Surviving those who survive

You may or may not have seen this before:

“We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?”

I haven’t tried to find a definitive date of its publication. It doesn’t matter when it was written (one April 2010 blog stated it was an e-mail forward) or that it was supposedly “dropped” on crowds of the Occupy Wall Street movement this week. I read it for the first time Friday.

The argument by its author or authors is the guys and gals on Wall Street are so professionally ambitious they can do whatever they want, including take jobs from the middle and working classes, which they clearly deem beneath what they do. They would be forced into this if folks frustrated about the stock market – probably folks occupying Wall Street today – succeed in getting their high-end salaries “distributed” to the rest of America.

The author has several valid points. The Wall Street traders shouldn’t have their right to make as much money as they can restricted, according to our capitalistic society. They shouldn’t even be made to feel guilty. Also, there would be less need for car washing services, landscapers and wait staff at fancy restaurants.

These people do, of course, deserve accolades for their diligence. They work really hard.

However, I cannot help but wonder if the author’s statements regarding abilities to work just about any job are true. Are these people – not just a few, but somewhere close to the majority, as the author suggests – capable of landscaping for a living? Are they capable of being effective teachers?      

Sure, they work long hours on little sleep. It’s believable that some of them are excellent at holding their pee. They are ambitious: they see a problem and fix it; a goal on the horizon and accomplish it. To them, life is a mathematical equation waiting to be learned.

Landscaping – even car washing, for that matter ­– requires a certain degree of creativity, however. There are standardized solutions, such as how to cut grass or activate an irrigation system at its scheduled time, that can be told and re-told, passed on from supervisor to employee as many times as needed. Knowing and applying these solutions can make for a dependable, steady landscaper, but one who is average at best.

Then there’s teaching, of which the author seems particularly critical. In one paragraph dedicated exclusively to condescending remarks about the profession, the author points out teachers are unionized, retire with pension at 50, get four months “off” each year and earn $5,000 annually for coaching baseball. This paragraph comes after the insinuation that just about anyone can teach third-graders.

That seems a little naïve. While practically anyone can achieve the professional title of “teacher,” it takes a significant person to truly teach. One needs patience and ingenuity; one needs integrity; one needs to listen. One must be well-versed in the art of sharing knowledge and providing guidance, both of which must encompass the academic and private worlds of our society’s most complex citizens. Teachers must be leaders who keep their professional ambitions nearly silent in order to be effective.

These are all characteristics hardly embodied on Wall Street, where confidence, construed oftentimes as arrogance, is a virtue. These Wall Street guys would be more than capable of cutting grass or meeting the academic requirements to become a teacher, but could they get the jobs done with the artist-like patience, attention and love these professions require?

The Wall Streeters are “smarter and more vicious” than dinosaurs, the author states. Perhaps they will adapt. Perhaps. The author practically bellows, after all, that he and his cohorts are going to survive.

Perhaps they will.

My teachers were a slightly transparent group, though, and it was relatively simple to spot those who merely bore the title. I no longer remember their names or the curriculum they passed my way.

But the teachers who graced my education and life with artist-like patience, attention and love remain in my heart. They taught me to do more than mathematical equations and Latin translations, more than how to advance my career.

These teachers – the good ones – inspired me to do more than survive.

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