I thought I’d write about our own experiences taking part in the Occupy LA protests. I’m in my early 40’s, at a well-paying job as a web developer for a large hospital in Los Angeles. My wife and I have no children. We’re very fortunate – we actually have a steady income and good health insurance. Yet, we live in a house that we share with another college-educated friend of ours because we couldn’t afford our own place. The house is deep underwater, and we’re drowning in debt (and shame on us for not reading the fine print when some of the credit card issuers arbitrarily raised our interest rates to 30% on cards that had never had a late payment EVER). We’re barely making it check-to-check, but somehow we are still making all of our payments.
It would be so much easier to walk away from it all, but we have a sense of responsibility to these debts that we voluntarily took on.
What we’re demanding — what people in the Occupy movement are demanding — is the same responsibility from these large institutions, and the so-called 1%. It’s really that simple.
When the financial industry came to the brink of collapse because of the reckless behavior of these “too big to fail” corporations, we saw an amazing ability for our government to come together to bail them out. In return, they’ve repaid the favor by working night and day to lift the already watered-down provisions of the Dodd-Frank reforms so they can continue with their same insanity, and to basically act like spoiled, entitled brats towards those of us who saved their butts in the first place.
Contrast this with any legislation in Congress that might actually help out rank and file Americans, and suddenly everything becomes gridlocked and impossible to achieve. From out here, it appears that when you have a lobby on your side, government works, and if you don’t, well tough luck.
We march for three simple things: tighter regulation of the financial industry (a return to Glass-Steagall would be a big step), a demand for shared sacrifice amongst *100%* of this country, and to wake up those in Congress who have been listening only to the lobbyists and the media chattering classes, and losing sight of the fact that this country is a DEMOCRACY, of the people, by the people, and for the people.
These are not radical notions, and they’re not even strictly left-wing (personal responsibility seems like a classic conservative belief to me). This is the no-longer silent majority in this country, across the spectrum, who have finally had enough.