Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 13, 2012, 1:52 p.m. EST by ARod1993
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
Discounting the Occupy movement as a bunch of impotent idiots begging for free money is a serious error. I completely agree with the principles behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I feel that the dismissal of income inequality as a non-issue spawned of thin skins and jealousy is a grave error even though if they and I both succeed in life I'll probably wind up paying more in taxes than I would otherwise.
I grew up working poor in the Bronx and am currently at MIT thanks to a crazily determined mother and a strong, supportive working class community. Simply speaking from my experience and from what I've seen, poor choices may be a part of why people are poor, but they're hardly enough of the picture to just be able to point the finger at an entire population and brand them as lazy, stupid, and useless.
I'll be the first to admit that what I did was hardly in a vacuum. Not everybody has a mother who is a licensed teacher who was willing to quit her job to live as a poor housewife so that she could homeschool her children to keep them out of a failing school system. Not everybody has a father who could find and hold onto a union job with good benefits up until his son's sophomore year of high school, weather an eleven-month strike and a plant closure, and manage to get another union job within a few months of being laid off. Not everybody has a landlord willing to hold off a rent increase for a year longer than he had to to cut us a break. Not everyone knows an incredibly kind nun who just dropped off $500 at our doorstep one month when we couldn't fully make rent on time.
It is theoretically possible to bootstrap oneself out of poverty, but damn near nobody who truly got anywhere satisfactory in life came from absolutely nothing. There is always the one that does, and that person is so many different kinds of amazing it's not funny, but usually there are support systems there that you didn't see that your average bootstrapper was able to take advantage of. There are also whole communities in which the resources don't exist for those kinds of support systems to develop organically and therein lies the trap. When you have someone who comes from a broken home, spends his days in a school that doesn't teach him and where large chunks of the student body punish success, in a community where few people care and the ones that do truly have no support to offer, you've essentially spent his whole life teaching him that success is out of his reach and he'd be a fool to reach for it.
The whole point of discarding this ugly attitude about the economically less fortunate is because only then are you going to watch the kind of change that you're hoping for. Give the poor real economic support for things like going to college and/or vocational training so that they can ditch their minimum-wage job for something they can actually live on. Send their kids to strong, high-performing schools where success is expected and rewarded. Truly offer them opportunity and you'd be amazed at how fast they would take it. Now, if you give someone every opportunity in the book and they still blow it, then feel free to dump them on the roadside; I won't stop you. But until that's been done your attitude is simply part of the problem.
The other major thing we're going to have to look at is what exactly we plan on doing with our poor and our working class; as of right now, the latter (right along with the middle class) is and has been taking one hit after another due to factors like deunionization and outsourcing, and something has to be done about that. A nation composed entirely of BS's and BA's sounds like a great idea in theory, but there are groups of people who truly don't fit into that model and there has to be a better answer for them than "Go flip burgers" or "It's your fault you're underwater for trying to better yourself."
We need to have something more to our economy than just a small group of high-earning professionals with advanced degrees and a large unwashed (and presumably expendable) mass of Starbucks baristas and McDonalds employees trying to make ends meet on $7-$8 per hour, and that's going to mean forcing jobs back over here in the long term as well as a fair number of other measures including reconstruction of our national infrastructure (which would serve to provide stopgap employment until a new manufacturing industry got under way, and would create a fair number of additional permanent maintenance jobs over the long haul) if we want to fix things.
I stand behind OWS namely because I see them as the first movement with enough raw manpower and raw anger to be in a position to force these issues in the long term, and because their initial direction is close enough to mine that action towards their goals would most likely also serve the ends I outline above. We're fairly raucous and unorganized, and we're far from perfect, but as far as I can see Occupy Wall Street is the first real start in this direction I've seen on the national stage.