More than 3,000 people have “occupied” Wall Street for the past month. Really, they are milling about Zuccotti park in Manhattan, and the rest of the world has followed suit. These “protests” have broken out in many major cities and small towns around the world. London, Rome and Los Angeles saw large protests last week, and an Occupy Abilene event is scheduled for early November.
The Occupiers claim to be the voice of the people mistreated by big business. According to their website, they are “the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent.”
But, the actual demands of the masses range from better government oversight to canceling personal student loan debts. Parts of their platform have a legitimate place in political discourse; the rest is tripe born of a restless generation and a bad economy.
Though they don’t have organization or reasonable demands, the protesters do have numbers and the Internet on their side, which the Egyptians showed us this summer is powerful. On Monday, Facebook listed more than 125 Occupy-related pages, and one of every 500 Twitter hashtags was #OWS.
But this isn’t Egypt. We don’t have a crazy dictator in office, and our political process works fairly well. The protesters’ complaints and pathetic pleas for the government to solve all of their problems won’t change any minds or policies unless they become involved in policy- making through the traditional routes. Running for public office may be less fun than camping out with your friends, but it’s much more effective.
Many of the protesters are young, unemployed and have a college diploma sitting with the rest of their belongings in a bedroom at their parent’s house. They are fed up with a tough job market, outrageous student-loan debt and the prospects of entering the real world.
As our generation enters the world of taxes, public policy and personal responsibility, we need to realize it is our turn to influence our government.
Generation Y doesn’t want to grow up, but we still want our way. A child sees throwing a fit as the best way to achieve a desired result, and that’s why a New York City park looks like an elementary school yard.
Throwing a temper tantrum to achieve a goal is a juvenile tactic, and sitting in a park for a month, living on donations, is nothing more than that.