Onward Debates: Why “Occupying” Should End
By now, #OccupyWallStreet has taken hold of the country’s collective attention on the internet and on television. As the protestors camp out in Zuccotti Park and receive support from celebrities (one celebrity very notable for never having a shortage of words was speechless) and citizens alike, I think everyone needs to put down the Kool Aid, take a step back, and breathe.
Before going into the “Occupy Penn State” event beginning in the HUB today, the original Occupy Wall Street movement needs to be addressed. I can understand why people are so drawn to this. Yes, we are living in an imperfect system, but what system is perfect? There are three gaping holes and one big problem in the protest that I have found:
1. The protestors are occupying Wall Street, not Pennsylvania Avenue.
I understand that hedge fund managers and CEOs are cashing in big time, but this is not a new development. CEOs have been experiencing multi-million dollar incomes for decades. For starters, Wall Street and everything involved is having its worst year since 2008. It feels as if each week brings a new yearly low for the DOW or S&P 500. But my primary problem with their location is that it is not Wall Street they should be angered with, but our elected officials. If anyone is to blame for your loss of jobs, your inability to pay for education, or the overall status of the country, it is the people in Washington.
These elected officials are the individuals making the decisions that are being so vehemently opposed and protested. While the banks, large corporations and CEOs were the ones benefiting from the government bailouts, it was not Wall Street and these beneficiaries that proposed and voted for the government bailout that some “occupiers” are protesting. The Bush and Obama administrations and the elected congressmen and congresswomen were the individuals that enacted this gigantic spending. On that note, why are those protestors just now bringing this up? This bailout occurred well over a year ago. Time is of the essence, and protesting an event of that proportion a year later is foolish.
When it comes to corporations fattening their wallets and CEOs taking home huge annual earnings, it is the elected officials that allow this to happen; and as such, you and I allow it to happen by voting for these officials. But more so, it is simply a product of the system. Wall Street exists because corporations go public. And a public corporation is concerned, 100% rightfully so, with quarterly earnings reports that they have to report to the public. As corporations grow their quarterly earnings, revenues grow and thus, yearly income for the C-Suite executives, hedge fund managers and executives, and brokers, traders, etc. grows. The occupiers say they aren’t asking for Wall Street to be shut down, but their underlying goals of a more fair distribution of wealth truly can’t occur unless that happens.
In short, If you have a problem with your financial position or whatever else you may be protesting (since the movement itself has no focused agenda or effort), occupy a voting booth, not Wall Street.
2. It’s become a national movement, not a localized movement.
While some advocates may think that a national movement will bring maximum attention and exposure, I disagree. If these protestors were serious about their cause, they would travel far and wide and ALL reside in Zuccotti Park. There would be no bigger statement for the movement than if all of its advocates traveled to one location, albeit the incorrect location as I mentioned before.
3. There is no leader and no end goal.
Yes, the end goal is to “change the course of the country” and what not, but that statement is so painfully vague. The movement has no centralized or focused concrete end goal that they wish to achieve, and that is an issue. If you look at all the past and current “movements” such as the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s or the LGBTA movement now, the members of these movements have a common goal. The Occupy Wall Street movement, however, does not. Furthering this problem is that they have no real leader to guide them. If they did, they might actually create a goal or be in the right location. Do you notice how I keep coming back to that point? That’s how misguided this group is—they aren’t even in the right place.
The above are three holes in the movement itself, but it is necessary to highlight one big problem it has created, and that is the utilization of the New York Police Department.
A close friend of mine is an NYPD officer who has been placed on Wall Street and Zuccotti park for the foreseeable future. Since “occupying” his post (see what I did there?), he’s consistently worked 12-hour shifts every day. Recently, he worked an 18-hour shift. My point is that this protest is forcing the NYPD to reallocate its resources to this area when these same officers could be providing a greater benefit, you know, actually taking down the “bad guys.” There is a point when civil disobedience for the sake of making a point becomes a hindrance to other people, and it’s at that point that it needs to end.
This takes me back to Occupy Penn State. What are these students really trying to accomplish? Are they trying to raise awareness about the high costs of being a student here? I would assume every student already knows, as most students have to pay to be here unless they receive a full scholarship. This may come off as brash, but if any student has an issue with the rising cost of being a student here, they can always leave. Nobody is forcing us to be here, and we can always transfer to a cheaper school.
Above all, do you really think that a few students playing bongos and guitars INSIDE the HUB will automatically cause the cost of being a student to decrease? I don’t, and not for one second do I think they should. The cost is going up for a reason: as funding gets slashed, the University needs to bring in revenue from some source, and the most consistent source is student tuition. While tuition hikes may seem steep, they aren’t being used for luxury.
Or, are these students also protesting Wall Street? If so, that baffles me even more. I can’t imagine that many of these students were significantly affected by the government bailouts and the lack of jobs over the past few years. And even so, what would occupying the HUB accomplish?
And while one can say that they have been “down on their luck” regarding the job search, there are always jobs out there. We can’t simply stop searching because we can’t find our perfect job or we refuse to take a job that’s “below us.” The jobs exist, and you might have to suck it up for a little bit and take a job that isn’t perfect and satisfying until one comes along. Regardless, searching for a job or taking a less than ideal job is far better for your résumé than picketing and protesting against some of the very companies that you may have applied or wish to work for.
The “Occupy” movement is misguided and ineffective, both when applied to Penn State and Wall Street. If you want to occupy something, occupy a classroom, textbook, job fair or job application.
For the other side of the debate check out You Should be Pissed and Occupy