Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wall Street Protests

There are protests on Wall Street.  Hundreds of these protesters were arrested a few Sundays on the Brooklyn Bridge and more recently in Boston.  What is going on?  Who are these people?  What are they protesting about?

I am not sure if I am an average Joe or not.  But, I suspect neither Joe, Mrs. Joe, nor anyone of the little Joe’s understand what this protest is all about.  I for sure do not have a clue what this whole thing is about.  But, that is one of the beauties of blogging.  I can decide to write a piece about something that I do not know enough about and thus am forced to research it.  The research is quite easy in this internet age.  Twenty years ago?  I would have probably just dropped this whole thing as simply being too much trouble.

My cousin Lindsay had just texted me in Google Chat.  So, I decided to begin my ad hoc, unscientific poll, beginning with her.  To read more on Lindsay, check out my blog posting of how we met Cousin Lindsay Blog

me:  do you have any idea what these wall street protests are about
Lindsay:  i was just reading another article now.  i agree with many of their claims and its a peaceful protest.  i think what's been going on with the arab spring/summer finally came full circle and [my generation] is fed up and stepping up
me:  so you have some clue?  can you send an article with a list
Lindsay:  though the thing is, corporate america only gets away with it for one reason.  our government.  washington is as corrupt (if not more)
me:  so it is a generational thing?
Lindsay:  just emailed you the "declaration."  i think most protesters are younger....considering boomers have more at stake to rise against the status quo (we don't even have jobs to be fired from!!!)
me:  is there a website where the declaration came from
(sorry for all these questions.  I am totally fascinated)
Lindsay:  i got it from this article: Article from The Raw Story

She clearly is in tune and sympathetic with this movement.  I soon will be in tune with it... sympathy may or may not follow.

I followed the link to the article which in turn had a link to the

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET is a people powered movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy … join us! We're now in DAY 19.

The New York Times calls this “a noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people.”  NYT Bellafonte 9-23-11.  This simply was not  on my radar screen.  I really did not know about this until that weekend of 9-23.  We were in New York for a wedding.  We were staying near LaGuardia Airport as the church and catering hall were in Queens.  I awoke Sunday to news that protesters were arrested in mass crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.  I was totally unaware.  

I do not blame this movement of mostly young people.  The American Dream has been taken from them, hijacked, by the loss of our manufacturing base.  They see that multinationals just do not think very much in our National interest, so they blame Wall Street.  Are they not getting the coverage they deserve because they do not deserve any coverage or is it because what we used to call “the man” is not covering it on purpose.

Nicolas Kristof, the esteemed New York Times Op-Ed columnist, has likened this movement to those in the Arab Spring.  He specifically channeled Tahrir Square.  This raised a lot of eyebrows.  But, I can see it.  A generation not only seems but are disenfranchised from the American Dream.   They are raring to go... but there are no jobs.  Corporations are doing better and making money again but it is a jobless recovery.  Efficiencies and globalization include the American consumer as part of the recovery but not the American workforce.  I believe this is at the heart of this nascent movement.  

People in my generation are not relating to the frustration of the generation that relates to and is driving this protest.  Kristof took heat for likening this to the Egyptian Tahrir Square protests.  

There is plenty of frustration to go around.  We are in a state of flux in this country.  We are experienced the global economic equilibrium being reset.  The reset is not necessarily in our favor.  Our being on the losing end of things makes the reset painful for us.  The pain is felt by my generation that cannot retire as early as we had hoped.  For a great number of us the idea of any kind of retirement at all seems to have evaporated.  While this is tough sledding for us, we grin and bear it.  Well, maybe we scowl and bear it.  The bottom line is we bear it.  There is not much we can do.  We know we way closer to the end of our careers, the end of our working and producing days, so we endure and make the best of things.  We try to make ends meet and hold on to whatever employment we have.

For the generation of my cousin Lindsay, it is a whole different matter.  They are at the very beginning of their work life.  They are freshly minted adults.  They are ready to get going.  They want to get going.  They have gone to school, selected fields of studies, and worked hard to graduate.  They are raring to go.  For way too many of them, there is just no place to go.  There are not nearly enough entry level career type jobs for them to go into.

This does not stop that generation.  They go and get a part time job, maybe two, perhaps three.  They do what they have to do to be as independent as they can be. They nanny, work at Starbucks, work in retail, whatever it takes.  They return to school for advanced degrees.  The return to school for a more marketable bachelors degree or certifications.  What I like about the young people I have seen is that they do not give up and they realize the new normal better than any of their elders.  Perhaps it is because this is the only normal they have ever known.

I can see their frustration with the Wall Street.  I can see where they are fed up and want to do something, anything, about it.  They see it is time for a new paradigm.  Perhaps it is.

If anyone is to buck the status-quo it is young people.  My generation did so in the late 1960s and early 1970s for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam.  We were full of hope that we would change the world.  That is not quite right.  We believed we would change the world.  Until this recent protest, the youth of this country has not been too awfully rebellious since the days of Woodstock.

The big twist in all of this is that the protestors against Wall Street are kind of blaming us.  To them we are now “the man.”

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