I read with keen interest the response of Meredith Jessup to the direct action protest which took place in New York City involving my son’s arrest. I feel the writer of the article, Video: Liberal law student chokes on silver spoon in (false) protest has missed the point of the protest by her limited perspective about American freedom, with her statement, “Only in America could a kid have been blessed with so much… and only in America could he still claim to be a victim.” She has chosen to focus on a personal attack of Robert, including his having the ability to attend good academic institutions. These institutions have taught him to think and develop a consciousness about global suffering. Meredith Jessup says “Robert Stephens graduated from Carleton College (average cost: $42,942/year) in 2010 and now studies law at The George Washington University Law School (average cost: $70,449/year).” It would also seem Ms. Jessup believes that a private education should buy your silence about these kinds of issues; that they should be fodder for the classroom but not crossover into real life. I can think of more than a few professors in private schools that would take issue with that viewpoint. I can also think of privileged persons that led movements that introduced a whole new way of thinking; that changed things; and are revered in America. Ms. Jessup in so reporting seems to be persuaded that the status quo is worth maintaining even though she admits to being underemployed in a system that she works to uphold. Ms. Jessup, Robert’s participation in the protest, covers you too.
It is true that the austerity movement has gripped the perspective of many in industry and government (and some media types) and has had devastating consequences on the lives of many poor, middle class, and marginalized people across the globe especially in the United States of America. The austerity movement has formed the rhetoric for the removal of any safety net. For the past seventy years or more a safety net had been in place. But in the recent past, government has functioned to allow corporate greed to raid the wealth of the middle class and become indifferent to the needs of the poor.
Robert was not lying when he stated that institutions like Chase Bank, have been a part of the bitter demise of middle class wealth. We are a case in point. While he did not spell out all of the details of how Chase Bank functioned in our personal circumstances, it is true that when the housing bubble burst, taking away most of the equity accumulated over the years, it was in part the work of financial institutions like Chase. The down turn in the economy is all tied to the systemic structures which diminishes the wealth of the masses of people while the rich get richer. The austerity movement offers little hope for the reversal of this process. Unfortunately, Ms. Jessup was less interested in our position about how we got to this place or our experience with the systems we interfaced with, and more interested in whether or not we were in foreclosure, as though that was the essence of Robert’s position.
While our way of discussing it– at this point– is not to cry, “the bank is taking our house,” it is still a study in irony when government bails out banks allowing them to recover profitability in a recession, but no similar opportunity is afforded those whose suffer income reduction due to a downturn in health, sudden disability, entrepreneurial failure, divorce, etc. and readily sell homes in the market that has been created by these same corporate interests. As I told Ms. Jessup, we don’t know how this short sale experience will turn out or where we will move.
I am glad that Robert joined in solidarity with suffering people. Even though I am not comfortable discussing our private affairs in a public and anonymous forum; his point is well taken.