Will History Repeat Itself? Occupy Wall Street and 1793

Let me paraphrase some history for you. First though, let me clarify, I’m not a historian, so the details will be vague, but the heart of the story is true.

A few years ago, people got upset about poor economy in their country. The were tired of working hard, getting no respect. They deplored their living conditions, and had to watch the rich get richer every day. No matter how much they tried, they always ended up in more debt. These people began to envy the rich. They felt they had a right to have more money, to be better cared for. Since the rich refused to listen when they complained and begged, they started demonstrating about economic reform. The poor hoped that the government and the elite would listen. They complained that the vast majority of the wealth was held by a few elite. They wanted a more equal spread of power and money. They wanted someone to pay them better. They wanted to be free of debt. They wanted a clean nice place to live and food to eat. In the end, all they wanted was to be treated like humans.

I suppose you think I’m talking about Occupy Wall Street. Well, yes and no. If you look a little further back in our turbulent human history, you will find two more such revolutions. The Russian Revolution, which led to one of the most famous communist states. We all see where that got them. The second and more similar parallel is the good old French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. The most interesting part of both of these revolutions was that neither changed the overall condition of the common man. There still was vast wealth in the hands of one and nothing in the hands of the majority. The change was that a few of the previously common poor became rich, deposing (and often killing) the owners of those riches.

I point out these similarities to tell the three or four readers who will actually wade through all this to say this: IT WON’T WORK. Go ahead, demonstrate. If you get violent, or if you do manage to overthrow the economic system, all that will happen is you will destroy what you did have and exchange your old tyrants for new. Just look at French history.

But are they all wrong? No. Economic reform is imperative. We’ve all known that for years. Our national deficit alone proves that we can’t manage our money well. With the debt spiraling upward daily, it doesn’t take a genius to see that soon something will break, and we will all end up in the poor house.

The Tea Party thinks they have a plan. Smaller government is the answer right? I’m not so sure about that either. Reduce our government and pay off our debt sounds fantastic, but the problem is too many Americans rely on the dole from the government (welfare, health care etc) to just cut all that off. If we eliminate all that spending, sure, we’ll be debt free as a nation, and launch our death and crime rates due to massive discontent among the poor.

There are many problems leading to the issues we have today. Corrupt politicians who seek reelection only. The rich refuse to pay their workers well. The poor would rather live on welfare then work for minimum wage. And many many more I’m sure. In fact, there are probably as many root issues out there as there are people claiming to have answers.

I think we can all agree, however, that one of the root causes for our economic times is our love of bad debt; credit card debt, car debt, and mortgages we have no business owning. To start a remedy for that, perhaps one thing we can do to help is to take responsibility for our own financial state, and pay it off. This starts by economizing. Use the internet at the library. While you are there, get a membership, borrow a book, go home and read it under a fan instead of in your AC (or read it in the library AC). Or since fall is here, perhaps you can turn the heat down a few degrees and wear a sweater. Cancel your cable TV, you are reading a book anyway. Sell your second or third car and walk places. Buy a bike to go places that are too far to walk. Don’t buy the iPhone 4S. You already have the iPhone 3, just be happy with it. Eat out only once a week. Go to McDonald’s (free wifi) instead of Olive Garden. Cancel your gym membership and run at the park, or break out that old exercise video and exercise with friends in your living room. Stop going to Starbucks. Make your own coffee at home and add that 1/3 cup of sugar for your self!

If we all of the 99% start reforming our own economy instead of trying to destroy everyone else’s by picketing Wall Street, we can make our own reform. In the mean time, let’s show the government we don’t need it. We don’t need it spending our money to pay for Congressional holidays or visits from the Bears of 85 at the White House.

What about you? What do you think are things we can do to improve our state? Can we avoid an American French Revolution? Is small government the answer? How can we pay back our thousands of dollars of personal debt on minimum wage jobs?

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