“Occupy Wall Street Protesters Just Don't Understand America”
I maintain that the Occupy Wall Street protesters conducting lengthy rallies across the USA (and across the world) just don't understand and appreciate the United States of America, the greatest force for good that this Earth has ever known.
I suppose to begin with, I have a little trouble with the profoundly un-American operative word “Occupy.” True “Democratic” protesters don't stubbornly “Occupy” anything that isn't their own personal property in the first place. They compliantly apply for a permit to publicly address their various grievances, demonstrate their major points of view between the reasonable hours of nine a. m. to five p. m., and then after conducting their peaceful demonstration, the bona fide protesters go home. Isn't extended loitering still against the law?
Whenever I ponder the terminology “Occupy,” I think of Adolph Hitler and his crazed Nazis “Occupying” France, Holland, Belgium, Austria and Poland. My traditional mind contemplates someone actually taking and using something that is unlawfully his or hers. Genuine demonstrators don't “Occupy” anything. They peacefully make their public statement and then use the “democratic” method of the Election Day ballot box to actively change society to conform with their perspective's immediate goals and objectives.
When I further think of the suspect word “Occupy,” my mind instantly contemplates a stark scene from the movie Dr. Zhivago. Zhivago returns home to Moscow after serving his country at the Russian WWI front. Meanwhile, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution has occurred and Zhivago finds his formerly beautiful home “Occupied” by fifty irate dissidents. The Bolshevik “protesters/occupiers” tell Zhivago that he would be allowed to stay in his former home if he abides by their inflexible rules and if he gratefully pays for their food and for their basic daily necessities.
If the New York Wall Street protesters had their druthers, they would first take over Zuccotti Park, ultimately handicap Wall Street, next destroy “greedy” American Capitalism and then swiftly replace its “corruption” with a voracious and exploitative even more corrupt European-style nanny state.
But please don't expect productive and retired American adults and through-the-mill senior citizens to voluntarily provide for the abundant needs of mostly vocal young people, adamantly demanding privileges and “economic justice” (Socialism) that the all-too-vocal demonstrators have not legitimately and rightfully earned on their own.
Perhaps I can't satisfactorily identify with the mostly eighteen-year-old to twenty-four-year-old Wall Street protesters because I have diligently worked my rear-end off for over forty-two years at all sorts of jobs, and have over that long span managed to borrow money and then faithfully repay it after taking several entrepreneurial risks owning and operating various business enterprises.
Not to sound too religious and too old-fashioned, the Wall Street protesters don't fully comprehend the Protestant Work Ethic. They quit too easily and lack the confidence and the fortitude to succeed. They don't like challenges or obstacles. They seem to despise competition and free enterprise. They interpret their “selfish” needs as being more important than and positively above the needs of self-reliant “selfish” Americans laboring and providing for their families, day in and day out. They appear to be saying, "The world owes me a living!"
When I was eight years old, I worked for my grandparents, who had a small concession stand inside their farm market. Work was consistently emphasized to me by my parents and grandparents when I was expected to ambitiously dip ice cream, fetch sodas, sell candy bars and electrocute hot dogs for prospective customers. Yes, I confess that in my formative years I had been exploited by my parents and by my maternal grandparents. I always had to work before I ever was allowed to play. Work and self-sacrifice for the good of the family always trumped and preceded the concept of “self-indulgence” and play.
When I was thirteen in the mid-1950s, my family lived in Levittown, Pa. My father was a stainless steel fabricator whose company laid him off during one of several terrible economic recessions that had occurred during that explosive decade.
I had to find a way to earn my suddenly lost weekly “allowance.” My dad lent me 25 dollars to purchase a daily newspaper route, which I soon paid off and then expanded from 75 customers to 125 within a year. I managed to make 10 dollars a week at my first adventure into free market capitalism. Ten dollars a week was a considerable sum for a thirteen year old kid back in the 1950s, equivalent to around 100 dollars a week in today's inflated money nomenclature.
But I could not keep all of my ten dollars a week. Half of my earnings had to be given to the family, twenty-five percent was used for my acquisition of shoes and school clothing and the remaining twenty-five percent I could use for my own “selfish” teenage pleasures. That's how I originally learned about the mechanics of “American Capitalism.”
In high school, I worked in the back room of a delicatessen three nights a week and on weekends, spending plenty of time making sandwiches and peeling potatoes. After graduating from a New Jersey high school in 1960, my dad got me a year's employment as a welder where he worked in Norristown, Pa. I decided I didn't like breathing in nasty gas fumes all day long, so the next year I attended a teachers' college in Southern New Jersey.
And my parents, through their own individual sacrifices, had saved enough money over the years to pay for my advanced education. I too have learned from their example and had saved sufficient cash to pay for my three sons educations, two at Rutgers and one at Rowan University. I just can't fathom how many of today's nanny-state “entitlement-oriented” college students are several hundred thousand dollars in debt and feel “entitled” to something when they had the option of attending inexpensive community colleges and rather minimally extravagant state colleges.
And yes, capitalism certainly does involve taking risks. I had borrowed money to start-up businesses on the Ocean City, Maryland, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Atlantic City, New Jersey boardwalks, worked fourteen hour days for sixteen summers from Memorial Day to Labor Day and managed to frugally save sufficient money to pay for my home and educate my three sons. But if it weren't for me having the initiative, freedom and the opportunity to voluntarily engage in free-enterprise risk-oriented American Capitalism, I could have never successfully achieved those particular family and parental obligations.
And yes, I had worked for 34 years as a public school teacher, so I definitely understand both the private sector business world and the public sector government world as well. My wife also worked for 31 years as a teacher in another school district to help me pay monthly household debts, so I really have trouble understanding a 21 year old complaining about how rough it is for him or her to find employment or to pay for his or her college education.
And I didn't get the position of English teacher I had desired right away. For the first three years of my career I was a 6th grade all-subjects teacher and the next two years I patiently was the permanent substitute at the local high school before I finally earned my English teacher status. If “instant gratification” were my watchwords in the mid-1960s, then I might have become a disgruntled 60s hippie protester comparable to the current frustrated Wall Street protesters that happen to prevail today.
What disturbs me most about the misguided Wall Street protesters (and their movement in general) is that it is basically an economic socialistic “re-distribute the wealth” scheme where the advocates claim to represent the 99% of Americans who vehemently resent the 1% millionaires and billionaires. Well, I too am not in the top 1% income bracket, and these garrulous Wall Street protesters do not speak for me in any way, shape or form.
And for those insistent Wall Street objectors who have no employment and have accumulated massive advanced education tuition debts, the participants never explored the option of enlisting in the U.S. military, which would pay towards a college education after the young adult volunteers contribute several years of their lives loyally serving and preserving the security of the United States of America.
But regrettably, the mercurial Wall Street protesters don't appreciate the hand that feeds them, obviously the provider being American Capitalism. Free enterprise is the indispensable engine that affords economic stability to American democracy. If you only want “Democracy,” then move to Iraq or Afghanistan. If you desire true “Democratic freedom” founded on solid “free market” economic principles, then live in and learn to contribute to the prosperity of the United States of America. Think about it for a moment. What would the world be like today if the United States of America (or American Capitalism) never happened?
When the Wall Street protesters profess that they desire to dismantle American Capitalism, those dissidents are actually vowing to destroy their own dreams of personal success and the goal of ever achieving personal economic prosperity. Talk about biting the hand that feeds them. Capitalism has created more wealth than any other economic system in the history of the world, including Marxism, Socialism and Communism. How's that 1959 social experiment going down there in Cuba, Fidel?
And capitalism has made America the envy of the world. But what other nation has freed so many millions of people in other countries and liberated them from cruel tyranny, from crazed dictators and from widespread oppression? What other political/economic system provides more for its citizens than American capitalism does? One thing is for sure. Being poor in America is like being upper middle class in foreign places such as Uganda, Indonesia, Lybia and Syria.
But here's exactly what the Wall Street protesters fail to understand about the merits of American Capitalism. Wall Street (and the large banking and insurance companies) by itself did not cause the present economic recession. And if the protesters really want to take their animosity about the recent financial meltdown crisis out on the right people, they should be vigorously marching in front of the White House and in front of the Capitol Building in Washington DC to forcefully express their twisted anti-money anti-capitalism sentiments.
I think that the Wall Street protesters inadvertently practice a warped inverted value system that idealistically espouses various abstract amalgamated causes. They worry about disadvantaged people living in Africa, about curing the international AIDS epidemic, about the salvation of the endangered world environment, about egregious corporate Wall Street greed while the very provocative demonstrators simultaneously are conspiring against the perils and evils of American Capitalism.
On the other hand people like myself believe in self-reliance and the pursuit of individual success in a challenging and fluid free market/ free enterprise economic structure model. In my own value system, I first want to “greedily” advance and help myself, then assist my family, then support my relatives followed by my community population, then performing charity for constructive national and international organizations, and after all of that is eventually responded to, finally I want to consider aiding the poor people of Africa and the shrinking rain forests of South America.
I humbly value the fact that I live in a stable, organized community, and quite frankly, we are proud and independent folks that don't need or wish for any community organizers and political activists around to disorganize my town so that they can reconstruct and re-organize the community according to their ultra-liberal activist economic and assumed legal justice standards.
But in reality, the Wall Street protesters just don't comprehend Wall Street and the myriad attendant benefits of American Capitalism, which argumentatively represent the only true hopes (the private sector) of getting this grand nation out of the current encumbering recession. Although the public sector performs an invaluable service to society, teachers, police officers and firemen basically consume wealth; they effectively don't produce wealth like the private sector Wall Street corporations do.
And policemen, teachers and firemen (along with most contributing adults) have pension plans and/or 401 K's that generate and accumulate wealth by investing in high grade stocks, bonds and mutual funds, all invaluable pillars of American “greed” and capitalism that the Wall Street protesters totally and explicitly abhor. And may I add that most American corporations are wisely structured “democratically” in that the stockholders vote on company policy and consequently decide executive salaries and compensations.
How many of the boisterous Wall Street protesters realize that the major banks that had been saved by the federal government have all repaid their TARP loans while in the process, the U. S. Government has made hundreds of millions on interest money paid on those same government loans when stock options, bonds and preferred stock had been finally redeemed?
How many Wall Street protesters realize that the bank bailouts were done to principally save Europe's fragile nanny-state economies from collapsing? AIG, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman and Citi Bank all have Gordian-knot types of entanglements inside the colossal global economy!
How many Wall Street protesters realize that the U.S. Government coerced Wells Fargo into swallowing down Wachovia, which was in danger of defaulting on its mortgage loans, and the Feds also were engaged in forcing Bank of America to choke on dangerous Countrywide Inc. mortgages and also obtaining Merrill Lynch on the verge of tanking, that coincidentally grossly mismanaged in-jeopardy company also going belly-up? That's the main reason why Wells Fargo and Bank of America needed concurrent TARP assistance!
Republican George W. Bush was asleep at the wheel when he didn't observe that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were egregiously giving frivolous home mortgages with little or no collateral being offered by the buyers. Truly, everyone who is not credit-worthy does not deserve living in a home (forgive the double negative). That's why we have public housing apartments.
Now enter Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, both Democratic politicians overseeing wasteful government regulated institutions Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Low interest adjustable rates were quickly and generously offered to credit-unworthy mortgage recipients, and when the adjustable rates rose from three and a half percent interest to seven and a half percent, soon the mortgages and mounting debts became much greater than the houses' true value. Millions of unnecessary national foreclosures (since credit-worthiness precaution had not been originally defined and observed) soon became inevitable realities.
But perhaps the biggest travesty of all was when the large banks were told by the government that they also would have to offer low interest adjustable rates to credit-unworthy home buyers (just like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were doing) or else the Fed would cut down on issuing paper and electronic money to the B. of A., to Citi and to Wells Fargo.
The big banks reluctantly went along with the flimsy mortgage-lending Ponzi scheme, so to protect themselves, they quickly bundled the bad loans into complex derivatives, sold the derivatives to smaller investment companies, and when the housing bubble burst, the government determined that the banks were still responsible for the bundled derivatives when the smaller firms that assumed the bundled debts went insolvent. And so, this salient fact is why the Wall Street protesters ought to be demonstrating outside the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae corporate offices, outside the Capitol and outside the White House, and not blaming the complicated mess specifically on Wall Street.
And then there was Stan O'Neal, the CEO of Merrill Lynch who had received a departure bonus of 161.5 million dollars soon before Merrill Lynch tanked and had to be acquired (by government coercion) by Bank of America. And let's not forget the 12 executives at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (all government friends) who in 2009 had received 42 million in taxpayer money in the form of remuneration.
On the topic of excessive compensation from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and also in regard to Stan O' Neal and Merrill Lynch, I'm in absolute agreement with the Wall Street protesters. And yes, I admit that “greed” is the root of all evil, but I insist that “money” is honestly the genesis of all good!
I wholeheartedly believe that if a corporation tanks, then the CEO deserves little or no bonus compensation. However, if a corporation is profitable, then the executives should be rewarded at any reasonable level “democratically” determined and approved by the voting stockholders.
And in the final analysis, I suppose that what most greatly disturbs and disappoints me about these mediocre Wall Street rallies is the lack of American flags being proudly displayed. This obvious fact suggests that much of the Wall Street protest debacle consists of misguided cause-oriented youth, an array of anarchists, elements of nihilists, a mix of Socialists, Communists Environmentalists and U.S. Muslims, all being aggressively infiltrated and motivated by wily public sector union organizers, who are deviously mobilizing the angry demonstrators for the purpose of advancing their own unions' goals and objectives.
But what hugely alarms me most about the Wall Street protests is that they have been inspired by the so-called Arab Spring phenomenon, a recent Mideast revolutionary upheaval which has no demonstrable “democratic track record,” “democratic tradition” or “democratic history.” What's next? Sharia Law replacing Constitutional Law? Social disorganization replacing community organization so that each defective American town and village will eventually require the services of far-left “community organizers?”
When I watch the vociferous Wall Street protesters on TV, I see a conglomerate of folks that don't believe in their own individual potentials, a group that wants to see the government play Robin Hood and take from me (and people like me) to re-distribute wealth for the sake of “economic justice,” young people who would rather believe in elusive remote causes than in themselves and in American opportunity, a lot of grasshoppers desiring to extort money from Aesop's fabled industrious ants, and finally, last but not least, I see Hitler's minions “Occupying” Europe and my wary mind still envisions that belligerent rabble of Bolsheviks commandeering and “Occupying” Dr. Zhivago's formerly beautiful Moscow home.
Jay Dubya (author's initials and pen name)
Author of 41 books: hardcover, paperback and e-book formats