Last week, hundreds of peaceful protesters demonstrated outside of Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, a move presidential candidate Mitt Romney summarily dismissed as ignorant and youthful, reports the NationalJournal.
“Unfortunately, a lot of young folks haven’t had the opportunity to really understand how the economy works,” Romney said in response to the protesters. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Romney, age 65, is plenty old enough to understand the economy, evidently. “This is a time for new direction for America, and for someone who understands how to get the economy going again – and I do,” Romney added.
Romney believes that it takes age and experience to understand “why we have banks, and what banks do.” Perhaps, then, Romney would agree that the shareholders themselves have a better comprehension of how Bank of America operates. After all, who would better understand a corporation than its investors? In that case, Romney might be surprised by The Washington Post’s report that the protests were not restricted to the streets:
Inside the auditorium at the company’s headquarters, the protests continued. Shareholder after shareholder took the microphone to berate the bank for its handling of foreclosures, its investments in payday lenders, and also investments in the coal industry. On stage, CEO Brian Moynihan’s attempts at sidestepping hard questions or deflecting answers were met with loud jeers. Attendees shouted “amen” after anti-Bank of America statements were made by other shareholders.
Romney’s comments bring up some important questions: how old does someone have to be before they can confidently condemn banks for illegally foreclosing on American families? At what age can you begin to criticize an institution that makes record profits yet pays no taxes? And would a teenager be incorrect for thinking something’s wrong with a bank that needed a federal bailout almost immediately rewarding its executives with multimillion bonuses?
Besides, although Occupy has largely been credited as a movement spurred by a younger generation, attendees of this Bank of America protest represented a wide range of ages from children to the elderly. Does Maria Reyes (who Care2 reporter Aaron Krager interviewed at this protest) seem too young to know what she’s talking about? One thing is for sure: almost all of the protesters are not too young to vote, and most are bound to remember Romney’s condescending attitude come Election Day.
If protesters are indeed too young to “understand how the economy works,” then might it be fair to similarly suggest that Romney is too rich to understand the economy? Surely a multi-billionaire has a vastly different perspective on the economy than the majority of America.
More than likely, all parties involved – regardless of their ages – have an understanding of the economy, with the difference coming in how they apply this knowledge. While the protesters are calling for an economy that works for more than just the 1%, the bankers are using this same understanding to maximize their profits at the expense of others.
Ultimately, Romney’s statements yet again show him siding with the interests of corporations over the people. Why politicians are so quick to dismiss opposition rather than listening to its merits, I’ll never understand. Then again, maybe I will when I’m older.
Photo Credit: lewisha1990