Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesday - Occupy Wall Street

I'm currently reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach but it's a longer book and it's far from finished. You'll be able to read more about it next Wednesday. However, rather than ignoring this section this week, I want to talk about something else I've recently read.

I want to express that you may have a different opinion than me and that is perfectly fine. I'm happy to hear what you have to say as long as it maintains a respectful conversation. I have always supported the agree to disagree idea. 

Originally I tried to avoid all talk of Occupy Wall Street. It's hard for me to find accurate, fair sources and I find arguing articles and fighting over the rich to be annoying and an endless battle. So I've stayed out of it. Living in New York, I could hop down to Wall Street and participate but I don't plan on it. I don't think it's a productive use of time to get your point across but I definitely don't claim to be an expert in the slightest.

Anyway, someone posted this article from Rolling Stones about Occupy Wall Street so I figured I'd give it a read just to maybe get some information. Turns out I found it really interesting since I've been able to identify with the issue even more as of recently.

I babysit for a very wealthy family. They have a huge, gorgeous apartment that sits nicely across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park. Their 4 & 5 year olds wear brand name clothing even while running around playing baseball. Paying me $18 an hour is chump change for them. They asked me to attend a Bar Mitzvah with them last Saturday evening to help keep an eye on the kids. I was told to dress up but that was the only detail I had.

When I arrived, here's how the night went down:
Jets play here too

The family's car (I know little about cars but it was Escalade-esque) and personal driver showed up shortly after the children finally agreed to put on their outfits (mini dress pants, shirts and blazers, and loafers). We piled in the car and headed out of Manhattan to the Meadowlands, where the Giants stadium is located. The family throwing the Bar Mitzvah rented out the.entire.stadium. There were over the top hor derves, a huge variety of food for the main course for both children and adults, unlimited desserts, nearly every form of entertainment a 13-year-old boy would want including running around on the field, an open bar for adults and they ended the night with a video montage of this boy's life on the jumbo-tron. It was chilly outside while we watched the 20-min video outside so every kid was given a personalized sweatshirt and every adult received a personalized blanket to keep warm. I'm convinced the event cost $1 million. The family's car was waiting outside and brought us home.

Half of the night I thought to myself "wow, how cool is this?!" I love football so running around on the field and taking in a famous stadium was an awesome opportunity. However, the other half of the night I was bothered by the thought that these people will never know what it's like to think $18/hour is a big sum of money and to rely on it to barely squeak by each month in their tiny apartment with ramen noodles. $1 million (or however much this expensive party cost) for one evening of their lives drove me nuts. I was jealous and I wished the playing field could be a little bit more even since I'm on such an extreme opposite end and there are people much worse off than me.

The article mentions an on-air argument on CNN where Will Cain claims that the big reason for the protesters on Wall Street is because the poor are jealous of the rich. Matt Taibbi, the article's author strongly disagreed with this point and I take his side.

Personally, I know exactly what it feels like to be jealous of the rich. I won't deny that for one second. From being a nanny for a family who was very well off to attending this Bar Mitzvah, it can be an awful feeling to see how great people have it when it's hard to pay the bills. However, I would never protest on Wall Street because I'm jealous. If I'm jealous, I'll watch the Real Housewives of New York and bitch about them to my roommate while secretly being entertained. Would I appreciate some of their wealth? Absolutely. Am I going to beg for it undeservedly? Hell no.

The article details exactly what the big issues are that the 99% are protesting and they are so much more logical than jealousy. If you want to read one article about Occupy Wall Street, I suggest this one.

On a related note, right before I sat down to write this post I got a call from M, who had a new idea for inexpensive Halloween costumes. She suggested we wear t-shirts that read "Stop protesting me" and we can sport name tags that say "Hi, my name is 1%". Regardless of our actual stance on the matter, I think this costume is pretty funny because we are "dressing up" like the rich 1% because we don't have money to go buy regular costumes.

Anyway, I definitely found the article informative and I hope you got something out of it. Next week I will return with an actual novel to discuss but I do like the idea of talking about an article on weeks that I've been slower to finish a book. Yup, apparently I'm one of those people who enjoyed homework book reviews or papers we had to write based on articles we were assigned and now do them voluntarily. If it's not your thing, at least it's only one day a week.

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