We have all heard about this Occupy Wall Street Movement or OWS as it is commonly referred to as, that originally started in New York and has grown across the country as Occupy *Insert City Name Here. Some are comparing it to the Tea Party movement and some are comparing it to the Arab Spring. In my opinion, they are nothing alike and below I will discuss why:
OWS started as a suggestion from a Canadian magazine that people actually took seriously around mid September. Some don’t have a clue as to why they are there. Some just wanted to join in the fun. And some were actually paid to be there. That’s right the “populist uprising” that is happening around the US, that has been compared to the Arab Spring, is actually a paid assignment for some and funded by the unions to “occupy”. From what I can glean from all the information and some misinformation in the press, the majority of the people participating are there because they are mad at bankers and the top 1% of the richest Americans. What exactly are they mad about? Well to be honest I am not really sure. Some are protesting the bank bailouts, some are against big corporations. All the protesters there believe they “deserve more” but what is interesting is that no one seems to take ownership of their own economic situation. They all believe it is someone else’s fault.
What I also find quite amusing is this hodge podge of people are just as clouded in their thoughts as they are in their organization. They have no clear demands or if they do it has not been articulated cogently. A smattering of uncoordinated signs, like “greedy pigs” and “carbon free future” accompany the protests. So what do these protesters really want? What do they really expect to get out of this if they aren’t willing to work with the people who are willing to help. This movement just shows exactly what these people practice in life; they would rather it get handed to them than work for it. One protester, a college student, demanded he have his tuition paid for because “that’s what [he] wants”.
I believe in personal responsibility.”Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” What am I getting at? Well, the people that are protesting at various Occupy * City Name are expecting corporations and government to hand them money and “spread the wealth”. They are mad that the top 1% are not paying their “fair share of taxes” but that 1% pays almost 40% of the individual income tax and almost 60% of corporate income tax. These protesters do not want to work for their money, they expect that the government hand it down in the form of welfare programs. According to David Brooks’ article in the New York Times, if you take everything that the top 1% earned, you wouldn’t even make a dent in the national debt. What got the United States in this recent economic crisis is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While government is in part guilty for even creating these programs and ‘forcing’ lax rules and quotas to qualify minorities, the people themselves are responsible for the overspending, over-borrowing. Why are they shocked that they are in debt? The debt didn’t come out of nowhere; they knew they were living above their means.
These protesters can sit out there all they want, but without a clear plan or demand and effective organization, they wont see anything change. They keep complaining about unfairness which had lead media to compare it to the Arab Spring but unlike the Arab Spring, OWS protesters are not facing a dictatorship or human rights violations. Egypt had Mubarak, Libya, Gaddafi, Yemen and Syria have Saleh and Assad, all regimes with varying levels of oppressive governments and economic decline. The protesters have been fired upon and responded to with brutal force. Many people have sacrificed their lives for their cause. In contrast, the Wall Street protesters have freedom. Freedom to demonstrate, freedom to display anti-establishment signs, freedom to say pretty much anything including anti-Semitic rhetoric, all protected under the First Amendment. They also have the right to move freely around the country, find jobs, go to school to re-learn and the right to ‘get rich’ based on their own abilities. Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Larry Page all did, and all from modest circumstances. How can then one even compare the two movements? The only commonality is the use of social media to organize. In fact one can argue that the Arab World is facing real hardships and it is almost sacrilege to compare the two protests.
The “inability of the organizers, whoever they are exactly, or the participants, an endlessly shifting population, to say clearly and succinctly why they’re there” makes this protest completely different from the Arab Spring and the Tea Party. The Tea Party, or the Taxed Enough Already Party have a clear agenda and goal. The Tea Party-ers have united against big government and lower taxes. They have proven to be effective as a group that gets things done. They are promoting their message slowly but surely and are pro-actively electing people around the country that have the same strong convictions as them so they can be represented in Congress. Tea Party-ers don’t expect anything to be handed to them and in fact are very strongly for self sufficiency, so they are taking action for themselves. The OWS protesters should take note.