Occupy Wall Street: Oh Yeah & So What?

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I once heard a commencement speaker claim that, with regard to our judgements of the significance of historical events, we need to ask two questions:

“Oh yeah?” and “So what?” Are the claims and facts valid, and if so, do they matter?

If you’re still unconvinced that what has happened in the US banking system and Wall Street takes the lion’s share of blame for the plight of your home values, retirement savings and future for your children, let the numbers do the talking.

Here are a dozen ways to lay it out visually that help where words might fail. I think this does an adequate job of establishing the “oh yeah” of this assessment of how much richer the rich have become at the expense of the middle class and poor. We’ll not even count the cost paid by the world’s biological and mineral resource systems to gorge the top predators.

Then, if you admit the validity of the blame by the aggregate voices being heard across America today (the OWS not the most succinct or articulate), consider the So-What. Look and listen to WHY economic inequity matters more than you might have appreciated. Watch this TED talk by Richard Williamson. Consider the societal costs of the rich getting so much richer in the past few decades.

If you reach the conclusions that Wall Street (who-ever and what-ever that collective historical entity is) is innocent of both purpose and execution towards its present unjust dominion,  and if you have carefully considered the consequences of economic polarization and think this does not matter, we are from different planets.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I dwell on the same planet as you Fred…
    They gambled with our money and lost and now we continue to bail them out while they continue to pay themselves disgustingly large salaries and bonuses.

    but at the moment I am incensed by the actions of the Greeks.
    They bankrupt their country, they go begging for help, they ask the German and French tax-payers to pay and then, when a deal is struck and the money is on the table, they say “We will ask our people if they will accept it”
    Me, I would tell them to go to Hades!

  2. IMO the link you provide doesn’t link either banking or the “wealthy” to the economic downturn. The true underlying reasons are households as well as government over-borrowing as well as regulatory failures. The credit cards are maxed out, and the only way to fix this is to deleverage, which may take ten years or longer. Sad but true.

    The misguided Wall St protesters I see look unemployable. In all seriousness, they would be better served looking for work, investing in their skills, anything other than sleeping in our parks. Perhaps a less fringe oriented group that should get more attention is the 53% Movement.