Monday, October 10, 2011

Unemployed or unemployable?

I fully stand behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am so happy that my generation is finally looking up from their smart phones and seeing that things about there are wrong and that they're saying something about it. The fact is that we have gotten a raw deal. We did everything we were supposed to—studied hard, went to college and studied hard again, we got internships, we developed work experience—and upon graduation we were faced with a whole heap of nothing. "First hired, first fired" saw way too many of us lose what jobs we were able to find. The American Jobs Act will hopefully fix some of the most egregious job discrimination against us by challenging current practices of "no unemployed need apply".

And Wall Street—the taxpayers bailed out Wall Street to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and they gladly took our money and turned around and stripped Dodd-Frank of anything it could actually do to regulate them, sending us back to where we started. They set aside some $135 billion in un-taxable bonuses for themselves proving once again that money, power and greed corrupt and where the money is, regulation needs to follow. Blinded by the pursuit of material wealth, these people will bankrupt our nation again and again. Yes, this was another credit bubble. Yes, this was credit that, knowing we could not pay back, we should not have taken. But that does not give the uber-rich the right to exploit our hopes at the American dream.

I know I'm very idealistic because of course I am, I'm 24. I'm still practically a child. I have this unyielding hope that people will do the right thing. That people are, at their core, good. That government works for the people and by the people and I will gladly had over my money to them because they will do the right thing with it. And seeing our beautiful, wonderful country crumble to the whims of the wealthy, to see the radical religious minority take over our nation's dialogue, chips away at my idealism every day and shores it back up with cynicism.

And so I am glad to see Occupy Wall Street. I am glad to see people finally taking back their voice and find their place in our national discourse. I am even more glad to see the movement start to firm up and become more sure of itself. The New York core of the protests have found support in the unions and they're learning how to express themselves in a way that makes themselves heard. They're becoming more unified and they're learning. And I am so proud to support them because We Are The 99%.

I found something funny online

That said, as far as Occupy Wall Street has come, Occupy Dallas has further to go.

I wanted to support Occupy Dallas. Hell, I skipped the first Pens game of the season (that's a big deal if you're me) to go downtown to the JFK memorial and be with them for the first night. But when I got there, it was an unholy mess. It was smelly Indian drum circles of robed white people. It was a lot of people with tattoos on their faces talking about "the man, bro". It was every issue under the sun from banks to education, from Wall Street to immigration.

There were a lot of motions brought forward and every single one was passed. There were people shouting "FUCK THE POLICE" into a megaphone with the police standing there on the corner and there were the people trying to calm them down. Some of these people wanted a confrontation with the police, I suppose for the novelty of it, as if they couldn't fathom that the DPD were people too, and were there to keep everyone safe. They wanted everyone in food service to get their restaurants to feed the crowd. Like, seriously. While they were sitting out in the grass, they wanted the surrounding establishments to bring out free food. And we wonder why people call us entitled. You want food? Go buy it.

Underemployment is a big issue. Kids who worked their butts off in college who move back in with their parents because the only jobs they can find are in food service and retail, things that require no education and that insults everything they have worked for. But these were not those kids. These were layabouts with no education who still felt like the government owed them something. These were a bunch of whiners who didn't understand why the world wasn't giving them everything for doing nothing. The smell of rank ganja hanging over the whole scene just cemented it for me: they weren't unemployed, they were unemployable.

I understand that I am lucky. I found a job less than three months after graduation, back in 2009, and I was one of the few. Most of my classmates rushed right into a masters degree because they didn't want to face the economy as it stood and now nothing has gotten better and they are over-qualified with little work experience, making themselves even harder to hire and that is fundamentally not fair. But I started my job search a full year before I was hired. I put myself out there, I contacted everyone with a job opening across the country. I joined associations and I created a website and I worked every contact I had until something opened up and I was still lucky.

Yes, there are huge issues in the economy, but a bunch of punk kids standing around talking about how "the man controls the gold, bro, and they're changing everything" and a bunch of fucking conspiracy theories are not going to fix anything. The utter lack of foresight drove me crazy. There is no point to having a protest in downtown Dallas. Who the fuck planned that? Downtown Dallas is purely business—and come 5 pm, it empties out. Plus, you stage your protest on Texas OU Weekend and you expect to get any press at all? Come the fuck on, my friends. Piss poor.

And the one person I spoke too (so representing roughly 2% of everyone there) had never heard of Rick Perry. You heard me right. The governor of our goddamn state. Has been governor for over a decade. Most recently most famous for rocketing to the top of the GOP polls before plummeting spectacularly. And this kid had never heard of him.

The 1960s are the reason I started off as a history major. I was so utterly fascinated with how a generation rebelled against the status quo. They worked because they were "anti-war protestors". They had a focus and a point (unlike this rambling post). They wanted to end the war in Vietnam—the counterculture just came along for the ride.

Occupy Dallas, to me, was all counterculture. There was no focus, no point. And I want the Occupy protests to succeed. I want my generation to speak up and to mean something. But we need something concrete to focus on. Try Dodd-Frank. Try a protest to get Dodd-Frank passed in its entirety and actually prove itself effective and keep these guys that are "too big to fail" from every coming close to the failure point again. The problem is that, at least here, the kids who should be out there are too busy looking for jobs to take the time to sit in a park for five days. The crowd that has been the most dicked over by this whole thing hasn't had the opportunity to say anything about it.

I might rewrite this later, because I recognize that it rambles on and on. But really? Occupy Dallas is going to make me a Republican.

1 comment:

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