There has been a sudden religious revival in this country’s youth population — they are taking one of the seven deadly sins head on. Granted, it’s the sin in OTHER people they are taking on, but let’s cut them some slack! The new new Irony is not being aware of your own Irony. Which deadly sin has everyone up in arms? Well, this is America so you can bet it’s not gluttony.
Greed is the offense du jour; specifically, “corporate greed.” I’m not sure what this phrase even means. The greed of corporations? The communal greed of our civilization? All of the above? People tend to ignore or loathe these kinds of protests because for the most part they are big on angst and short on articulated grievances; there is a reason these things are made up primarily of teenagers and protracted adolescents.
The best gist I can get is that people are angry at the banks in particular because of this whole recession brouhaha that stemmed from the collapse of the mortgage-backed securities ponzi scheme. (Actually, I think a lot of them are angry at the banks because some cute bike messenger from Brooklyn told them he was angry at the banks.*) Well, I’m angry at the banks too! Look at that, liberal hipsters and I can agree on something.
The difference is, that I’m not just angry at the banks. Being angry at the banks is like just being angry at an STD that’s killing you instead of being angry at the whore who gave it to you and at yourself for not using a condom.
I’m angry at the politicians who mandated that banks must relax their lending standards in the name of being “fair.” After all, it’s not fair that someone who only makes 25k a year can’t get the same 500k loan as the guy making 800k a year, right? That’s discrimination! And what about the fact that people who don’t have a job can’t get any loan at all? Why, that too must be because of some “-ism” on the part of financial institutions.
And I’m angry at the people making 25k a year who decided they could buy a 500k house. That means, yes, I’m angry at the family of 5 having their 5-bedroom house foreclosed on, I’m angry at the homeless couple who used to have granite counter tops, I’m angry at the 30-somethings mailing the keys to the bank and moving home with mom and dad. And I’m angry at the people who bought into the collective insanity and frittered away their good standing by taking out their ballooning equity to buy boats and trips and whatever else they wanted and thought they needed.
I know the current zeitgeist is that these people are the victims of greed. And they are, but not just the greed of the banks. They are victims of their own greed, and that is why I do not feel bad for them. At best, I regard them with the benevolent contempt we can’t hide from people who are simply experiencing the consequences of their own poor choices. Including the naive belief that a politician with lofty vision and soaring speeches is going to be “different”, and that such a politician is going to save them from consequences instead of bailing out his big-money cronies.
But I digress. Here is where the other catch phrase “predatory lending” comes up, and I have to again ask if we’ll never place any blame with the damn fools who sign papers they don’t read and borrow money they can’t repay for the big house they want now. The rules about how much money it takes to buy so much house never changed, it’s just the belief that those rules could be ignored went viral. I know that as someone making less than 100k a year there is no way I can afford a 650k condo, and I don’t need my college degree, or even a high school degree for that matter, to know that any guy in a suit who tells me otherwise is a liar, plain and simple.
So the kids who so passionately protest greed might want to take a hard look around around Main Street instead of just marching up Wall Street. Because there is no shortage of greed here. I too want granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. I was not willing to gamble to get them. I do not feel sorry for people that were, and lost.
*Quick, someone do a survey of the Wall Street protesters and see how many of them even know what a “mortgage-backed security” is. No wait, even better, see if any of them know what “securities” are.