Andrea Counterpoints Bill's Occupy Dilemma.
Bill, you ignorant slut... I had no idea you thought I was spoiled, entitled and mostly misinformed about...
society and life in general. Although I usually try to defer to my MUCH elders, I have to disagree with you. There are a few important reasons. And a few distinctions that I believe you’ve missed in your characterization of the Occupy movement. So let me just help you get your head on straight. Oh...right...get your glasses, first. Cool?
All right. I can understand that your generation doesn’t understand the Occupy movement. I mean you began as idealists protesting the Vietnam war, but were pretty easily convinced once the money started flowing around you after college to sell all the idealism down the river for a run-wild economy and a junk food entertainment society that obviously had no real future because it isn’t a system of substance.
You were also pretty lucky in life. I mean, you graduated into the venture capital decade where any nitwit could get a six-figure job for simply breathing. That must have been super cool. Money got seriously popular and people got dumber. Being American became about who you could impress with your car and your bank account instead of leading the world in engineering design or education or science or even building a half decent future society. In fact, our emphasis on money became so great, that we just simply let the building of bridges, and schools, and levees (whoopsie on that whole New Orleans thing), and better transportation just kind of go the wayside. Whatevs. Who really needs progress? Let’s get back to those video games...
Fast forward a decade through my teens and you’ll see some pretty dismal flashes: the S&L scandal, Enron, massive plundering by the oil companies, an erosion in the environment that can only be seen as decimating, and then you’ll get to 1991 - the year I graduated from college. Amidst all those dismal things, there was also one other thing: no jobs. We graduated into a non-future. So we went out into the workplace and took low and minimum wage jobs with no benefits and started to build our very simple and not so wealthy lives.
Some of us worked two or more jobs. We watched health insurance that our parents could easily pay for when we were children on one income become totally unaffordable. And treatment for basic disease become outrageously expensive. We saw our vacation time and/or pay eliminated. And our work hours increased. And at the end of the day, you know what - we still didn’t complain much. We were children of the 70’s and had been raised frugally. We didn’t have fancy cell phones then. Hell - my family had two shitty Volkswagen’s that my dad cobbled together with duct tape and junkyard parts. We didn’t revolt. We just kept slogging.
We worked overtime for no overtime pay for Boomers who didn’t know how to answer their own phones or use their computers, but left three hours early in their six-hour day to make sure they could catch their racquetball game or hair appointment or get home to their million dollar house in the hills. We skipped Holidays with our families because every once in awhile that meant you could make a little extra money and maybe pay down some of the debt you had accrued getting that almost worthless college degree. We said yes when you asked us to do two more jobs other than our own. We had been raised in the corporate “team player” environment and we bought the bullshit because you said we had ownership in it and would benefit from it eventually. Boy - do we feel stupid now.
When we got paid so little that we couldn’t put anything away into retirement if we still wanted to pay our rent, we cringed, but we didn’t say much. It seemed a little much considering all the money being thrown around in the fancy offices, and frankly, we tried really hard not to think about what it was going to be like being 80 years old eating cat food out of the can while camping out in a tent on some vacant corner. Still we showed up for work the next day.
When they started to ship all the jobs overseas in 2001, we accepted it. Your generation said it was just necessary for us to get by and keep what jobs we had, so we didn’t protest. We doubled our work - YET AGAIN - took little or no cost of living increases, and continued to help you make money for those fancy cars and cell phones that you thought were so cool. Meanwhile, I would consistently have to tell some of my employees that they weren’t going to get to spend anymore than one day with their kids over Christmas. That was super awesome. Making people unhappy became a big part of my job description.
So you know what...NO - we’re not entitled. This movement is not about having the government or even corporations take care of us and give us things for free. It’s about them giving us the things that we have earned and worked for - particularly a living wage, health insurance that isn’t a total sham, and a little time to enjoy what is supposed to be life in the “greatest country on earth” from time to time.
America isn’t messed up because there are too many poor and middle class people gaming the system. It’s messed up because there are too many wealthy people gaming it.
And Occupy is about rescuing a class of people - the middle - who were perfectly happy working hard and staying in the middle class, as long as it meant they received the respect they deserved for doing their jobs well. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of regular Americans who have been sold on the fools gold idea that doing anything to curtail the wealthy is wrong just in case you might be one someday. Yeah. Right. Cuz THAT’S gonna happen.
Generation X - the people who make up the core of this movement - aren’t spoiled. We have worked. And paid our dues. And we are more skilled than any other generation in the US. Because we were raised by people who told us there would be no handouts (some of them Depression era folks like my parents).
But now that there are handouts every day, mostly to the wealthy and the powerful and their friends and cronies, and the politicians that keep them in control, we think it’s about time that we stop taking this major ass-wanking before we end up having to hang a shingle above the door with the letters USSA on it.
And someday, I would like to be standing around with a group of people from other countries that don’t have their heads up their asses and not be embarrassed by that guy wrapped in the American flag on TV shouting, “We’re NUMBER ONE!”
Because 1991 wasn’t just a few years ago. It was 20 years ago. And we weren’t number one then. And we’re not number one now.
But SOMEHOW close to 300 million people think so even though there are roughly 6 billion others on the planet trying to point out that the Emporer has no clothes.
You do the math.
(Oh...and by the way...we’re NOTHING like the Tea Party. But that would be a whole ‘nother post...)