I have been tweaking the folks at Occupy Wall Street over the last couple of weeks and have received many passionate comments. Some accuse me of taking isolated examples and holding them up as representative of the whole. It looks like I’m not the only one. Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine featured a pair of OWS protesters in its “What Were They Thinking?” section. From the looks of it, they weren’t thinking anything coherent.
Here are some quotes [in italics] from the piece with my comments [in bold].
Core [a young woman]: But when I get out of broadcasting college, what job am I really going to get? I may have to go to Kansas just to get a normal job with low pay, and that frustrates me. I want to stay in New York. I was born and raised here. Please tell me who gets a broadcasting job in New York right after college? You need to go somewhere, maybe even [shudder!] Kansas, to get some experience before you appear on Channel 7 Eyewitness News.
Core: I took a photo of a guy crying while playing the drums. That touched me. Brandon lost his virginity today — not to me. I don't know who the girl is. But I want to have a party for him. What about her? At least Brandon accomplished something.
Brandon [a young man]: I drank six Four Lokos with Core, a beer or two. And then we ordered an iced mocha and two chicken fingers and large fries. I lost my virginity today. I was amped for it. I’m not sure how this is going to bring about sweeping social change.
Don’t blame me. Blame the New York Times.
In the interest of fairness, I’ll turn to the Wall Street Journal. In a story from October 22, 2011 the Siegel family of Florida was profiled. Mr. Siegel made and lost a lot of money in the timeshare business. When he had the money, he started building what was to be, at 90,000 square feet, the largest single-family dwelling in the United States. But the house is unfinished and on the market for $75M. The family has fallen on some hard times. They even have to send their eight children to PUBLIC SCHOOL!
Here are some quotes from the article.
Mrs. Siegel: "This is the grand hall," she says, opening her arms to a space the size of a concert hall and surrounded by balconies. "It will fit 500 people comfortably, probably more. The problem with our place now is that when we have parties with, like, 400 people, it gets too crowded." Now this is a real problem.
Mr. Siegel: "I was cocky and I didn't care what the house would cost because I couldn't spend all the money I was making," There are other options. You could have helped some other people with all the money you couldn’t spend. For example, there are entities known as charities.
The family had to give up their private jet. Recently, the family boarded a commercial flight for a vacation, making for some confusion. One of the kids looked around the crowded cabin and asked, "Mom, what are all these strangers doing on our plane?" How’s that for a reality check?
To overstate the obvious, this is the kind of thing that provokes people to protest corporate and personal greed.
So we have two examples of the media taking isolated cases and exploiting them. Are all the OWS protesters as shallow and vapid as the two in the New York Times story? I don’t think so. Are all wealthy people as shallow and vapid as the Siegels? I don’t think so.