Monday, November 21, 2011

Some thoughts on the Occupy protests

I'm empathetic toward the cause of the Occupy protesters and those who support them. I really am. To say that there isn't greed and corruption in large corporations and that these corporations don't have rich lobbyists paying off Congresspersons is a blatant falsehood. I get it. I really do.

But setting up camp isn't going to help anything.

Protests are used for awareness. That is their purpose. To let the public know, "Hey, this is going on, we don't think it's cool, and you shouldn't either." I think the Occupy protesters have done a pretty good job achieving this goal. I would venture to guess that everyone, even those apathetic to current events, know that there are people camping out in various parts of the country to protest something having to do with wealth disparity. So why are they still there? It bothers me when I see facebook friends complaining about how the police and city officials are making protesters leave, saying that their First Amendment rights are being violated, when some research into why they are actually being forced to leave yields actual violations of the law: usually illicit drug use, public intoxication, and sexual assault (there was one group I read about which asked persons who had been sexually assaulted to not report it to the police, which made me sick). Now, are the police crossing the line by using unnecessary force to remove protesters in some cities? Probably. I won't deny that.

I think the biggest question those who support the Occupy cause should ask themselves is what to do next. I propose a few things: there are enough supporters that if everyone chipped in money, they could buy a fair amount of stock in a company which would give them a fair vote in who is on the board of directors for that company. Or they could hire lobbyists to petition Congress in their favor. That is how you change a corporation. Protesting, at this point, does nothing.

With all that being said, I'd like to add here that I am a capitalist. I think the best economic system is one that rewards hard work, efficiency, personal responsibility, and ingenuity. My generation has a huge problem with entitlement. We are the generation of participation ribbons and "everyone is a winner." We like to believe that we are entitled to high-paying, low-labor jobs. I see this entitlement in both sides: in the Occupy supporters and in those who do have opportunity handed to them without work. I think the real change that needs to happen is a shift from entitlement to responsibility in the collective of selves of this country.