Today I posted Cops Have No Morals, a depiction of one of the most eye-opening conversations I’ve ever had. It’s a story that is as much about corporate America and our capitalist society as it is about a police officer. Spoiler alert: in 1998 a police officer insisted that there was no such thing as a cop who cared about right and wrong, then went on to reveal the secret to success in Capitalist America.
I’m sure if you’ve looked around this site you can probably guess that I support Occupy Wall Street and my local version, Occupy Seattle, but at the same time I don’t particularly feel as though I’m one of the ninety-nine percent.
In the last few years, the economy has been very good to me. My income has steadily increased. I bought a condo after the housing bust and got a great deal at a low interest rate. I have a fancy corporate job with full medical and dental, doing something I love. I can sometimes spend nearly a thousand dollars in a month on restaurants alone. I have a sun room overlooking a golf course… well, a driving range and mini-putt. I have a guest bedroom with a liquor cabinet and I buy my weed by the ounce.
Then the other day, I saw this picture posted to Facebook and thought it was perfect, because I think that’s where I am. I am one of that nine percent.
I’m not a millionaire, of course. I’m not part of the one percent, but I don’t have any kids and have made good investments, but I see so many others out there who are struggling to feed their families, who would be devastated if they lost their job, and have no clue what they’re going to do about retirement. I don’t need to worry about any of that.
The main difference I’ve noticed between them and me? They chose to make careers out of things they felt would help society, things they felt needed to get done. I made a career out of something fun that would make money.
The reason I was able to do this, to think of only myself, to “look out for number one”, was because of what this officer told me. He taught me how to be selfish.
For years this speech creeped me out. I ran it through my head over and over again for years, and was horrified. But what’s truly horrifying about this speech, I found out years later, is that every word he said was true.
I had promised myself that I would never work for another corporation, that I would always do something to contribute, that I would always be humble, I wouldn’t do destructive things like drive a car or eat farmed fish and all that. After a few years, however, society beat me down. Every time someone tried to tell me the police were the good guys the officer’s speech ran through my head, telling me I was a fool for caring about right and wrong, and over the years, I simply gave up.
Since then I’ve worked for several companies that I felt were ripping off their customers, knowingly selling faulty products as well as companies whose sole purpose was to manipulate people into buying things. I’ve sat in meetings where we cracked jokes about how rational people should see us as evil. In one meeting with hundreds of people, a corporate representative literally told us that it didn’t matter what was true or not in our sales pitches. I can deal with this because of that officer who taught me how to shut off my sense of right and wrong.
I see teachers, firefighters and plumbers out there who saw a gap in society, something that needed to get done, and used that to guide their career decisions. They cared about society before themselves. A friend recently got fired for failing a pee test and had a hard time getting another job as a result. Turned out he was listing the job on applications because he felt some kind of moral obligation to be honest about his work history. I had to tell him, this is the real world. Nobody’s gonna reward you for honesty, and nobody’s gonna care if you tell a few lies. Manipulation and lies are an integral part of the financial game in America and every one of the one percent and the majority of the nine percent have accepted that and have blatantly exploited it, at the expense of the 90 percent. And they did it right under your noses.
And I’m part of the problem. I’m an anarchist and a socialist, but I behave like a capitalist. I’m a hypocrite. I know it’s wrong. I feel bad, but not bad enough to stop, because I love my job, I love my condo, and I love sushi and creme brule.
So just remember occupiers, those police surrounding you and the one percent they represent, they don’t care about right and wrong the way you do. Just remember that. Otherwise you will be truly shocked at what they are capable of.