1. Integrity Check
Reports out of Occupy Wall Street, unconfirmed but apparently credible enough for New York’s Mayor Bloomberg to rely on them, suggest that the “Occupy” gang is refusing to report the various criminals in their midst, opting instead to protect the colony by ejecting and banishing them….and, of course, inflicting them on somebody else. Such wrongdoers range from simple thieves to sexual predators, or, as in Occupy Oakland, the violent provocateurs who have seeded riots. They might not even be banished…just protected.
How ironic. The ethical rot in America’s institutions, from government to the business world, to religions and Hollywood, to athletic teams and academia, manifests itself by a progressive willingness to ignore misconduct, lawlessness, and unethical conduct among colleagues and others within the group, cementing a “them vs. us” mentality that encourages increasingly irresponsible conduct and erodes integrity. The so-called 99% have the same vulnerability to corruption as the 1% they revile.
2. Accountability Check
From The Nation, which recounts this inspiring tale of an Occupy Wall Street warrior with no apparent sense of its obvious lesson:
“A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama teacher at a public elementary school in New York City. Frustrated by huge class sizes, sparse resources and a disorganized bureaucracy, he set off to the University of Connecticut to get an MFA in his passion—puppetry. Three years and $35,000 in student loans later, he emerged with degree in hand, and because puppeteers aren’t exactly in high demand, he went looking for work at his old school. The intervening years had been brutal to the city’s school budgets—down about 14 percent on average since 2007. A virtual hiring freeze has been in place since 2009 in most subject areas, arts included, and spending on art supplies in elementary schools crashed by 73 percent between 2006 and 2009. So even though Joe’s old principal was excited to have him back, she just couldn’t afford to hire a new full-time teacher. Instead, he’s working at his old school as a full-time “substitute”; he writes his own curriculum, holds regular classes and does everything a normal teacher does. “But sub pay is about 50 percent of a full-time salaried position,” he says, “so I’m working for half as much as I did four years ago, before grad school, and I don’t have health insurance…. It’s the best-paying job I could find.”
Accountability check: a teacher who gives up his job and borrows $35,000 to get a degree in puppetry has a monumental nerve blaming Wall Street for his “income inequality.” Therrien made a bad choice, and a risky one. He, and no one else, is accountable for his problems. That The Nation would choose the victim of such a self-inflicted career wound as the star of an Occupy Wall Street puff-piece symbolizes how detached the movement is from logic and reality.
3. Loyalty Check
Across country, the violent Occupy Oakland movement received a surprising endorsement from the craven Men’s Wearhouse corporation, which posted a sign proclaiming its solidarity with the “99%.” Yes, a multi-billion dollar operation whose clientele are mostly white collar workers announced solidarity with an anti-capitalist mob, supporting a protest that has harmed the businesses of it fellow members of the Oakland business community. Then, the very next day, Occupy Oakland smashed in the very same window where the sign appeared, as part of its general uprising…again proving that easily-transferred allegiances aren’t valued very highly, not should they be.