I’m on the fence when it comes to this whole Occupy movement. Part of me thinks that it’s just a hippie potluck where stoners and homeless people can sing songs and waste a considerable amount of time. Another part of me thinks that there are some legitimate issues being brought up at these protests, and that this is contributing to a very positive dialogue around the world. I’ve refrained from really taking a strong stance on the worldwide protests, but I’ve found myself wondering something – why Occupy Wall Street and not Capitol Hill?
Wall Street is one of many crime scenes, but the real perpetrators are in Washington, Ottawa, London, and all the other major capitals of the world. Protestors want Wall Street to stop buying their politicians – but if I were a businessman, I’d do what I could to get my way; profit is the bottom line in business. The onus is on politicians to maintain their integrity and honesty by not accepting corporate money and by saying no to lobbyists. Our politicians are not children; they are supposed to be our very best representatives.
There is no doubt that financial irresponsibility and greed are at the heart of the global economic crisis, but it was our politicians that decided to bail out these financial juggernauts when their backs were against the ropes. The Wall Street bailouts were engineered in Washington, not New York. It’s for that reason that I admire the Tea Party more than I do Occupy Wall Street. The Tea Party recognize a failure of government to do what’s right for the people. They worked hard to elect representatives that they felt responded to their concerns, and have made a true impact in the US government. Occupy Wall Street has done no such thing and will continue to accomplish nothing in New York.
Wall Street did not declare war on Iraq. Nor does it continue the American occupation of Afghanistan. Wall Street did not appoint Timothy Geithner to be treasury secretary, and did not decide to pass healthcare and corporate welfare plans that increased federal debt. Wall Street didn’t deregulate itself. The problem is not the 1 per cent, the problem is the enablers and pushers in our capitals. Stephen Harper, Barack Obama, David Cameron, and Nicolas Sarkozy are just as, if not more, guilty than Robert Pickel, Dick Fuld, and the countless other Gordon Gekkos out there.
The occupy protesters must come to realize that our governments will not solve these problems. They must realize that government is the problem. There must be a restoration of responsible government that maintains separations between itself and the economy. The true wealth of a nation depends on its people, not its government. Occupy Capitol Hill, occupy Parliament Hill, and occupy Westminster. The corruption in Wall Street is just a symptom of a greater corruption.
Haaris Khan is a U2 International Development Studies student, and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.