Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Money Woes

So you know in theory I agree with what the OWS crowd stands for: a smaller and less-involved government, revoking government officials ability to profit from their own legislation, and sweeping reformation of the banking system.

I don't agree with their Sixties-style sleeping, living and defecating on public property methods, but if these are in fact their stance on the issues, I do agree with them.

Here's a tidbit I learned today.  OWS is fighting over money.  I know, ironic, huh?  

The protesters who stand for the little people and against big business and big profits found themselves on the receiving end of $700,000.  As of this week they've winnowed that boon down to $170,000 left in their coffers.  And, that's causing quite a stir in the camps.

How did this happen?

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Steven Ahmadi, a protester who has been on the scene since the beginning says, "With such an influx of donations, we've begun to rely on economic capital."  

He diagnosed the group's problem as the "nonprofit industrial complex."  Which he defines as the "trap that the mission becomes more about sustaining the organization than its message."

I think many of us could have seen this coming.  They have become that which they protest against.

We have to be very careful about this, especially as the "class warfare" fight heats up this year.  It's not only the love of money that is evil, but also the protecting of money.  When people stake their claim on a piece of the pie, the fight becomes about sustaining their very own piece and no longer about the core issues.

I think the OWS crowd is finding out that it's not so easy when they're the stewards of capital.  There's something inherent about money that makes us act in ways that divert us from our core causes and beliefs.  You see this happen time and again in churches, organizations, governments, families, etc.  When the focus goes from our endeavors to paying for our endeavors, money can hypnotize, it can entrance, it can seductively woo.  We leave friendships, partnerships, ideals, morals and even God at the door when we enter the bank vault.  We commit crimes we normally wouldn't when money is concerned.

The OWS crowd is fighting now over how the funds have been spent, and how they will continue to be spent.  Not that they've left much to work with.  These days 170K isn't much for any company or organization.  So much for the camps' "nic at nite" booths where you can roll your own tobacco for free.

The ugly truth, I believe, is that evil doesn't use money to thwart us, evil IS money.  

I know the Biblical passage: the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.  Well, I'm not so sure those hippies in the Sixties didn't get it right when they said, "Money is the root of all evil."

Money can solve problems, surely, but I've seen more done on a shoestring budget with human sweat equity than I've seen done with a large donor check.  Usually the large check is the start of an organization's problems.  How to spend it, when to spend it, who gets a say in the spending, who gets a cut of it...blah, blah, blah.  You see where this goes?

Money seems to me to be a stumbling block not a pathway to goodness.  If it can make the idealistic OWS crowd leave their core issues and bicker over their bank balance, then this looks to be a microcosm of everyone's dealings with money.  From personal finances to big business to federal government, the spending of money is an instigator for fighting.

In this year 2012, we'll be hearing more and more about "class warfare."  They don't call it "class bickering" or "class tiffing" for a reason.  It's decidedly "class WARFARE."  Money makes war and war makes money.  But it is money that trips us up like a wedding reception's open bar to alcoholic Aunt Edna.  There will blatant video footage.

Money.  Fighting.  People.  I don't have a nice, neat answer or perfect wrap up for all this either.  I'm just thinking out loud....


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