Public must not fault Wall Street for poor economy

By Liz Beras
On October 12, 2011

Many American reforms have made their mark on history through protests - women's suffrage, the civil rights movement and the ongoing gay rights movement, to name a few.

However, the current "Occupy Wall Street" efforts are far removed in legitimacy from their predecessors. It is time for the crusade against Wall Street to come to an end. Protesters can either find a valid cause or go home and cease their disruption.

Those supporting the New York Occupy Wall Street protests must educate themselves about the issues. The demonstrations have proved chaotic; the protests have culminated in hundreds of arrests and, consequently, the New York Police Department has increased officers on duty to contain the crowds.

In reality, the financial services industry aids our economic growth and is a major contributor to the community at large. For instance, in 2010 Morgan Stanley's Low Income Housing Tax Credit Investments worked with partners to create 1,000 affordable housing units across the country. Also in 2010, JPMorgan Chase and Company gave more than $150 million to nonprofit organizations in grants and sponsorships.

In harsh economic times, the financial services industry is one of the few that has not claimed a "hiring freeze." The role of the financial services industry is invaluable. Raising capital is key for companies, small and large, to carry out their services and mission.

Companies are unable to fund projects without the help of Wall Street. As Americans, we have the freedom of assembly, but there is a fine line between using this to rally for a unified purpose and abusing this privilege by aimlessly parading down Broadway.

Occupy Wall Street is best described as a vaudeville show - entertainment comprised of parts that are not cohesive. The goal of Occupy Wall Street is unclear, despite its widespread growth in other cities around the globe. There is, however, a list of absurd demands on Occupy Wall Street's official site. Some of these demands include "open border migration," "guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment" and "immediate, across the board debt forgiveness for all."

While this all sounds great in theory to the demonstrators, need I remind everyone that money does not grow on trees? The listed demands are opening doors for a multitude of problems.

Many of the issues addressed in Occupy Wall Street are irrelevant to the work of the bankers they target. One of the signs held up in protest stated, "I paid more in taxes than GE last year. I am the 99 percent." For one, the fact that GE paid less in taxes than this individual seems to be a matter pertinent to the IRS, not the major banks. Also, protesters are failing to acknowledge that we, as a country, are the 1 percent.

It is time that Occupy Wall Street vacate the premises. There are methods to having a voice in the conversation of our country's politics, but the current disorder in the protests is not the way.

Liz Beras is a student at New York University.

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