15 October, 2011


I cannot currently support the Occupy Wall Street movement. I have had issue with it ever since I heard of it, from the whispers beforehand and the slow rise in coverage since. There are quite a few reasons why, and I'm sure that you can tell that some are better outlined by Cracked (link) than by me. 

I will ignore, for a moment, the confusion of their message. I will try to dismiss their rousing cries of ... what? I don't actually know. Corporations are evil, down with the establishment, etc. I will try to ignore the lack of clarity in their messages. I will try to brush off the fact that they're protesting in places that aren't where the true root of the problem lies - these policies only come to effect in the place where the policies are put to vote, and D.C. seems kinda empty to me these days, in comparison. I do have some other issues with it, though.

I wonder if these protesters considered the people they would be impacting. Do they really think that corporate leaders are really inconvenienced by people in streets? Do they think corrupt government officials are stopped from making shady deals for campaign contributions by a blocked bridge, or people sleeping in parks? The people who are really impacted are those who work in the businesses around Wall Street - and all of the other cities they are occupying. Small businesses, or franchises. Restaurants. Gas stations. Cafes. How many people couldn't get to work, or were late, because of these people blocking their way? How many people may have risked losing their already precious jobs because their streets were Occupied?

I see the movement starting up in Pittsburgh. We are looking at many street closings, which affects a lot of people. It makes drives to work longer, which means people will have to leave earlier, or risk being to work later - if they have children to put on the bus or take to daycare at specific times, that extra traffic may be enough to put their jobs at risk. Goodness knows part-time positions are often on eggshells anyway, especially for single parents or low-income families, let alone when their buses have to sit in traffic for an extra hour because other people who either have the liberty to take off work to protest or already have lost their jobs or don't have them (regardless of where fault falls for that situation) made the decision to protest. 

The inconvenience, the annoyance, the unnecessary stress. This is a small part of the problem I have with the movement. Not to mention that I spend a large portion of my free time looking at available jobs (for friends and family) and have seen quite a few jobs that could be filled by the people who are currently hanging out in parks, complaining about there being no jobs, right now (judge me all you want for thinking that, that's how I feel). 

The rest of it? It lies in what protests do.

In many countries, protests can be effective. In places where there are extremely limited rights, where there is a dictatorship, where there is a totalitarian government. In third world, or second world countries. I get that. There may be no other way for them to accomplish their goals. 

In the U.S.? Where we live? Bull. Shit.

We live in a place where a woman can easily own property, run a company, choose her spouse or to not have a spouse. We live in a place where people CAN go to school (and incur loans and debt, yes, but going to school is a choice) for whatever they want. We live in a place where in many parts of the country, poverty level still means you can eat, even if it's sparse. We can have an impact on our government. Every citizen can vote, regardless of their class or income level. People may not be granted free health insurance, but if they go to a hospital, they'll typically still get cared for, just like anyone else. If we speak out in protest, we aren't shot. Even the most severe of police interference in the Occupy protests have been nothing compared to the least of responses by military and police forces in countries with heavy protests against dictatorships.

In the U.S., the way you make CHANGE? It is not sitting in a park, eating communal meals with a whole bunch of people you barely know while complaining about the world around you. It is by becoming the change you want to see. If you want the next generation to do nothing but have sit-downs at the doors of businesses, sure, good on you. However, if you want to see corruption removed and you want to see people really change and things go the way you want, then you need to make it happen. Stop telling other people they have to do it. Become a person who can influence these things. 

If you spent money on a degree that can't get you a job, then find another job. Work hard at it. Yeah, you might have nothing during that time. That sucks. I get it. But, you made that choice. No one will respect you for complaining about a choice you made. Change YOUR world. Do your friends have jobs? Do they have degrees that are useful? Maybe you need to talk to them, if they do, to find out how they did it right. Develop skills that you can use for things. 

An entry-level administrative assistant job typically requires nothing more than good skills with computers and typing, decent spelling, and a high school diploma. Oh, and you'll have to follow a dress code (they suck, but hey, paycheck's a paycheck.) and be at work on time, every day you're supposed to work, or risk your job. You can get the same kind of thing making copies for companies like IKON, or doing document management at tons of companies. You could flip burgers at McDonald's. Work a little hard at it and try to show employers how whatever education you have might apply to the jobs they have. Make them believe you can do it, and that you'll really stick with it. 

If you can work hard, and it shows, people will respect you more. Then, when you raise your voice, it gives you a leg to stand on. People who start out as hard workers are the ones who end up making real change. 

I understand there are plenty of the people in the movement who have a real purpose. I understand that, and I want to respect what they're doing, but I can't help but think that maybe these people with no money, with kids to take care of, with no jobs, could be spending time taking care of those things or fixing those problems, instead of disrupting the rest of the 99% who are just trying to get by. 

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