There are a number of reasons why Occupy Wall Street infuriates me, and my fury has become especially acute now that I’m in Vietnam. The first biggest problem I have with it is that I can’t articulately write about why I’m against it, because I STILL have no idea what it’s about.
The second is the focus on the 1% of Americans who make more than $750,000 a year vs. the 99% of Americans who do not. Guess what? Even if you’re not super wealthy, or wealthy, or even not well-off at all, you’re still doing pretty fucking well in comparison to the rest of the world.
The disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population isn’t really what’s the matter with the United States. What’s the matter is that we’ve gotten so accustomed to living well that we’ve forgotten how lucky we are to be Americans, with our ample freedoms, our general safety, our clean water, and our access to food and shelter. We no longer want to do the hard work. We expect things to be handed to us. We don’t realize how vitally our privileges and our rights need to be protected, no matter how imperfectly, before they’re gone—taken from us by overwhelming debt, unnecessary wars, and a lack of a decent education.
We need to fight for what we DO have, rather than what we don’t have.
And that’s where the neocons come in…I’m joking. I think.
Anyway, that could be in part what Occupy Wall Street is asking for, but what it seems to be that they care most about is pretty un-impactful shit like private corporate bonuses, and the fact that they can’t drive their cars as much as they’re accustomed to, or that they’ll never be rich. Man, when I didn’t have a salaried job, I worked 7-days a week babysitting, running errands, and hostessing at a restaurant to afford my rent. I didn’t get a dog because it was too great of an expense. Am I really supposed to feel bad that this woman can’t afford to feed her pure-bred boxer?
If she were in Vietnam, and were really starving, she would eat that thing. And she could probably make a profit selling the extra meat!
I know that there are productive things to be protesting in the United States. I know that there are changes that need to be made. I know that there are disparities, that life is unfair, that our government is corrupt and ineffectual.
But being in Vietnam, I feel so goddamn lucky, and I’m afraid that my generation is taking that luck for granted, turning it into a poison that will bring all of the most dire predictions about our future to fruition.
Which brings me to the third part of my Vespa Tour.
A Vespa Tour of Saigon: The Land Across the River
By the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh city live some of the district’s poorest residents—fisherman who bring their wares up from the Mekong Delta. Longshoremen who service the vessels that sail in from abroad. The poor who were displaced from the wealthier districts on the other side when the government built a new highway, and destroyed all of their shelters. Kind of like what Giuliani did with the homeless people in Tomkins Square Park, only in Vietnam, they were transplanted to a trash and chemical wasteland rather than the countryside in Pennsylvania.