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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My thoughts on the "99%" and "Occupy Wall Street"

I wasn't going to blog about this topic because to be honest...these people make me sick and I don't want to give them any space on a blog I've worked hard on, to develop a small following. But I have had enough of them and I have been in enough arguments with Internet friends about this "movement".
"Occupy Wall Street" is a farce. It's a joke and the perpetrators are frauds. You look at them attacking corporate greed and corporate excesses and they do so with their iPhone and iPad and wearing clothes made by the biggest corporations in the world.
Of course I could pick apart their hypocrisy for an hour but I'm not going to. The real reason I am compelled to write is the reasoning behind it all...and the lack of initiative these losers demonstrate.
First of all...Nobody earning $50,000 ever hired me for a job. They don't employ people. These protesters need to grasp basic economics. The rich are rich because they are good at making money. Typically they don't do that alone so they have employees. Most of the time they create whole industries that employ even more people. For that...for the burden and the impressive achievement of employing hundreds or thousand or tens of thousands of hard working people...these greedy selfish pigs are paid handsomely. They pay huge taxes on those huge paychecks. Those taxes employ the government employees who bitch and whine about everything, while having the best pay scale and benefits plan known to man outside of Congress.
You want to know why those people are worth all that money? Because if they don't do the job right, it's not just their own job they's all those "99% ers" out there who work for the companies that these brilliant minds manage. If they screw up, the result is exponentially bad. want to have the best and brightest running the company that pays YOUR paycheck? Or do you want some liberal minded moron who thinks he should run a Fortune 500 and be paid $250,000 for his efforts?
You let the rich do whatever it is that got them rich, (assuming it's not running moonshine during prohibition) and they will need to hire you and then you can put away your signs, take a shower, cut that dreadful thing on your head and go to work. But the truth is you don't really want that. You'd rather see yourself on the news crapping on the flag.
This is still the land of opportunity. If you want to improve can. I know...because I have.
4 and a half years ago I was a successful mortgage banker working for the largest privately held mortgage company in the U.S.  I was a multiple award winner and an achiever. I had a home and a life. I have a (now) 13 year old daughter that stayed with me every other weekend and who was, and is, the focal point of my life.
By May of 2008 I was homeless. The company contracted from 900 offices to 125. The entire industry collapsed. I had no money and no place to live after I lost my home. I refused to leave my daughter and move away to somewhere where there might be work. So I slept in my car at night, showered at the county rec center and picked up odd jobs. I am not from Nashville so few, if any, people reached out to me. I was isolated and alone and broken. I found one job, only to have that company go out of business as the economy worsened. I lived on unemployment for 6 months until that ran out, and I ate Ramen noodles that I snuck into local restaurants in my computer backpack and mixed with hot water that I told them was for a refill for the hot tea I had never actually bought. I shivered in the dark when winter got here. In 2009 I discovered I was eligible for financial aid and I decided to finish the degree I had started 26 years prior. I enrolled at Liberty University Online (I had attended LU as a resident student before) I lived off the extra funds I didn't need for school. I slept in a friends basement when winter 2009 arrived. I studied by the interior light in my 1995 Volvo and I uploaded my homework using the free wifi at Panera Bread Company. I worked odd jobs when my unemployment ran out. I discovered I am a very good writer and I self-published four books. I did anything I could do to survive, overcome and eventually rebuild. I missed my daughter horribly, seeing her only an hour here and there during the week. I have not had a place to live where she could come stay with me for 3 years now. I miss her more than I have words to express. But in all that time she never wondered if I would still be there if she needed me. I never missed a violin recital or a school play or a talent show. She knows what I have been through and she knows I did this...I endured this humiliation...for her.
I learned who my friends are...and sadly I learned who they are not. I learned who has real compassion and who only speaks of it. I learned that some people will not accept your suffering unless you suffer exactly as they think they would if they were in your shoes. ( I also learned that these people never really considered what my shoes might have felt like.)

I just filled out my Spring 2012 class schedule...the last one I will have to do. Because I will graduate in May. Against great odds and screaming resistance and isolating loneliness, I have finished this task. I could have gotten much better grades...I know I am capable of better. I could have finished sooner by a semester or two. But considering how I had to do this I am satisfied. Some efforts are more than the grade on the paper.
It was hell. It was hard work (it's not over yet, but it's all but final now) and it was mentally tough and it was demeaning to live this way. I wore out that Volvo after 250,000 miles.
I'm not making enough money to get my own place yet, but I am keeping gas in my truck and some food money and I can do something with Morgan on weekends. I am resisted by her mother on every turn because she somehow thinks this was all a result of some failure of I singlehandedly sank the economy. I have had friends abandon me because sometimes on my darkest days I vented and spit bile when they think I should have "had more faith". They said this, of course from the comfort of their homes, or in the comfort of their office, or while their kids played nearby, and after consulting with their loving spouse. Had they lost everything, as I have, they would have probably sang a slightly different song.
But I made it. I have begun looking at myself in the mirror, and seeing a real man looking back. I have soldiered on and remained there for my daughter when I was never afforded that blessing myself.
I will tell you it was the grace of God. I am a strong, stubborn man, but I would have broken long ago. God came through a million times in the wolf hour, when I was questioning the value of my life and not believing there was ever going to be anything good coming from this. There were times I thought I would die like this state. Always God came through with some small wink or kind word from a true friend. And if that wasn't available...he merely flashed my daughters face on the monitor of my memory and that's all it took. I would die for her...and sometimes that required that I live...for her.
Some "corporate fat cat's" taxes paid on his greedy, overblown income was a portion of the financial aid I get that has enabled me to finish my dream. And it's not just the's the hope. It's the knowledge that I am really going to see something good happen after 4 years of sorrow. it's feeling like a man again. Liberty University Online has not just been a means of completing my's been life support.
Those "occupiers" who whine about Wall Street and who embarrass themselves with their disgusting antics...try trading with me. Try fighting all the way back from devastation. Maybe "the whole world is watching" as you say...but that's nothing compared to knowing that my 13 year old daughter is watching.
Come May, you can have my spot in the humiliating pantheon of the wanderers. Because while you have been carping about what you think you were owed, I went out and got what was available. Just thinking about walking across that platform and getting that degree makes me weep. It's been a long hard road and the only reason there is anything at the other because of those "1%" who make careers for people and who pay the bulk of the tax burden so that mid-forties dads who are hit with devastation can find the resources for a second chance for themselves and their child. I, for one, am thankful for them.

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