Occupy Wall Street failed because it didn’t grasp that government is the enemy. So what exactly then did Occupy Wall Street accomplish?
In the fall of 2011, I spent a lot of time in Lower Manhattan at a place called Zuccotti Park, this was Occupy Wall Street’s home base.
After work, I would go down there to take pictures, chat with people, eavesdrop, and wonder what the movement represented.
It was an interesting time for me because I could identify with the protesters and kids camping out.
From 2009-2010, I was a backpacker in South America and spent my days in parks, smoking weed, selling jewelry and bashing capitalism.
In other words, I was an idiot.
But see, that was life before Atlas Shrugged.
By 2011, after having wound up in New York City, landing an “actual” job and reading Atlas Shrugged, my world view had dramatically shifted.
I was no longer the idiot — these people in Zuccotti Park were!
What Was Occupy Wall Street?
Occupy Wall Street was the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis.
People across the country were suffering after losing their homes, jobs and retirement savings.
They were angry because the bankers and corporate executives (who the protesters believed caused the crisis), didn’t lose their homes or jobs and got paid billions in bail-out money using taxpayer money!
So right there — if I were an OWS protester — I would be enraged with the government.
But unfortunately our government employs the media to push certain agendas, and that agenda is never going to be anti-government.
So alas, the protesters got confused and blamed instead:
- Anyone with money (especially the 1%)
- Bank CEOs
- Corporate executives
I took pictures of their signs that said things like this:
“Chase! Give Us Our Money Back. $92.7 Billion”
“A Job Is a Right. Capitalism Doesn’t Work!”
“1,000,000,000,000 in Student Loan Debt. Big Banks Stole Our Future!!”
“Wall Street Stole My Retirement Fund!”
Lucky for me, thanks to Ayn Rand, I could see the intersection between government / media / society / business and know which lines were crossed where.
And once you can see through the bullshit, the government is always the one at fault.
For example, if a bank is stealing billions of dollars from its customers — where the fuck is the police? Where the fuck are the authorities shutting down this criminal business?!!
If Wall Street stole your retirement funds — again, what the fuck?! Someone needs to call the cops that your brokerage account was hacked and the money is missing!!
The government is in complete cahoots with the financial services industry. The mortgage lenders and financial services industry got way out of hand leading up to the financial crisis. But you know who didn’t have the balls to stop them? Who was scared of losing campaign donation support? Who is completely spineless and has no interest at heart for the American people?
Occupy Wall Street Let the Government Off the Hook
If Occupy Wall Street identified the root of the problem and narrowed in on the lack of regulation that led up to the financial crisis, the lack of accountability, the lack of prosecution, and the BILLIONS in taxpayer bail out money, then maybe their movement could have been relevant.
But no one wants to complain about Obama, do they? He’s perfect. Not crooked at all…
The housing crisis in 2008 was the result of a government officials pushing hard on a policy called the Community Reinvestment Act.
The policy requires banks to lend to less-than-desirable borrowers. The government guarantees the mortgage for the bank so that the bank will lend to Americans with poor credit. In other words, the government buys the mortgage from the bank to alleviate all risk as soon as it is issued.
Related Reading: America’s Socialist Housing Market
Huh. So when the bank isn’t expecting a borrower to repay the loan, and the government is requiring that it issue more and more and more loans to poor households….
Is anyone surprised this ended in disaster?
The government’s job is to protect its citizens. In the lead up to 2008, it failed us miserably. It was more interested in looking good and “supporting diversity” than being responsible.
The government dropped the ball.
A Review of What Occupy Wall Street Accomplished
Since the Occupy protesters couldn’t connect the dots (Atlas Shrugged must not be a popular read in their circles), it went on to chant about everything from climate change to student loans to criminal justice reform.
The movement lost all relevance and we are right back to where we were in 2008:
- Wall Street “stole” our retirement funds, and yet Americans are still pouring billions into retirement accounts each year…..
- The banks “stole our future” by issuing student loans, yet student debt continues to rise…
- The financial services industry forced us to take out 30-mortgages we couldn’t afford and yet Americans can’t fathom buying a home any other way….
In other words, we’ve made no progress since 2011’s Occupy Wall Street movement.
Occupy Wall Street and Wealth Inequality
It’s fair to say that Occupy Wall Street was a failure. Even the leaders of the movement agree that they had no agenda and only wanted to “express themselves.”
Well certainly one form of expression was a success: WE ARE THE 99%
In the aftermath of 2008, it was increasingly evident that those in power and politics simply won’t suffer. Ever. And the government, which is meant to protect and represent the people, trades money for power and power for money to the point that the 1% and ultra wealthy operate above the law.
Is this not enough evidence that the government should be limited and small as possible???
Why the fuck are today’s Occupy Wall Street groupies still voting for bigger government? Does no one know what socialism results in?
Real quick: Socialism strips power from the individual and places it in the hands of the government.
If the government hadn’t stepped in to bail these banks out — guess what? The rich execs and CEOs and bankers might actually have suffered.
How a person could be angrier with the CEO than the government is beyond me. The CEOs job is to extract profits, period. The government’s job is to make sure he/ she does so legally. Except it can’t because it was bribed via campaign donations to turn a blind eye.
And so because Occupy Wall Street couldn’t rally around an anti-government message, we are still having the same wealth inequality conversations today.
If you haven’t read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I highly recommend it. It helps the reader compartmentalize the roles and responsibilities between Business, Government, Media and Society.
If you had talked to me about the 2008 Financial Crisis before I had read Atlas Shrugged, I would have complained how immoral the mortgage lenders behaved and how the government can’t be blamed because this was greed on an individual level, outside of their control.
Everyone has the capacity to be immoral. If their conscious doesn’t catch them, then a system will (computer system, HR, school policy, etc.).
Scummy mortgage brokers sat in the kitchens of illiterate, poor families and convinced them to sign on the dotted line for a brand new $500k home. The system that should have caught this behavior is called the government. Remember, the government buys the loans from the bankers. It is the government’s responsibly to underwrite the loan and ask, Is this a good loan? Is the borrower likely to pay it back?
That system failed us. The government didn’t review the loans it purchased because it had ulterior motives and because the government is incompetent.
Occupy Wall Street missed their opportunity to highlight the colossal failure of the government. To change the conversation from “Fuck this bank” and “Give me a job” and “Wall Street Sucks” to Where was the government? Where were our represented leaders? Why are we putting up with this failure of oversight?
Whose side is the government truly on?