Heems on Occupy Wall Street


People in my ask section keep asking me what I think about Occupy Wall Street. I think it’s fun! Wait I should really do this right? ITS COMPLICATED BUT NOT SO COMPLICATED THAT I THINK ITS DUMB OR UNNECESSARY.

I’ve always been “progressive” and “liberal” but have always wanted to “make money” and “live well” so my parents don’t feel like they came to “America” for “no reason”. I think its important Americans gather and voice their complaints of big business. The more people do this, in New York and elsewhere, the more attention the efforts gather and the more people outside this country can see we’re not all terrible people. Also, the more people inside this country can see we are all terrible people. Although the problem isn’t Wall Street as much as it is “America” or “capitalism”. I feel a lot of people who talk about their hatred for Wall Street have no idea what they’re talking about.

It’s no secret I “worked on Wall Street” although I’d describe it as “to the periphery of Wall Street.” Also, “Wall Street” functions mostly in midtown. In 2007 I graduated from Wesleyan University where I paid entirely too much money to be taken from Queens, New York to isolated Middletown, Connecticut to be surrounded by white people and other people of color who hoped to learn their extremely profitable codified language. I had a great deal of debt and parents I didn’t want to have to pay for said debt. I had an offer to paralegal at a corporate immigration law firm and an offer to take no salary and live off of commission, hiring traders, sales people, analysts, portfolio managers, and other executives in the financial services industry. I chose the latter. I liked the idea of working with other South Asians. I liked the idea of having to hustle and not being restricted by a salary and paying my debt off and hopefully helping my parents do the same for themselves. My firm was owned and operated by two South Asians (a first-generation American and an immigrant) in 1992 and by the time I worked there had grown into one of the largest executive search firms in the space. We had 12 global offices, including Sao Paulo and Mumbai who I worked closely with. Starting in research, I spent a couple of months calling investment banks and lying to personnel to attain lists of employees in certain groups - emerging markets debt, oil trading, gas trading, foreign exchange, collateral debt, us equity, quantitative analysts, asian bond trading, etc. Within a couple of months I was made an analyst and worked under a pair of headhunters (“search consultants”) focusing in commodities. One of the pair was an Indian immigrant (the brother-in-law of the ceo) and the other came from heading up the commodities group at a investment bank. I helped them find trading and sales executives for oil, gas, and power for Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse mostly. I took a personal interest in Latin America and the Emerging Markets as well and carved a niche at the firm for myself. I hired several people older, better educated, and wealthier than me for jobs that would sustain that wealth. I sat across the table from executives twice my age who I would help hire or help hire for. I saw Bear Sterns fall and helped place some of them at RBS. I saw Lehman Brothers fall and placed some of their employees at Societe Generale and Credit Suisse. I saw Merrill Lynch, along with Goldman our biggest client, fall and I saw a new client rise, Bank of America.

Many of the people I was dealing with - co-workers, clients, and candidates - were terrible human beings and I couldn’t stand to be around them. Many of them were great people. Many of them were the children of immigrants like myself. Many were far from pedigreed and want not much else besides building a good life for their family like the participants of any industry. Wall Street is an industry like automobiles, hospitality, or medicine. In the financial industry like those others several people have risen from poverty to profitability and prominence. Whereas in other industries there is a product that is sold with the end goal of profitability in mind, the product in the financial services industry is profitability WHICH IS INSANE KIND OF. The people at the top of Wall Street who build a culture of greed that permeates through trading floors across Wall Street are the same people who speak on our House and Senate floor where a different codified language does the same thing: spread wealth unevenly to preserve capital for a small selected few. Wall Street is a problem. America is a problem. The IMF is a problem. The developing world should OCCUPY AMERICA (while they can before Arizona and Alabama’s immigration laws spread across the majority of this country and red states continue to change their voting laws to prevent the working class from voting). The sentiment is the same but the semantics aren’t - occupy wall street is confusing.

They really could have used a good marketing consultant on the name I guess is what I’m saying. 

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    Das Racist fans peep this. Go Heems!
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    tw on this for some gratuitously ableist language by heems, but it is a good read.
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