A Fragment from “The Total Money Makeover”

With regard to the self-help genre at large, several tropes are worth mentioning. Many of the books, including The Total Money Makeover demand what I in my paper called “self-fulfillment through asociality.” They emphasize “personal freedom” through various mechanisms, depending on what area of fulfillment the respective piece is addressing. You must not rely on others for satisfaction, you must find it within yourself; by improving your relationship with yourself, and you can improve your life. This reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote, “there is no such thing as society.” The Total Money Makeover is especially relevant when it comes to neoliberal governmental practice, as it combines psychological health with financial “fitness.” I will now offer some quotes and analyze them. It is also important to recognize how Ramsey establishes himself as an authority, by both empathizing and directing the audience:

It seemed every month I sat at that same table with the same worries, fears, and problems. I had too much debt, too little savings, and no sense of control over my life. No matter how hard it worked, it seemed I couldn’t win. When Sharon and I “talked” about money, we ended up in a fight, leaving her feeling afraid and me feeling inadequate (Ramsey, 1)

First of all, we have an equating of debt and financial struggle with lack of control and unhappiness. Debt, money issues, can destroy every aspect of your life. The reader is assumed to have a wife, and having marital issues because of financial difficulties. Not matter what he does, he cannot “win” – now we have a sports metaphor juxtaposed with an alien, external world that cannot be conquered without figuring yourself out.

The reader is also assumed to be married (heteronormativity) and there is a clear allusion to normative gender roles. His wife, Sarah, is afraid and cannot understand what is wrong. Ramsey feels inadequate because he cannot “take care” of his wife, like the American working male should. Possibly the most prominent theme in this book is equating all positive facets of life with lack of indebtedness and wealth. The reader (who is assumed to be a male) is supposedly comparing his subjectivity to Ramsey’s – comparing his story. Ramsey is establishing himself and his family as “normal,” and creating a narrative with specific steps about how he and the reader can achieve “financial fitness.”

Occupy Little Rock, An Exploration of the City’s Responsibility

The social nature of Occupy Wall Street really made me think about my postionality in relation to the movement. I am a part of the 99%, but I do not connect with the movement. It is not that I disagree with their points, but as a government major my view is skewed. Protests are the best way for social change, but I do not believe that tent camps are the best option. I think that the camps are causing the movement to lose ground because the camps face conflicts with the city due to ordinance violations. The movement’s interactions with police and city officials are causing unnecessary obstacles to their ultimate goals. The movement’s goals have a much larger implications than city governments. Their issues are not within the realm of the cities to address. The actions that the movement want taken involve state and federal government issues, not city government. But by camping out, the protesters make themselves a issue for city government, not the national and international structures that they are protesting.

Last summer, I worked for the City Manager of the City of Little Rock, Arkansas, where I researched the feasibility of many city projects and was exposed to the operations of every city department. In Little Rock, the protesters have been continuously allowed to camp out since October 17th. City officials and police required them to relocate their camp from in front of the Clinton School of Public Service and the Clinton Library to city owned property adjacent to the main post office a couple of blocks away. Little Rock operates a system of a City Manager and Board of 10 members that represent different sections of the city. Several years ago, the citizens elected to switch from a part-time to a full-time mayoral position. The Mayor remains mostly a figurehead of the city. The City Manager is not elected, yet he is responsible for the all decisions made about the operation and allocation of city resources. I delve into the structure here because the majority of Little Rock residents do not understand how the city operates. I do not believe that an individual can adequately critique or protest a system that the individual does not understand.

The Little Rock Police Department issued the first ticket to an Occupy protester during the May 1st protests for obstructing a public passageway. The City has been very lineate with the protesters, but the city is now requiring the protesters to leave their camp on city property by May 16th.  The protesters are outraged at the notice of eviction, and they are trying to bargain with the City for a new location. A representative of the Occupy Little Rock movement, Adam Lanksy, was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette as saying, “We paid for the creation of this land.” “We pay your salary, Mr. Mayor.” I do not enjoy blanket comments like this from individuals. I have not checked the public record, but it is commonplace for land to be deeded over to the city, especially small easements and difficult to use land. Also, the residents of Little Rock voted of their own democratic process to pay the Mayor a higher salary, yet he still only earns about half of the amount that City Manager Bruce Moore does. The protesters on May 1st were quoted as they approached City Hall of repetitively chanting “Who Sucks? Bruce Moore. Who Sucks? Bruce Moore?” In September, the residents of Little Rock voted to raise city sales tax by one cent. The campaign to raise the sales tax was led by City Manager Bruce Moore. He has used the tax to create 2,000 new jobs in the City. Most of the jobs receive full-benefits from the City. With the tax, he has built community centers and police stations in poverty stricken areas. The wards of the city with the lowest income brackets are receiving a larger portion of the tax increase than the high- income bracket wards. I believe that the issues that City Manager Bruce Moore is championing coincide very well with the complaints of the Occupiers.  City Manger Bruce Moore along with Chief of Police Stuart Thomas have been more than accommodating to the Occupiers, yet at some point they are duty bound to uphold the code and laws of the City. The only problem that the City of Little Rock maintains with the Occupy Wall Street movement is their desire to camp out.  The City has expressed no concerns about their continued protest. This case is reflected around the country as City governments are forced to address the movements desire to camp. The Cities and the city-employed police force are catching the most public attention and implying the most obstacles to the movement.

My previous employment for Bruce Moore and the City of Little Rock leaves me as more sensitive to the issues faced the City. Also, I have received an offer for one of the 2,000 jobs with benefits created by the sales tax. I also do not live in the part of town that is being protested, so I am personally indifferent to their desire to camp. However, I have read arguments across the country from various city officials that the camps are interfering with their cities tourism dollars, and as a resident this is concerning. I also understand that I am less likely to protest because of the personal impact that it could have on my future employment. Even though the City of Little Rock has been kind to the protesters to personally join the encampment would complicate my job offer or possible future desires to work for other politicians. I am a part of the 99%, but as an individual who lies above the 90 percentile, I guess that I simply do not feel wronged enough by the system to take to the streets. I also do not feel that being above the 90% allows me to realistically relate to the much more serious economic difficulties faced by others. This position leaves me feeling uncomfortable and disenfranchised from the Occupy movement. The economic status has brought social and political power, leading me to believe that the officials that represent me hear my voice and concerns. While this leaves me feeling overtones of elitism emerging, I would like to once again state that I agree with Occupy Wall Street that the issues that they are raising are important worthwhile. The issues that they are forcing onto the global media stage have profound social effects nationally and internationally, and they have selected some of the issues that I believe to be most important for social change. However, I am slightly disappointed to say that I would like to take my voice and opinion to Capitol Hill and work for change from within the current political system.

Questions about Occupy

When I first sat down to think about the Occupy Wall Street movement, the first things that came to my mind where about power, class structure, and civil society. I had a multitude of questions that began to arise from these topics in regard to Occupy Wall Street. On the topic of power, I was curious where the grassroots movement of Occupy gets their power and how the ruling 1% derives and uses their power in society? The issue of class structure was a logical next topic after power. In regard to class structure I began to ask questions like: What is the role of the state? How does the 1% interact with the state? What is the role of the 99% in the class system? What are the ramifications of the social stratification within the 99%? The role of civil society plays directly into the class and power structure of the system. The Occupy Wall Street movement is exercising its power through the forum of civil society. It is a social group that is coming together with a common interest outside of the realm of family, economics, and the state to discuss issues and spread their ideas. This brings to light the question of what is the goal and role of civil society? And, what are the effects of the cultural clash that is playing out in civil society? These are the questions that I set out thinking about during my preliminary research that dictated and shaped my research.

The Occupation Begins

The Occupy W­­all Street movement took form in response to the economic crisis that began in 2008. People began to take the streets on September 17, 2011 in a private park on Wall Street called Zucotti Park. The movement chose this park because of its location on Wall Street in the heart of the country’s financial sector. The movement was protesting corporations’ role in the government, economic and social disparities, corruption, and the uneven distribution of wealth. Occupy Wall Street oriented their goals toward the most wealthy one percent of individuals and corporations in the United States, coining the phrase “We are the 99 percent.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement began to spread across the country and the world. The various movements had differing priorities according to the local problems faced in each city. The movement as a whole does not have a clear set of universal goals. The general theme of the goals that are set forth by each occupy movement are income distribution, bank reform, reduced corporate influence in politics, forgiveness of student loans, more jobs, and better jobs. Without clear goals it has made it difficult for the movement to make specific demands for change, yet it has given them the ability to remain a fluid and surviving movement. The movement has no clear leadership structure, making it difficult for them to interact with government officials. The state and national legislative bodies have no specific demands or individuals to negotiate and discuss concerns.

The movement has experienced difficulty in maintaining protesters in the face of conflict with the police and city governments. City governments have caused many problems for the protestors regarding the right to protest and where the movement can protest. The police have also caused problems for the movement by arresting many protestors and keeping them tied up in court.

The media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement gave the movement legitimacy and dramatically boosted its popularity. U.C. Davis student protesters were pepper sprayed by campus police, prompting public outrage across the country. Photos of police cutting protesters out of tents in Charlotte, North Carolina also garnered national media attention. There were dozens of stories like this all across the country, which hyped by the media gave the Occupy Wall Street movement life.

The main protest began and remains in New York City. With the movement being forced from the Zucotti Park, protesters are now sleeping on the sidewalks in front of banks. The Occupy Wall Street movement is citing a ruling by Federal Judge Kimba Wood in 2000 that states as long as they do not take up more then half of the side walk that it is not disorderly conduct, making their sleeping outside in public protest within their rights.

On May 1, 2012, the Occupy Wall Street movement picked up momentum when protesters took to the streets for International Labor Day. Thousands of people marched all over New York City as a part of the Occupy Movement. Many of the protesters were members of labor unions and immigrant right’s groups that have teamed up with the movement.

Yoga and self-help books

I would like to start off by saying I really enjoyed everyone’s presentation and topics.  After I presented on yoga, and after Lewis presented his case study on self-help books, we discussed how the two can be connected and how there are self-help books with yoga.  I did find several on amazon, such as: “Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind, and Heart” by Gary Kraftsow and “Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga” by Amy Weintraud.



Many doctors will tell patients yoga is useful for back pain, heart disease, arthritis, and various other conditions; and psychologists and psychiatrists frequently recommend yoga to their patients to help relieve stress and help with depression.

Yoga gets you into your body, in precise, gentle, focused, meditative ways.  Unlike most sports, yoga is not competitive; it’s about performing the posture to the limit of your ability.

“As yoga connects you more deeply with your body you may experience some emotion. This is a wonderful benefit of yoga, in that it is possible to reconnect with feelings that may have been submerged for a long time. Tears or joy or anger or other strong emotions which may arise do not mean that anything is wrong, but rather that you are releasing and letting go of these old feelings.” (Weintraud)

It seems our class guessed right, self-help books and yoga can be connected, and both are successful in turning a profit by telling people how they should treat their minds and bodies.

Why Occupy?

I chose my cultural text Occupy Wall Street because it was a recent example of protesters in the national media dealing with class structure. It received coverage nationally and campus with its coined phrase of “We are the 99 percent.” The movement addresses a myriad of social constructs that we discussed in class. The one that is most easily identifiable is the issue of class structure in the United States from the movement’s concept of the 99 percent against the top 1 percent.

I also chose this topic because it was a topic that I felt that I should know more about. I did not really follow the movement when it took off in September, and it is something that I wish I had followed more. The only thing that I knew about the topic was the little that I had heard in passing conversations or in a brief media interaction on the news or in the paper. When the movement was receiving media coverage in the fall, I also heard many students on campus making negative comments about the goal of the movement. Many students in their comments strove to distance themselves from the problems of the 99 percent that Occupy Wall Street brought up, even though under the concept of the movement they fell under the 99 percent. I always felt that this was a very interesting reaction to the movement because every student regardless if they are the 99 percent or the 1 percent is affected by the topics that Occupy Wall Street is bringing up. I was very bothered by this fact, and I felt that many people were either misinformed or did not fully understand the movement. I wanted to use this paper as an opportunity to become more familiar with the factual details of the movement and analyze the cultural influence of the movement.

Inked Identity

Tattoos, however, can also be seen as a narrative.  They are often a record book or a canvas for the individual. Every tattoo they have may relate to some aspect of their lives or they might signify a relationship.  An example would be friendship tattoos, individuals in this instance are memorializing a relationship on their bodies the same way someone might with a camera. Tattoos might also mark you an individual as part of a group or be a reflection of the internal self on the external.  The tattoo might even just be a way of connecting to an idolized celebrity.  There are many different reasons for getting a tattoo and meanings behind them, but all one has to do is look at them to read of piece of someone’s narrative.  These narratives can even be edited by simple tattooing over them or having the removed by a laser.  The FDA is currently in the process of reviewing a line of impermanent ink, which consists of microcapsules that will break apart easily after a couple laser pulses and will thus dissolve harmlessly. If this technology gets approved it’ll become easier to change ones narrative, and more people maybe willing to write their narrative on their skins, knowing it can be easily removed at a later date.

The End or a New Beginning?

Group Members: Julia and Leslie

Scribe: Leslie

The last reading for class dramatically changed our final thoughts on the class. When we read the title “De-Eurocentricing Cultural Studies,” as a group we agreed that we did not know what was in store for us. One of the issues that struck our group the most from the discussion last class was the conversation about why the cultural studies departments that we are so accustomed to in our academic lives even exist. It was not an issue that any of us had stopped to contemplate before. The fact that when the United States emerged as a global empire after World War II, they began to pump money into academics to study other cultures for the purpose of the cold war. Area studies emerging as a result of American national interests was an appalling realization for us as global studies majors, critiquing class, power, and structure all semester.
The multitude of multi-cultural issues and its various aspects made it difficult to choose just one or two for this blog post. Our café discussion groups over the semester have evolved quite gradually. In the beginning, we were all a little timid about forcing our topic ideas and assigning the job as scribe, but we always voiced our opinions on the topics quite well. The semester long continuous relationship between us and the works outside the classroom has been rewarding. It has lead to many debates on what were the most important sections and what are the best examples of the work. It has also caused us to relate the varying theorists back to the theorists that we connected with the most. At times, there were clarifying moments about a certain idea or theorist, and at others we tried to work through the complexities together exploring and mulling over the difficult concepts. We found a way to compete and compromise, contributing as equals, not as a hierarchy. The café discussions brought us closer together outside of global studies, forming bonds of friendship as the semester wound down.
Ending with Stam and Shohat and a discussion that seemed to contradict the semester of learning to us was surprising and ingenious. It was something that our group felt pushed us to question what we had learned, made us feel conflicted, and forced us to decide where we fell in the theoretical spectrum of the semesters studies.

The To-Do List

Present: Jordyn, Scott, Louis, Alex

Scribe: Jordyn

The progression of relationships between people is something that has had a great impact on the creation and sculpting cultures and societies. There is always an innate power struggle occurring between members of a society, conflicting beliefs and ideologies, and the competition of knowledges. This can be held true and applied to subcultures and small groups as well, it can even be applied when looking at the progression of our cafe discussion group.

We started out going to our meetings and being very quiet, pensive, and unwilling to compete with each others ideas, we no longer have a relationship like this with one another. Our latest meetings, our last meeting in particular, is what led us to look at this process of “progression” that our group has undergone. Historicists argue that progression is a good and healthy action for societies, it helps people move forward and allows us to see how things really were in the past. Through this lens, progression moves in a linear fashion and the present is always better than the past. When looking at our cafe discussion group, we can consider it a small society, using society in it’s simplest form; a group of people living together in an area. The progression and changes that occurred within our “society” were most certainly not in a linear fashion, they were created through struggles and material practices we consciously and strategically enacted in.

As the semester went on and we continued meeting we all became much more argumentative with each other to the point of bringing in a mediator, if you will, to assist on the meetings and keep us on track. There were arguments about whose idea for a blog was more intelligent, fit better with the theory we recently covered, and even things very off topic like the motivations for “to-do” lists. There was a clear power struggle that began to occur within our group, arguing for the sake of proving someone else wrong, to hear yourself triumph, and to win an intellectual battle. This dynamic occurred soon after we began doing things together outside of the cafe discussion, we extended our relationships in ways that made us more vulnerable to such struggles.

Cafe Group: Walker, Rob, Jenny, Fulya

Group: Walker, Rob, Jenny, Fulya

Scribe: Walker

As, the final days to the end of the semester count down, readings in class from Stam and Shohat about culture and multiculturalism, has put a good cap on the semesters theory. Eurocentrism and the posed eurocentrism with the texts in the class, really puts into spectrum or scope to what multiculturalism is.  Culture appears different and is portrayed different in places like Mr.Klein spoke of, the discussion on immigration policy in Canada, and even here at our campus, culture is tough to completely identify because of its complexity and case-to-case differences.

Discursive investigations into the nature of case-to-case studies will only help define these differences in the years to come. Although this class can be seen as eurocentric, the validity of its theory is still vastly important to finding specific scapes as a discursive multi-culturalist. Culture studies may not have started in Britain but Britains influence on culture studies has been vast. Even the world renowned, like Mr. Klein, had a tough time skewing away from eurocentrism. In retrospect the culmination of the class has made us more aware and discursive culture studies strudents as a result of the flow of the class.


Did Dr. Collins purposely format the class to contradict itself at the end?

St. Lawrence University