Taking Up Space

I’ve been trying to figure out what the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors are trying to accomplish.  I’m not sure they know.  My search of the website www.occupywallstreet.org didn’t yield much in the way of specifics, although the excessive use of the word “solidarity” coupled with the raised fist graphic on the masthead gives me a pretty good idea.  They rail against the usual suspects: corporate greed, climate change, genetically modified food, corporate greed, social inequality, police trying to keep the Brooklyn Bridge open for traffic, corporate greed, poverty, etc.
A good protest is never without a healthy dose of irony, and this one doesn’t fail to deliver.  A few examples: According to Forbes,
A core group of about two hundred people remain camped throughout the week. They sleep on air mattresses, use Mac laptops and play drums. They go to the bathroom at the local McDonald‘s.
The air mattresses they sleep on were almost certainly made in China, yet they protest global trade.
They use McDonald’s bathrooms.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, and assume they are not actually purchasing food at McDonald’s, thus contributing to all things evil.  As long as they just leech off of the hard work of others, then their actions are consistent with their professed beliefs.
Which brings us to the Apple phenomenon.  Those who rail against “corporate greed” overwhelmingly favor products manufactured by Apple.  Steve Svengali Jobs has managed to occupy their bleeding hearts and blind them to the fact that Apple’s corporate profit margins are more than double those of Exxon Mobil.  But MacBooks, iPods, iPads, iPhones, and all the other iStuff are cool, so it’s okay.
Besides, how is a college student supposed to know about Apple’s profit margins?  One need not understand business in order to criticize it, right?  Apparently, a Master’s Degree from Columbia University doesn’t teach you the difference between a profit and a profit margin.  Or maybe it just doesn’t teach you common sense and critical thinking.  From the Forbes article:
Erin Larkins, a Columbia University graduate student at who says she and her boyfriend have significant student loan debt, was among the thousands of protesters on the bridge. She said a friend persuaded her to join the march and she’s glad she did. 

“I don’t think we’re asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again,” Larkins wrote in an email to The Associated Press. 

Oh please. If you choose to borrow money in order to spend six years at university that costs $40,000 per year, you should not ask me to pay for your next meal.


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