Yesterday while most of Wall Street was away enjoying the first weekend of Fall 2011 in the Hampton’s, 700 Protesters were arrested for blocking the Brooklyn Bridge, protesting all sorts of things especially Wall Street GREED. Isn’t this a bit old-fashioned in the age of Twitter-heads and Facebookers? I thought all outrage was posted on line these days? Maybe it is, and its proving to be ineffective? This protest certainly caught the attention of the world. Maybe old-fashioned methods to garner attention are new again?
While I contemplate all these pressing questions, I also ask how many besides Wall Streeters have demonstared greed? Was the banker who encouraged the un-qualified buyer to buy a house with a huge adjustable rate mortgage greedy? Of course he was. Was that same banker greedy when he sold those mortgages knowing they were in the hands of people who would more than likely default? Yes! Was the un-qualified buyer greedy for wanting to buy a house they couldn’t afford? Definitely! Was Charlie Rangel (who joined the protest) greedy for keeping FOUR rent-stabilized apartments, thereby paying half the market rent (while earning over $ 165k/year) being greedy? Is it greedy to fire hundreds of employees yet still draw a large salary and bonus? Is it greedy to draw unemployment while receiving income off the books? Is it greedy of some public employees to boost their retirement payments by working artificial overtime hours while others lose their jobs because of budget cuts? Is it greedy of a teacher who is mediocre to earn more than a great teacher just because they have been at the job longer? Is it greedy of a rock star who preaches democracy and fairness to charge $ 200 for a concert ticket?
Greed is everwhere, and while many on Wall Street are certainly guilty of excessive greed, picking Wall Street as the sole perpetrator seems a bit hypocritical to me. This protest does certainly warrant attention: A small group of angry people can cause a lot of harm to a City like New York. And Mayor Bloomberg has highlighted the potential plight of a new, young, educated but unemployed generation. But their voices should not be silenced and their grievances should be debated as we are a democracy after all: surely there is some way to debate everything without causing mysery for those who least deserve it?