Not getting the "occupy" thing

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 4:04 PM | comments: 0

So there are people around the country hanging out in public places, er, "occupying" public places, and protesting. I'm not sure what they're protesting, exactly, but they're angry and cheesed off because of corporate greed and apparently some kind of "class war" being waged by the top 1% of wealthy folk.

Here's the thing. I am amazed at the things that this country has overcome by way of protest and activism, not the least of which includes the civil rights movement (including LGBT activism in more recent times), war protests and other big picture causes. But this "movement" has no particular focus or goal. It amounts to a lot of people pissed that the economy sucks, unemployment is high and it isn't getting any better. These are all good reasons to be pissed, but you need to have some kind of goal or agenda beyond being pissed. This amounts to the liberal counterpart of the "tea party" nonsense, and frankly I don't see how it's any more constructive.

Before anyone gets up in my grill for not being empathetic, keep in mind that shitty job and real estate markets have prompted me to move cross-country, twice in two years. I fucking get it in ways that more than qualify me to have an opinion. My particular annoyance rests in the holy trinity of economic stupidity: Home buyers for buying more than they can afford, banks for lending them money, and the government for encouraging the behavior by way of deregulation. I played by the rules and acted responsibly, and still have to put up with the shit of this situation. Nothing I can do about it though, so I've moved on.

There are a hundred things that I don't like about the way things are going here, especially in the realm of politics, education and health care. That said, I also have some ideas for some things I'd like to see change. Just being angry about it all and expecting others to fix the problems is the equivalent of a grown-up throwing a tantrum. It doesn't mean a damn thing.

The other non-constructive action is picking out who to blame. Again, it's easier to hate someone than find specific agenda points and solutions. That's actually an American pastime that includes various "-ism's" over the last 200 years, including racism, sexism and what not. Right now, the fashion is to hate on millionaires (whose wealth redistributed would not make a dent in anyone's paycheck) and "greedy" corporations. It's like capitalism itself is under attack. You know, I worked for the most profitable company in the world that wasn't a bank or oil company. If it disappeared tomorrow, 90,000 employees and another 70,000 contractors would be on the street. If greed means putting 160,000 people to work, I fail to see how that's bad.

Like I said, I empathize with the "occupants," but camping out on Public Square or Wall Street won't do shit to make anything better. Comparing your "movement" to the uprisings in the Middle East borders on insulting. People there were dying under dictatorships and being pushed around by tanks. That's a far cry from being unemployed.

Instead of being angry, organize. Find leadership. Form an actual agenda for what you'd like to see changed. If you really want to do something clever, work to start a business and innovate your way out of recession. Small businesses account for half of our GDP and employ half of all non-government workers.

Just don't cry that life's not fair. We're all aware of that fact already. If you're really compelled to keep score, and want to even it, take action beyond being angry. That's what we really need.


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