A new generation of class warfare
Any way you slice it, Americans are angry. Huge swaths of the population aren’t working. We are losing our jobs and our homes, yet many in power still bumble about, choosing to believe that the proletariat is content with the status quo. Well, they aren’t, and the Occupy Wall Street movement is proof of this. People who have worked hard for their entire lives and have done everything right now find themselves unemployed, unable to pay their bills and have every reason to be frustrated and angry. It’s no surprise their anger is directed at Wall Street; after all, they got bailed out and we got stuck with the check.
Class warfare is a double-edged sword, however. Although both sides love to use it against each other, it seldom ends well. For now, the “eat the rich” mentality serves as a lightning rod for the disaffected, giving them not solutions, but a villain. It is disturbing to think what this could potentially devolve into in the not-so-distant future. America functions best when we have something to believe in, not something to hate. This is my biggest disappointment with this movement. For years people have accused the Tea Party movement of propagating hate in this country. Well, reading the words and signs being carried by some of the Occupiers makes the Tea Partiers look like, well, little old ladies with tea bags hanging from their hats.
What nobody on the left is willing to admit is that stoking the fires of class warfare may very well backfire. Much of the Occupiers’ rhetoric speaks to nonviolence, yet pictures have emerged in the media of protestors doing things like defecating on police cars. There are arrests almost daily, and how long until someone takes it too far? What’s worse is that whatever message they are actually trying to convey gets completely lost when incidents like this happen, and ultimately, no progress will occur.
The biggest problem with this movement is that it’s not going to do anything to solve this country’s economic problems. If anything, it’s going to exacerbate them. Political instability makes the markets nervous, and let’s be honest here—does anyone actually believe that protesting against business is going to prompt those companies to open their doors and start hiring again? Hardly. Creating jobs is not a task for the government. They can only open a path for business to develop and exist. If businesses thrive, then jobs are created, and that’s not going to happen when the markets are skittish due to large amounts of social unrest. Beyond that, I have to wonder if these protestors really know what they are mad as heck about in the first place.
On top of that, much of the protestors’ anger is misguided. True, there are many on Wall Street who pull in ridiculously large salaries. What’s also true is that there are many more who are just regular working stiffs who take the subway to work and are just trying to live the American dream. Are these people the problem? The secretaries, hot dog vendors, and those who worked hard and went to school to get a job at one of these companies? Wouldn’t they be considered part of the supposed “99 percent” or do they deserve to be punished because they are carrying water for the dastardly fatcats in the penthouse offices?
I am suspicious that the Occupiers are not after the top 1 percent, they are after anyone who is better off than they are, and this gives me pause. I cautiously accept the Occupiers’ entrance onto the political stage, as long as they understand that they have the right to participate in the debate, but they do not have the right to define it.