The Hypocrisy of Occupy Wall Street
The ground is covered with $200 sleeping bags. Glances across the crowd reveal a seemingly endless army of impassioned people pounding away on a smartphone, blasting 140-character shouts of revolution to the world. Others are holding iPads or Kindles. Continue to scan the emotionally charged crowd and you’ll discover a sea of digital cameras, MP3 players, and designer backpacks. Somewhere, a man is defecating in the street. They call themselves the 99%.
Walk a little further and a man is on his knees shouting outside a bank. “You took my house!” Another man is complaining about losing his job. Elsewhere many more are chanting in unison, lambasting corporate profits. Apparently the top 1% isn’t giving enough back to the community. Do you understand the irony of this scene?
A protest littered with the signature marks of capitalism is arguing against the very system that brought them Twitter, the iPad, and all the other crap we buy but don’t really need. People are complaining about losing things they don’t deserve or can’t afford. The bank took your house? This isn’t a con. Banks don’t take homes away from people who make their payments. Companies don’t fire employees who create value to the firm. The role of government, and capitalism, is not to fill your life with things you don’t deserve or can’t afford. Our Constitution only guarantees the right to pursue happiness, not provide it for you. You have to achieve it yourself. So do you understand the shame of this scene?
Our economy is hurting right now. So is the rest of the world. Most investments are crumbling, the cost of commodities is rising, and there are more people than there are jobs. Meanwhile, some big corporations are experiencing record profits – and it isn’t just the oil companies. Wireless companies are making more money than ever before. But should we really be offended?
A friend of mine wisely said, “I’m tired of the bottom 1% complaining to the top 1% and acting like they speak on behalf the 98% in between.” (Credit: wscii) Occupy Wall Street is nothing but a bunch of jobless hippies who are fighting for something they don’t deserve while the rest of us are working our butts off to make ends meet. You know what nearly 9% of our nation’s unemployed are doing while you’re defecating in the streets and Tweeting about it? Starting businesses and creating our own jobs instead of waiting for someone else to do it for us.
The world is changing – fast. And life is hard. But no one owes you anything except for what you can earn. This is the primary principle of the system that brought you the very things you’ve complained about losing – and the tools you use to complain about it. American entrepreneurship is resilient and we’ve succeeded because of brave people who believe that with great adversity comes great opportunity. Those people aren’t occupying anything but hard working jobs and new ventures with the hope of something better.
Carol Tice at entrepreneur.com said, “So far, Occupy Wall Street has mostly managed to negatively impact the economy by blocking sidewalks and scaring off customers for local small businesses. This isn’t really helpful.” Her article points out that if you really want to do something radical, start your own business. Create your own solution instead of complaining to someone else about it. That’s how you have a real impact and that is what I believe our patriotic duty is. No one can save us from this mess but ourselves.
One thing Occupy Wall Street doesn’t know is that there are jobs out there. The real 99% knows that the problem isn’t a lack of jobs but a lack of qualified employees. Almost every company I work with – and every entrepreneur across the city that I talk with – is understaffed. People are paying good money for talented and reliable employees. Last winter, a friend of mine who owns a snow removal business struggled because he couldn’t find anyone to work for him – even at nearly $20 an hour. Why? Because snow removal is too hard. We all want to sustain and improve our standard of living, but we sure don’t want to work hard for it.
The only thing Occupy Wall Street is stimulating is civic expenses as cities have to police and clean up after a purposeless group of people who picked the wrong way to take a stand. I’m tired of hearing people complain about the lack of jobs while good companies in my own backyard can’t find enough talent to hire. I’m also sick of hearing about corporate profits while consumers use their big bank credit cards to pay for their wireless contracts and iPhone’s purchased at big box stores. If you want more jobs in America, start your own company. And if you’re sick of big corporations and their profits then dump the big bank, start patronizing small businesses, and vote with your dollars. Stop buying their crap and then complaining about all the money they’re making.
We created the beast that we protest against. We also possess the power to defeat it. But that power doesn’t reside in megaphones, clever signs, or marches through downtown. Today’s adversity is tomorrow’s opportunity, and our power for change lies in our ability to start companies, support small businesses, and invest our own time to make ourselves more valuable to society, however possible. The path to success is humbling and difficult, but no one ever said it would be easy. We just said it would be worth it. We have the means for change, we work hard for it, and WE are the 99%.
Photo Credit: _PaulS_ (via Flickr Creative Commons)