Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wrong Place to Occupy

Occupy Wall Street 10/8/11   photo/Jan Barry

By Liz Kaminski

The American people are angry and have full right to be. Given the high unemployment rate, the sour economy, and the national debt growing larger every day, it’s no wonder that people are up in arms. However, is it possible that their anger is directed to the wrong outlet?

On September 17, a group of people began protests at Zuccotti Park in New York City's Wall Street financial district. These men and women went there to protest against the greed found in Wall Street and the corruption taking place in private industry. Protestors claim that they are representing the 99%, a statement propagating class warfare against the richest 1% of Americans. The group seems to have an anti-capitalist take and wishes for more government control over the private industry of America. Although this campaign has now spread to over 100 cities in the United States, not one campaign in its frenzy stopped to review the other side of this problem. The current economic problem in the United States was not caused by private enterprise alone. Faults in government decisions created the current state of affairs.

People should be angry, but they should be demanding change from the government, not the private corporations in America which have remained the same throughout the decades. It is the government that has changed and has spurred this economic crisis. The private banking sector is unfairly receiving far too much blame. People should focus on the larger governmental faults and related problems, like the housing crisis caused by the Federal Reserve in 2008 which initiated this slippery slope of economic instability. It was through economic corruption within the Federal Reserve, which is supposed to monitor and regulate the economy, that the housing bubble popped. Even to this day, the Federal Reserve continues to be fiscally irresponsible.

The website “The Next Great Generation,” an online magazine out of Boston, has authors who agree with Occupy Wall Street Movement protests against the private sector, but also think that the movement could have used its rights as citizens to draw attention to the government issues. According to this website, 60% of the 99% did not vote in the 2010 election. If these people standing out on the streets of the Financial District had used their democratic right to vote for or against the issues perhaps they could have voiced their grievances earlier.

Take Protests to Source of the Problem

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has done a wonderful job of publicizing that there is a problem in this nation and that we must pull together to fix our nation for this generation and future generations. It is time to take these protests to the next level and go straight to the source in Washington D.C. There are already some protests in D.C., but there should be more. According to the “Washington Post,” K Street, the country’s hub of the lobbying industry, is being occupied and protested. This is a great step towards moving towards focusing the anger on the government and its connections with Wall Street.

The government itself, which has incurred fifteen trillion dollars in debt (a number that is so large that it is unfathomable to imagine), is also to blame for the economic crisis. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was passed by Congress, officials that the people elected, to intervene in private industry. This act bailed out investment banks that were struggling after the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It was through government intervention that 700 billion U.S. taxpayers dollars were spent, when alternatives could have been found. Occupy Wall Street calls for more government intervention, yet the government intervention seems to only help Wall Street widen the gap between it and Main Street.

People standing on Wall Street would perhaps do better to stand outside the Federal Reserve demanding why they are still calling the U.S. Treasury to print money and loaning it to the private banking sector. People would be better suited to stand outside the Capitol building in D.C. demanding why the politicians we have elected are not working for the people, but working for the private banking sector instead.

“Closing down” Wall Street is not the solution to this nation’s problem. If anything it could make it worse, considering 100 million Americans have jobs under these major corporations. Focus the anger at the government and use the democratic process to end some of these injustices. The 2012 election is rapidly approaching – this is the time when citizens can make a change.

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Liz Kaminski is a St. Thomas Aquinas College undergraduate and a staff writer for The Thoma, the campus newspaper. She is a Communication Arts major with a minor in Writing who will be graduating in the Spring of 2014. She plans on entering a career in the media. She is still undecided about whether her career will be in television or print journalism. Liz lives on campus during the semester, but her permanent residence is in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

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