Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Haters Come Out

Success draws criticism. Perhaps that’s human nature. But what is shocking is how little success it takes before the haters come out. Consider the Occupy Wall Street movement. All the success this group really has is the ability to stay in one place and stay focused. You wouldn’t think that would be enough to inspire even a jealous glance from a multimillionaire with a comfortable house and an unstoppable business career.

Yet the comments keep coming from the millionaire’s club, and the jealousy is obvious once you start to tune it in. If you don’t have a job, you have no one to blame but yourself, one commented, as if Occupy Wall Street was just sour grapes from a group of college graduates who had the door slammed in their faces one too many times. But actually, this particular commenter’s own “job” was that of a political candidate. “Candidate” means, of course, that he hopes to have a job in the future, but does not have one now. That makes him unemployed — unemployed with no one else to blame and, judging by his other recent comments, perhaps a tad more desperate than the Occupy Wall Street movement he stopped by to criticize.

Some of the other criticisms of Occupy Wall Street that border on incoherent when you first hear them, start to make sense when you look at them through this lens. The Speaker of the House took a few minutes out of his busy day to criticize Occupy Wall Street? He might well envy the work ethic and vitality of the demonstrators on the street, who in a few short weeks have managed to accomplish more than his own House has done all year long. Granted, it’s not easy to light a fire under a team whose average age is a bit above 60, but the comparison is still an embarrassment. A snide remark from the CEO of one of the most successful bailed-out Wall Street banks? That makes sense too when you see it from his point of view. People around town are taking up collections to send pizza to the demonstrators — but who will be passing the hat for the $100 billion the Wall Street banks will need to keep going a year from now?

A net worth in the tens of millions, obviously, isn’t enough to take away people’s fear. Jamie Dimon is speaking with a degree of fear that would befit a man who was going to be out on the street himself next year. That won’t happen, though it is safe to say that some of Dimon’s colleagues will be in jail by then. One of the ironies of the current situation is that the people who have the most are the most afraid, while people who have nothing, who are out on the street and only eating tonight because of the kindness of strangers, are not so afraid. That alone tells you that the situation is not stable, that it cannot stay as it is. Before it is all over, the fearmongers will have to yield to the people who have a vision for the future.