Texas governor Rick Perry made headlines when he recently cited a quote from "Jeremy", a supposed 38-year-old protester at Occupy Toronto. The reason for the controversy? "Jeremy" exists only in the mind of writer Mark Schatzker, who contributes a weekly satire column for The Globe and Mail. But we won't let that stand in the way of a good tale. So here is Jeremy, back by popular demand, reflecting on his new found infamy.
It’s been a whirlwind few days. The American right-wing blogosphere started going nuts with my quote in the middle of last week. At first it was just a few sites. But pretty soon it was everywhere. People were calling me lazy, saying how greed was good and how I would never amount to anything. It only emboldened me. I swore off red meat, grew even stragglier facial hair, and burned the remaining few dollars I had (except the coins—they won’t light for some reason).
Then on Friday, a group was huddled around Occupy Toronto’s communal iPad. I was too far away to see, but people were doing the human microphone as well as something called the human TV—live-miming a YouTube broadcast for the people in the back who can’t see. Someone tuned in to Rick Perry’s speech at The Barley House in New Hampshire and everyone started booing. But then Rick Perry said, “I guess greed makes you work hard.”
I jeered, too. But something about his message stuck with me. I started to look around at my fellow protesters. For two weeks, I thought of them as comrades, brothers-in-arms. I started to do the protester math.
Here I was chanting four, maybe five hours a day, when everyone else is putting in one hour, max. Here I am doing drum circles—which requires a sense of rhythm and the ability to make split-second decisions—when other people think it’s enough just to hold up a homemade sign. And there they are taking credit for Occupy Toronto. It made me sick.
That got me thinking, and soon I realized why I didn’t have a job. It wasn’t for lack of hard work, and it wasn’t because some rich capitalist wasn’t willing to pay me.
It was because I was disincentivized by Canada’s high taxes.
So I hitchhiked south to Texas, a state that knows the value of greed. I got a job picking fruit. At first it was hand to mouth—literally. I would pick fruit and then put it in my mouth.
But by lunch I had made more money than I ever had in my life— nine dollars. I invested it in a Goldman Sachs credit default swap that shorted Greece. Suddenly nine dollars was $900,000.
I put that into a plot of land up in the Texas Panhandle, and a very close friend of mine in the state senate was kind enough to change the zoning laws. Now I’m proud to see it’s one of the state’s fastest-growing garbage dumps/prisons.
Life is funny. One week you’re part of the 99 per cent, the next week you’re in the one per cent. What’s the difference? Hard work. And maybe just a little bit of greed. I guess Rick Perry was right.
Special to The Globe and Mail - Follow Mark Schatzker on Twitter @markschatzker