I found Steven Begakis’ letter in Monday’s issue of the Daily Nexus regarding the Occupy Wall Street protests thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing. I feel that I must commend Mr. Begakis for his eloquent letter and enthusiastic support of the OWS cause. It is very encouraging to see a member of the College Republicans rising above the usual partisan divides in support of this movement.
Mr. Begakis’ ironic straw man attack on the protesters is clearly too outrageous to be believed: “mindless” “rabble-rousers,” “wastrels” and “drugged-out youths” who “exude hatred and jealousy.” Equally ridiculous is the lavish praise heaped on his archetypical Wall Street investor: a family man whose “heart aches over how … to honor his town, his country, his planet and his God.”
Mr. Begakis is aware of his audience: college students, faculty and staff who indeed work very long hours and make personal sacrifices for the sake of our livelihood and dreams. Like Begakis’ fictional investor, we seek to improve the world through our work and ideas. As busy students and employees, we therefore recognize the absurdity of Begakis’ contrast between the honest, diligent investor and his ungrateful employees who supposedly “face no economic risk” and have “no moral dilemmas in their economic decisions.”
Additionally, as we seek employment after graduation, we become acutely aware that many of the “jobs [provided] to thousands of men and women” by Begakis’ holy businessman are nonexistent or overseas. Furthermore, many of us are sufficiently well educated to recognize that the outsourcing of jobs and money is not purely economic, but also political. It is encouraged with loopholes written by corporately funded legislators and exasperated by the declining investment in education.
In the pinnacle of irony, Begakis accuses the protesters of “[seeking] to legalize theft in order to subsidize their loathsome behavior,” when this is the very accusation made by the protesters themselves. Through the obvious absurdity of his if-by-whiskey arguments, it is clear that Begakis’ scathing criticism is actually meant for Wall Street, and in particular for the big banks who would have collapsed under their own greed but for taxpayer support.
As president of the College Republicans, Mr. Begakis communicates an important and timely message with his letter. The nation’s partisan divides are largely artificial and serve to distract the nation from the deeper issues we must face. So as we head into an election year, let us heed Begakis’ call to focus not on political division, but on economic solutions that will keep the American Dream alive. And never should we call for silencing the voice of the people — be they Tea Partiers or OWS protesters — for democracy is nothing without the voices of the 99 percent.
Daniel Ouellette is a fourth-year graduate student in the Physics Dept.