Home > Uncategorized > 99% Problems (And a Bitch ‘Aint One?)

99% Problems (And a Bitch ‘Aint One?)

This lady is 84 and, by all accounts, mad as hell.

These days, protesting has found a peculiar place in American society. With the advent of Twitter, Facebook and (most unfortunately) 24-hour news networks, a small protest could break out in just about any part of the globe and the general public would have access to the news within 24 hours. (Antarctica and North Korea are the obvious exceptions. If you want to start a stir, don’t begin in the South Pole.) I say ‘access’ because it’s hard to tell what most people are clued into these days; with so many options and such fragmented audiences, every one of us could say we watched or read the “news” last night and not have a goddamn clue what the other was talking about.

For instance, I listen to NPR every weekday, and until August I had never heard of Casey Anthony. (Thank you, NPR.) Until Friday, I was unaware that there was a woman named Amanda Knox, nor did I feel any animosity towards the country of Italy. Again, I felt informed – but it turned out I probably would have failed a current events test, and would have succeeded only marginally in NPR’s own “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”

This is a problem, and it’s the problem at the heart of the Occupy protests taking place all over the country. One thing that’s interesting about the protests (among a million others) is that the stats used to back up the Occupy protests aren’t new. Hell, I distinctly remember my political science teacher explaining that around (at that time) 40% of American wealth was owned by just 1% of the public. I was shocked, appalled and complacent all at once. I sat in my desk tossing around the figure in my head. Like the woman above, I felt mad as hell. Unlike her, I wasn’t sure what exactly to do about. As it turned out, I did nothing.

So I guess the question is, why are the Occupy protests happening now? Well, in my (amateur, but original – to me anyways) opinion, the reason is fragmentation. There are a hundred ways to slice this thing but, unfortunately, its been simplified in to two sides: Left and Right. Right and Left.

Why? Because we’re all watching, reading and listening to wildly different news stories, opinions and criticisms – all of which claim to be reporting facts. So, how can we tell whose right? Well, it’s the people we’re listening to, obviously, because we gravitate towards the opinions we want to hear.

This leaves us with some pretty sharp and hostile opinions about one another. Over the last few days, I’ve read some pretty condescending things about the Occupy protesters; that they don’t have jobs, that they’re rich kids complaining, that they’re costing taxpayers money, etc. Yes – these are probably all true to some (small) degree – just like you can find Tea Party members scooting around on Medicaid-sponsored wheelchairs at rallies, and so-called patriots that are pro-war but anti-paying for it.

Yup, we’re all hypocrites and, of course, we’re all entitled to our own opinion; fuck, isn’t that what makes America great? (Well, that and hamburgers. And football.) But what we’ve done – with the help of news organizations, social media and especially politicians – is effectively whittle every issue down to Left and Right, Black and White. (The latter of which is figurative, in this case.)

Yeah – you can knock the 99% movement, but at least bring something to the conversation. Don’t generalize every protester down to some rich white kid bitching about having to work; maybe that kid with the sign can’t afford his (fucking absurd) college loan payment because most jobs available these days for anyone without a business degree pay around $10 an hour. And while it’s true some of us live outside of our means, what about those families protesting after they were laid off from work, lost their job and then their house? Are they spoiled? Were they living outside their means? Not at the time – they’re victims of circumstance, just like every other person on this planet.

Amidst all the animosity, I think people on the outside (and, let’s admit it, some on the inside) are missing the point of the entire Occupy movement. The fact is – the American dream is dead a whole lot different from what it was a generation ago. We’ve been scared off from buying homes (values are still basically plummeting), we no longer have jobs job security, and the middle class is dwindling. This isn’t because people aren’t trying – it’s because the system is now designed in a way that keeps it from being open to everyone. This should make everyone mad;  finally it is. So, let’s address the problem by being loud as fuck – this is a pretty tried and true strategy, and there’s no reason to think it won’t make at least some – albeit small – difference.

Anyways, this brings me back to that moment in college where I sat in my desk, wondering how I would make a difference in shortening the American wealth disparity before ultimately getting distracted by the next hot girl that walked by topic. Admittedly, I haven’t even been to the Occupy San Diego protests, but I fully support the movement, and hopefully I’ll find time over the next couple of days (in between two jobs) to make a cameo.

Then again, maybe I’m on the other side – the complacent side of the 99% that chooses to press on in the giant, universal cog rather than stand up (and shout) for real change, hoping for that illusive imaginary  ‘big break’ that will catapult me into the upper class.

It’s like I said earlier – we’re all hypocrites.

Now, on to the stuff that really matters …

This is the part of my blog where I ask myself questions (because no one else will):

Dude – where were your football picks last week? And furthermore, where the hell have you been?

Last week saw the end of my 2.5-year suicide pick streak, broken (like millions others) by the Seattle upset over the fackin’ New York Giants. On the bright side, I went 9-4 and I’m off to one of the best starts I’ve had picking games in a while.

As to where I’ve been, well, if there’s one thing I learned in my creative writing classes, it’s that if you write a blog about a bunch of Indie movies no one has seen before, let that fucker sit and stew for a good 11 days before returning. Your readers will be on the EDGE OF THEIR SEATS when you decide – at your own accord – to blog again. Yup – that’s the one thing I learned from college.

But I do promise the 10 of you who read this to have the NFL picks up on Saturday.

Whoa, there’s way fewer typos in this post than previous ones … you didn’t get your computer fixed, did you?

I sure did. Much thanks go out to Tim (the roommate) for knowing how to build computers. Sorry I drank all your “Thank You” beers.

What happened to the Whitney Challenge?

Despite our efforts, Whitney was inexplicably extended for a full season by NBC! There’s no goddamn way I’m watching that show until May. I tapped out. So did Tim. It’s over. Deal with it. (Slams head against the wall repeatedly.)

Until Saturday…

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