I’m sure most of you are dying to know my thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street protests that don’t seem to be going away. I have to be honest in saying that my own thoughts are somewhat unclear on the matter. However, there are a few things I want to be clear about right up front:
- Protest is supposed to be peaceful demonstration. The minute you go to someone’s house to harass them, block traffic, etc, you are crossing a line, and need to be removed. To be honest, that’s kind of weak. The protesters (some of them, anyway) are being somewhat threatening, but they don’t have the stones to just admit it, because they’re afraid of the beatdown that would happen then. So they’re quasi-threatening in an “I’m not touching you” way as they hold their hand in front of someone’s face. Listen, protest is just that – protest. It’s not “you WILL listen“. Results-based protest is otherwise known as revolution. But that doesn’t fit in with your 4pm Latte, does it, Trevor?
- The above said, if the protest IS peaceful, then the police have no right to resort to violence. That’s sickening. Last I looked, this was still America.
The above is (admittedly) both sides of the fence, and I do see it that way.
Part of me is anti-corporate. I don’t think the exploitation of people for profit is a good thing. Shrinking wages while corporate profits rise is a BAD thing. Stop it.
However, part of me loves my entrepreneur side. I work for myself now, but in my entire career, I was always valuable to employers, because I have skill, I get things done, and I am profitable. I value work more than I value play (this is key – listen, I like both, but in the end, in most circumstances, work wins out.) In my entire life, I’ve been unemployed no longer than I wanted to be unemployed. This does not mean I always had the job I desired – far from it. I’ve had a lot of shitty jobs… but, I did the shitty job well. I had some tough times, and made six bucks an hour at 30. Somehow, I rose from that.
I would want to ask the average protester “what can you actually DO”? Not what do you *want* to do (that’s irrelevant), or even what you have a degree in (again, that might be irrelevant), but what CAN you do for me as an employer? What makes you exceptional, or profitable? Are you going to show up? Every day you are supposed to? For a year? How about three? Can you do that? Have you EVER done that? Do you value work more than play?
I want to know how clear and precise the answers to those questions are. I want to know if they can work like I can.
See what I mean? Both sides of the fence. I get it – you kids are angry. That doesn’t mean you get to walk from your student loan. But, to be on your side for a second, I do agree that gee, why CAN’T we all have good healthcare?
Part of the problem – the way I see it anyway – is one of expectations. People who are 25-30 now were born in the 80’s, and had childhoods that spanned the 90’s. The coddling generation. The “everybody gets a trophy” generation. They simply expect a lot, because they were given a lot. This isn’t their fault, mind you. But they are dismayed that adult life is friggen hard. And no, it’s not fair. In adult life, you have to be exceptional to succeed (and that has never been true before in their lives.)
And it’s especially true today. We’ve had an INCREDIBLE ride from 1945 until… prettymuch the 90’s (although it started to crack in the 70’s). A ride unprecedented in history. If you look at all of history, NEVER was there this giant “middle class”. Before 1945, you were, generally speaking, either rich/well off, or poor. Very little middle ground. Home ownership? A pipe dream for most. You had to be exceptional to succeed. Otherwise, you were poor.
Then WW2 came, and a few things happened. One, we blew everything up, and for several decades, we were the only place that could make stuff on a large scale. Two, we had a baby boom to supply workers to those factories and such. It created a giant middle class where you could live a relatively good life without being exceptional. Put a nut on a bolt on an assembly line? Great – we’ll pay you enough to buy a house, have some kids, and have a pension.
That was lightening in a bottle, and it’s never coming back. The rest of the world caught up.
Sadly, I do not think there are any clear answers. Heck, even the protesters have no idea what they are really protesting – there’s no clear agenda save “forgive my loan” (good luck with that) and “we don’t like these other people making that much money”. Well, since this is capitalism, they can’t make that money without customers. You have an iphone? You’re part of the machine, then. Protest with your wallet and forget the phone. Of course, then you’ll miss your 4pm Latte.
There, that was a jumble of thoughts, wasn’t it? I told you they were as unclear as the protesters. But it was fun to write.