Occupations

This weekend, the Occupy Wall Street movement turned up in the normally quiet and too-relaxed-to-really-get-upset-about-anything San Diego. Over the weekend several hundred people took to a park near City Hall and began camping out. They’ve had marches, speeches, and music. They plan to keep it going as long as they can, according to the organizers.

Poster

It’s all been very civilly disobedient. Apparently, camping outside of City Hall is illegal here, and the police have been conspicuous, but our assistant police chief Boyd Long said, ““They’re out here exercising their First Amendment freedoms and the police are down here to help them exercise them.” Nice job of not-hassling by The Man.

I have to admit that I’ve been a little confused about the whole Occupy This Place movement. The average interviewed demonstrator seems to be young, college-educated and unemployed. And the message of their demonstration seems a little diffuse. At first it seemed that they were complaining against the favorable treatment by the government of big banks, but now it’s seems to have expanded to cover the growing wealth gap between the top 1% wealthiest individuals and “the 99%” whom they claim to represent.

Protesters

The whole movement seems to have grown out of the chronic unemployment and its unpleasant cousin, under-employment, that we’re mired in. The Occupiers seem to be mostly recent college grads and their complaints strike me as those of students who had grade-inflated averages, were always “exceptional”, and got trophies for showing up to soccer games. And as newly-minted adults, they have assumed that once they graduated they could walk onto the field of commencement and receive the trophy of a career-track job. That now somehow because they didn’t get that, they’ve been left holding the bag or got sold some bill of goods. Where was the outrage about this five years ago? Oh that’s right, everyone had jobs, giant 401ks, appreciating house values, and the sky was the limit. The bill of goods was pretty damn good – until, of course, it wasn’t.

These sorts of things are common happy hour and Sunday morning discourse at The Aerie – especially with regards to higher education and employment. Namely, is higher education meant to be some sort of job training? Call me old-fashioned, but I think the answer is a resounding “no”. I believe that education is that – education. Furthermore, a degree may be necessary to attain a position, but it certainly is not sufficient.

Vigilant

Let’s take an area that I’m familiar with – research. Your degree in chemistry might make you eligible for a research job – provided chemists are something that organizations are hiring. When I graduated from college unemployment was ~8 % and I knew lots of people that couldn’t find work. There weren’t enough jobs for the number of chemistry graduates. The situation is even worse today. With the contraction of industrial research efforts, the slashing of government research grant funding, increased automation, and the movement of jobs overseas, is there any wonder that there’s a glut of highly-trained-but-unemployed researchers? After I was laid-off in 2009, there were a lot of times that I wondered whether I would be able to find something new at near the salary I had become accustomed to – and if I went a while (a very nebulous time frame, I know) without finding a job, what would I do instead? Would I march on downtown claiming that the system is unfair?

No. I wouldn’t.

The system is no more unfair or greedier than it’s ever been. Corporations are still working their damndest to maximize profits and shareholder value, because that’s what corporations are supposed to do. I also sense that the globalization of the world economy has made it a lot easier for corporations to find solutions to their staffing and production needs wherever – and for many that’s not going to be on U.S. soil.

So, I guess where I end up is wondering: as a society what are we supposed to do about it? And by “we”, I mean individuals, communities, governments and corporations?

In the biotech industry, we’re being advised to create companies that get started, produce something of value, and then get sold. If you told the market you wanted to build the next Genentech or Amgen, you’d never raise a dollar. The whole process isn’t supposed to take longer than a few years, because that’s all that investors want to hear about. In other words, create disposable companies. And to me the fixation on maximizing today’s profit at the expense of tomorrow’s growth is the real heart of the problem we’re in. It’s myopia, not greed.

So perhaps the better question is: How can “we” encourage corporate good citizenship or promote the idea that in the long-view many years of prosperity are better (for everyone) than very short-term success (for a few)?

Can we somehow make greed sustainable?

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48 thoughts on “Occupations

  1. Great post, Steve. On the one hand, there is no doubt a system of the corrupt and wealthy that needs to be overthrown. So I’m always glad to see that kind of protest. On the other hand, I don’t quite understand their message. It’s not specific at all. Is it, as you said, I have always been told I was special so now that I am a graduate, why am I not wealthy and famous? Honestly, I think the economic crash was the best thing that could have happened to that generation. When even Mommy and Daddy can’t spoil them anymore, it gives them a much-needed dose of reality.

    The short-term, disposeable thinking that you mentioned is our core problem. With products, business and the environment. And I disagree that is myopia. All educated people know when they’re taking shortcuts at the expense of a durable product, a productive community, and a healthy environment. BP knew it, so does Bank of America and many other get-rich-quick before the resources run out and people catch onto you corporations. I see it as pure greed and yeah, it needs to be protested and boycotted. But then on our end that means we have to work our butts off to create small communities, make our own products and cut way back instead of expecting more money. That will be hard and it will be interesting to see which way this country goes if the economy continues to tank.

    • Em — it’s an interesting demonstration — pretty much a bunch of people saying “I’m mad, and I’m protesting the way things are…” and I applaud them for that, but protesting without viable suggestions about what to do about the problem you have boils down to complaining.

      And you’re absolutely right — what I should have written is that it’s the WILLFUL MYOPIA of those trying to fleece the system that is the issue. Actual myopia you could hope to influence with information and goodwill. This? I don’t think so.

      • I hear what you’re saying: having solutions is the “right way.” That said, when I took part in sit-ins in France to protest the state of bigotry (against Muslims and this was the mid-90s), we had no solutions. We were making a vocal and physical display against the status quo–for everybody to see. I think that’s important, too. I still don’t have a solution against racism but I’m also still against it and make my feelings known as often as I can.

      • MT — that’s a great point about protesting against something that is clearly wrong (racism, sexism, etc) even though you might not have the answer for it, other than “don’t be racist”.

        I do admire these folks in a way and will be very curious as to whether their protests can manifest in a way that changes the national discussion.

  2. I have seen interviews where the 99% talk about their student loan debt. Pardon me if I don’t feel sorry for them. As a society, we stress that everyone must go to college. This is one of the first generations that really took this to heart. Unfortunately, even in a good economy their just wouldn’t be very many high paying jobs for that many graduates. They seem to lack the take what you can get and make the best of it gene. You would be surprised where lower paying jobs can lead you and what skills they can give you.

    When 100% of the population has a Bachelor’s degree, 100% of the people working at McDonalds will also have a bachelor’s degree. Speaking from experience, a liberal arts degree without experience is worth almost nothing. They should just go ahead and tell people trying to get them for things other than grad school and teaching to just stick with their H.S. Diploma or to get a real degree.

      • I agree with those points, I think it was Obama who said that no one should have to go broke in order to get an education. We don’t want a country of ignorant citizens. I think the solution would be to encourage those creative thinkers, but to offer some vocational “minor” degree so they also have a fall back position and they can be productive citizens in meantime.

    • Budd — I am surprised when I hear employers with basics-skills level jobs claim that they can’t find good candidates. Really? You’d think that in this economy there would be many applicants for positions, but I do think there is a “this job is beneath me” mentality. I struggled with that when I began looking for new jobs — how low was I willing to go? I am glad that I didn’t find out, but I can tell you, once the unemployment insurance ran out, I’d have taken a lot of jobs that I wouldn’t have thought “at my level”.

  3. The protesters here were better — older folks who had a clear message about putting more tax burden on the 1% and getting it off the unemployed, getting some basic national health care, and regulating the banks better.

    Nobody complained about student loans.

    • L — I do get a little confused about the taxing the 1% more. You actually DO pay more in taxes the higher your salary is — but where the discrepancy is that investments are taxed lower (for everyone), but they tend to make up a larger portion of 1%-ers income.

      Does that mean that they are advocating investment income be taxed at different rates based on some assessment of household GDP? That seems incredibly unfair and un-American.

      • taxing investment income would punish people for attempting to save for retirement. Inflation is already doing a pretty good job of making saving for retirement impossible, then you have the Fed artificially keeping rates low, and now they want to tax any profit that you make on your previously taxed money that was invested in a company that most likely created jobs. That just doesn’t make sense.

  4. It’s this generation’s Woodstock Moment. They still smoke or toke, indulge in free love with free condoms – or not – wear their hair down to there – play the bongos and in general blame society for their lack of income. They are a messy bunch, not cleaning up their trash, some need to be potty trained or keep those diapers on instead using a cop car for a toilet. Some live at home, have health insurance until they turn 26 by mommy and daddy, and spend hours on Facebook, Twitter and playing Doom online.

    The Free Market and capitalism is essential – let’s take America back ! Okay, I’m not running for office – just venting. Now, where are my beads and headband? You can read about my ‘Back in the day” http://trailblazer1.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/back-in-the-day-way-back/

    • Is it a coincidence that hipster and hippie have the same root? I don’t think so.

      One of the things that amazes me is that the protesters will decry giant corporations while wearing clothes manufactured by giant corporations, posting to Facebook or Twitter (giants) by using their iPhones or Droids (giants), that they paid for using their credit cards issued by the very banks their demonstrating against!

  5. I agree that I have yet to hear a clear message. One of the “national leaders” of the “movement” who has created a website about it was interviewed and all he kept saying was that they’d talk about their goals and decide on an agenda when they got someone to listen to them. I guess he neglected to notice the woman with the microphone and the cameraman?

    • GOM — there is a sort of naive “power to the people” aspect to the demonstrations that I admire, but after a while they’re going to become a bunch of messy people getting in the way (the easy case), or they’re going to start getting more antagonistic (the worst case). I hope it doesn’t come to that.

  6. Huh Steve, I guess great minds do think alike! Funny that we both wrote about “them”! I hope the Occupy Wherever do not leave the mess in San Diego like they are leaving in the park on Wall Street . . . perhaps by now they do have a stronger sense of what they are doing, what THEY STAND FOR? Student loan complaints? Perhaps a person from one of the buildings on Wall Street will walk out with a check for them?! I know my sympathy is pouring out of me . . .ha! I paid my student loan myself by WORKING, at the time I was working a minimum paid job at the mall in sales, perhaps if they took a job instead of protesting? Just thinking?

    • EG — one thing I don’t want to come across as is anti-assembly. I’m GLAD they’re out there exercising their First Amendment rights. I think that’s awesome in its own American way. And fortunately, the ones here have been very well-behaved so far — though there were a few reports of people’s stuff being stolen from tents. Ahh human nature.

      I, too, paid off my student loans by getting jobs and — amazingly enough — not buying the latest, greatest, hottest stuff until I did. I had built up some credit debt too through grad school and one of the happiest days of my life was a few years after when I had no debt left. Still don’t.

    • craigger — you do wonder if this can translate into some Tea Party-esque influence on candidates or the ballot box. My guess is no, but that’s because I’m old and cynical.

  7. I’m probably too close to this situation, since 1) I used to teach at a college and know the problems the demonstrators are complaining about; and 2) I have three children who are now carrying massive loads of student debt but are unable to find jobs that allow them to at least put a dent in the principal. I also wince when I hear people say, “We have too many college graduates, there’s nothing wrong with going to a vo-tech school and learning plumbing or electrical work;” or worst, “Not everyone should go to college.” I always wanted my children to go to college, not because it would get them “a good job,” but because I knew how it would enrich their lives. However, colleges, especially the for-profit ones, love selling the idea that if you get a college degree you’ll “get a good job and earn higher pay!” (I heard that on the radio just now.) As you said, Steve, education should really be about education, or in the classical liberal arts sense, learning to be a critical thinker and an active, well-informed citizen. I fear we’ve failed our students in that responsibility, however: so many of them are graduates of the standardized testing curriculum. They know how to pass tests, but few of them question the consumer- and social-media-driven norms that infest American culture. They expect to have a smartphone and an iPad and new car; some of them actually spend their student loan money to buy these things, not realizing they have to start paying it back three months after graduation.

    That said, public colleges were far better funded back when I was an undergraduate. Community colleges in California were free, and I took full advantage of that. Then I received a scholarship from the University of California and graduated two years later, debt free. An education at one of the UC campuses is still a deal compared to the University of Minnesota, where even before the recession the state began placing the burden of funding the school on the students. But when I was looking at taking a college course in Spanish recently, the community college that I’d attended years ago now wanted $1500 for one semester of online teaching. I snorted—I don’t even get a real instructor for that kind of money?—then wondered how on earth a 20-year-old could afford it. Then I thought about my son, recently graduated from a four-year-institution, and my heart sunk.

    The #OccupyWallStreet demonstrators have been vague about their demands because they say they want to be democratic and have everyone agree upon what issues they want to focus on. (Oh children, hell will freeze over before you hammer out any one talking point.) Fortunately, demonstrators in other parts of the country have been more specific. In San Francisco they demanded a tax on the top 1% income earners in the U.S.; criminal prosecution of those financiers and bankers who fraudulently signed through millions of bad mortgages during the real estate and credit boom; and taking funds used to prop up the banks and using them to help the unemployed, many of whom have now exhausted their unemployment benefits. Whether Congress will take them as seriously as they took the Tea Party remains a question. Judging from what I have seen so far, I fear not.

    • I’m certainly under-employed and paid my own way through school, which I never shut up about because on academic scholarships for talent and graduating at the head of my class, you wouldn’t have thought I’d own thousands of dollars when I didn’t “enjoy” dorm life. I worked whilst taking classes (not the semester I carried 28 credit hours) and lived with my godparents for the tiny sum of $50/ month to cover utilities. I didn’t have jobs, to my shock, waiting for me when I got out of school. Nothing I’d been told by schools turned out to be true. Now, almost 40, all my school mates who took a few classes and dropped out make 10 times more money than I do: they’re excellent networkers and liars. Apparently, that’s what’s needed to really get ahead. When I’m at my 2nd job (at a campus), the union workers do FAR less in any given hour, let alone day or week than I do at my day job (of over 15 years). There’s an answer, I just haven’t figured out how to make it suss with my personality/ abilities.

      About vo-tech, I’m 100% for them (and when/ if day job finally goes under, I plan on retraining at one for something like network admin, which at least seems to be in demand) because my friends’ kids who hated school, took vo-tech training and immediately found jobs and kept them are doing far better than I was in my 20s, 30s or what looks like for my soon-to-be 40s.

      That said, I still say that my time at university increased my appreciation for life. It sure as hell put me in line for no monetary security, though. I don’t say “I wish I hadn’t gone” but I wish I’d gotten something more useful from it — even if that was solid networking. I couldn’t join clubs and sororities since I was working and studying so hard to achieve that USELESS head of the class. Lower grades and more free time would’ve been a better goal for me and that’s SAD.

    • HG — I LOVE the way that you put it that college should also being about becoming a more-informed and critically-capable citizen and that the reliance on standardized testing and checklist-style requirements for graduation have handcuffed this generation of students. I’d wished that I’d thought to put that in the post.

      I also want to say that I’m glad to see people across the country exercising their rights to Assemble and protest. There is something naively enchanting about the “I want everyone to have their say” aspect to the early moments of this movement. At some point, though, some folks are going to have to crystallize along with their message. The Tea Party was remarkably successful in tapping into certain angers in a portion of the electorate to the degree that they’ve helped shape both the local and national discourse. I wonder if this movement will be able to achieve the same influence.

  8. I remember talking to my Grandfather about the usefulness of taking Business Administration and all the management courses. The first thing he said is “You can’t manage something if you don’t know anything about it.” He was right. I combined the skills from college with my work experience and moved forward from there. Nothing fancy really, just common sense.

    As fro the demonstrators, they’re doing the same thing up here in Canada but they’re letting people protest whatever they want. Lots of small protests all wrapped up into the large protest.

    • grey — it’s funny, I was just talking to an old friend of mine who is a partner in a very small law practice and we were comparing stories (with our very small biotech) about how we never in a million years thought we’d have to know how to run a business — and yet, here we are each trying to figure out how to keep our businesses in the black.

  9. Nicely done, Steve. Of course, I say ‘nicely done’ because I agree with most of what you said.
    I also like how you asked the question about how to encourage corporate good citizenship. The thought of selling young corporations to large ones makes me sad. Small business are important – perhaps a canary in the coalmine. Happily, I think the small businesses are coming back, slowly but surely.

    In other news, your description of growing profitable small companies for other companies to buy reminds me of the loyalty of employees these days. My husband has been with the same company for nearly 20 yrs. He is 42. Longevity in a company is becoming extinct. And the longevity isn’t diminishing due to layoffs – the longevity is diminishing, because folks are constantly looking for change. Just as someone updates their Facebook status or sends out a Tweet – they leave a job and look for something else.

    Ok. That’s a bit of a generalization, but maybe you see where I am going.

    Good stuff here. Thank you for posting.

    • Thanks LD — well, the only think I can say about the small business aspect is that at least in the biotech world, the “obvious” strategy changes about every 9-12 months. So, who knows? Maybe in a year or two, long-term sustained companies will be “in” — though I kind of doubt it.

      It’s interesting that you bring up your husband’s job. My first job out of college was working for the DuPont Company. When I started they hadn’t had a layoff in since the 1930s and the employees were almost as loyal to the company as they were to the country — it was an awesome place to work. When I finished my PhD about 5 years later, I went back and they had had a change of management and had instituted a series of layoffs and cut-backs and that awesome culture that had taken 50+ years to build was completely wiped away. Tragic.

  10. As a young person who’s still in college, I’m torn about this whole protest thing. I mean, good for them for speaking up and using their 1st Amendment rights, but are they going to accomplish anything? I dunno.

    My husband and I are struggling under his student loans, especially since he’s been out of work in his field these past months (but of course, since he only got his job three months before the work dried up, we couldn’t claim unemployment), so, on one hand, I sympathize when I hear them complain about the lack of jobs and expensive student loans.

    On the other hand, both my husband and I were raised to believe that work is work, which means he found construction jobs with local contractors to make ends meet while I work as a housekeeper and nanny. Both of us are willing to work jobs that are “beneath our level” instead of standing around and complaining about how hard our situation is. Are we really so odd?

    • GB — there is something to be said that having their voices heard is “accomplishing something” — which to me is philosophically correct and pragmatically fairly worthless.

      Good for you guys for doing what needs to be done. When I was staring at no job for a while, I wonder where I would have ended up taking a job well outside my “career track” — in some ways I think might be good for me.

  11. I support these guys, even if I’m on the 99% that isn’t exactly sure of their agenda. :)

    It might be simply that they know the “system” we have right now is broken, whack and unfair, even if they don’t know exactly how to fix it or how to propose a system that would do a better job.

    Even so, I support them. Hopefully their efforts can help address some of the most egregious nonsense that goes on in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

    Nice post and good photos, too!

    • shout — I do think that it’s a great example of people being able to go out and air their grievances against the government. I think where I question it is when I wonder that if they were on the “inside track” and getting their little piece of the pie, whether the system would really look all that broken?

  12. The winds of change are blowing and when they hit the resonant note, the whole structure is coming down to be rebuilt. Those who don’t see this yet are just too comfortable.

    “Change you cannot avoid…”

    • I’ll clarify the remark:

      Echoing other responses, I don’t expect young people to be expert at formulating *exactly* what is wrong with the system, or *exactly* how to fix it: they don’t have the experience or the wisdom that would be bred of it.

      What I expect of them is to be extraordinarily sensitive to whether or not the system is healthy. For the reason that they see it all with fresh eyes and with the educational propaganda still unset in their thinking.

      The longer we “elders” live in the system, the more we invest ourselves into studying it, the more it works for us, and the less likely we are to revise our model because the system has changed ergonomically, the less likely we are to be willing to be analytical and critical.

      So I guarantee you: we, the invested, will be the “last to know” why everything suddenly changed.

      • koan — it’s a curious thing, because I think everyone in the 90s should have known that there was a reason that 10%+ per year growth in the stock market was unprecedented and that housing prices really couldn’t keep just going up, could they?

        And so, we reap what we’ve sown, but those protesters reaped the benefits of it too — their homes and cars and educations and all the rest. Who really has the moral authority to say “Enough!” — that isn’t already complicit?

    • Yes; perhaps, in a democracy, it might be acceptable for the pain of bad decisions to be shared in some kind of egalitarian style.

      But the paradigm shift I am thinking of stems from the growing feeling that we have lost our democracy: it has been transmogrified into a fully-fledged PLUTOCRACY. Who then is to “blame”?

      Here is a proposition: “90% of people will not even entertain a proposition until 10% of the population already believe it”. Ergo, when an idea reaches 10% of a population, it *may* catch fire. Particularly, if it is true. :)

      As for solutions, while a true democracy may be reformed from within, a plutocracy may not. So, let’s ask ourselves, “what would the Founders do?” They believed that the federal government was a creature and servant of the states. Very quaint.

      — k9

      “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning”, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, quoted in the New York Times, November 2006 [Ignore this one, by all means, if you think you are more clever than Buffett.]

      “Democracy is the political stage immediately preceding oligarchy”, Aristotle

  13. I started writing a pretty fired-up comment earlier, but didn’t have time to think it through thoroughly. Now that I return with post-lunch sleepiness, it’s probably going to be a little tamer. :)

    Regarding your thoughts on the Occupy movement, I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one left a little nonplussed by the whole thing. Not to say it doesn’t raise some valid complaints, but I’m with you—without a solution or at least some organized suggestions, I feel like it’s a pretty weak movement. And I do see some protesters (some of my friends, even!) whose main complaint seems to be “I went to college and I don’t have a 6-digit salary! Life’s not fair!” I can’t fathom this attitude. I couldn’t get a job in my field after I finished my first degree, either—BECAUSE I MAJORED IN MUSIC, FOR SHIT’S SAKES. As you said, the education was an education—enriching for its own sake, but not a contract with the world that I’m now guaranteed a job immediately, forever, and with no further effort on my part.

    With all that said, the most important thing I wanted to say in response to some of the attitudes in this comment thread is: it’s more than a little unfair to generalize an entire generation. The Tea Party doesn’t represent all of middle-aged white America, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters don’t represent all people in their mid-20s. I also have always been more than a little skeptical about this idea that this generation (my generation) has somehow proven itself to be more obliviously self-absorbed and stricken with an entitlement complex than any other. I’m 26 years old and working full time as I complete my degree. My parents have always been generous and supportive, emotionally and financially when necessary, but I try not to take advantage of that and I certainly don’t feel like it’s owed to me. And I don’t think my attitude is the exception among my peers. I see some students who DO seem to feel entitled, but I hardly think that attitude is unique to my generation.

    Obviously I’m a little (or a lot) over-sensitive to this kind of thing. But truly, I get so tired of hearing about how worthless/lazy/[choose your own pejorative] my generation is. When people start in on it (and I’m not meaning to suggest anyone here is), I want to respond, I am a hard worker! I am innovative! And in 10 to 20 years, I will be complaining about kids today just like you do!

    Maybe I’ll draw that sign up and head out to occupy whatever city is nearest.

      • Joie – (this is my 3rd comment on Steve’s blog thus making your long comment look benign) ;) I agree about the stereotyping and I am guilty of that. When I mumble about “this generation” what I’m usually irked about is the parents and teachers. When we college grads used to see children running wild in stores and heard reports that some schools do not allow bad grades, then I think we’re just looking to see that narcissism manifest itself. I’ve witnessed a huge number teens and college-age folks who are hard working and extremely bright and innovative. After attending a bad, low-income grade school I was lucky to be sent to a private school; but friends of mine who attended the public school had punitive teachers and several of my friends were even emancipated from their parents at 15 due to abuse, and always one paycheck away from homelessness. I know they are especially bitter when they hear that 25 year-olds can now live off their parent’s health insurance and have a place to stay at almost any age. So I think some of it is about resentment. But it is a huge generalization and I’m sure that plenty of people from “this generation” face exactly the same challenges. Scapegoats is the word I’m looking for, I suppose.

    • I would say that you’re still pretty fired up! :)

      I think it’s pretty typical of our society to lump together all individuals of a group — whether it’s a religion, race, country, political party or even a generation — because if it’s anything, America loves to do, it’s stereotype and generalize.

      I will say that I have found a mix among the 20-somethings that I’ve come across in the recent past, although that that mix has trended to “entitled”. Now many of these are from science, engineering and medicine backgrounds and so I think they go into their educations expecting lucrative careers later.

      • I’M ALWAYS FIRED UP! :P Yeah, can you tell I’ve heard that attitude a lot—all about my lazy, ungrateful generation? Sigh. We’re all guilty of stereotyping, of course. And I’ve definitely encountered some peers who do nothing but support this particular stereotype.

  14. Great post. I’ve been wondering exactly what these protesters are trying to do with their “occupations.” I certainly understand frustration with the current job market and economy, but I think “Occupy Congress” makes more sense. Demonizing the rich isn’t going to get them anywhere, but a cohesive message about a specific thing they want to see changed would make them look like they had thought this thing through.

    There is definitely a problem for current college graduates in finding jobs, but sometimes I think they expect too much money right off the bat. I graduated and took a job that paid $22,000 after college in 2000. I had to budget and have a roommate to live on this, but it was enough. I slowly made more and more, and now with a graduate degree I’m doing much better. College is not a golden ticket to the high life. You have to be willing to work your way up from somewhere.

    • Hmm, I don’t want it to sound like I don’t support their right to assemble. I fully support that. I’m a librarian, I love free speech! It would be nice to see them come together in the way the Tea Party has with some specific messages that might influence the political arena. Time will tell.

      I just read through all of the comments and somewhere you mentioned that you were surprised that some people were having trouble finding qualified candidates. I was recently on a hiring team, and younger people that interviewed (early 20’s) just did not interview well or present themselves in an intelligent way. Sloppy clothes, terrible grammar on their applications, etc. Their answers to questions were perplexing, and they definitely presented themselves completely as individuals who were looking out for themselves and their careers. We were looking for people who would be team players, and the younger candidates did not present themselves that way. Perhaps the high self esteem movement went too far… Maybe colleges need a course on interviewing in the senior year?

      • Bookish — there is a certain “flash mob” mentality that I discern — of the “let’s all do this and it’ll be cool/meaningful” — and there is something inherently good about that. It does raise the interesting question (that I think a lot of cities are just now starting to deal with) is: when does a demonstration become vagrancy? In other words, these groups have the right to assemble, but they really don’t have the right to live in public parks. So, what gives and when?

        I do hope though that their protests do get some visibility into the national discourse — though it’s really odd that we have one political group demonizing the rich and others demonizing the poor. What’s a middle class person supposed to do?

  15. Great post. This was being talked about this morning on CNBC. I especially liked David Faber’s comment that he would feel a whole lot better about this whole thing if they were protesting against the people who have done bad things rather than the people who have done well. When did working hard for you money become a bad thing?

    • QOFB — good to see you! You’ve been missed around these parts.

      There are a couple of gross assumptions that are being put out — one is that the 99% all agree and have been “wronged”, another is that the 1% are all bad. The mega-rich have taken advantage of the rules the Congress have put in place, so the 99% have no one to blame but themselves. Of course, over 50% of the 99% don’t vote, so there you go.

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