Anyone walking through the financial district of just about any major U.S. city these days will find that a crowd of protesters has become part of the streetscape. And it’s not just students, the unemployed and socialist hippies who are protesting. This time it’s different.
Protestors are calling for an end to Wall Street’s ways and the ‘greed’ that is apparently the reason America is teetering on the edge of its super-power pedestal. Signs read everything from “Greed is our policy” to “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out”.
Observing the anger and frustration of these diverse protesters, you get the feeling most don’t actually know what they are protesting for or their desired outcome. The common emotion is that someone should be held accountable.
Occupy Wall Street began as a protest against corporate greed and incompetence. It has been going for some weeks and has gone global, with many cities affected. President Obama directly addressed protestors and attempted to assuage their anger, which is rapidly spreading across the country. Modern protests, including revolutions such as those we are witnessing in the so-called Arab Spring, are spread by social media such as Twitter and Facebook with the ability to assemble millions in just hours. It is a minor irony that this technology is a product of the system these activists are protesting about.
Occupy Wall Street is no Arab Spring. Ostensibly it’s about changing the ideals of a nation; the way we live, earn and spend. Not many of these protestors actually have an understanding of the issues or a solution but they would certainly like someone to blame for the current economic shambles that is America.
Where were these protestors five years ago, when America was at the height of its capitalist bull-run? Were they out protesting or were they out buying new flat-screen TV’s on one of their five credit cards, or happily gaining finance for a new sports car?
The real problem is excess. At all levels. And it is an issue which needs to be tackled holistically. Simply blaming the rich or the current government is not as important as changing the excessive spending, borrowing and consumerism which have become habitual not just in America, but throughout the entire developed world.
As I observe the protestors and their creative, yet confused disgust at Wall Street and the growth of large consumerist companies they hold responsible for the situation we have today, I can’t help but wonder how these protestors would feel if they didn’t have their iPods to listen to or their smart-phones to check their twitter accounts or their MacBooks to spread news of their movements.
Wall Street isn’t the reason for America’s economic turmoil, we are. Taxing the rich, changing the president or attacking large corporations aren’t fixes for a systemic problem. They’re merely band-aids to appease the protestors.
Finger-pointing aside, it’s going to be a long road to recovery. The best outcome we can hope for from the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement is the beginning of change to the ideals of a nation.
Stay ahead of the game,