Sunday, October 09, 2011

Occupy Wall Street


Like many, I have been watching, with bemusement, the protesters known as, or for, “Occupy Wall Street.”  A student of mine asked me the other day if going to it would earn her some extra credit points.  She said she wanted to take her children.  I just smiled and said yes, figuring that it was as reasonable to give her points for ending a social activist meeting as it would be to give extra points for attending a workshop on test-taking.   

I have read some reports in the paper and watched some on TV, but those sources don’t seem to go into much depth, perhaps because there isn’t much depth there.  The news reports focus on what they do, not what they want, perhaps because that isn’t clear.  If you Google (can a verb be capitalized?) “occupy Wall Street demands” you get this link http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-for-occupy-wall-st-moveme/ , but it says it is not the official list of demands and that there is no official list of demands.  That is probably a good idea, because if this is what the persons want, they are even more deluded than we are being led to believe. 

Below I respond to what I know about this movement, without any reference to the “tea party” comparisons, which seem irrelevant, really.
  1.  I respect anyone who exercises his/her freedom of speech.  Rights are designed to be used.  No reason to have rights that our military personnel have died for and not utilize them to better the country.
  2. I understand the frustration of the young people.  I have a recent college graduate living in my home who has had quite a time finding a job—it’s still touch and go as all he has is a part-time job and a couple of leads after close to five months.   Many of them have crushing debt from college and believed that pursuing a degree would settle their futures, career-wise.
  3. I appreciate the arguments of some against the way capitalism as we practice it degrades the environment with an ever-increasing desire for more and more.  I applaud those who truly want to make materialism less a part of our lives.  Any Christian would share the same.
  4. I agree with their belief—or contention, at least—that the rich and big corporations probably have more political power than they should.  But whose fault is that?  Is it not the result of years of big government, which the protesters also want?
  5. I don't want to denigrate fellow Americans as "far left loons."  So I wouldn't call them names like that.  They do seem ideologically confused.  
  6. These folks seem to be anti-capitalism.  That is unfortunate, because it's had to tell what the alternative would be.  But it seems like you can look at capitalism two ways.  It's the innovative creation of wealth by providing and marketing products and services that people want, or it's creating more and more stuff that abuses and wastes our resources and only leaves people wanting more and unsatisfied.  I'll go with the first.  NPR had a great interview with the entrepreneur behind Terracycle www.terracycle.net/    This young man is using capitalism to help the planet. 
However,
  1.  I deny the right to protest to those who use violence and destruction, including destruction of the public health by urinating in public, and by wasting the taxpayers’ money by tying up the streets and police and cleanup personnel. 
  2. I am mystified by their message, or lack thereof.  What are they for?  Against?  One demand has to do with free college education.  Are you kidding me?  Are these the same young people (and granted, not all are young) who wanted to go to Ivies and second-tier colleges and universities with $40,000 a year tuition so that they could have the elitist reputation and enjoy the perks?  Why don’t they come to Dalton State College?   Or Local Community College?  I am proud of my college, and we charge next to nothing, literally.  You can get a four-year degree for less than $10,000, not counting books and expenses.
Another demand is total loan forgiveness—all debts.  And they claim it will create more jobs, so many that an open-border policy will be needed to fill the jobs.  What planet are they living on?  Don’t they know that people not paying their debts is what got us into this mess in the first place?

  1. I laugh at their slackerhood.  I just made that word up.  They like to smoke pot, that is clear.  They don’t have jobs, most of them, or they’d be at them.  
  2. I despise their sense of entitlement.  There are jobs out there.  Why are we too good to pick crops, if it means not living on the dole?  I can say without hesitation that I worked at whatever job I had to to get through school, and I’ve done a lot to keep a roof over my head and pay the bills.  I cleaned toilets in college, sometimes, and waited tables.  I have two graduate degrees and worked at four part-time jobs during one part of my life. 
  3. Finally, I really don’t take them seriously.  People who protest only for themselves aren’t really protesters.  These people are misguided, maybe sincere, maybe wasting time, but many are just concerned about number one, as is probably true of some Tea Party-ites. 

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