Saturday, October 1, 2011

Putting Together 2 and 2 and Getting 99

A friend recently shared a link to We Are the 99 Percent, and I'm beginning to think that all I need for inspiration to post here is Facebook and 10 minutes to scan my news feed. The tumblr account (which is really a blog service for people who like pictures better than words) has stemmed from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

If you missed this display of idiocy in motion, Occupy Wall Street is an exercise in proving that Alexander Hamilton was on to something with Federalism, and that the average human cannot intelligently handle both the responsibility and privilege of democracy.

The Daily Show has covered it (and if you don't see Jon Stewart as at least as viable a news provider as these guys in bow ties, then we really have no common ground to meet on). Stewart does a pretty reasonable job commenting on the ridiculousness - Bonaroo-esque - and then moving past a subject he could just hammer away at. However, maybe he assumes that his colleague on the Colbert Report has covered it, but the absurdity at the heart of the protests is glossed over. These people are gathering, apparently trying to lower or halt the (admittedly low) productivity of Wall Street, without actually having any goals or demands. The know they want things, but are still TRYING TO DECIDE WHAT THEY WILL DEMAND. That is unacceptable. Protests are a result of making decisions, not the process.

To top it off, now WA99P - the website the started this post - has sprouted up in order to apparently put faces on the Occupy Wall Street movement. It features a bunch of pictures of individuals holding up paper with their financial woes written on them. One continual complaint is student loans. These are loans that almost everyone has had to take out. They are also completely voluntary, and usually taken out in spite of options for state and community colleges. It sucks, but education costs. Then, the question arises that if these people have so much debt weighing them down, where are they getting the time and money to post these pictures on what are probably personal internet connections? Finally, what are they 99% of, anyways? Who, then, is the 1 percent? Are they lonely?

The website and movement itself reek of people feeling like they're owed something. What are they owed? They have free speech, as evidenced by the existence of both a protest and online soapbox. Quite a few have jobs, even if they're not making as much as they think they need. So, is that the heart of the problem, money?

Since when did it become okay for Americans to demand money? One of my greatest frustrations in Mongolia was a pervasive mindset that their neighbors with more money and technology owed them handouts. Directors of schools and medical institutions routinely expected money out of volunteers, disregarding any other benefits they could bring. Now I'm back in the States and hearing the same self-interested demands.

Oh and don't even get me started on any of the "creative" people posting on that website. You don't get money for random artistic creations that have little to no market? I'll try to look surprised, but I promise nothing. Find a patron, or find a job. I'm calling you out on this, if you're a real artist, you can't help but create. Work a commercially viable job, and live your art.

Coming up next, finally some of the posts I made before leaving Mongolia,
- John

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