Archive for November, 2011

Observations/Perspectives on Occupy Wall Street.

Credentials:

  • 39 years on Wall Street
  • Not a member of the 1%
  • Past member of the United Steel Workers
  • ex First Lieutenant US Army Infantry/Paratrooper
  • awarded the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge)
  • Decorated for Valor
  • MBA

Have walked by the Zuccotti twice a day since day one. First impression was that the protestors were orderly, generally young but had too many messages with little binding them together. Anti war protestors (several Viet Nam vets) Communists,  anti Wall Street, and on and on. Some just seemed to be protesting for the sake of protesting, witness a young lady holding up a sign saying “Reagan sucks balls.”The main message has been that there is a growing discrepancy between the haves, the 1% and the rest, the 99%. Whether one is Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, Communist or Anarchist, it is difficult to rationally argue this fact. I absolutely support the right of all Americans to protest any issue that troubles them. My generation marched and protested Civil Rights, the Viet Nam War, Women;s Rights, Gay rights and other issues. My children”s generation have protested almost nothing. We have been involved in two lengthy wars, one lasting 10 years now, and there has been no significant protest. Why? Mostly because it doesn’t affect us directly. Casualties are relatively low, we don’t know many who are directly involved and probably most importantly there is no draft to threaten our military age population. What does affect us all is the present state of the economy and our Government’s inability to deal with the issues. The current situation should not be blamed on either political party. Both contributed to the problem. The failure to find a quick solution and to place the blame on the sitting President also makes no sense. The ebbs and flows of an economy as large as ours cannot be changed/turned quickly. The simple fact is that an inordinately large number of those between the age of 16 and 24 are unemployed and cannot find work. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 23.9% of those between 16 and 19 are unemployed., 23.6% of those 16 and 17 fall into the same category. 18-19 year olds show 24% unemployed, 13.4% of the 20-24 year olds and 10.3% of the 25-29 year olds. Pretty depressing numbers-its no wonder they are protesting. What the stats do not show but what I am reminded daily, is the number of older workers currently out of work and looking desperately. This includes Wall Street workers who are part of the 99%. I get daily requests from close friends and names I barely know, all asking for help in gaining a job. Several acquaintances who are 99 percenters with 20 years Wall Street experience are in various phases of having their homes foreclosed. Most troubling to me is the reactions of so many to the protest and the protestors. The tourists who come to gawk and make it difficult for the 99 percenters who work on Wall Street by blocking the sidewalks. Some of the 99 percenters who are working on wall Street who are so dismissive of the plight of the unemployed. Several fellow office workers were commenting on the Thursday arrests.”They should get jobs, Shoot them. One wore a t-shirt proudly displaying 1%. Mr. Gingrich declaring in Iowa that the protestors should get jobs but first should take a shower. Is the Protest having an effect? Yes. On Thursday some Wall Street workers were told to stay home. Many came in but were scared. Many more came in but were subjected to much longer commutes. A police officer received 20 stitches in his hand cause by a piece of thrown glass. Are the protestors and the 99% entitled to the same pay as the Wall Streeters/ No.  From watching the newscasts of the protestors and their soundbites some seem to think they are entitled to high pay. In a Communist society that might be true. In America, some are born to more privilege, some with more brain power, some receive better education, some work harder and some are just plain lucky. Wall Streeters fall into all of these possible categories but luck is near the top. Looking back on the Civil Rights movement with many killed over the years, the Anti Viet Nam War movement with 4 killed at Kent State and 2 at Jackson State, at the Student Strike in the early 70’s protesting the invasiion of Cambodia, when 450 Universities, Colleges and High Schools went on strike, when 100,000 gathered in Washington Dc, 150,000 in San Francisco, where 30 ROTC Buildings were burned, it seems we are getting off easily to date. As a member of the Army reserve, I was put on alert to move to Yale University to quell possible riots. Our orders were to use live ammunition. As a protest I transferred to the NAtional Guard- I applaud the protestors basic goals. Deplore the violence. I am pleased that the unions are in support. Believe that most Wall Street workers are not guilty and do not deserve the grief. Finally would be much more enthused if the angst would be directed at our Government in Washington-both sides of the aisle. Its time to put the welfare of the country ahead of party politics.. The lobbies need to be castrated. Politicians need to have their feet put to the fire to serve us. Congress should be made to play by the same rules as most of us on Wall Street-NO Insider Trading. Keep protesting but in a more Ghandi like way. Prosecute the policeman at UC San Diego who indiscriminately used pepper spray. Prosecute the Wall Streeters who cheat and steal. eliminate the lobbies or at least cool their influence Thinking back to the period right after 9/11 I was struck by how well we treated each other. Were all pulling together. Lastly, though a veteran, I am not  in support of either of our current wars. The one good thing that has come from them as opposed to the Viet Nam War is that there is almost universal support for those serving. When I mustered out and went to see my wife on a college campus, I was spat upon because I wore a uniform. Today we thank our returning veterans. That is a major step forward. Lets redirect our anger at Washington where it surely belongs. Things will get better, they always do. Problem is after they get better they always get worse again. The cycles are different but they are the same. remember 9/11 and lets support each other and all pull in the same direction otherwise we are no better than our government.

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