Occupying A Movement

In the latter years of their lives, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson rekindled their friendship through an extensive correspondence.  It is a vast set of letters written by two prominent Founding Fathers that give us details into their own world and their friendship, that withstood even a major political divide… though it was somewhat one-sided.  For every one of Jefferson’s letters, Adams would write two.  In part of that correspondence, Jefferson said that he did not believe that United States would develop a class system as existed in Europe at that point.  Adams, however, disagreed with his friend… not at all unusual.  Adams replied that he saw the United States falling into a class system where the majority of Americans worked endlessly throughout their lives only to make the people who owned the banks even richer.

Does it sound a bit familiar?  It probably should.  It was upon reading a recent book about John Adams (“Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams” by Joseph J. Ellis) when I stumbled upon that little tidbit of the famous correspondence letters.  And as I reread that passage several times over before moving on, it got my mind to think about how what Adams had written actually proved to be true in today’s world.  Somehow, Adams had predicted the 21st century by what he was already seeing in the early part of the 1800s.  I don’t believe that he was clairvoyant or could predict the future.  But rather, I feel as though he used a little common sense by what he saw around him taking place.  It just so happened that what he saw now bears a very big resemblance to our own times.

I’ve watched through the media as the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from a simple protest on Wall Street in NYC to other cities throughout the country… and now even other cities in the world.  Large banks, that were bailed out b taxpayer dollars at the beginning of the recession to keep them from collapsing the way Lehman Brothers had done, have now become even larger and more powerful.  The taxpayer bailout which was designed to keep credit flowing, people employed and avert an even bigger financial meltdown that could have seen the world plunge into a bigger and deeper depression than we saw in the 1930s has basically been misused by the financial institutions by having the funds shore up their budget loopholes, and give their top executives (those that got us into this mess to start with) pay raises and huge bonuses.  Personally, I never liked the bank bailouts because when businesses do the wrong things enough times and get into those kinds of situations, then they deserve to go out of business.  From the ashes of a downed business can rise another that is better.  But I also understood the bigger ramifications if all the big banks suddenly failed at once.

The major problem with this, though, isn’t the bailout itself.  It’s the way the banks handled the money once they got it.  The top executives are getting more money now as more people within the company (the rank and file) are getting pink slips or pay cuts or wage freezes.  And even worse yet, the banks haven’t used the money to keep credit flowing but rather have put even tighter restrictions on it.  It often seems like now that the only people who can get a loan from a bank are those that can already afford to pay for it outright with their own funds and not even need the loan to start with.  Loans are money given to people (or businesses) to help them pay for something expensive that the individual (or business) must repay to the financial institution with interest (usually).  The working, middle-class of the United States might often use a loan to buy a car or to buy a house and then pay off that loan in the time that is worked out.  Most people within this country have no problem with that.  They have the payment in their budget and pay the bill every month from what they earn at their jobs.  Problem is, some people bite off more than they can chew.   They have to be better than the Jones’s, so to speak, and buy things that they really can’t afford and keeping piling on the debt on their credit rather than having bought something that is within their budget.  It can be psychological… or maybe even sociological… in nature.  No one wants to appear inferior… as though they can’t afford the same nice things that their friends or peers are being able to.  But I’m digressing to an extent with that.

The reason why the Occupy Wall Street movements have taken hold and have spread in the past few weeks is because of a message.  Though there isn’t one over-reaching goal of the movement, the message is clear.  Why should the 99% work to make the 1% even richer?  Why should we have to make cut-backs and take pay cuts just so these rich bankers can have even more money in their pockets and even power in Washington?

The people of our nation will gladly return to work when there is work to be had.  The banks are the ones that need to free up the credit to get the economy to actually move again.  The bank execs like to blame the problems in Washington… whether it is the political discourse, the news laws and regulations that have been put into place since the banks collapsed the economy, or even the economic woes in Europe.  Seems as though they always have an excuse but never work to actually resolve anything.  Thing is, with credit flowing again, the economy will begin to move again and people will get back to work and start earning money on their own.  Since we the taxpayers gave you the money to actually do this to start with, we want to see these institutions use the money for what it was initially designed for or give every penny of it back to us.

These large banks have also set out to nickel-and-dime us all as they say because of the new laws and regulations from the government… which is what finally sparked off this ever-growing Occupy Wall Street movement.  Now I do understand that banks (large and small) are businesses, too, and have to make money.  This is why we are charged an interest rate usually when we borrow money (take out a loan).  But have they gone too far in charging us a monthly fee to use our own debit card?  Using our debit card is like spending our own cash without actually having to carry the said cash on us at the time and saves the time of not having to write a check.  And there is an easy solution to this for the people… don’t use the card.  Instead, spend actual cash or use the credit card.

Some have compared the Occupy Wall Street movement with the Tea Party movement that happened in 2010.  However, though they may be similar, they are completely different.  Occupy Wall Street is a more liberal movement than the Tea Party movement.  The Tea Party movement was also politically based… to oust incumbents from political office and replace them with pro-business, ordinary citizens.  Problem is that most of those people don’t understand how a government (let alone our government) works and have been grid-locking everything even more than it usually is.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is more economical in nature and isn’t targeting politicians… yet.  Their focus is directly on the root of where our problems are coming from… the big bank Wall Street execs… and they are wanting to see reform to the current economic and financial system.  Rather than go through the politicians in Washington (which are usually in the back pocket of the big bank executives), they are going right to Wall Street with their demands.  It is our democracy in its purest of forms… the people assembling and protesting their grievances upon those that are directly responsible for them.

John Adams may have bested Thomas Jefferson when it came to an economic class system developing in our country.  The question remains, though, as to how these protests will turn out.  Will there be reforms from the banks and to how our financial system operates that come directly from the companies themselves or will the big bank executives just shrug it off and attempt to use their influence to put an end to it all?  Only time can tell.  Though there have been clashes with police, the overall movement has remained mostly peaceful… no rioting and no looting, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.  They have a good message.  We, the 99%, are tired of working throughout our lives only to make someone else richer rather than ourselves.  I guess we are finally going to see what really carries more clout in our nation… actions or money… the 99% with the voice and actions or the 1% with the money.

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3 Responses to Occupying A Movement

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    • James S. says:

      Thanks. I’m glad that you found my blog and that you are enjoying reading it. I hope that you find time to catch up on the entries and that you comment often. Always good to hear from someone who enjoys reading the blogs I put a lot of effort into. And thanks for the compliment on the design. It’s actually brand new… just completed late last night. Hope you enjoy reading future blog entries. 🙂

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