I see the signs. My Occupy Wall Street posts on Facebook have less and less “Likes.” I stopped clicking “Share.” But my position didn’t change.
I’ve been reading a lot from people who oppose the Occupy Wall Street position. Instead of giving thumbnail sound-byte type information, I’ve come up with a few thoughts of my own.
I still applaud those who “took to the streets” when their voice was not being heard. They rose from the ashes of apathy and in spite of being ignored for weeks, or worse, pressed on. And now, as temperatures drop, they continue to stand. This simple act of OWNING their country, and not throwing up their hands in disgust and resignation, makes me smile. It gives me hope.
And then I read more about their situation. My hope starts to fade. I think about my kids’ futures. I think about the Oakland police, ill-equipped to deal appropriately with peaceful protestors. I think about how quickly America is to support underdogs in oppressive regimes in OTHER countries, but maybe not when it happens at home. Focusing on these issues doesn’t really solve the larger problem facing us all.
So I read some more.
The Wall Street Journal (Nov.7, 2011) wrote “GenerationJobless: For Those Under 24, A Portrait in Crisis.”
Though workers of all ages face economic headwinds, teens and adults under the age of 24, especially those with little or no college education, are faring the worst, economists say. The 16.7% unemployment rate among Americans in that group is more than twice the rate for workers 25 and older.
And if you want to see Labor Statistics about how the young adults are faring, look at this:
“The Kids Are Not Alright” from the Economic Policy Institute.In the past 4 recessions, young adults are experiencing a significantly higher rate of unemployment AND it’s gone on for more weeks than ever seen before.
If the middle-aged employed people could stop focusing on themselves and look at the bigger picture, we might actually find a solution. But instead, they say “Stop railing against those of us who have done well!” Why do the entrepreneurs who HAVE done well, voice their concerns against these protestors? Why not side with them and say, “Yes, corporations are completely out of control and something must be done to stop them.” Instead they get self-focused, fearing their slice of the pie might get a little smaller. Shouldn’t ALL Americans be horrified that banks got bailouts and didn’t let any of it trickle down? Shouldn’t everyone be enraged when corporations take over of our political system and congressional choices are being bought and sold by lobbyists?
When people want less government intervention for big businesses, I’m struck by the thought that that’s exactly what happened. No one was watching them and they ran amuck. It was the lack of government intervention that exacerbated the problem and took Americans to the brink of disaster. The temporary tax cuts were supposed to be just that…temporary. But everyone got comfortable with paying less taxes and…surprise, surprise!… our country has less money! I’d love to say that businesses took that opportunity of tax relief and found a way to make their business more stable. But that’s not what they did. They took the money and banked it. They set up systems to move the jobs overseas. They fretted that the government might want more from them so they hunkered down and didn’t do anything that would help the American economy.
Facts are facts, too many people are unemployed. And our unemployment numbers aren’t even accurate because if a person stops looking for a job in their chosen field, they’re not even included in the numbers any longer. Then there are those who are patching together jobs at Starbucks and McDonalds, just to keep their head above water. This is not what our young adults envisioned their life would look like. It’s not what we told them it would look like. They’ve entered their early adult years with debt and no safety net. We sat by and let Big Corporations steamroll our economy….and no, I am not talking about your small business on Main Street. I don’t know whether it’s because we (adults 35-55) were so busy trying to stay afloat ourselves that we didn’t look into it, if we counted on the Anderson Coopers of the world to keep everyone honest, or we were intimidated when CEOs implied we were not savvy enough to understand. But maybe we just liked aligning ourselves with The Successful People.
And so when unemployment rises, and people are saying, “we believed you, but you lied,” the response is, “Now, now, you just don’t understand.” “Trust us, we know what’s best.” Or “What are all these ignorant ragamuffins doing protesting on Wall Street? They just want a free handout.”
Maybe they don’t understand a lot of the intricacies – I know I don’t. But they know they are unemployed. They know that large corporations are doing remarkably well in this economy that is crushing them. When opponents to Occupy Wall Street shout, “What do you want? Socialism?” Why weren’t they yelling when the government went the socialism route to bail out banks or loaned billions to automobile giants? Have you seen Detroit? That money never made it to the blue-collared workers.
Instead of writing against the protestors, what if we simply helped young adults find a way out of this dark hole? What if we stopped with partisan finger-pointing and took time to see how to get our country back? Prolonged unemployment has serious ramifications on any society. We need to look at the real problems and not get carried away with picking at the messengers of Occupy Wall Street. Does anyone else hear Big Business Corporations chuckling to each other about how the masses are turning on each other and ignoring what they’re doing?