The Party and Protest of Money

November 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

This week I find myself disinterested in what Republicans and Democrats are up to. Their eyes are fixed firmly on election a year away. Instead I find myself drawn to what is happening on the feisty fringe, among the Tea Party Constituionalists and the  Occupy [insert city name]ists.

Before this week I was mostly distracted by their costumes, inventive signs and penchant for the drum (circle vs accompanying a marching fife). I didn’t take much of their protest seriously. One seemed to be naively stuck in the vortex of a bygone era while the other seemed completely directionless (and maybe a little smelly). It’s hard to get past appearances sometimes.

The more I looked into these movements, the more I realize they are born from a similar place, despite how their ideology has manifested itself. They were both born out of the economically devastating aftermath of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The Occupy Wall Street folks focus on those who got us into the mess; the Tea Party on how it has been handled since through stimulus packages and bailouts. At the end of the day, they’re the voice calling for more financial accountability from the people entrusted with our economic prosperity. They’ve both had enough.

When it comes to the issue of the economic crisis, I’ve never really understood what exactly happened. I watched “Too Big to Fail” and “Inside Job” which were informative from the corporate point of view but seemed to be lacking in how the government and the American public played a role in what happened.

This week I found a great overview from This American Life on NPR called The Giant Pool of Money. It’s worth a listen as it describes the whole chain of people from those who created the financial products to those who were living well beyond their means. I still largely blame the financial institutions for taking advantage of those who should have known it was too good to be true but I hold them accountable as well.

The central issue for me is figuring out our financial mess. In my opinion, if we don’t none of the rest of it will really matter. The next question is what is to be done about it? What could I do?

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