UPDATED 12/2 PM: For those of you who haven’t been watching your local, national or even international news you’ve been missing all the press on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The movement started in New York’s Zucotti Park located in the financial district of Manhattan on September 17th and has since spread to 951 cities in 82 countries. Protesters have been showing their disgust for the social and economic inequality that they feel is a result of greed, corruption, and too much influence of corporations. The slogan for the protesters is “We are the 99%” which refers to distribution of wealth in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.
My initial response to the OWS movement was that it is a good thing because it is our right to protest against inequalities in our system. However, once I attempted to get into the nitty gritty of the OWS movement my thoughts began to shift. Simply put, I was confused. What exactly do these protesters want? Are they a cohesive group or many small movements operating within the larger group? How do they intend to effect change in a productive way and furthermore, what is the plan of action beyond the physical protest?
I decided to do a little investigative work of my own. I went down to Jackson and LaSalle in Chicago’s financial district to research the Occupy Chi movement and immediately found what I consider to be several of major flaws…
First of all, the whole protest is so incredibly unorganized. It seems to lack any CLEAR direction. If you visit the OccupChi website in the “about” section it says, “Why are you protesting?” The answer: “We are joining thousands of people across the country who are not satisfied with the current state of the country.” REALLY? I’m going to need a better summation because that hasn’t clarified anything for me. The statement is so general and could be applied to anyone who is unsatisfied with any aspect of the country. How effective can a group be without a common and clearly defined goal?
Second, the protesters state they are struggling to find employment but it does not seem productive to be spending your days and nights on the street in a search from employment. The economy stinks right now and many people are out of jobs. Don’t you think instead of wasting your time protesting you should be going out and finding any job, networking, sending out resumes, following up with jobs you’ve applied for? I recently got a job bartending on the weekends. After college I swore I’d never bartend again, but times are tough and I’m happy to be working and putting extra cash in my pocket. Bottom line, a job isn’t going to land on your lap; you must do the leg work first. It may not be the job you were hoping for or expecting but if you do what you have to do and if you’re smart, use the job—don’t let it use you.
Another demand I’ve heard from protesters is that their college loans be eliminated…similar to the bailout granted in 2009. Do they have any type of proposal on how this would work or do they simply want the loan to universally vanish? To me, that kind of demand is a request for a hand out and not indicative of someone who is accountable or follows through on the contract they signed for the loan. There are already programs in place for loan recipients who have fallen upon hard times (i.e. unemployment). Why not take advantage of that rather than requesting your bill disappear? If you intend to be working again, why should you not be paying back that money with your income?
In addition to my own observations, when I hear news reports about OWS protesters mugging each other, blasting anti-Semitic remarks, physically blocking workers from accessing their place of employment, partying through the night in their tents, fornicating and defecating in public, their credibility is decreased immensely.
I was talking to my friend Jack, with whom I co-host a radio show on Saturday mornings, he said although he sees nothing wrong with the Occupy movement, “the lack of specificity is a major handicap.” He’s right, these people seem so unhappy about so many issues but they have not articulated anything that could be done legislatively—which is a reason I have a hard time embracing them. For instance, Civil Rights was a clear cut issue and legislators knew something had to be done and could be done. However, this group seems to have no clue.
So basically, these protesters want “it” and they want “it” now, but “it” remains to be determined. The only thing I can think of is that many of these people want stuff for free. I cannot empathize with people who feel entitled or want things handed to them…no sense of accomplishment or self-worth comes out of that! I’m getting that entitlement vibe from theses protesters so I’m going to have to go ahead and distance myself.
John Stossel recently wrote a piece entitled “The Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving” which really hit home. Basically, when the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony initially structured their society, their farming system was set up along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and benefits equally. So, it was attempted, but quickly became apparent that when there was no relationship between work and reward, the entire society suffered. The pilgrims became impoverished. It wasn’t until the people of Plymouth were given individual plots of farming land that people and production began to thrive. Everyone benefited–not just 1%.
My advice to the occupy folks; apply for jobs on your smart phones while you’re protesting…