I was out to dinner the other night with some women–one I had never met. She was an interesting woman. Vivacious. Outspoken. A yoga teacher. Honest about the difficulties of parenting. But she said something to me that I found disturbing. “You grew up on the east coast. You know nothing about what it’s like to live in any other part of the country. The rest of this country is filled with small-minded people,” she said. I listened to her story. She was from a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She knew about what “real people” were like — and those people were no one I wanted to associate with, according to her.
“Uh, excuse me,” I said. “I don’t think Americans are so stupid and narrow-minded. After all, we voted for Obama. That wasn’t an east coast phenomenon.” I hate the elitist stigma that gets tacked on to being a liberal. I’ve traveled through this country for two months when I was in my early 20s and it was a magical experience seeing how other people live. I learned that people, even though they sounded different, looked different, and their homes were different, were essentially the same as I was. Give or take a few issues.
What am I getting at? The Occupy Wall Street Movement is a movement of America. And it’s wonderful to see so many people discussing it or writing about like my awesome blogging students are doing here and here. This is not a movement for the right or the left. This is a movement against the outrageous greed of corporations like Bank of America. You know Bank of America. I’m Too Big To Fail. Isn’t this the same bank that was bailed out by the government with tax payer cash? Have you heard the recent news? Bank of America can’t afford to help the small business owners who are having trouble meeting the climbing fees of the credit card companies that are incurred every time you swipe your debit card. So the Bank Who Was Too Big To Fail decided to charge the people $5 a month if you own a debit card. You’re charging the people who bailed you out? HUH?
Where is Robin Hood when we need him to steal our money back? Andy and I are going to spend the next 6 months transferring all of our money to a local bank. It’s going to be a difficult time-sucker, but a message has to be sent. I have to teach my children this value about right and wrong, and if Bank of America is going to go all Bonnie and Clyde on us then children need to be educated.
(A little girl in the march today. Image: sezlonk)
Occupy Wall Street is about the outrage that we’re ALL feeling about the economic landscape of our country right now. Huff Post blogger John Hawkins says the protests are like an episode of South Park. That it’s a hippie/liberal/blue state issue. That it’s a “parody.” But John Hawkins has it wrong. This isn’t a right wing issue. I’m a 40-year-old mother of two. You still want to call those who think these kids are “over-educated, under-motivated leftie airheads” then I guess you never met the protesters of Vietnam. Because unless you are a one-percenter–and if John Hawkins is writing for the Huff Post, then he’s not making any money, I can tell you that as a fellow Huff Post blogger, ahem–this is EVERYONE’S issue. This is exactly the kind of issue that brings Americans together because unless you are flying your own private jet, this issue relates to you.
Is there something wrong with conviction? Conviction is how we change bad policy. Conviction is how people create a movement. Conviction is how we communicate to the world. This is the first protest since an an anti-abortion rally 20 years ago that I covered for the Westsider (a small NYC-based newspaper) that I wanted to commit to. It’s the first cause in a long time that seems important. Why? Because it affects all of us. And if Warren Buffett is outraged, then everyone should be outraged. Warren Buffet is not a man who needs to be outraged. This is the time to show your kids about values. That when people are hurting, you don’t say, hey, no problem that I’m making allll this money and everyone else is on the dole. No problem that I’m locked up in my castle while the peasants are outside starving. You don’t say: LET THEM EAT CAKE.
Today at 4:30, thousands of demonstrators are meeting at Foley Square and are marching to Zuccotti Park in Liberty Plaza. Maybe I’ll see you down there if I can make it. If not, I’ll be there in spirit.)
UPDATE: I opted not to go, but I’m having great discussions about it with friends, particularly friends whose husbands work on Wall Street, and yes, even my friend who is an economist. This isn’t about Wall Street. This is about our economic landscape and the anger we all have about the economy. Occupy Wall Street is a grass roots movement. They’re going to get their message right and when it’s SOLID and when it’s FIRM–we’ll all get behind it. WE MUST GET BEHIND IT.