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What is Occupy Wall Street about?

I've seen a lot of people lately who disagree with the Occupy Wall Street movement, but often I feel their disagreement is either fueled by wrong information or their lack of support is fueled by a lack of understanding of the movement. Some may understand and still disagree and that's fine, but I figured I'd take some time and explain what OWS is all about in my opinion.

Keep in mind that OWS doesn't have a central plan or goal because there isn't a central authority running it. It's a truly grassroots movement. As a counter-example, I'll use the Tea Party. For just a fraction of a second in time, the Tea Party was a grassroots movement. However, VERY quickly the movement was co-opted by conservative lobbying groups like Freedomworks. Those groups started organizing them, giving them talking points, even managing a system to bus them to different places to disrupt town hall discussions about Health Care. OWS doesn't have anything like that which is why their message isn't unified, but that shouldn't be a negative mark for them. It's just a sign that it an unmanaged group of people who are dissatisfied. They don't have a leader.

That being said, the following is just MY feelings about why Wall St should be Occupied. I can't speak for the movement, but I can only attempt to convey what I believe the movement is about.

Who are the protestors?

The most common thing I hear from those who disagree with OWS is the protestors are just young, hipster, do-nothings or entitled hippies who hate capitalism, etc. First, let's admit there ARE a bunch of young, hippies at OWS, but let's also admit there are old people, hard-working people, soccer moms, etc, etc at OWS as well. This isn't a hard-hats vs hippies event like we had in 1970.

The hard hats are part of the movement:

Central Important Point of OWS (My Opinion)

The idea I hear again and again, the one that I think encapsulates the movement is:

"The game is rigged."

I am a capitalist. I like profit. I run my own business and I'm a real estate investor. Our capitalist system is the reason why we live such good lives in the US. A growing, powerful economy really is the tide that raises all boats. The problem though is that we aren't riding the same tide. "The game is rigged" phrase describes the central point of failure and corruption in our system which is that we aren't all playing by the same rules.

Those who disagree with OWS are often telling me that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed and those complaining just need to work harder. I will definitely agree that many people should be working harder (and smarter) to secure their future, but the point here is that no matter hard you or I work ... we are not playing the same game as the 1%. They have an entirely different set of rules which make it easier for them to succeed even though they already have the greatest chance of succeeding and the greatest return on their investments.

A couple examples of the different games:

Wall Street banks are allowed to borrow from the US government for near 0% interest. We certainly don't get to do that, but what is more important is what they do with the money. The intention of lending to the banks is so they will lend it to other people, to us. What they actually do with it is lend it... to the US govt. They borrow money at 0.1% interest and then they loan it back to the govt at 3% (Treasury bonds). The banks create an Infinite Return on Investment for themselves with tax dollars we all pay to the govt and are intended to help us rebuild the economy.

Where do you or I have opportunities like that? The playing field isn't level. The game is rigged.

Another example:

What is your credit card company charging you for purchases? The AVERAGE interest rate on credit cards is 14.99% but a 29.99% interest rate is not uncommon. Hey, they lend us money so we can get our instant gratification! No one is forcing us to pay those interest rates. Sure, but do you know what I'm allowed to charge you in interest for a private loan? Let me introduce you to the concept of "Usury":

From usurylaw.com: Definition: Usury is defined as the act of lending money at an unreasonably high interest rate, this rate is defined at the state level. Repayment of loans at a usurious rate makes repayment excessively difficult to impossible for borrowers. This is also called "loan sharking" or "predatory lending".

Usury law in California says the absolute most I'm allowed to charge you in interest is 10%. If I charge you 11% I'm breaking the LAW because I'm charging you such a horrible rate that I'm taking advantage of you. Federal usury laws state that a rate that is twice the state usury law is considered CRIMINAL. So, if I charge you 20% interest on a loan then I am charging you a CRIMINAL amount of interest. Are you seeing the problem here?

Credit card companies are legally allowed to charge you illegal and even CRIMINAL interest rates. If we try to do the exact same thing, we can be JAILED for it. 30% interest rate on your credit card? Totally fine. I personally lend you a full 10% lower and I'm a CRIMINAL. There is an exception in the usury laws for what are called "institutional lenders" which mean the usury laws do not apply to them.

"The game is rigged."

We aren't playing the same game. We don't have the same opportunity to succeed.

I don't want to tear the capitalist system down, I like an appropriately-regulated capitalist economy. However, there is a problem which exists between Congress and Wall St. They have created a mutually beneficial system which keeps members of Congress in Congress (and making fabulous money) and it keeps Wall St making record profits while the rest of the US is struggling with the worst unemployment since the Great Depression.

"The game is rigged."

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