Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Act in your own interest

Much noise has been made about a viral internet video featuring Wall Street professionals mocking protesters participating in the “Occupy Wall Street” campaign.

The video shows a hand full of well-dressed business types drinking champagne and taking photos of the protesters. Many have referred to it as “a slap in the face” of those on the streets picketing what they say are unfair market conditions that keep the rich rich, keep the poor poor and wipe out the middle class.

The war between the haves and the have-nots has gone on since the dawn of time and won’t end any time soon, but the current economic situation in the country, coupled with mass media alerting everyone to said economic situation makes it all the more heartbreaking.

While I think the Wall Street types’ actions are deplorable, I’m not in the “lynch them” crowd. From their perspective, their way of life is being attacked. In fact, from their point of view, they themselves are being attacked.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have much sympathy for them. I may even envy them, just like I imagine the protesters envy them, as well.

Most of us grew up learning that if we worked hard, we, too could have the American dream. And most of us believe that today. Some of us may have achieved that dream — with a house, two cars, a cat, a dog, picket fence, etc.

There are some people, though, who work hard every day and have less and less to show for it. In fact, right now, more Americans are slipping into poverty on a daily basis. They wish they could be drinking champagne and mocking the downtrodden. If only they could figure out a way to no longer be downtrodden.

It doesn’t help that right-wing talk radio and conservative news outlets have convinced us that the downtrodden are the problem. The people starving and homeless are what’s wrong with America, they’d have you believe. It’s almost social Darwinism. And it’s downright scary.

I’m certainly not saying storm the castle and take what you feel you deserve. That’s not what our republic is about. The revolution should be at the ballot box. But there will be no revolution if the people vote against their best interest.

Voting for someone who idolizes the rich because you idolize the rich is a path to your own destruction. Self loathing on account of your aspirations to be able to loathe the downtrodden from above is a huge mistake, to say the least.

So when it comes time to vote, vote for you or at the very least someone like you.

To paraphrase Niccolo Machiavelli, “deal with the situation at hand — not the situation you wish were at hand.” And the situation is that we’re empowering the destruction of the middle class.

Act in your own best interest. If you don’t, no one else will.