Petty Thefts for Penny Crimes

October 13, 2011

FINALLY! FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY! After months of blogging, sharing, posting, and talking about the Move Your Money movement, Occupy Wall Street has FINALLY caught on! Good job guys. For a while I didn’t think you’d do it.

So I won’t go into the whole rant yet again, but I just thought I’d share:

There you have it. Occupy wall street is finally asking you to do something productive to fight the corporatocracy. Not that other folks have been saying this all along, but I guess it’s good publicity for Move Your Money. And check this out:

They ask you to do it AGAIN! Wow. Amazing. They finally care about fighting the fucking corporatocracy by using their money! I now feel this is a movement I can support.


You Don’t Have Much To Say

October 11, 2011

I just came across Al-Jazeera’s series titled Slavery: A 21st Century Evil, which I think is more than 110% appropriate for these Occupy Wall Street protests.

Let me take a tiny step back. Yesterday I was listening to Sean Hannity (my co-worker’s default radio station on the drive home). He interviewed a young lady (Zuni I believe her name was?) who made some decent arguments about the corporatocracy and what people should do. I pretty much agreed with everything she said, but then he asked her why or how the corporations should be punished. She didn’t have much of a response. It would have been the perfect moment to talk about the link between modern slavery and American corporations.

This, again, goes back to what I’ve been saying, what Kevin Bales says in Disposable People, and E. Benjamin Skinner in A Crime So Monstrous: fight with your dollar. Zuni did mention this strategy, but didn’t stress it as much as it should’ve been. The example she used was MacDonald’s. True, MacDonald’s is not good for you and it would be ideal for people to stop supporting it; however, what Hannity wanted to point out was that MacDonald’s fulfills a desire the American people want. So ultimately the solution to the MacDonald’s problem isn’t that we should tax it more. We should curb the desire to eat their products.

The same goes for the perpetuation of modern slavery. Corporations like The Gap and IKEA fill a void in our lives for affordable, decent quality clothing and furniture. You can’t simply yell at the government and corporations for paying below minimum wage overseas if you continue to support these businesses. And maybe every single person occupying Wall Street doesn’t own clothing from The Gap/Old Navy or furniture from IKEA. It’s entirely possible, but very unlikely. We’ve accepted the products of modern slavery as essential to our everyday lives. Even our food. Even some food harvested in our own country is done by modern slaves.

I’m sure the people on Wall Street and in Woodruff Park all agree with my points, but are they ready to act on them?

Update 4:51pm: just saw that the Occupiers in Atlanta have marched to Bank of America in Midtown. So…you make the effort to get to the building, just so you can yell at it? Can’t you all simply walk inside and take your money out?! Can’t you actually do something to end the “greed”?!


Everything is So Wrong

October 4, 2011

Hi. I have to talk about the Occupy Wall Street protests. I didn’t want to because I don’t want to give them any more attention, but I just have to.

First, I want to post an image of what the latest headlines are for BBC (the international news source I respect and go to):

oh look! Kim Jong-Il's grandson has a Facebook! That's big news.

I scrolled down a little just to make sure:

Looks like pale people need to spend more time in the sun.

Do you see Wall Street protests anywhere in there? In case you can’t read the screenshot, the answer is no. They’re somewhere on the website, yes, but it’s certainly not as newsworthy as, say, the protests in Syria or apparently the announcement of the iPhone 5. (This, I’m sure, is another reason OWS is against the corporatocracy, which they all tweet on their iPhones.) Nowhere on the website says what they want to achieve, no goals listed, no demands. There are some supporters who have suggested demands, but the organization will not ask for anything. If you have no end goal, then what the fuck are you doing?

Before I really get started, I wanted to address the idea that this is has been compared to the events taking place in the Middle East, specifically Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Sure, if you really want to make the argument, our democracy has become a bit of a corporatocracy. But do you know what was going on in Egypt? Mubarak had been in power for 30 years, assuming power after Sadat was assassinated. The disparity between the rich 1% in Egypt versus the other 99% is that the 99% in Egypt lives on less than the 99% here in the US. Up until January 25, people were afraid to say anything against Mubarak and the government. Here we constantly hear, see, and read a variety of opinions about our government on every media platform possible. And haven’t you noticed that there’s been absolutely no media allowed to cover the Syrian protests for months? Do not compare the occupation of Wall street to the revolutions in the Middle East.

My first suggestion: take all your money out of the major banks – Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo – and invest with smaller community banks and credit unions. How many people “occupying” these cities have accounts with these banks? You really want to bring down the corporatocracy? Stop feeding it money. In case you haven’t noticed, this is something I’ve been preaching for a very, very long time. I’ll address you more directly: Dear Occupy Wall Street, please march to the nearest BofA, Chase, and/or Wells Fargo, and have everyone close their accounts with these banks.

Also, why is it that they’re so willing to accept donated food? If the occupiers want to fight the system, why not buy food from smaller restaurants in the area? Even from NYC chains? Why ask people to buy you food and send it to you? Most likely people will buy you cheap food, which is processed by the big chains. And furthermore, why aren’t you personally stimulating the economy? If you want to change the system, why not do it with your dollar? Clearly you do not understand the language of corporatocracy.

I think one of the best illustrations of what I’m trying to tell you is this documentary Beer Wars. 95% of the beer industry is dominated by the 3 major corporations: Coors, Miller, and Anheuser-Busch. Even the precious “working class” Pabst Blue Ribbon is owned by Miller. The film is all about being an informed consumer. So what are you doing on Wall street? Are you telling people how to invest their money? Are you informing them of the power of their dollar? No. You’re camping out on the streets and not contributing to the economy.

Do something productive, or is that too square for you?

UPDATE 10/5/11: I’ve been proven wrong. BBC thinks that the Wall Street march is almost as important as Steve Jobs’s death.

there it is.


Burn It To The Ground

July 6, 2011

Many of my friends have told me that, after hearing me talk about Bond Community Federal Credit Union, they want to join. I figure that maybe I should say something here, especially since I’ve been reminded I haven’t posted in a while. Thanks guys. Keep in mind though, I almost always have something to say about food, so don’t forget about my cooking blog: Cooking with Class.

Back in the day I applied for a credit card with Bond FCU. The loan officer called me a few days later to say all was good and I’d receive my card in the following days. A month or two later I saw that the interest rates for used car loans dropped. I went into the bank, and while I was making my deposit, I asked about the loans. The nice teller behind the little wooden teller window/desk said I could speak with Chris right then and there. Chris is the only one in charge of loans (so it seems). I went into his office, and he spent a good half an hour explaining auto loans to me. All the information he gave me pertained to me. He remembered who I was, what my situation is, and what my job is. And at the end of the conversation, I felt much more well-informed, but not pressured to apply for a loan immediately.

In case you’ve never heard me talk about the Move Your Money movement, here’s a short video they made a few years ago to encourage people to leave big banks:

All in all, I love walking into a bank that has rocking chairs, wooden chairs at the teller window, an annual member fiesta, and staff who remember me. If you have the opportunity to join a local bank or credit union, do it NOW. Take your money out of evil banks like Chase and Bank of America and support your community!


Sick Beats

January 25, 2011

I can’t help but watch this video and say “I know where that is! I’ve been there! I walked down that street! I fucking walked there!” It’s unreal to me that this is happening.

After 20 years of Mubarak’s “presidency,” I have to admit I’m happy to see this. I don’t know when or how this government will improve, but finally the Egyptian people are uniting. (At least, I hope there are Copts out there protesting as well.) After the food riots and the riots after the swine flu, this will hopefully be the beginning of the end. Solidarity, my friends.


Everybody Hurts Sometimes

November 12, 2010

Whenever I talk about finances and education with people, I always bring up the allowance my parents gave me when I was younger. My allowance started at $6, and it was divided into three piggy banks: spending, savings, and giving. Each week I’d get $2 that I could spend on anything I wanted, whenever I wanted (which I could also save up if I wanted to). My savings piggy bank was for something big, like buying a Madame Alexander doll or a Gameboy pocket. And last but certainly not least, my giving piggy bank was for the holidays when we would buy toys or food to be donated to Viola Blythe, a local community service center.

The lesson I immediately grasped was that it was important to save, and I couldn’t buy anything if I didn’t have the money in my piggy banks. The lesson I just realized five minutes ago was that it’s also important to set aside money to donate, and not just around the holidays. I remember I used to volunteer at Viola Blythe at least once a month because, as my dad put it, people need food all year round. The workers there used to complain about the sudden surge of people wanting to help out around Thanksgiving and Christmas. As much as they appreciated the intentions, they would ask them “Why don’t you volunteer at other times during the year?”

So while I’m giving you this message at the beginning of the holiday season, just please keep in mind that this isn’t the only time you should donate food or blankets or toilet paper. Try to make an effort to donate something year-round, whether it be canned food, a warm coat, cold hard cash, or your time. There are always people out there who need help.


Time to Repair

July 26, 2010

I recently closed my bank accounts with Chase and opened one with First Republic Bank. While it’s not quite in line with what Move Your Money recommends, I still feel a lot better about it. Why? Because First Republic was bought my Merrill Lynch, who was then bought by Bank of America, and to make a long story short, First Republic raised enough money to buy themselves out. Now they’re a private bank, and while they have to go public within the next two years (I think), I’m so happy and so in love, and Chase can suck my dick.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ramblin’ On My Mind

March 1, 2010

I’ve been following this thread on Change.org about an undocumented student and her experience in the United States. The post is in honor of the DREAM act week of action. I’ve talked about my own complicated views on immigration law and immigrant rights, and this thread is just a continuation.

The question in this thread seems to be about the law and the money. It’s sad that we can’t seem to have a discussion about basic human rights without talking about economics and taxes. I get it. While Andrea’s family paid taxes, I’m sure there are plenty of illegal families who don’t. And I hear the argument “Why don’t they become citizens?”, which is another point I used to agree with.

How easy is it to acquire citizenship? And how much does it cost? And can you apply in languages other than English? It’s not easy. It’s not cheap. And you need to know English. We don’t seem to make it easy, so how can you expect that a girl who just turned 18 would have the resources to become a citizen?

The other point that someone brought up was: “People in this country that¬†are here illegally¬†don’t have rights (except human rights)….plain and simple!” Except human rights? So which rights don’t illegal aliens have? (Someone replied to my reply to generously inform me that the UN doesn’t create laws other countries have to follow, which is, of course, something I am well aware of.) It’s just not a statement I understand, and if you do, please explain it to me.

These issues really come down to simply being American. We’re born with our citizenship. We didn’t work for it (though some of us did). We benefit from taxes because we happened to be born here. How does that make us any more worthy than the people who’ve worked and lived here as long as they can remember? We take citizenship and nationality for granted. I think this video by a girl who went to Haiti (before the earthquake) explores how spoiled we are, and how citizenship and nationality is most definitely a human right:


Sticks and Stones and Weed and Bones

February 18, 2010

I had a conversation with an old friend on Facebook today. I knew him in elementary school. Actually, I had a huge crush on him in first grade. Anyway, he goes to the community college in the town where we grew up. I, however, don’t live there anymore. To put it simply, I moved to a town with better public schools, and now I go to one of the most expensive private colleges in the country. So when he asks me what I’m up to, and I ask him the same, I can only imagine what he thinks of me.

Like almost everyone else I knew in my old town, I’m afraid he thinks I think I’m better than he is. I won’t get into the entire story, but it was like this: I applied to private schools in another town because the public schools where I lived were terrible. Some of my friends’ families thought my parents thought we were too good for them. So when I reconnect with friends on Facebook, I’m aware that they know where I am now and what I’m doing. And is it weird that I feel I shouldn’t say certain things about what I’m up to?

For example, I currently have an internship with Tribeca All Access. To my friends here in NYC, that’s pretty cool and not surprising that I’d want it or have it. This internship, however, may come off as pretentious or privileged since it’s unpaid and in New York City. So when old friends or accquaintances ask what I’m doing nowadays, I usually leave out my internships unless they ask.

Another example: scholarships. A good childhood friend of mine told me after we had chosen our colleges that our elementary school offered a $400 scholarship to the alumni with the highest GPA. I had no idea about this, and she told me that she didn’t tell me this before because she thought I would get it. I’m not bitter about it and I’m glad she got it, but I was still a bit shocked. She thought I’d take a scholarship she didn’t believe I deserved or needed.

So is it wrong for me to behave the way I do? Is that more pretentious or class-ist of me to leave out details of my life?


Someday You Will Find Me

January 6, 2010

My internship gives me a lot to think about. I’m constantly researching films, filmmakers, hot topics, youth organizations, and anything else you could think of pertaining to human rights and media. Today I watched a number of youth films about immigration rights. They all touch upon the fact that the United States’s economy depends on immigrant labor, and that families should not be separated.

I enjoyed watching these movies because I felt changed. I didn’t feel as if they repeated my own sentiments. For a while I’ve felt torn on the issue of immigration. My grandfather bought a name and passport and came here illegally, but at the same time, I believe in the law. With that said, it doesn’t mean that the law shouldn’t change. I listen to the arguments about immigrants taking jobs from Americans, to which I reply “do you want those jobs? Will you take those jobs?”

Last time I checked, everyone wants the American dream. More and more people are going to college and applying for white collar jobs. Have you heard about an explosion in the agricultural job market? Are there hundreds of thousands of Americans trying to work on farms or clean houses or do restaurant work? I think not. So what jobs are immigrants taking from “real” Americans?

Those who are not accepted as real Americans almost always do the hardest, ugliest work. And I am a product of two of those groups – my mother’s Irish side and my father’s Chinese side. So how can I deny immigrants their human rights? Just because I’m a natural-born American citizen? How can we deny people reasonable working conditions and minimum wage? Anyway, just some things I was thinking about today.