Debunking the Myths of Occupy Wall Street

This dream of a post is by my good friend Nicole Fende. Nicole Fende is President and Chief Numbers Whisperer of Small Business Finance Forum. As a credentialed actuary with experience as a former Chief Financial Officer, Investment Banker, and successful entrepreneur, Fende helps her clients reach their profit goals and learn how to effectively and enjoyably run the financial side of their business.

Occupy Wall Street

Picture taken by Mat McDermott

For the sake of full disclosure I would like you to know the following about me; I am a tree hugger, I am a capitalist, I recycle religiously, I own stocks, I don’t shop at certain big chains because of their labor practices, I worked as an investment banker, I helped found a fair trade association…

Get the picture?  I straddle both worlds involved here.  I’d like to believe that it makes me ideally suited to debunk the myths, and highlight the truths around #OccupyWallStreet.

Myth #1: There is one clear message

After I agreed to write this post for Margie I decided to start by identifying the message or goal behind #OccupyWallStreet.   Should’ve been easy right?

Every news story I could find (and as Margie put in her post on Sunday there aren’t many) had different reasons, answers, and quotes.  Look at the pictures of the event and you have the same problem with the signs people are carrying.

I was able to find a couple sites claiming they represented the self-proclaimed leaderless movement.

Myth #2: The Big Banks Created This Mess

The protestors have this partially correct.  Yes the big banks and financial institutions were part of the problem that led to the housing crash.  Yes they bundled things into derivatives and sold them as far safer investments than they truthfully were.

Now let’s talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  All the people who took out loans they couldn’t afford. Whether they thought they could refinance, they could flip the house, or just didn’t care, if everyone had kept paying on their mortgages we would not have had a massive default in home loans.

No one was forced to buy a home.  No one held a gun to their head and said, “You know you can’t afford it, but sign here now.” Each person who took out a loan they couldn’t pay back (or chose not to when the mortgage went underwater) needs to take personal responsibility for their actions.

For the record my home IS underwater and we are still paying on time every month.

Myth #3: 1% of the U.S. population controls 99% of the Wealth

Many of the people marching have signs that say, “I am part of the 99%”.  Or “99% of the wealth is controlled by 1% of the population – look it up”.  Good advice, so I did (and you can too right here http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/)

You know what I discovered?  Things are actually much better in the U.S. than 42 years ago!  Families making less than $25,000 per year dropped from 29.9% in 1967 to 24.9% in 2009.  That is a 16.7% drop.

The number of households that make more than $100,000 grew from 6.1% of the population to 20.1%!  That is a 229% increase.   Households bringing in more than $200,000 actually grew at a rate of 375%, going from 0.8% to 3.8%

Are there Uber Wealth people in this country like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey?  You bet, and none of them were born billionaires. They’ve worked hard to create their empires.

Please note that all income numbers were inflation adjusted so they are real comparisons of dollar to dollar buying power.

Myth #4: Wall Street is Satan

Really?  I seem to have misplaced my pitchfork.  Since I worked as an investment banker (albeit in Asia not the U.S.), I must be the devil incarnate.

I categorically dispute that just because someone works on Wall Street or as a corporate executive they had their soul amputated.  People are people.  Some are good, some are bad and you can find each flavor in every industry and function.

Myth #5: I Am Not Responsible

One message that comes through loud and clear from everyone protesting is that they have no culpability for the current mess.  Not true.

Wall Street is merely the bookkeeper and banker for big business.  Big business is big business because so many people buy their products and services.  If you agree with any of the following statements you too are in bed with big business:

  • I own an iPhone, iPod or other Apple product (Fortune 100)
  • I’ve flown on a Boeing airplane (Fortune 100)
  • I use Microsoft Office (Fortune 100)
  • I buy Kraft Foods products (Fortune 100)
  • I shop at a big box store or chain rather than a locally owned mom and pop (because it’s cheaper)
  • I own stocks, corporate bonds, mutual funds or have a 401K

If you are really against big business stop buying from them.

Myth #6: The Rich Don’t Pay Taxes

I’m sure the rich wish that was true, just like I’m sure those with signs telling me to “Look it up” wished I hadn’t.  You can play along with me here http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=133521,00.html

Households with income of $200,000 or more paid 51% of all federal taxes in 2007.  Households with income of over $10 million paid 9% of federal taxes.

Myth #7: The Protestors are Poor

Do you know what I call poor?  Living in a shanty town with no running water, an open sewer running right underneath the so-called walkway and food you hope hasn’t gone bad.  Have you ever been to a place like that?  I have, when I worked with fair trade groups in Asia.

Poor people don’t drink Starbucks, have laptops, use smart phones or wear designer clothes.  Want proof?  Just do a search online for #occupywallstreet images (or heck look at the picture above).

Myth #8: Wall Street Decides Where and When We Go To War

I’m really trying not to sound snarky here, but I think I’m going to fail.

People the U.S. Congress decides if, when and where we go to war.  The President is the Commander in Chief.  Wall Street is not mentioned in the Constitution.

Myth #9: The Solution is Simple

I actually wish this one was true.  I wish we could just do ________ and magically everything would get better.  However every action has repercussions and those must be considered before we decide on a solution.

Two Truths in #OccupyWallStreet

Truth #1: Too Big to Fail is BS

I was vehemently opposed to bailing any bank or financial institution out.  In a true capitalist economy those who make bad decisions can and should fail.

Truth #2: We Need to Make Changes

Having lived and traveled all over the world I can confidently state there is no place I would rather live than in the U.S..  That said there are still challenges and inequities in the U.S. that we can and should address.

Final Thoughts

I agree that there are many problems which need to be addressed in our country.  Instead of marching in a rudderless protest why not do something proactive?  Why not take your time and energy and work on just one of the issues you see in a coordinated, cohesive manner?

Nicole Fende is President and Chief Numbers Whisperer of Small Business Finance Forum. As a credentialed actuary with experience as a former Chief Financial Officer, Investment Banker, and successful entrepreneur, Fende helps her clients reach their profit goals and learn how to effectively and enjoyably run the financial side of their business.

142 comments
Harold Mcguire
Harold Mcguire

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Layofflist
Layofflist

This article is simply gibberish. There are soooo many things wrong with this article that it would take me days to debunk each and every one. How about this silly stat? "Families making less than $25,000 per year dropped from 29.9% in 1967 to 24.9% in 2009. That is a 16.7% drop." Clueless is an accurate way to describe this statement. According to the inflation calculator at CPI $25,000 in 1967 had the same buying power as $169,569.61 in 2011 dollars. This article isn't wroth reading any further when the points made are so inaccurate. This is simply another case of a well-off ignoring 50 million US citizens living in poverty, 50 million healthcare uninsured, 50 million on food stamps, 30 million un- and underemployed, etc. She probably hasn't talked to anyone with those issues in her lifetime fo shopping at Whole Foods.

GrowMap
GrowMap

Oh, Nicole,

I am very disappointed in this post which clearly reflects the fact that those born into comfort have absolutely no idea about the lives of those born into poverty.

Poor people who attend horrendous public schools are not taught anything about finance or banking or interest or debt and have no friends, relatives or co-workers who have taught them basic things like how to write a check and how compound interest works. Still you blame them for not realizing that the payments on the mortgage they just took out may DOUBLE or there is a balloon payment - oh and by the way with their credit they will NEVER qualify to refinance.

As Almost60Really points out, many FORMERLY comfortable ALMOST middle class (they thought they were - but they were really only a paycheck or two from homeless) still own brand name clothes and even the actually poor have cell phones (cheaper than land lines now and needed to call to get a ride or find a job) and computers (many cost under $50 used and you can often get one free) and buy designer clothes at the local good will.

This post proves you have no idea how the other more than half lives. I hope you read the comments, actually go out and MEET some ordinary Americans who weren't born into the comfort you were and find some empathy.

I know many people from all walks of life in almost every country in the world and there is one thing that consistently jumps out at me. People who are born into families who have connections just don't get it. When they say they have no money they mean LIQUID assets. <cont>

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

Nicole, you wrote:

Myth #7: The Protestors are Poor

Do you know what I call poor? Living in a shanty town with no running water, an open sewer running right underneath the so-called walkway and food you hope hasn’t gone bad. Have you ever been to a place like that? I have, when I worked with fair trade groups in Asia.

Poor people don’t drink Starbucks, have laptops, use smart phones or wear designer clothes. Want proof? Just do a search online for #occupywallstreet images (or heck look at the picture above).

----------

Friend, you do not know anything about this. Many, MANY of us are regular old middle class citizens with all the accoutrements that you mention. But now we're losing our houses, our jobs, our health insurance and our identity.

Dear friends who taught with me are homeless. They no longer have classrooms and they no longer have a plae to call home.

I will be homeless in a little less than two years, when my savings run out. I am afraid, I am scared, I am desperate, and I am helpless to change anything.

Having those fancy things you mention once everything else is gone is meaningless. For you to use this against the demonstrators is cheap and lazy research. Don't compare us to third world countries, for in fact, we (theoretically) live in the land of plenty.

Except for the small problem, of course, that lots of my students are homeless, who didn't used to be, and my brothers recently lost their business due to the shenanigans of Wall Street in 2008, and they were contributing members to both the economy and society since 1974. These are losers? Really??

Nicole, heaven help you when/if something goes wrong for you. All it takes in this day and age is a little glitch. A little happening. A little illness. A little injury.

If you, who has such a broad view of the economy are not aware of the current situation of far too many Americans, then I simply am speechless.

I know you mean well. But you simply don't get how things are right now. It's not about resenting one single Wall Street employee! I seriously doubt anyone has a grudge against you. But good heavens. Don't you see our world?

Protesters don't NEED to be among the sufferers. They are speaking for ALL Americans who are in a losing proposition.

I don't know why I keep coming back here. Yet I feel compelled. You've gelled my thoughts. Thank you for that. :)

nicholasmchugh
nicholasmchugh

There is nothing more morally repugnant than to trivialize people's suffering. You have a point that a lot of the early protestors weren't themselves from the most suffering sections of our population but that is the problem isn't it. Americans have been trading off the backs of third world countries (selling our souls) but that doesn't mean we have to relinquish the tools that these conditions have produced.

nicholasmchugh
nicholasmchugh

I'm sorry this whole article is based on a biased, arrogant and ultimately ignorant reading of current affairs in America. But then again, why wouldn't a former investment bank whitewash the effect of the housing crisis on the middle-class and poor. You can have your opinions but this is just a vanity piece that has zero serious research done on the movement you deride.

JudyHelfand
JudyHelfand

I am not sure how much conversation is going on here today. But I thought you would all like to see how the OWS group is restricted from using microphones and bullhorns. Pretty interesting. Watching a Rachel Maddow video: People's mic speaks with one voice - http://on.msnbc.com/peMTUu Hope you can see the video.

Judy

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

I must admit I'm a bit mystified by the "dream post" description. I understand where the writer is coming from, being from Wall Street, but I found her post oddly off-target. She's addressing "word" related targeting, rather that concepts and "battles." The reason the goals are splintered is because things are in such a disaster zone now that something huge has to happen. Something small won't <em>do</em> it.

I am 100% on the side of the #OccupyWallStreet folks, in addition to the #OccupySTL (St. Louis) people. I've been down there, interviewed them, and there is no doubt why people are there. It's not an individual on Wall Street, in the way your dream poster seemed to take it. It's about the fact that Wall Street and the banks sold an immense amount of bad mortgages (after promoting bad lending) (and bad borrowing to people who weren't that literate to begin with, so weren't equipped to dissect it and figure it out) (granted—their own fault; but the banks DID count on that idiocy).

Good grief, could I HAVE more parentheses? Prob'ly not! Actually, the post so appals me in its lack of even hearing the protesters that I must do something about it. Not sure what yet! But I'm pretty revved up. Tonight only edged me on further when I opened up @Zite on my iPad and found a plethora of posts (from pretty much acknowledged right wing sources) decrying the lack of purpose...and almost nothing explaining the situation. Looks like I'm going to have to crank up my keyboard!

Love ya, kid, and great stuff here. Too bad it got hijacked by the LiveFyre. Now I'm about to publish, so chances are I'll be joining the LF chat too! :D

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

The final paragraphs of the Declaration. I could not append it below. PS Margie, this Livefyre thing stinks IMO.

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@Layofflist Hi there. Again your statements are hedging towards personal attacks rather than treating the issue, and I cannot let that stand here.

Also, if you want to be this combative, it is best practice to do so with your real name. It is not fair to attack someone and hide behind an anonymous handle while doing so - not that I'm inviting you to go on the offensive any more.

NicoleFende
NicoleFende

@GrowMap Hi Gail thanks for stopping by to comment. While I'm sorry to hear you are disappointed in my post, I appreciate that your feedback has galvanized me to point out a couple major false assumptions people are making about me.

To say I was born into comfort is laughable - all my grandparents were poor immigrants. I attended a small state run university that unless you are a hockey fan you've never heard of (Northern Michigan University - Go Cats!). I paid my own way through school with scholarships and working 30 hours a week while carrying a full load of courses.

I do know people who have been wiped out by a medical crisis, others who lost their jobs and did get to the point where they weren't sure how to pay the bills, and even young adults struggling with finding work after finishing school. After the feedback on this article I asked each of them to read this and give me an honest assessment. All of them agreed with me, in particular regarding laying out a clear call to action.

Gail we have more in common than different, I don't think the banks should get a free pass. I was against too big to fail. I do believe we need changes to correct social injustice. However we need two things to do it in a way to make things truly better. 1. We need a factual assessment of the current situation (I've sited very credible sources for the facts I stated) 2. We need to hone in on specifics and a specific plan. If everyone is trying to make a different change nothing will happen.

We've had offline discussions about Fair Trade, and my strong belief in it and why it is so critical. I know you are an incredibly smart and savvy businesswoman. Please share your specific thoughts on what should be the first order of business. I genuinely want to see the energy from this movement applied to make strong positive change.

GrowMap
GrowMap

When regular people say they have no money they mean they literally have NO money: nothing in checking or savings - no investments - not a penny in their pockets. And before you blame them and say they SHOULD have savings and investments put a pencil to paper and figure out how someone who makes minimum wage or earns less now from working two or three jobs than they did when they had a career and a REAL pension (before CASH PENSIONS which - by the way - were ILLEGAL when over 200 corporations used them to steal retirements from their employees) can possibly keep a roof over their head, pay MANDATORY liability insurance (that benefits the INSURANCE COMPANY not them because it doesn't even COVER their car) and eat and have ANYTHING left over to save.

Here's a little experiment for you. Go somewhere where you know no one and have NOTHING and see how well YOU get on at figuring out where you can live and finding a job and saving money when you don't have ANY RESOURCES to fall back on and NO CONNECTIONS who can help you out.

Before you respond that even poor people have friends, family, peers and co-workers remember that YES they do - but they're all poor, too. They can't help each other when they can barely feed themselves.

Those in the upper classes do not realize how their connections have created their success. I know one guy who is so clueless about the business he is in that he is on his FOURTH Thoroughbred Farm. The first three went bankrupt, but no problem because he has wealthy friends willing to invest in yet another one and buy horses from him. Meanwhile, the most brilliant breeders can barely give horses away because they don't move in the circles where people have that level of disposable income.

When everyone you know has money it is far easier to succeed in business than when no one you know has money.

nicholasmchugh
nicholasmchugh

@Almost60Really Over the last three years I have heard countless tragedies retold, two weeks ago at a grocery an 82 year old woman tried to trade my mother money on a food card so she could buy medication for her husband, my 67 year old aunt's money all goes to medication, my parents 401k was wiped out in 2008, came back a little but has been wiped out again, most of the jobs I used for to get for American telecommunication companies are in another country and for a kicker my oldest brother blew his head off less than six months after losing his home in 2008 and he was one of the stupid ones, the ones that took out a loan they shouldn't have, please tell me again about abstract statistics.

NicoleFende
NicoleFende

@Almost60Really@zite Thanks for your comment. Although appalled wasn't quite what I was going for, I'm glad you are inspired to take action. As I've said to other commentators we are not as far apart as everyone first assumes. There are injustices that do need to be addressed. However to do that you need to understand the whole issue and then prioritize.

The best analogy I can think of is someone who is seriously injured in a car accident is wheeled into the ER. The ER DR must understand all of the injuries, not just symptoms and then prioritize what to fix first. If you fix a broken leg but ignore the huge cut bleeding out you might have a corpse with a mended leg.

I look forward to reading your post, and strongly encourage you and everyone else to put forth solutions. Without solutions we are just spinning our wheels.

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@MillerFinch Problem with the declaration is that it's only for one Occupy, there are plans for more in about ten more cities and at least five other countries.

NicoleFende
NicoleFende

@MillerFinch Thanks for posting this. I struggled when doing the post because as I indicate above different sites are making claims to the stance, and the participants also seem to have different agendas.

I do think this list is fairly all encompassing of everything I came across, so again thanks for sharing it. Really you could write an entire book discussing all the items on it. There are some that everyone on this discussion appear to agree on, it would be great if we could channel all this energy to start tackling even just one.

JudyHelfand
JudyHelfand

@MillerFinch Technical note: I have found that if you try to use Livefyre in IE8 it will throw an error message that says something like: Message exceeds allowed characters! For that reason, I go to FF if I need to leave a long comment. By the way, your information was very helpful. Thank you. Judy

Layofflist
Layofflist

My apologies for what appears like a somewhat insensitive response, but I see so many inaccurate descriptions and comments about how good things really are, when in reality, the situation is dire for millions. I thought my profile included my twitter account @layofflist. (Mike Thornton)

As far as personal attacks, I don't feel as if I made any toward you, except for calling you well-off and a Whole Foods shopper. That may be snarky or sarcastic, but it's not an attack. I stated the facts assertively. I don't know how you can expect to write something so one-sided and then wonder why someone fires back.

Here's a fact you may want to consider. There are 2.5 million US households with income greater than $250,000. There are nearly 30 million un- and underemployed. Which group gets the most attention? Those making more than $250,000.

Here's another fact: US is 52 out of 125 countries in income equality. US is nestled between Senegal and Turkmenistan. Here's another "The United States is the country with the highest inequality level and poverty rate across the OECD, Mexico and Turkey excepted. Since 2000, income inequality has increased rapidly, continuing a long-term trend that goes back to the 1970." http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/47/2/41528678.pdf

Additionally, in America 1 in 7 live in poverty, 1 in 5 children live in poverty (you can have a refrigerator and be poor), 1 in 5 don't have health insurance, 1 in 5 workers are unemployed/underemployed, 1 in 7 are mortgage delinquent, 2/3 live paycheck to paycheck, 46 million are using food stamps.

I think that's enough for OWS to be motivated. I'd be glad to offer you some additional information regarding your above statements. I was glad to see you opposed the bankster bailout.

GrowMap
GrowMap

While you and I were both able to work our way through college - I also worked almost full time, carried a full load of classes - and since I was a music major many of my classes required practicing and were only 1 unit - and when I wasn't in class or at my job I worked in the factory my husband and his partner started.

But we have so many advantages over the majority of Americans. We had scholarships so we (or at least I) did not leave college in debt. My Father's grandparents came through Ellis Island and settled in a German community. They had a strong work and study ethic that got passed down through his parents to him to me.

Both of my parents could read, write and do math so before I started school I already knew how to read. My Father took us to the library so I had the HUGE advantage of loving to read which I credit as the most important factor in my being able to succeed in life (not that my kind of success is for everyone).

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@GrowMap Hi Gail,

Many things you state here are personally aggressive rather than treating the issues or the main thrust of Occupy Wall Street. These are the kinds of comments that I do not like to see as they are gratuitous and unnecessary. We can debate without hurling insinuations, accusations, and other ations, non?

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

@NicoleFende Our country is the car wreck. It's odd to me that you are unaware of it.

Best wishes. And no hard feelings whatsoever. Glad we had the chance to interact. :)

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

@NicWirtz@MillerFinch St. Louis is working as we type ;) on our declaration. Eventually, though, I foresee lots of causes uniting and coming together to make a bigger statement and impression. That's how I view the very positive mix of people involved from all walks of life and economic levels.

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@NicWirtz I know! There's one happening in Atlanta this weekend (where I am) and plenty of others across the US and the world. There is a real sense of solidarity to this movement, as democratic, sprawling and messy as it is. The Declaration though is from the origins of the movement in NYC and can be a framework or a sign-on to it by other groups. It does at least give a foundation from which to start if other cities/countries have other ideas. More power to them. And a big THANK YOU to you Nic for all your postings! Bravo! I was cheering you as I was reading them! Thank you!!

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

@NicoleFende@MillerFinch Trust me. (Tho why should you?) ;)

All kinds of people are channeling the energy. Don't doubt it. I'm not sure why you do. Do you find all the people involved to be nobodies? They're not. And many of the 'nobodies' per se are—going to be somebodies very soon. Don't assume so much. That's dangerous. :)

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@NicoleFende So many of the problems though emanate from one source, so taking one issue and tackling that is taking a butter knife to problems that need a major battle plan. And it's always about Follow the Money.

Now we have the SCOTUS Citizen decision which has opened the floodgates of more money from corporations lobbying and donating to politicians and getting whatever they want. Politicians rely on corporate money for these out of control ongoing campaigns they wage the minute they win one election.

And corporations are sitting on piles of cash - trillions of dollars - to buy whomever they want. Why do they decry regulation and the politicians say yes, sir? The politicians have been bought, and one side more than the other I might add. This adds to the growing sense - and reality - of a corporate state where actual human beings are expendable and paid subpar wages. Henry Ford had it right - and he was a capitalist so I have nothing against capitalism per se - when he paid his workers enough money in order to buy the product they made. What does $10 an hour buy? Poverty.

We the people (actual humans) do not have the corporate kind of financial firepower to leverage, but we do have spirit and energy and a willingness to fight back in the only means available, in the streets. No, we aren't living in Calcutta - yet - but must it get to that point before our voices are heard? No. We are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore - about everything, because everything now is tainted by corporate money from labor to food to health care - all the essentials to our lives. All of it needs fixing or the average American WILL be living in Calcutta, right in our own neighborhoods.

As an example, in the metro Atlanta county I live in, the Chamber of Commerce guy gave a presentation where studies were done showing that families in our county who made $25k per year or less increased, as did the families earning over $100k. The middle - the $30 -$90 lost ground. This story is repeated across the US. And that's why people are pissed off.

GrowMap
GrowMap

@JudyHelfand@MillerFinch There are MANY reasons that Livefyre is a bad idea:

1) It has character limits so you have to create multiple comments if you have anything expansive to say.

2) You have to log in to use it - and that doesn't always work - which is the major reasons most serious bloggers hate it and other third party commenting systems.

3) If I understand correctly, the comments on YOUR blog aren't IN your blog. That means you could lose them - and even more concerning - if they choose to censor the comments few would notice.

4) Unlike this post which is critical of Occupy Wall Street, the best post that is positive about it has had a broken Livefyre link that they have been aware of (because I notified them) for over FOUR HOURS. That means anyone sharing their comment or that post using the Livefyre sharing function is tweeting and sharing a link no one can see. That is just too coincidental for me to accept as "a glitch".

I wrote about that and the dangers of censorship in my post about Blogging Ethics at http://www.growmap.com/blogging-ethics/

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@JudyHelfand I'm in Chrome and it said I exceeded characters. The other part of Livefyre I don't like is the Facebook access even when not using Livefyre. I'll try FF though and see if that helps. Thanks for the tip Judy, and I'm glad that you liked the Declaration info. The Henry Blodgett commentary on it (in another post below) just repeats the reason why this Declaration was written in the first place! He's a Wall Streeter, so take anything he says in that light, plus the fact that he is banned from the securites industry for fraud in 2003.

Layofflist
Layofflist

@NicoleFende@margieclayman Thank you for your measured reply, Nicole. When it comes to US data, I wouldn't be so confident. You can read my report on unemployment numbers at AlterNet.org http://bit.ly/p9Sflr. I would be glad to discuss the numbers I posted with you, since they are often ignored by main stream media and politicos.

One goal of OWS is to take big money out of elections and to receive justice for the financial crimes of the banking cartel. During the S&L crisis of the 1990s hundreds of banksters went to jail, but not one corrupt banker has been sent to jail for a more massive fraud perpetrated during this most recent financial crisis.

Both parties are to blame for the current financial mess, since they have both been purchased by the banks. As Sen. Durbin put so frankly, "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place." I think we can all agree on that statement.

NicoleFende
NicoleFende

@Layofflist@margieclayman Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. Please note that I have never blamed the poor for being poor or SS recipients for being mooches. In fact I have been an active proponent of fair trade (whose very tenants are paying people livable wages and stamping out child labor) for a decade.

Also I don't shop at Whole Foods - not even sure how that one came into the conversation. LOL.

I actually have a degree in Math and am a credentialed actuary, which means that I know all the ways to dice and slice numbers, including those to get a slant desired. The OECD link you provide is mixing apples and oranges, alternating between household income and an individual's income which are very different. While I can't speak for other countries, I have examined the US Data carefully (link to original data provided above) and it does not support all the claims they are making. If you would like to really dig into all the statistics a live dialogue is really the best way, since they can be tricky in the best of times.

Ironically enough the link you provide actually supports my stance in Myth #3.

While I would love to have the original data for your other statistics I will say that not a single child should be living in poverty. I am a mother, and I cannot imagine my child going hungry. That is why (again - read all my responses below) I am asking what is one specific goal of #occupywallstreet that perhaps we can all get behind and what are some specific next steps?

Layofflist
Layofflist

@margieclayman My reply was to whoever wrote the piece. Your reply made me think you were in support of the article. The tone of Fende's piece was what prompted me to reply. The piece is slanted and contains errors and omissions that deserve rebuttal. I will take a look at your piece for your thoughts on the OWS matter. My tone may not be appealing to some, but the facts that I offer refute most of Fende's ill-conceived, shallow opinions. I heard so many people blame the unemployed for being unemployed, the poor for being poor and Social Security recipients for being mooches that it gets tiring. It's easy to defend the wealthy, as Fende does so well, but defending the poor and less fortunate takes effort.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@Layofflist There are a few things you are missing in your haste, Mike.

First, I did not write this post. It's a guest post.

Second, in missing that fact, you have also missed that you do not really know anything about Nicole (the author) or me. There is a lot of weight in saying that someone is well off when in fact that may be far from the truth (and well-off is one of the most relative terms anyway. A person with no roof of their head longs for one with just a few holes).

Third, I have written a post with my own thoughts about Occupy Wall Street which you would probably find more in line with your own.

I think you have a lot of great information to offer and a lot of passion, but your tonality makes me not want to read what you have to say, and I think that's a shame for both of us.

GrowMap
GrowMap

We are both white and highly literate. Those two things alone give us a huge advantage that an enormous percentage of Americans simply don't have. Imagine if our parents couldn't read? While the public schools I attended were mediocre, they are a far cry better than inner city schools.

While not every teacher cared, they were better educated than many of the teachers today who are a product of the ever-declining mediocrity of American educational system. My fifth to sixth grade teacher was exceptional and I wonder how many inner city kids ever benefit from a teacher like Jaime Escalante, the "East Los Angeles high school teacher who taught the nation that inner-city students could master subjects as demanding as calculus and about whom the inspiring 1988 film "Stand and Deliver" was made.

Every time I hear someone criticize people for not understanding finance I ask them how THEY learned to write a check, balance a checkbook, or the dangers of debt. The schools don't teach that. In every case their family made sure they knew. Many people have no one to warn them - they have to learn the hard way. I agree that people need to clearly understand the current situation - most - even those who aren't being affected yet - do not. We can not have a specific plan that will work unless we accurately assess the cause - and most think they know but they're incorrect.

As Mark Twain wrote, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

I published a post that contains many resources for better understanding yesterday. I hope you'll come by and read and comment at http://www.growmap.com/small-business-economy-occupy-wall-street/

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@MillerFinch Iceland got back up by not agreeing to pay back the money it owed, similar story to what Argentina did. <p>On the other hand you have Greece kowtowing to what the World Bank/IMF demands of them and years of austerity measures which have done little to help the situation and the defaults on Greek loans are rumoured to be in the 55-60% range now. <p>Conclusion - Ignore whatever the IMF says, default and start again.

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@NicWirtz Yes, Main Stream media mostly played up the lack of mission statement and focused on the chaos of it, IF they wrote anything at all. The NY papers (tabloids) poo-poo'd the protesters and the NYTimes really didn't do much. So Rupert and the others sat on their hands on this one, again, like politicians, corporate money rules and the product they issue.

Joe & Jane Average just think the protesters are kids and hippies, not realizing that these people are standing up for THEM. Too many people are in denial as to the true state of their affairs and buy into that their fortunes will turn and they, too, will be millionaires someday. NOT. Those days are pretty much over, at least at the state of current affairs. They will harp on those who get food stamps and the like, not realizing that one day they too may need that - yes - government assistance. If there is any government assistance left after the rightwing budget cutters beholden to corporate money and their tax loopholes gut the systems. BAH!

Yes, I hope this takes hold worldwide because the whole world is a mess. We are all interconnected. Europe is on the edge, China is ready to go next, and Iceland already melted down. God save us.

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@MillerFinch I think what happened is twofold, this has shown how much the average person relies on mainstream media for their news. Mainstream media is owned by large companies, who may or may not pay all the taxes they should. <p>Hence it's in their interests not to publicise the Occupiers. <p>Secondly, the majority of people that are aware of Occupy Wall Street have misjudged or underestimated those organising it. It would appear to be a democratic movement but more importantly, with Anonymous, with LulzSec, with everything that has gone on that has led to Antisec, they have gained experience in how to mass-organise.This is a global movement, it's one that has the resources of a cross-section of society and it's pretty damn annoyed!

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@Almost60Really@NicoleFende True about the school board posts - we had the mayors of two adjoining towns front a guy who was on board with their tax district shenanigans. Thank God the opponent won, a woman who attended board meeting consistently for years and knew the true issues!

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

@MillerFinch@NicoleFende They have so much money that they can even go local in every tiny niche of the country: school board posts are being bought and sold. Hard to believe, and sickening. But true. I truly know.

Almost60Really
Almost60Really

@MillerFinch@NicoleFende@NicWirtz Miller, I'm in with Dylan Ratigan's movement as well. http://www.getmoneyout.com/ Have been from its first day. Nicole, although I said that I needed to start writing (in addition to the post I wrote days ago on OWS) I wasn't saying that I haven't been active. The Pseudo-Husband would in fact say that I'm far TOO involved with all this! ;) I can't leave it alone. My family lost its 3-generation-owned business this summer. Don't assume that none of the people involved are otherwise active and not taking things seriously just because this movement (OWS) is a bit unfocused at this point. That will change and come clear. It does so more each day.

The biggest takeaway for Wall Street, multi-billionaires like the Koch Brothers, who buy our Congress, the White House, school boards and just about everthing else, and Washington, D.C. is this: the people are very near to rebellion about the fact that NOBODY is making moves to rectify the problems.

You're simply assuming too much, Nicole, although I know you are well-meaning. :) Coming from a generation that stopped a bloody and pointless war, I know some stuff, honestly. And OWS is a very, very good thing.

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@MillerFinch Funny thing that his rant missed out but was on the verge of doing so, asides congress/senate being bought is that the US is pretty powerless to do anything against its creditors. No one can afford to go to war with China, it's bankrupt the place and lose so much trade. <p>

I guess it harks back to @NicoleFende 's point about who started the wars? Who cares if you can't afford them! <p>Another privatised profit/socialised risk scenario.

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@NicWirtz@NicoleFende Bankers keep on doing what they've always done, with no punishment to their actions. We bailed them out and they keep screwing us. Private profit and socialized salvation.

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@MillerFinch@NicoleFende Yep, there's a huge amount of money, some of it printed quite recently, sloshing around the system. <p>Be interesting to see what happens with it or if inflation eats it up. <p>I saw one sign that said the 1% that want to share the $700 billion/trillion/gazillion tax breaks and will make the economy all better are living in Cuckoo Land. <p>Think it was tied in with the fact no bankers were arrested for the first crash and all the arrests over the weekend.

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@MillerFinch@margieclayman I moan tweeted Livefyre this afternoon, they're "working on making the character limit more obvious". <p>Given each comment box has a large space to the left of the "Post to Twitter/Facebook" I'd recommend starting there.

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@NicWirtz@margieclayman Yes, it would be nice if the limit was posted ahead of time. I still don't like the FB access at all times though that signing into it with FB allows. Perhaps an email sign in would be better?

NicWirtz
NicWirtz

@margieclayman@MillerFinch Livefyre used to be so much better, the lack of character limit awareness is criminal and makes it virtually useless. As for the formatting, again, that used to be good too.

MillerFinch
MillerFinch

@margieclayman It was worth the headache of posting the whole thing! But I guess I didn't realize that comments are limited in size, so OK, no biggie, lesson learned. I must say thank you to you too for your best wishes to me in my recovery from September's hell, and for lighting my fire to get charged up and back in action again! This has been wonderful and I applaud you and Nicole Fende for posting this and having a great commentary going. Good stuff!

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@MillerFinch Hi Miller - I'm sorry you don't like LiveFyre - I'm just testing it out and we'll see how it works. I would say that your comment probably would not have worked in the other commenting system either - although I understand why you wanted to include the whole thing, a link still probably would have worked and would have saved you the headache. Thank you for hanging in there and leaving so much information for the conversation!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Nicole Fende, who we know from the Small Business Finance Forum, published this post Debunking the Myths of Occupy Wall Street on fellow Social Media Marketer Marjorie Clayman’s blog I knew I had to help them [...]

  2. [...] Nicole Fende, who we know from the Small Business Finance Forum, published this post Debunking the Myths of Occupy Wall Street on fellow Social Media Marketer Marjorie Clayman’s blog I knew I had to help them [...]