I don’t foray into politics often, but every now and again, something happens to rile me up. NYC is 30 days into Occupy Wallstreet, and although I’m not physically part of the protest, I support them 100%.
The best information about Occupy Wallstreet can be found here. This is the official campaign website:
The thing that’s causing such an uproar are the cops. The protesters aren’t rioting, they aren’t picking fights, they aren’t spitting racial slurs, and they’re not preventing other people from going about their business. The cops are pepper spraying, beating, and harming the peaceful protestors. And many of them have been caught on camera laughing and joking about it.
There are food donations being taken, entertainment, a library for the people who are dedicated to the cause. The issue stems from the fact that billionaires and millionaires pay NO taxes when the middle and lower classes are taxed to death. I see the break-down of non-optional money drained from my paycheck every week and I don’t think it’s fair that I’m being taxed while people who can afford the taxes are exempt.
I’m in debt because I chose to go to a private institution for my degree. At the time, it was the only school that offered Graphic Design as a major. When I changed to English, yes, I could have transferred, but many of my credits would not have transfer with me. I had a $42,000 scholarship and maintained it for four years, on top of the HOPE, which provided an extra $3,500. I had a two-year, $2,000 dollar art scholarship as well. I didn’t pay for a meal plan.
I’ve been working since I was 15. I saved for my car, which will be paid off in May. I worked through college, and I’m working now. I have two jobs to supplement my income, I have one credit card which I use once a month for gas and pay off entirely. My student loans and car payment are the only debt I have. I live below my means, which doesn’t mean I can’t spring for the occasional concert, but does mean that I don’t go wild with my money.
I made logical decisions, and I’m being taxed for things I’ll never use. Social Security will be gone by the time I’m able to use it. Money is being taken from me when it could be taken from those exempt from payment. Why are they special, just because they managed to achieve financial security? Does anyone even know what a CEO does to earn that 7-figure salary?
I’m not saying the rich should pay MORE taxes; I’m saying that they should pay taxes, period.
Molly Crabapple's Vampire Squid Protest Design
And for the few who feel it’s silly or hypocritical that those people are protesting while using iPhone and shopping at Whole Foods, possessions and where you shop has no political merit.
It’s not about possessions. I have an iPhone, but that’s because I bought it from a friend who was upgrading to a different phone. I only spent $40 bucks on it. What you own and what you use don’t have anything to do with the reasons they’re protesting. You can’t say they’re hypocrites for having iPhones when you don’t know whether or not every one of them bought the phones new. Facebook isn’t a political forum either. It’s not a service you pay for, and Facebook is rapidly becoming the best and fastest means for communication. Whole Foods is expensive, yes, but for people like me, who are vegetarian or vegan, or who have various allergies, like gluten allergies, Whole Foods is one of the few stores that provide vegan/vegetarian/gluten/whatever free alternatives. I work in a grocery store and I can honestly tell you that there aren’t many options in commercial companies like Publix. Veganism/Vegetarianism is more than just eating veggies, just like being allergic to gluten doesn’t mean you should have to suffer food with no flavor or substance.What’s silly is defining people by what they own, what they wear, and where they shop. I dropped a good bit of money on new clothes for this journalism job because I’ve spent 90% of my working life in uniform. I don’t have anything. These pieces were an investment, and I won’t need pants again for a while (pants are the major expenditure). That doesn’t mean I shop only at department stores. I hit up thrift shops, consignment, places like Ross and T.J. Maxx. Sometimes I find something, sometimes I don’t. Just because I carry a Coach bag doesn’t mean I’m not in financial stress.
(I do, in fact, have a Coach bag. It was a Christmas gift I got at the Outlet with 80% off coupon. It is the only purse I own. It has a lifetime warranty and looks professional, unlike the Target clearance purses I used to own.)
The Great and Powerful Amanda Fucking Palmer
As for it being unemployed, homeless bums; no. It’s working people. There are accountants, and business men, as well as artists like Molly Crabapple, and musicians like Amanda Palmer. More and more, people are forgoing traditional jobs and starting to build their own businesses. I spoke with several people today at the festival I covered who lost their job or fell on difficult times and started making soap, or barbed wire art, or pottery, or jam. The downturn in the economy is allowing people to make their own jobs and let them chase after what they love to do instead of what they have to.
You all know that I’d write stories all day long if I could. The closest I’ll get right now is journalism. That doesn’t mean I’m not pushing for my dream, it just means I’m paying the bills until it happens. In that same vein, why should I be taxed for making my own way? Why should I have to shell out my earnings to a government that didn’t assist me, that didn’t work for it?
And even if those involved are unemployed, who better to protest than the downtrodden, who are STILL forced to pay when they can barely afford to eat? I did what I was told, got a degree, and I’m facing down debt that I need two jobs to manage. Most of my graduating class are either unemployed or under-employed, working retail jobs, which is NOT what we earned degrees in. Some of them can’t even find a cashier’s position.
I think as a whole, OWS is a good thing. It’s bringing people together and finally making people realize that we’re a community, no matter what states we live in. That we have the power to cause change in the country. No one should be exempt from assisting their community.
You don’t have to occupy. If you want to help, there are food services and clothing ops that could use donations. Reblog, retweet, get out there and play your guitar for the masses, read poetry on the streets, but don’t sit idly by in ignorance.
In the end, it’s your choice. In the words of Amanda Fucking Palmer:
“INCREASED PARTICIPATION DOES NOT DILUTE THE MESSAGE. INCREASED PARTICIPATION IS THE MESSAGE.”