Monday, October 3, 2011

Peace, love and misunderstanding

Hippies like a good protest. It's in their DNA. From the Vietnam War to the WTO to the current uprising on Wall Street, hippies have always been at the forefront of anti-establishment challenges.

Now, you may hate hippies. You think they're lazy. You think they smell. You hate Phish.

But that does not negate the importance of the battle being fought on the streets of downtown New York and across the nation.

The unchecked power of Wall Street and the out of control influence of corporate money in politics are the primary drivers of our current economic woes.

The question is, hippie-hater, why don't you care?

Unless you're nestled comfortably among the wealthiest 1% of Americans, you are almost certainly on the receiving end of Wall Street's promiscuity.

Sure, you may have a job. You may even be getting the occasional raise or promotion. But look around. You're healthcare costs are exploding. The roads you drive on are crumbling. Your rent is skyrocketing. Or your home value is plummeting.

Every time you take a step forward, Wall Street, fist firmly planted in your ass, pulls you back two paces.

It's even worse for the unemployed and under-employed. As more and more money gets funneled to the top, less is available to those closer to the bottom. These people are forced to draw more from safety-net programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance, putting a further strain on our government's finances.

As the government struggles to make ends meet, it receives more pressure from those at the top (who don't want their taxes to go up) to cut those vital safety net programs in addition to key investments like education and infrastructure.

Which ends up screwing all of us, except those wealthy enough to private-school their kids, pay cash for their college educations and drive on private roads or fly over them in private jets and helicopters.

Which brings us back to our dirty hippies. Yes, they may not fully understand what it is they're protesting. But they smell it (even amid all of that pot and patchouli). They smell the stench of a financial establishment that has run amok. They smell the foul odor of a government that has sold itself to the highest bidder. The smell the rancid stink of a political process that accomplishes nothing and leaves millions disenfranchised.

So they follow their nose (yes, occasionally getting distracted by the marijuana) to the place where it all went wrong. The place, that in an ideal world, should be where hope is born. A place where resources flow to those with the best ideas. A place that understands how much every decision it makes has a lasting impact on people throughout the world.

But, sadly, that place no longer exists (if it ever did). So the hippies gather. And you hate hippies. So, as you walk by the protests, you make fun of their long hair and funky clothes, never realizing that you're actually on the same side in this fight.

Fifty floors up, behind double-paned glass, a group of men and women are looking down at the crowd, laughing.

But they're not laughing at the hippies. They're laughing at you.

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