There are two very big ideas fighting for dominance in the boxing ring: Occupy Wall Street and Entitlement. But instead of punching each other, they’re punching us. In the face.
The right hook that caught us all in our half-slacked jaws was OWS.
Occupy Wall Street began as a protest against overpowered and corrupt corporations. Hundreds of people slept in a park for nearly two months. They were pissed that the…people (holding my tongue here)… who caused the global monetary insolvency that then caused the enormous financial crisis were also able to get away with most of the loot.
When we really think about it, all of us can relate with what Occupy Wall Street was trying to do. They were trying to fight for civil rights. But NOT the same civil rights African Americans & women had to fight for. When we think of civil rights, we think of the right to own property, the right to vote, the right to NOT be thought of as property… these were the basic civil rights people actually had to fight for during the beginning era of this country.
However, Occupy Wall Street protesters are fighting to restore and expand upon basic consumer rights.
But wait, we were talking about civil rights, right? Exactly. What they neglected to include in the list of basic consumer rights was how the corporations would treat their consumers’ livelihood (which often happen to be their own employees!). So Occupy Wall Street protesters decided to remind the big money fat cats that consumers are people. The civil rights OWS is fighting for are simple: (among them are) to be paid a living wage, granted access to medical care, and to have efforts be rewarded. If a corporation earns a billion dollars in profit and employs 19000 people, there is obviously something wrong when the executive board takes 150 million for themselves and leave about 44 thousand for the rest.
In consumers eyes, not only should corporations’ products solve our needs, but the way corporations create and distribute those products should solve our needs as well. And I agree with this to some extent. I think its screwed up that Apple and Facebook are earning billions upon billions of dollars, yet the people who gladly pay money and give their time to their products never see a dollar in return. But at the same time, the companies only need so many employees. And this is where we get to the second lurking punch in the face:
The rich “job creators” have pushed back against protesters, claiming that they are all blinded by entitlement. After all, who says a corporation has to charge you a fair price AND pay you a fair wage? Who says they can’t use their money to tip the scales in their favor, so that they may continue to build their wealth at the expense of ours?
Honestly, WE are the ones who are allowing this. Nobody is holding a bullet to our head forcing us to consume beyond our means and continue to work a dead end job. There is nothing but our own apathy stopping us from turning the tables.
So what am I saying? I’m saying that if you choose to allow other people to run your life, you don’t get to choose how they run it. If you want the “peace of mind” of working at Starbucks because they provide benefits and flexible scheduling instead of pushing through the painful process of creating your own business, you don’t get to complain that you can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment on $9/hour.
I strongly believe that housing (and education) are a basic necessity. But I also generally understand economics and how pricing works. There are too many people settling for dead end jobs and not building, not creating. Not adding supply to the economy. These worker bees add nothing but demand. Therefore, prices go up.
Yes, some people are hoarding the world’s wealth, bur before you get to argue against the entitlement theory, make sure you’re not fitting the stereotype.
A few things that can mean you are entitled:
1. You owe thousands in student loans that you have no plans to pay back
2. You expect monetary compensation for any little effort (“I sweep these floors so well, I should get a raise.” or “I made that customer so happy, I should get a raise.”)
2a. You’re not looking to get promoted
3. You spend more time looking for get rich quick schemes than putting in the hard work that will get you there over time (this mentality shows a huge misconception over how money is earned)
4. You haven’t planned for your own retirement (“Hey, I had kids for a reason.”)
5. You can’t believe how hard it is to qualify for food stamps and you will actively get yourself low enough to qualify because you see more monetary benefit in welfare programs than employment opportunities
6. You expect other people to share in your responsibilities (Read the article I linked to Entitlement, please.)
I never understood how the corporations could be so blind to the plight of consumer civil rights until I became aware of the real issue of entitlement.
Does Occupy Wall Street have a point? Heck yes. Corporations should place equal care into how they distribute the wealth they’ve received from success as they do into acquiring that wealth.
Do the corporations have a point? Yes. We can stop buying from them and use our money to rebuild local communities, but keep in mind that millions of workers will lose their jobs. Look how many jobs were lost when consumers held back their spending.
Both solutions require huge sacrifices and I think nobody is gonna budge until we see that both sides of extreme are to blame. I’m obviously a bit bias towards OWS’ stance, but I don’t think the corporations should bend over and give money to anyone who will take it. I do, however, believe that by creating more distribution of wealth within their company the corporations will help local communities enough. And, obviously, only people who work very hard are going to be given high paid positions. So those entitled people, paralyzed by laziness, will miss out on the gravy train and hopefully learn their lesson once the corporations learned theirs.
Anyway, I’ve been punched in the face by both of these realizations, so I’m going to do some soul searching of my own on how to contribute to the solution. In the meantime, hopefully more people will start to see how these relate and stop the perpetual negativity of hate.