My grandma has a bad tooth. She never visits the dentist, so what should have been a smaller issue caught long ago is now a serious, painful one. My grandma is ‘retired’ without income or health coverage. She has no recourse to get her tooth fixed, but my mom found one: a free dental clinic. The only catch is that it’s first come, first served, one night a month, and people wait all night for this opportunity. So it is my grandma might have to spend the night outside in late October (it’s snowing as I write this) just to get a tooth fixed.
I visited the Occupy Denver protest last weekend. I dressed my daughter up like Wonder Woman, and we met her friend Oscar who dressed like Batman. The goal was to assemble a Tiny Justice League, but it was just the two tiny heroes.
We walked around as the protest was setting up, and were largely underwhelmed by what we saw. Not to discount those who are risking arrest by spending the night, but it was largely mentally ill homeless people and the ‘usual’ protest people. Like the woman who was yelling her protest chant even though no one was even around and there was no other noise which necessitated yelling. Or the ‘End Israeli Apartheid’ folks who will apparently piggyback any protest.
But I support it. I think this movement is great. I imagine the smug, wealthy, elite assholes who tanked our economy flabbergasted that they got away with it. Maybe they called each other up on the phone when the dust had settled.
“Can you believe we got away with it?”
“I know! And I even got a raise!”
“I guess America would rather keep us afloat than risk chaos.”
“Cheers to that!”
But our memory has surprised them, and even me. They didn’t get away with it. People are nearing their threshold for bullshit. I have taught my daughter that if someone is bothering her to say ‘Please stop’, and if they keep bothering her to then tell them forcibly, ‘NO!’ This is the American people saying ‘Please stop’.
There are two ways the super-rich stay super-rich. The first way is by everyone else thinking they, too, will one day be super rich. Thus the actual rich are protected by the pretend rich who think they are protecting their own peers from trouble. It’s the American Dream to ‘make it big’ and become rich, but I have bad news for you: you won’t. As you read this blog, you imagine that I’m speaking generally, or to some sad sack who is not you. But I am also talking to you. It brings me no joy to say it, but you will never be among the mega-rich, and to think you will is like the child dreaming of becoming an astronaut. There is no longer any space program for you, child.
The second way they stay mega-rich is by dispensing treats. Generally these treats are good jobs, or affordable healthcare, but it seems these treats are evaporating all around us. The mega-rich have found that they can be even richer by shipping our jobs away or doing away with decent benefits.
So when people realize they will never join the elite ranks of the mega-rich, and the treats have stopped dropping from the table, what happens next? That’s what the beginning of this Occupy movement feels to me. That question, unanswered.
There are also two ways to ignore this movement: By being very rich yourself, or by being so cynical that you don’t think these protests will ever change anything. Either way, it’s an expensive view and I envy that you can afford it.
I know my grandma can’t.