There are people disgusted at Wall Street. There are people disgusted with the people who are disgusted with Wall Street. I'm jumping into the chain to express my disgust with the people disgusted with the people disgusted with Wall Street.
Hello, I am the Genie of the Shell, and I am not angry. I have a fortunate life. But I understand why lots of other people are angry right now. Bailouts for banks but not families, layoffs, benefit cuts, infrastructure cuts, and other economic problems have come to a head lately. Most of the nation is living in substandard conditions in comparison to other “developed” nations while the richest people get richer and more powerful. It’s no surprise to me why the people getting screwed are pissed off. What seems a bit absurd to me is the people who are angry at the people who are angry about getting screwed. There appears to be an Occupy Facebook movement to counter the Occupy Wall Street protests, with signs like this one.
I’m also confused as to why being debt-free is more important to some people than anything else, including health care and humane living standards. My husband and I are in about $140,000 of debt from our fancy college tuitions, a slightly underwater mortgage, and credit card bills racked up from plane tickets and cool bikes. But we don’t really care, because we live a comfortable lifestyle in a nice house in a good neighborhood that is safe and pleasant for our growing family. We both work unusual hours at humble jobs so we can spend as much time as possible with our family, which we value more than a balanced budget.
I have worked since the age of 13 as a babysitter and later in restaurants, stores, and offices. Mostly I blew my money on concert tickets, clothes, going out with friends, Cedar Point road trips, and gas and maintenance for my beloved Ford Escort. I also enjoyed donating some of my money to good causes and buying really excellent gifts for the people I loved. I also enjoyed donating time as a volunteer. Looking back, I don’t regret "wasting" some money and time instead of wasting my youth.
My husband and I both graduated with high honors and received top scores on our final exams. We followed the advice of our guidance counselors and chose expensive, private colleges because they offered much better curricula and richer experiences than the local public universities. We also received scholarships, which filled the gap between our savings and loans and the total cost of tuition, room, and board.
We soon realized that many of the promises made by our guidance counselors and the admissions people at our colleges were a lot of BS, but all the fancy education and job experience still helped us get jobs that pay way well above minimum wage and even offer good benefits. We prioritize, and we indulge in what we value most—spending quality time with family and friends, learning and growing as human beings, and having luxuries like craft brew beers and restaurant meals once in awhile—thereby supporting our local economy! We also support some causes in our community that are important to us. We’ve never been on welfare, but we're glad it's there for those who need it. We save money for retirement and emergencies, but we’re not hoarding for the zombie apocalypse.
We’re in debt past our eyeballs, but it’s no crisis. Having good credit frees us to live well anyway. Aside from our mortgage, all of the interest rates on our debts are at or under about 3%. My credit card gives me 5% back on purchases and charges me no interest. I don’t pay it off in full. I save enough money in my bank account, earning interest, to cover the balance, but I pay only the minimum. When the zero percent interest promotion ends, I transfer the balance onto another card with a zero interest promotion. If the day ever comes when credit card companies stop stuffing my mailbox with those promotions, I can pay the card in full with my savings. However, that gravy train’s been running since college, so no reason to get off now.
I don’t have a new car, an iPad, a smart phone, cable TV, Netflix, a designer bag, or anything else I don’t care much about—but if I did care, I would buy them with my credit card and earn a bunch of points.
I live well and save for the future at the same time. I support my nation through my work, the taxes I pay, and the charitable causes I support.
I vote, and I have high expectations for my country. I hold my government accountable for doing right by me and the rest of the American people.
That’s how it’s supposed to work.
I am the 99%, and I am a privileged member of the 99%. I recognize that as a middle class white person from a healthy, supportive family, I cannot attribute all the good things in my life to my own initiative. I have compassion for the half of America that has less than me. That includes unimaginative ascetics who live in shitty apartments, went to lame schools, toil at crappy jobs, and want companionship in their misery instead of a better nation. It also includes booboo-faced former Marines like this fellow who take pride in being the nation’s whipping boys—while going commando on the health insurance.
Making sacrifices or dying for a noble cause is heroic. But "sucking it up" in the face of injustice is no virtue. I am completely unimpressed by people who eagerly martyr themselves for the very powers that oppress them and their fellow citizens instead of working for a better future.
In a democracy, the people have the power to write each new chapter of our history. They also have the right to ignore politics and spend all day playing Farmville. Or writing up signs about how much they like the abuse. Whatever.
UPDATE: After a quick Google search, I have discovered that the most egalitarian nations (mostly socialist) are also the richest, happiest, healthiest, smartest, and those with the highest standards of living. So reforming our financial and political systems to be more fair and equal is not just good for the poor and working classes, it's good for the whole nation.