can study what they want, they should just be mindful of the consequences. Again, this makes sense, but you have to consider that these consequences aren’t always cut and dry or plain as day. Plus, while it’s admirable that you were a responsible, practical thinker going into your college experience, what about the thousands of folks who have no idea what they wanna do… even at 30? Are they just SOL?

    Great post, I enjoyed!

    • Mo-VSS

      In this world, decisions have to be made and quickly. While I don’t think everyone should give up on their dream, I do think they should be mindful of what type of life they will lead if the decide to pursue it. And if they’re okay with that, go for it. If not, then modify.

      At least that’s what I got from it.

    • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

      “what about the thousands of folks who have no idea what they wanna do… even at 30?”

      if you don’t know what you want to do with your life at 30 who else do you have to blame if your life isn’t as comfortable as you like?

      • http://www.wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

        And what about the hordes of unemployed lawyers here in DC with a hundred thousand or more of debt? Because there are a lot of federal jobs and lobby jobs and its easy to get the DC bar, lawyers keep coming, and graduating from the several law schools here? Not only did nobody tell us a law degree in the nations capital would be virtually worthless if you don’t have a hookup, nobody would believe it. The ONLY reason I get by is because I have a second language. And I mean, get by. Law firms don’t get sued for discrimination, so being black, female and over 40 makes me almost unemployable today. It’s easy to talk about choices, till its you.

        • http://www.wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

          Oh, and I forgot to tell ya about the cute little bar trap. Once you pass the bar, nobody will give you a non lawyer job. They think you’ll leave as soon as you find something better. So you gotta lie and take it off your resume and make up something to fill in the time you spent getting a degree they said was worth six figures, so you can get a job as a teacher, paralegal, store manager. And pray you don’t slip up and let them find out.

          • http://6monthsto30.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/wait-what/ chunk

            That trap is also true in healthcare… once you have that specialized professional degree, you can forget working anywhere else unless it’s semi-related. Luckily the semi-related stuff seems to pay equally. And fortunately (huge sigh of irritation and relief) with all the research on health disparities, folks really are looking for the right color faces to fill their healthcare positions.

          • The Law

            Please say that again, Cougs! Unless you are in the top 5-10% of your law school class, AND you went to the “right” law school, your law degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, and your bar card is an anchor to carry you into the abyss…#sorryI’malittlefrustrated

        • DQ

          Wild Cougar Post = Truth x Reality x 100

          It feels like people are envisioning the American Dream is only collapsing for unskilled labor or for those who pursued more exotic and ephemeral majors… that’s not the case.

          There are MANY with advanced specialized degrees getting pinched right now. It’s not a bad economy just for the manufacturing sector, it’s a bad economy period – and we’re all feeling that pinch. And what seems like is being implied is that this is the result of poorly thought out choices as opposed to just plain ol’ dumb luck. Many of us did that salary research before picking a major, that research doesn’t immunize you to a global downturn.

          • Mo-VSS

            +1

            • http://challyshares.tumblr.com Nei Jae

              +2

              • Curious Capital

                +3

                • jay totha dee

                  +4

          • nappy and happy

            +4

  • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

    Good drop Tunde

    I’ll reign myself on this topic. I don’t take any of this 99% garbage seriously. I can’t. They have absolutely zero leadership. The have no plan. They can’t even articulate why being outside of Wall Street is going to change anything. If they really wanted to do something they’d have voter registration organization and try to inform the public of people that already hold their tenants and help kick out those that oppose their beliefs. Or they could take it one step further and actually have members part of their ‘movement’ actually run for office.

    Symbolic portions of protests are important. Substance, plans, and vision are far more important to actual movements though. It’s why actually knowing history is so important. When people look at any revolution or social upheavals they just see clips and footnotes of what really happened. They never see the hundreds of thousands of man hours that people lose relationships over in order for these to work. They don’t show the arguments that people have about the message. They don’t show that there are ALWAYS multiple groups aiming at the same thing in 15 different ways.

    The crux of the issue is that we have small minded people trying to tackle large issues instead of people that actually have a grasp on the enormity of the situation that are willing to deconstruct and construct brick by brick the actual problems -> solutions.

    • innovative21

      I don’t think we necessarily NEED people who are “educated” in the particulars. All you need to know is that you’re at the very bottom of a heavy totem pole with no options. One of my fav rappers once said: “life aint easy, when nuccas gotta eat that’s when sh*t gets greasy.”

      I think that if any one of us were facing hunger, impoverishment/homelessness, we wouldn’t care about the particulars, of how or why it happened, but we’d be ready to fight anyone for our survival, for the chance that was so blatantly stolen from our children, and for the mere fact that everyone who actually WAS “educated” and seemingly knowledgeable either didn’t do shyt while all this unfolded, or they were the ones contributing and allowing it to happen.

      I feel for these people, I too am in DC/MD and know I was luckily one of the last of the mohicans to see out a slight resemblance of an “American Dream.”

    • k-steez

      “Anonymous” the online group that initiated the idea of Occupy Wall Street believes the entire political system is corrupt and controlled by the wealthy. (I’m not talking Oprah rich, I’m talking Proctor & Gamble rich.) So it wouldn’t make any sense to encourage voter registration drives. These problems are not ones you can vote yourself out of.

    • http://6monthsto30.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/wait-what/ chunk

      Malik I have to agree with this right here: “They have absolutely zero leadership. The have no plan. They can’t even articulate why being outside of Wall Street is going to change anything.”

      That’s what is confusing to me. I keep trying to understand what is it, exactly, that they want to happen? What is the singular goal, and what are the steps to get there? The lack of organization is frustrating to me… so every time I try to read about it, I get irritated.

    • SweetSass

      Voter drives? Ninja, is you crazy?

      The last presidential election had the highest voter turnout in our nation’s history. Ever.

      Does our ‘vote’ power matter anymore?… not a whit. It’s all about the lobby money. The repeal of any semblance of campaign finance laws has created a system that is even more deeply entrenched in money exchanged for favors.

      Having a voter drive won’t do a damn thing. These days, the candidate with the most money wins. Every time. And that money doesn’t come from Joe Schmoe, it comes from corporations.

      You talk about ‘history’ but I don’t think you know much ‘history’ yourself. You say that these folks are too vague, but all the social upheavals of the 1960′s were also pretty vague with multiple shifting goals such as civil rights, end to Vietnam, women’s rights, worker’s rights, anti-poverty. Even MLK Jr. had a multi-prong platform… he spoke out about ending Vietnam, he spoke out about unions and labor, and poverty. All of those speeches are lost to history, we look at him through a pretty narrow ‘PC’/Black History Month CBS special lens.

  • Bus

    Great questions to ponder. I think this movement is very difficult to keep up, mainly because 1) no clear objectives have been outlined, and 2) no leaders have emerged to organize the masses. There has been a lot of comparison to the Arab Spring in its inception, but it differs in that both of the above-mentioned criteria were fulfilled and allowed the protesters to create change through making one thing happen: ousting authoritarian governments supported by neo-colonial powers. I’m not there to see how the crowds are responding to law enforcement, but pepper spraying people who are penned in just doesn’t fly.

    Some professions may not be lucrative, but those individuals do deserve a livable wage. Still, anyone planning on being a multi-millionaire on the back of a history degree better start to rethink their strategy.

    As for the American Dream, I never bought into it, even as a child. I believe that people should have access to resources and a chance at upward mobility. In addition, the recent generations are reaping the benefits of a handful of individuals and gaining confidence in national accomplishment only by birthright, not by any individual efforts. Combined with the overtaking of the most important national industries by mega-corporations with no national borders (e.g. Walmart, GE, McDonalds), we’ll find ourselves in a downward spiral into oligarchy until someone intervenes. Hopefully, this will kick that up.

    • Kekanu

      People are romanticizing the “Arab Spring” because of what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, but it is not a monolith and it is far from over (see Syria and Libya). There was no leadership nor where there clear objectives and that was the beauty of their “success”. The power was in the numbers and their bravery in the of the clear threat to their lives. The American Dream, IMHO, is still something to believe in and that is why the protest of corporations/old money that are restraining/destroying access to the dream is long overdue.

      Its easy to criticize “those people over there” when all is well in your world, but if you actually think about it……. Who’s to say that you are not just a layoff, diagnosis, or bad investment away from being one of them.

      • http://challyshares.tumblr.com Nei Jae

        “Its easy to criticize “those people over there” when all is well in your world, but if you actually think about it……. Who’s to say that you are not just a layoff, diagnosis, or bad investment away from being one of them.”

        This statement alone sums up a lot. I currently work for a company that in the 5 years I’ve been here have laid off and/or terminated over 60% of it employees due to “economic hardships.” There are people doing the work of 3 and barely making the salary of 1. At my particular office, about 40% of us have second and third jobs or our own small businesses to supplement our incomes.

        I do my part (and then some) to make sure that I do what needs to be done, but I haven’t fooled myself into believing I’m indespensible. I mean, if the owner would fire his own father and sister what makes me think he wouldn’t fire me?

  • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

    I doubt these protesters truly believe that they will automatically change things. They know that won’t happen. I think what they want is to get the American people thinking…and I like that! We live in a time when people do not want to think at all. They want to live in a bubble of fun times and no problems whatsoever. Well, that’s not life. Wake up to the ish that’s going on, people.

    I once saw Ralph Nader speak at Cooper Union here in NYC and he mentioned that he continues running for President not because he wants to win but because he firmly believes that we should have more than just your regular two-party candidates for elections. He was more concerned with making a point and telling the American public that we are entitled to more choices. Occupy Wall Street, as disorganized as it may be, aims to spread the message that corporations are running ish and we need to take back our country.

    • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

      I doubt these protesters truly believe that they will automatically change things. They know that won’t happen. I think what they want is to get the American people thinking…and I like that!

      Exactly! When the Tea Party Republicans dressed up in revolutionary costumes, they were doing a similar thing. And now, they have influence…to the point that they helped cause our debt ceiling crisis. Let’s hope that #OccupyWallStreet can go on to wield such influence…in a good way.

      • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

        I truly hope so, as well.

        “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
        –George Orwell

        They may not change anything but they’re still talking ’bout revolution. Tracy Chapman, sing it.

        • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

          Of course, the Koch Brothers and other major corporate interests fund the Tea Party; #OccupyWallStreet has no such support. It’s a true grassroots movement while the Tea Party is an astroturf one.

          • DQ

            Tea Party = AstroTurf Movement

            Classic, and I’m stealing it

            • http://twitter.com/wavecapwillis Wave Cap Willis

              That term isn’t mine; it belongs to the people!

              Seriously, folks have been using that term to describe the Tea Party for a good while. So use it up as much as you’d like!

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            I know I’m late rolling, but there was a decent amount of support for it on the ground. Also, the movement changed as it grew. It leaned much more libertarian at the beginning, but trended more towards the conservative right as time moved on…to the point a lot of libertarians (like myself) started having issues with it.

            How do I know all of this? Well, you have to be on the right email list. ;-)

    • http://twitter.com/#!/XylinaChapman Lina

      I agree. I think they’re trying to get people talking. Regardless of whether you’re for or against them, people are still talking and taking notice, at least for the moment. It would benefit them to show that the issues that they’re standing for aren’t just about NYC residents.

      This just shows how everyone is frustrated with the government. For too long the Tea Party has been the most vocal opposition, Occupy Wall Street seems to be a balance. The upcoming elections are going to be something else. Whoever mentioned that OWS needs to get ppl to rock the vote is spot on. What’s the point of complaining if that’s all you do?

      • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

        you have no idea how glad i have to be living in a blue state again. 2012 is going to be a big year. i really hope that even more black people turn out to vote than in 2008 and not just to re elect obama. people need to keep in mind who they are voting for as far as representatives (and not automatically voting democrat).

        • A Woman’s Eyes

          +1

        • http://uphereoncloud9.wordpress.com Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

          The current members of the House of Reps maybe due for rude awakening. Their approval rating is is below 15% and have the nerve to think that Obama is the problem. The lower house seriously needs to be reworked.

          • DQ

            Exactly

    • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com MadScientist7

      i agree with you here.

      ” We live in a time when people do not want to think at all. They want to live in a bubble of fun times and no problems whatsoever. Well, that’s not life. Wake up to the ish that’s going on, people.”

      a lot of people don’t want to leave their comfort zone until their comfort zone is suffocating them. i think that’s the problem with a lot of america. we don’t care what’s going on outside of our block, our city, our state and most importantly this country.

      • DQ

        ****we don’t care what’s going on outside of our block, our city, our state and most importantly this country.****

        Truth. Hence the saying, “all politics are local”. And because we really only care about what’s happening localyl, you get people exhibiting a bizzare, contradictory, binary ideology

        We should make cuts to all government programs… except the ones we use.
        All government spending is wasteful… except the spending done in our area.
        Subsidies are a waste… but ours are justifiable and worthwhile
        Members of Congress should stop including pet projects in bills… except our Represenative, he or she can add any pork they like

        • Curious Capital

          but you are preaching today.

  • Rewind

    In regards to the post, I think the editor is forgetting something.

    The issue with the American Dream, especially for young people, is that we were all told we had a fighting chance if we got to college. College provides choices, Plenty of them. The problem is many adults never fully explained how the society of jobs work. We’ve had to learn on our own that a degree is almost as precious as toilet paper if you don’t follow the highs and lows of capitalism, yet they pumped our heads of dreams of doing WHATEVER WE WANTED TO DO. You can’t spend 18 years being told you could be president, or a lawyer, or a philosophist, and then find out..actually there’s no way in hell you can do any of those things once the market tanks. That’s a hard spell to reverse.

    Secondly, I’d like to be part of those protests. But I’m of the 89% of NYers that work, and I can’t afford to be adventurous while being a broke government employee. That’s another dilemma we all face. We all should be protesting and having our voices heard, and yet our jobs are held over our heads like nooses, with the idea that there’s always someone else gunning for what we have. Those people getting beaten senseless by cops are actually our heroes, because they say what we can’t, and they need the support. Organized…maybe not. But good intentions are the first step to a change right?

    • http://twitter.com/tylerg_thomas tgtaggie

      “The problem is many adults never fully explained how the society of jobs work.”

      I think if kids need to be taught earlier that relationships matter. If a kid wants to be a art major in college, then he needs to connect or link up with a more successful artist straight out of high school. So they can mentor them to help them navigate the potential pitfalls.

      • Rewind

        That’s my point. Only kids with money in the family get taught about relationships and connections. Very rarely are underprivileged children taught those same values. We are usually taught to rely on our own talents and go for the gold, but this world has always been about who you know.. So we’ve been set up for disaster for a long time and didn’t even know it.

        • http://www.wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

          Word. This. My parents believed the work hard lie. I believed it and spent more time studying than partying with the rich kids. While the rich knew the real deal. They keep repeating the lie so we will keep hoping, striving, praying, waiting, and not revolt.

          • http://6monthsto30.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/wait-what/ chunk

            Agreed. I had to force myself to mingle during grad school for this very reason. Graduating from the “right” school also opens many doors. And if there’s one thing folks from those name brand schools know how to do it’s name drop and connect.

          • Rewind

            It’s easy to keep falling for the lie when an entire economical class of people have been fed the lie since the early 1800s. To think, between the French & American revolutions, that was the first time the world realized a poor person could be more than poor if they worked at it. At that was true at the time, that being rich and powerful had nothing to do with a bloodline or a good famly. Yet somehow….that’s exactly what it is. Most people who are rich today in America, are rich off of old money. And the people who got money on their own, they did work hard but rarely do all of them live the poorest life until they finally hit it big.

            We seriously can’t escape this lie because it’s encoded into the very fabric of our society.

        • Mommy3

          So what do you tell the everyday children? You want them to have values and to beleive that if you work hard you will be rewarded. You can ( but should’nt) say hey it only works if your parents are rich and successful; your relative is famous; you have to be a rapper, dancer or basketball player to make it in this world.

          • A Woman’s Eyes

            We need to learn about passive income and how to get out the rat race. I recommend Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad because it explains what rich people teach their children. And no it has nothing to do with rappers and basketball players.

          • http://www.wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

            Tell them to go play with the rich kids. And stay playing. I’m effing serious.

            • GirlSixx

              Word!!!

              Because in this day and age ALOT of times it’s not about WHAT you know but WHO you know. Nepotism is a Real!!

              That’s why you see Jack and Jill running a muck in college and post grad school but yet still land that fortune 500 job once they graduate because.

          • Rewind

            Honestly, it’s time to tell kids the truth from the get go. No you can’t be a lawyer, doctor, astronaut, or president when you grow up…not unless you pull off a miracle or know the right people. No the world won’t bend over backwards for you just because you “think” you did your part. Life sucks and it always will, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get a fighting chance. You pay attention. You learn. You shut up and listen. You take advantage when an oppurtunity comes your way and you show thanks when life grants you a blessing and just maybe you’ll be what you always wanted to be.

            Sure it’s harsh to say that to a kid but it’s far less painful than the harsh a$$$$$ kicking we get once we turn into adults and realize the truth.