Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jesse James was the 99%

I’ve struggled to find a way to link this blog to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Heck, I’ve struggled to find a way to join the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It’s hard to be part of a protest against unemployment and the greed of corporate America when you have a full time job with corporate America making more money than you ever though you could.  I know full well that it is not just innate talent, but a fair amount of luck as well that has put me in the comfortable position that I am in today- good pay, reasonable mortgage, excellent health insurance, and credit so good it’ll make you cry.  Of course I haven’t gone through a layoff, so who knows what the future holds?

Jesse James was the 99%.  He got his start as a pro-Confederate guerilla in Misouri and Kansas, and after the war kept up the same riding, shooting, and robbing, just without a flag to fly overhead.  The James Gang often picked targets that were connected to Northern banks, particularly going well out of their usual territory to hit the First Nation Bank of Northfield, MN.  Whether the James Gang were really anti-corporate is a matter of debate for historians, but he certainly was played up that way as Progressives swept through the Midwest in the early 20th century. 

What about Billy the Kid?  The Lincoln County War that we read about now was all about a crazy 21 year old out for revenge.  The newspapers out of Santa Fe at the time talk about it as small ranchers opposed to a shadowy group called “The Santa Fe Ring”, Republican businessmen and politicians meeting in smoky rooms coming up with plans to screw the little guy.  Hmm… 

I really don’t hate the 1% (well, except maybe for those guys at Enron).  I just think that when you are up there it is easy to lose track of how minor transgressions can have massive effects on the world around you.  My friend the attorney didn’t think that he was contributing to the downfall of the global economy when he lived off of home closings in the middle of the real estate bubble, but he was part of it.  So was I, probably, as I professionally touch industries like banking, construction, and… oh yeah, the massive overcutting of the Maine woodlands.  I probably should have turned down that assignment.  From many small sins come great catastrophes. 

Well, that’s another depressing post.  I’ll throw some mindless content into the next post.  In the mean time, check out the fun over at Sexy Fawkes.  See, the 99% can have fun, too!


  1. I just posted this in response to your link on Facebook a few minutes ago, but I figured what the heck, I'll post it here as well...

    Actually, there was beginning to be a very large backlash during Jesse's day against the Robber Barons and the banks -mostly from small farmers and urban laborers. This period saw the beginning of the modern labor movement. And thus it was ...-since most people in the West and Midwest hated banks and railroad companies (often for good reason), they glamorized Jesse James and created a Robin Hood legend around him. In real life he didn't so much give to the poor, but he DID rob from the rich, and that made him okay in a lot of folks' book. The EXACT same thing happened with bank robbers during the Great Depression, and for the same reason (Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde, etc.) Ha- I covered all this in my American History II lecture not long ago :-)

  2. Thanks, Troy! I posted this link in a Facebook site for western readers and someone asked me, after reading the post, what Jesse James has to do with the 99%. What can I say, I am really tired and it made sense in my head. I'll leave it to real writers like Troy here to make sense of it for me.