Is Occupy Wall Street The Start of a Slow, Apocalyptic Decline?

What does a slow, apocalyptic decline look like?

Almost two months ago, protests began in New York City in opposition to … stuff and things and inequality. There was definitely a general outrage about inequality. But what did they want to be done about it?

Everyone who has learned the basics of capitalism knows that some people have more than others do. Not because they necessarily work harder but because whatever they’re selling has more demand and thus they earn more. Our society is based on supply and demand.

What about this example of a real life teacher participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests after quitting his full time teaching job to pursue a MFA in Puppetry and then finding that three years later there was no work to be found for a Master of Puppets?

A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama teacher at a public elementary school in New York City. Frustrated by huge class sizes, sparse resources and a disorganized bureaucracy, he set off to the University of Connecticut to get an MFA in his passion—puppetry. Three years and $35,000 in student loans later, he emerged with degree in hand, and because puppeteers aren’t exactly in high demand, he went looking for work at his old school.

So even though Joe’s old principal was excited to have him back, she just couldn’t afford to hire a new full-time teacher. Instead, he’s working at his old school as a full-time “substitute”; he writes his own curriculum, holds regular classes and does everything a normal teacher does. “But sub pay is about 50 percent of a full-time salaried position,” he says, “so I’m working for half as much as I did four years ago, before grad school, and I don’t have health insurance…. It’s the best-paying job I could find.”

Like a lot of the young protesters who have flocked to Occupy Wall Street, Joe had thought that hard work and education would bring, if not class mobility, at least a measure of security (indeed, a master’s degree can boost a New York City teacher’s salary by $10,000 or more). But the past decade of stagnant wages for the 99 percent and million-dollar bonuses for the 1 percent has awakened the kids of the middle class to a national nightmare: the dream that coaxed their parents to meet the demands of work, school, mortgage payments and tuition bills is shattered. Down is the new up.

SOURCE: The Audacity of Occupy Wall Street by Richard Kim for TheNation.com

Do we feel bad that a doctor can find work and this man with graduate degree cannot? Education supposed to be the great equalizer.

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.
Horace Mann

People have subscribed to the notion that any education is worth just as much as any other. This was the problem we had when the housing market crashed. People didn’t understand the difference between buying and affording. They bought things that they were allowed to buy but couldn’t afford. Now, people are getting educations as though they’ll miraculously bring them success.

Employers aren’t looking for a stack of degrees in things people are passionate about; they’re looking for people willing to do jobs they need done for a price they’re willing to pay.

The ignorance of how free market employment and the lack of demands from the Occupy protests is dangerous. We can sympathize with the 99 percent message, which roughly translates to “Please, help.” The occupiers have no distinct message.

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In a survey done by Douglas E. Schoen of protesters in Zuccotti Park on October 10th and 11th he found:

· 53% were EMPLOYED, and of the 33% who were UNEMPLOYED (15%) or UNDEREMPLOYED (18%) 82% had lost their jobs “as a result of the economic downturn.”

· 68% do not “feel like [they] make enough money to live your life the way you want to.”

· 74% have had to “downsize [their] lifestyle because of [their] family’s economic situation.”

· A third (32%) were DEMOCRATS, a third “Do not identify with any political party,” and the rest were under 10% in everything from Anarchist (5%) to the Working Families Party (3%).

· 56% voted in the 2008 election and of those, 74% voted for Obama.

· 100% said they “are turned off by our political system.”

· 40% feel their “personal economic situation will get better” in the next few years, 15% feel it will stay the same, and 45% feel it will get worse

Nevertheless, who’s to blame? Why are they out there? Moreover, what do they want? (The top three responses to each question are listed)

Who would you say is most to blame for our failure to address our problems? {Open Ended}

21% – Both parties

16% – The GOP

15% – The American people

What frustrates you the most about the political process in the United States? {Open Ended}

30% – Influence of corporate/moneyed/special interests

21% – Partisanship

15% – Joblessness

What would you like to see the Occupy Wall Street movement achieve? {Open Ended}

35% – Influence the Democratic Party the way the Tea Party has influenced the GOP

11% -Break the two-party duopoly

9% – Engage & mobilize Progressives

9% – Promote a national conversation

Mobs of angry disenfranchised people with no common voice or goal… what happens next?

Do you think that conditions in the United States today are similar to those in many countries in the Middle East on the eve of the Arab Spring?

66% Yes

16% No

18% Somewhat

Would you support the use of civil disobedience to achieve your goals?

98% Yes

1% Maybe

1% No

What about violence?

69% No

31% Yes

Is that 31% willing to use violence to support their cause enough to incite the next city-wide rebellion? Some cities are responding to their protesters with heavy police enforcement. Police enforcement rarely ends well for anyone.

In the London Riots we saw a combination of the downtrodden, the monitories who identified with the original victim, and people just done being mild-mannered Brits.

What do Occupy Wall Street and their equivalents around the world want? Whether they know to ask for it or not, they want a reason to participate as citizens, they want a voice that is not only heard but also listened to, and they want to matter as more than statistics.

“There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

tavia.

My parents let me watch and read way too much science fiction and fantasy when I was a child. Now that I'm grown, I'm bored and I can't wait for SkyNet to awaken or the super-virus to cull the human population. I'll be safe because I've learned to reason with robots from Data and the Terminator franchise... and I eat gummy vitamins by the fist-full.

4 Replies to “Is Occupy Wall Street The Start of a Slow, Apocalyptic Decline?

  1. It may be my own life long indulgence in science fiction and my stint in the military, but I would like to see something along the lines of the government set up in Starship Troopers, one must serve one’s country and come back as a living veteran to obtain citizenship and suffrage. One would have to voluntarily put one’s life on the line for the human family to be worthy of citizenship, to hold office, to be a judge, to hold any public position. Totally anti Ayn Rand.

    1. That’s an interesting take. I definitely see that people should just be in a spot and then demand that others make it worth living in for them. However, teachers, doctors, social workers, and the like do serious and vital service for the citizens of their countries that others can’t or won’t do. You spend a decade ensuring children are literate and disciplined, you’ve earned something in my opinion.

      In times of peace, when we don’t need forces o the front lines, we still need people to step up and be the backbone of society.

      1. AdoAnnie has a good point. I’m not going to go into Robert Heinlein’s concept of citizenship and how it is earned within the paradigm of “Starship Troopers”; suffice it to say during your period of training you could be trained at anything, including the medical profession, education, ect. After serving you would receive further education at the expense of the government and no one could be denied the opportunity to serve even if you were blind, deaf, mute, ect. If you wished to serve and earn your citizenship, you could; they would find a job for you to do.
        I think Heinlein was a responsible for a great many prepper/survivalists due to his writings and in particular his books “Farnham’s Freehold” and “Time Enough for Love”.

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