Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder

An Opportunity For Dialogue

I have to confess, in my younger days, I used to attend protests. I have been jazzed up enough about certain social issues to actually put myself out there and march and shout and carry signs and what not.

But I’ve become disenchanted over time because over the years it’s been demonstrated that folks in power really don’t care what citizens want.

And I have to admit the whole Take Back Wall Street thing has me confused because I have seen so many people representing so many different gripes; I have actually lost the message of the protest. I mean, is there one unifying message?

But this guy. Well, he has found a way to do his part. YouTuber ransackedroom, a San Francisco based marketer has a plan that involves taking the business reply mail envelope that comes with most unsolicited credit card offers, and sending it back to the banks with a message inside that ransacked hopes will help open “a dialogue.”

And look, he’s not screaming when he says it. He’s logical. And civilized. For the love of Pete, the man is wearing a tie!

I adore how this guy has a simple, all-inclusive concept to “sell” Take Back Wall Street to the masses. His contribution to the movement is about creating a diversion of time. Personally, I love this. It’s perfectly passive-aggressive. And perfectly legal. It uses the big bank resources against the big banks to make a point.

And to those who participate, we get to feel like we’re recycling while protesting at the same time.

How cool is that?

And multi-taskishy.

Seriously, if everyone does what this guy asks even just once or twice, maybe it would actually stop all those awful credit card mailers. And wouldn’t that — in and of itself — be worth fighting for?

Would you consider doing this? Have you ever attended a protest? How did you feel about its overall success? What do you think about the Take Back Wall Street Movement? And can you articulate the message of its movement?

36 thoughts on “An Opportunity For Dialogue

  1. First, I’m not at all surprised you were a protester. 😉

    And man! I’ve been doing that for year’s! Sort of. I always send the solicitation back with something written in permanent marker (usually “No thanks” or “Please stop offers”). I didn’t know for sure if they only paid postage on returned envelopes but I’ve been hoping. Good to know I cost the banks $5 this whole time! Woohoo!

    Time to up the ante though methink.

    1. I just did this for the first time yesterday. I made sure NOT to include the one piece that has our name on it!

      I don’t want anything circling back to us.

      I didn’t put in a shim, but the envelope is pretty fat.

      It’s going out in today’s mail.

  2. Seems most protesters are angry. Frustrated. Feel disenfranchised politically and economically. The megabanks and megacorps are not the least bit intimidated. In fact, they are chuckling. Organizing a march does not change structure. They don’t seem to have a plan for that. A girlfriend of long ago despised me when I explained that even though she was at Woodstock, being drunk and high, having indiscriminate sex, singing songs, and wearing flowers and brightly patterned clothing did not help end the Vietnam War.

    1. I know plenty of folks who were at Woodstock. And no, Woodstock didn’t help stop the war. It was just emblematic of the anti-war sentiment. It was the first time that people gathered in that way which is — I suppose — part of what made it so magical.

      By the way, all those peace, love, granola Woodstockers left a major mess! They weren’t very environmentally conscious! Kind of ironic.

  3. YEEES!

    If I felt “Strongly” enough about something, I would want to be part of a movement for change!

    I love the idea of being PRO-ACTIVE…of Starting a Revolution!! X

    I feel this way about “Domestic – Verbal- Violence”

    Love your site, Renee!

    1. Kim:

      I used to be very active in “Take Back the Night” in the 1980s. Some people will have to Google that, I’m sure. But same idea, right. Keeping people safe.

      And you know I love your site, too.

      Your words are power.

  4. I’ve just put the phone down when telemarketers have called. Usually I’ll pick up the phone after about 20 minutes and ask them to repeat themselves. I haven’t had the nerve to try to beat my friends record of 4 hours, closest I’ve come is 2 hours. It’s my own little passive-aggressive “eff you” to people who call during dinner time.

    The whole Occupy Wall Street thing has me puzzled as well. If I knew what they wanted, or what they were protesting, I’d probably be all for it. As is, it looks like the world has decided to have a giant camp out.

    1. I can’t believe you have made telemarketers repeat themselves. That is cruel and unusual punishment. For you! Ugh!

      My son did something straight out of Seinfeld the other day. And I TOTALLY don’t condone this at all, but since he had never seen the episode, it was rather funny.

      Caller: “Hi, I’m conducting a brief survey…”
      Tech Support: “Really? That’s weird because I’m conducting a brief hang-up!”

      And then he hung up!

      I gave him a lecture about being kind and told him that person was simply doing a job, etc.

      And then I laughed. Because it was really funny. 😉

      1. I TOTALLY condone this. If Tech Support did that every time a telemarketer called, I’d buy him an iPad! OK, there might be a reason I’m not a parent, but those calls are really annoying.

        If you like Seinfeld you could just have him answer the phone “Vandelay Industries” and try to sell them latex. 😉

      2. The key is to put the phone down and do something productive while they’re yakking away.

        I’ve also made an AT&T telemarketer call back worried for my safety when The Boss hung up on our conversation (or my inane answering of their survey).

  5. Actually I think the Occupy movement’s message is fairly simple. Money in politics is bad for everyone, and the policies that have ensued from the entwinement of the 2 have led to the largest gap between rich and poor that our country has seen in a very long time. I think Rachel Maddow captures it on her show. Lots of studies have found that income inequality is very bad for not only fairness and justice, but also economic stability.

    OWS is much more than a camp-out; many who are involved (including myself) aren’t into the whole camping thing, but I think the occupation of public spaces is a sign that people feel that this is the only way to get their voices heard. We live in a country, after all, where corporations are considered people and money is classified as speech. It’s kind of hard for average-income individuals to compete with the speech of big corporations.

    And I do love this whole idea of sending the mail back! And of course, your blog, Renee!

    1. Well, that is certainly one message of #OWS.

      People seem to be screaming about all kinds of things.

      As you say, our political structure does love those corporate voices. And corporations do provide benefits to society; in theory, companies create jobs that provide money, health care, and a sense of purpose for people. If companies do all this while earning better than expected profits, they can (and should) reward shareholders. And by paying taxes and giving back to communities, they are decent citizens.

      Sadly, not all companies follow this script — which is why we need to regulate companies. But as long as wealthy companies use money to pay lobbyists, make campaign contributions, and do lots of other stuff that I don’t even know about, I suppose we run the risk that corporations will engage in some questionable conduct.

      And the questionable conduct branches out in so many directions; it’s not just banks, it’s pharmaceutical companies and so many other companies — it is hard for me to figure out exactly what regular folks can do to make an impact.

      And I don’t mean to get all political *takes a sip and goes for it anyway* but this country was not founded on fairness. It was founded on capitalism which, by definition means it emulates a triangle model with lots of people at the bottom and very few rich folks at the top. And it may not be great for justice, but I don’t think it is fair to rake people who do well financially over the coals as long as they have made their money honestly. For the life of me, I don’t understand why we don’t all pay a flat tax. That way everyone would pay an equal percentage of their income. Donald Trump would pay way more than a teacher. Why is that bad?

      This is probably why I am not an economics professor.

      1. Renee, I am with you to a certain point. I will write later about why a flat tax is a bad idea, IMHO. 😉 But I do have a question–just because the country was not founded on fairness (which I totally agree with), does that mean we can’t or shouldn’t strive for a bit more fairness?

        And truly, I don’t see how, in any way, we rake people over the coals who are wealthy. I mean, remember what Warren Buffett said about how pays a lower tax rate than his receptionist?

        1. Julie:

          I guess I get confused by the term “wealthy.”

          “Wealthy” has become the new naughty word. It used to be something to strive hard to become. You know, part of the American Dream, right? You work hard to make money to get the house to get things you want, not just things you need.

          And I don’t disagree that just because our country was founded on one model it can’t (or shouldn’t) be changed, but I personally think it is a pretty good model.

          I never understood how Warren Buffet could possibly pay a lower tax rate than his receptionist. But that’s why I say everyone should pay the same. So we are all pulling our own weight. If we go on the simple math (and it has to be simple for me to do it) say we all pay 10% (I wish!) — if you earned $9,000, you’d owe $900. If you made $90,000, you’d pay $9K. If you made 900,000, you’d pay $90K. Why would that be bad? (is that math even right? 😉 ) I would love to understand why a flat tax wouldn’t work for anyone who is gainfully employed — not folks on disability, etc.

          1. Ah, Renee, such interesting points. I actually think that the US level of “wealth,” including that which I myself have, is not sustainable for our planet, and that there has to be some limit to buying things. It is a constant tension I live with in my own very imperfect attempts to live in accord with my values. So, the model our country (and now, most of the world) is following could truly be our destruction. Maybe that’s even okay. I’m not sure. But I think either way, it’s indisputable (at least in my mind).

            Non-sequitur–there was a graph at the New York Times recently, and to my own surprise, I’m at the 84% percentile in terms of wealth. And I think I live a pretty modest lifestyle. Here’s the link:

            Okay, regarding flat tax, I’m not an economist either, but here are a couple of links that I think are good summaries of the problems with the flat tax. *leaving now to go find links* Well, I know I’ve read some good stuff, buy I can’t find any of it now, at least not anything that an economist (or fiscal policy scholar) would want to read.

            Bottom line, though, 10% of $20,000 a year hurts a lot more than 10% of $200,000 a year.

            So now I’m going to have to do more research into the flat tax thing, but first I have to meet my upcoming writing deadline! 🙂

          2. I do think individuals are rethinking their wants vs. needs. I think people are. I know we are. My husband and I come from modest backgrounds and we feel that we are doing very well. We don’t want for much. We are fortunate. But I’m not a big fashionista and we only have one child.


            I’ll check out the NYT article. I’m sure we are way up there in percentile in terms of wealth. But for me wealth is so much more that having a big house or fancy cars. It’s knowing that we don’t owe money. I don’t like debt.

            I wish our government felt the same way.

            And you are right; money does give a person some kind of peace of mind. And while Mr. $200K might bicker about losing that $20K to taxes, Mr. $20K (the bachelor) would obviously not have much of a cushion to try to put money away for the future — and his salary would be greatly stressed if he had a family, or a child with special needs, or a medical condition, etc.

            No easy answers.

          3. Ah, yes, I feel the same way about debt! And I do agree with you that people are rethinking what they need and what they want.

            As you say, though, no easy answers…thanks for the opportunity for dialogue! 🙂

  6. Ooooooh, yeah, I’ve been a protester! It’s hard for me not to protest just about any and every indignity I witness.

    I haven’t been pulled into the “Occupy” movement, but I do agree that there are problems with our approach to taxation and wealth distribution. One of the biggest problems, IMO, is when wealth holders don’t see how the government into which all of us have paid our taxes is a part of their success.

    My sister is all occupy, all the time right now, excepting when Li’l D is climbing all over her. I should ask her for some deeper insight into her position. Hmm!

    1. One of the biggest problems, IMO, is when wealth holders don’t see how the government into which all of us have paid our taxes is a part of their success.

      Deb: You might have to explain that to me in more simple terms.

      I’m not being facetious. What do you mean?

  7. My first thought reading this was that the reason folks in power don’t care what the citizens want is that if they ignore us long enough we will grow disenchanted and stop yelling. Hmm, I read that somewhere… right?

    Take Back/Occupy Wall Street, just like every other almost-successful protest, was immediately overrun by what I call piggy-back riders. There was once a unified message. It’s gone now, and the folks in power had nothing to do with it. We did it. If you ask 100 people on the street today what this movement is about you will get 94 different answers. The 6 that match will all be wrong. Even media is shying away now in confusion.

    My most relevant protest is I sent back junk mail Return to Sender for a while. It was fun and I felt empowered. But just like this guy, that’s only effective if fifty million people do it at the same time with all of their junk mail. And of course I hurt USPS, and ultimately us, worse than I hurt the corporations.

    I think what Deb means (sorry Deb), [big breath] is that the guys who have all the money need to wake up and realize that they get all their money either from us or from the guys who get all their money from us, so everything would work better if they stopped being greedy with our money so we could continue to spend it, either on them or the guys that take it from us to give it to them.

    Did I approach any records for longest run-on there?

    1. I’m just trying to figure out the definition of “the guys who get all their money from us”? Do you mean large corporations?

      I’ve heard doctors thrown into the mix.

      BIAS ALERT: You have to know that gets my panties in a bunch.

        1. Thank you for the clarification Anne. Because I wondered what doctors had to do with Wallstreet. But then I realize people often think of individual doctors being “in bed” with the big drug companies – which, in my experience, is NOT at all how it works.

  8. Holy crap! This is genius. (“Being immoral doesn’t mean you’re infertile.” Ha! How funny is this guy?) I would definitely do this. I’ve never protested before, but I would for certain issues.

    P.S. – LOVE the new banner photo! 🙂

    1. Don’t you love that line? 😉

      It is my understanding that the banks have to foot the extra money for postage to the USPS, so it is good for them, too.

      I hope this is not boning the postal service. That would not be good.

  9. This is so funny because my grandmother (when she was still “with it”) Did this all of the time, and usually with some sort of note begging for them to stop sending her junk mail!
    I live very close to Washington,DC, so I have attended marches for women’s reproductive rights along with my daughters.
    This is terrible, but I haven’t really followed the Occupy protests, too much. 🙂

  10. first, I LOVE the banner photo. and second, I love what this guy is doing, it sends a strong message. I think the only way the message will get through is for many people to follow through. It is so easy! As for monkey..I mean Tech support, maybe he was a bit rude but what is it not rude when someone intrurrupts your dinner and knowing they have just done the same to 50 people. How do you send a message to make them feel bad enough to find a new job. I get it, they need a job but there are many jobs that have to deal wtih causing others pain or annoyance and we all have those choices. I think we have to be clear about the message we are sending and if they do not hear the message, we have to say it in a way they can understand. Nobody changed the world by staying quiet. I guess there are other ways to get a point across without being rude or sarcastic or sending wood chips in the mail, but if anybody knows the way to do this, I am all ears. And that is your evening announcements.

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