Disclaimer: Foul language ahead. Reader discretion is advised.
I was 190lbs (86.4kgs) throughout my high school years. I won’t sugarcoat it; I was big, muscular, fat, and short. During this time, I tried every fad diet one could think of and suffered a series of eating disorders to try and “be skinny.” The (sub)culture in which I grew up demanded women be petite in preparation for marriage. On the other side of that spectrum stood my sister, the one who’s just a year younger. She was 95lbs (43.2kgs) and also half an inch taller than me! Now and then she’d stand by the mirror in the bathroom, door ajar, sigh as I passed by and say, “Ugh. I’m so fat.” Do you know how many times I wanted to punch her face out when she’d say that? You’re all wondering now where this is going and what this has to do with this week’s tumultuous events on Wall Street. While I can’t provide you with an expert or even a near-expert opinion on stocks, shares and all that fun jazz stock market stuff, I can layout a fundamental understanding of what just happened by outlining, you guessed it, how we got here in the first place! To do that, we must draw on our greatest human quality: empathy.
We’re all in this together.
Oh my God, how I abhor the statement, “We’re all in this together.” I absolutely detest it. I find it smug, arrogant, obnoxious and a load of crock. Every time a politician or a celebrity opens their mouth to say, “We’re all in this together,” I want to do the Arab thing and throw a shoe (surmaya) at the TV. President Bush knows what I’m talking about!
Everything we do in life is an equation. I won’t bore you with the math even though math is my favourite subject of all time – more than languages believe it or not. However, it’s important to understand that, like math, life consists of action resulting in an outcome. For example:
- A+B = C
- I wake up and make my bed (Action A + Action B) = bed made (Outcome),
- I brush my teeth (Action) = clean teeth (Outcome),
- I smoke a cigarette = Lung deterioration,
In the last year and rolling into this year, we’ve been in a global pandemic due to the famous virus COVID-19. Many actions were taken to fight against it spreading. The outcomes have varied depending on many factors: government and corporate action, location, family unit, personal responsibility, mental and physical health, and financial and job security, among other controllable and uncontrollable variables. We’ll narrow the focus of our discussion to financial and job security today. Together, let’s paint a picture.
Lockdown everyone STAY HOME.
Scenario A: The poor
You’re a server at a small restaurant in the city. Your routine is the same every day: you wake up, wash up, wake your two kids and tell them to wash up too, go to your kitchen, start the coffee pot, look down at your phone and scroll through the electronic bills. You’re a single parent who works 40 hour-weeks and 20 hours of overtime a week to make ends meet. Your hydro bill has been going up even though your intake has been the same and you’re short on rent by $5, so you sigh heavily knowing that you’re going to have to dip into overdraft before your next paycheque comes in, in two weeks. You get the call you were dreading as you pour yourself a cup of coffee. Your manager called to tell you that the government has ordered everyone to stay home and that they cancelled your shift today and indefinitely. You’re silent for a moment but have no choice but to utter “I understand,” remaining optimistic that this is temporary. Your manager apologizes after concluding the call with, “We’ll call you when we need you.” Your phone pings and it’s an email from the school telling you that the schools have shut down indefinitely. Your kids appear in the kitchen dressed and waiting for the breakfast you hadn’t started yet because your anxiety has gone from a two to an 11. You tune into the news, and you hear a polished Prime Minister assure you that it will all be OK and that “we’re all in this together.” Momentarily, that’s reassuring to know that someone’s got your back.
A year goes by, and you’re in debt to the banks after pulling a loan to make ends meet. Your employer cuts your hours to 18 throughout the year, your kids are bitter, restless and confused, and your baby daddy is nowhere to be found. The $2000 government cheque was barely enough to cover the bills, and halfway through the year, it went down to $1800. You’re behind on rent because it’s $2400 for a two-bedroom, so you have to move to a smaller, further, and underdeveloped neighbourhood. But the moving costs are close to $800, and you have no friends nearby to help you move. Not to mention, you have to pay first and last month’s rent to the new place, and so you’re now required to request another loan. Get another job in the meantime, you think to yourself. You’ve been applying for months, but the unemployment rate and competition are so high, you’re tired of being “the second choice.” You tune into the news to find your Premier, Prime Minister, Minister of Health, and the whole political clan fancily dressed and from the comfort of their open-concept kitchen telling you to stay home and we’re all in this together. Following this plea, the mainstream media turns it to celebrities singing from their glamorous homes and backyards “We are the world,” and the only two words you can think of that sum up how these people make you feel are, “Fuck you.”
Scenario B: The rich
You hear the announcements of lockdowns happening worldwide and anticipate it’ll happen where you live shortly. You’ve already started planning on how you can capitalize on this pandemic. You’re a businessman after all, not a philanthropist. You manage a hedge fund and have done quite well for yourself over the years. You recognize that there are losers and winners with every crisis, and you’re determined to come out the winner whatever it takes and by any means necessary. If 2008 taught you anything, it’s that it’s not your fault people lose; they were just ill-prepared, and you happen to be naturally selected to win at the expense of their great losses. In other words, why should someone else be a lying, cheating scum when you can? It’s every man for himself in this world.
They told you to stay home, but you’ve been home since Blockbuster closed its doors for good after losing to Netflix! You wake up in the morning and go out on your terrace to do your Yoga while your coffee is brewing. You tune into your wraparound TV about unemployment on the rise, people protesting, and shake your head, thinking, “What a bunch of lazy people. Can’t these idiots get a job, any job? Unbelievable.” What an inconvenience to your day it was to look down at these lowlifes, you think to yourself. Your kids come down and tell you how their private school has started this new teaching method online. Your spouse – an Instagram influencer – is editing her most recent fake video about the struggles of being in lockdown and how we are all in this together. Life is good…
The tipping point
What do you think happens when someone reaches rock bottom? The worst-case scenario is they never get out of it. The best case is that they find a way to climb back up. Alone, getting back on one’s feet is hard, discouraging and appears impossible sometimes. But as the saying goes, we are greater in numbers, stronger even. The beauty (it’s also ugly, but we’re going to focus on its advantage today) of the internet is being able to find people with whom you can relate and share your experience. Eventually, they become your support system, your virtual friends, and you’re able to work together to get out of this rut in which you’ve found yourselves because of a mandate that only benefited the few. Suddenly, you become empowered and realize that there’s a way to take down the bad folks without sounding like a conspiracy, tin-foil hat lunatic. If crying “there are wolves on Wall Street” isn’t working, then parade as one of the wolves on Wall Street and take back what’s yours. Beat them at their own game.
OK, so now that we have the action part of the equation, what is the outcome? In other words, what is happening right now? What do we know? Well, to put it simply and plainly – because I honestly had someone dumb this down for me too:
- Some hedge funds had placed bets on certain retailers such as GameStop (GME) circling the drain that they were going to go bankrupt, and so they borrowed stocks from owners and said if the price goes down, they (the hedgefund borrowers) will profit, and if the price goes up, the borrowers will owe money.
- This is an incredibly risky tactic because it means hedge funds bite more than they can chew. But the risk is minimized because of “alleged” insider trading. They already know which businesses will die, so they manipulate the market to make big money at the expense of the little fish.
- However, this time, the little fish caught on and decided, “not today,” and cut the brakes on this corrupt moving vehicle.
History repeats itself over time and space
This isn’t the first time this has happened and it certainly won’t be the last. Where there’s corruption, there’s an eventual economic downfall. When people unite, great things can happen (again, talking about the good stuff, not the bad today). Between 2008 and 2012, Iceland experienced a major financial meltdown that drove up unemployment, cost of living, debts, poverty, etc. According to BBC, 80% of the stock market was wiped out overnight. Massive protests occurred as people were rightfully angry, let down and demanding answers to what just happened. Further investigations found pyramid corporations running on credit from the bank, and those pyramid corporations’ owners were major shareholders at these banks. You can imagine the amount of money-guzzling these folks were doing. On top of all this, in simple terms, stupid people were running the banks. Just saying. Long story short, Iceland is doing fine. Click here to read more about the crisis and how they handled it.
Honestly, any step towards exposing corruption is a huge plus. But what’s happening on Wall Street goes beyond corruption; a flaw in the system was exposed, a vulnerability if you will. We can’t fret on the things over which we have no control, but you can take steps and demand for fairness in the market. We’re advocating for neither socialism nor capitalism here, but I think it’s safe to assume that we all want an equal and fair opportunity at excelling. Remember to focus on yourself, your health and wellbeing, and your family. Be a disrupter in the world we live, not a (shit) disturber.
Ep. 2391a – People Can See The Rigged Economic System, It’s Controlled By The Establishment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://rumble.com/vdegwh-ep.-2391a-people-can-see-the-rigged-economic-system-its-controlled-by-the-e.html
How did Iceland clean up its banks? (2016, February 10). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-35485876