The single biggest complaint I have heard about the various “Occupiers” is that they do not have the answers for the things they are complaining about. This is followed closely by the assertion that they just do not understand how the US economic system works and Mr. Please-Forget-My-Past-And-Make-Me-President Gingrich telling them to go get a job right after they take a bath.
Compare Gingrich and the rich Lebowski and tell me the differences: Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski?
Anyway, the occupiers I have met mostly have jobs, which kind of amazes me because the Gen-Xers are having a difficult time getting good jobs through largely no fault of their own. Yes, there were a few I met who did not.
Do they understand how the economic system works? Pink Floyd said “get a job with more pay and you’re ok.” Wow, was that 38 years ago? 18 months before Nixon resigned. And back then, that aphorism worked. There had been the belief – I know I grew up with it – that if you worked hard and were honest and dependable and all, then you would get ahead and live the “American Dream.” Yes, I was young then, and naïve.
Since then, I mostly played by the rules and made progress towards the dream but have not yet been lucky enough to be in the 1%, I see now that getting ahead takes more than hard work and honestly and that a great many people who kept their heads down and did their jobs and did them well got laid-off time and again and that when Gordon Gecko proclaimed that greed is good, he was speaking of how the new system would work from at least that point forward.
And the gap between the Geckos and the rest of us got wider and wider until now the typical CEO makes in one day what an average worker makes in one year, while in 1965, the CEO made what workers did in two weeks.
It is this disparity that the Occupiers are upset about. It is not that some get rich, because that us a part of the dream they share, but that the gap is so much more now than it has been in the past.
There is a measure of income inequality distribution, referred to as the Gini co-efficient (named after the sociologist who developed it). In the 60’s and 70’s, the US was in the middle of the pack on this, along with most the rest of the world, while Mexico and Brazil were leaders in the inequality of income – where only a very few have most of the wealth and income in a country. Sometime after Gecko, the US left the pack and became more or less equal with Mexico. Brazil of rocketing out of sight and it will take some real work to catch them.
To the Occupiers, it may seem the US is trying to achieve Brazil-like Gini inequality. I do not think I take this stance, but the situation is impossible to dispute. (Well, not impossible – Senator Inhofe says global warming does not happen, and there are many who will never believe that President Obama is a legal US citizen. Just like there are Hollow-Earth theorists whose theory is basically impossible to disprove.)
Do they, the Occupiers, have answers? No. But neither did the TEA Party at the beginning. But the TEA Party did bring to the table a discussion on how big the government should be at a time when the deficit problem was exacerbated by the housing and financial and jobs crisis.
I think it is enough to identify a problem and cause it to be discussed and I hope they hang on long enough to force the discussion into the Presidential election process. That will be enough. If they cause America to think, their work will be done.
Samuel did not right the wrongs of King David with the parable of the ewe, but only caused David to see. If the Occupiers open our eyes and cause us to see, then, it is enough and we can then work on the solution to the problem.