Occupy Wall Street: Gen Y Against It

occupy wall street gen y against itEntering its fourth week, the Occupy Wall Street protests that have propagated similar uprisings in cities all over the country look like they could be the real thing. Sources such as Al-Jazeera and various domestic news outlets are calling these protests the voices of a generation, and they are right.

As a Millennial, I stand with you in sentiment and with solidarity. I have a master’s degree and am working as a bartender and an intern. There are no job prospects, and I continuously live paycheck to paycheck while paying $80,000 in student loan debt. However, as I stand with you, I stand slightly embarrassed, and here is why.

The Inherent Hypocrisy:

The buses you rode to get to your protest and the gas that powered them, the computers you blog from, and the smart phones you tweet with were all created and sold by the very same Fortune 500 companies you claim to hate. Your point about hating the uber-wealthy corporation is lost when it finishes with a small “Sent from my iPhone” sign off.

The streets that you march down, the bridges that you occupy, and the public parks that you have now destroyed are all paid for in part by the 1% you protest.

You argue against corporations as though they were machines, forgetting that it is nothing more than a group of individuals acting collectively. There are about 100 million Americans, part of the 99%, that work for corporations, and I doubt that you argue for the removal of each of their individual rights. Do you want to be able to sue Exxon-Mobil or Bank of America? What about Phillip Morris Tobacco for giving your cancer? Or even McDonald’s for making coffee too hot? Their existence as corporations allows you to do this.

We bailed out the banks because that is what we had to do. The last time major financial institutions were allowed to fail was called the Great Depression, and it took sweeping government intervention and a world war to get the country back on its feet.

Did you know that 60% of the 99% did not vote in 2010? What does that say about the supporters of occupations? You can demand a list of grievances, but when it comes time to vote for or against an issue, you can’t use your power as a citizen?

The Lack of Awareness:

There are 6,967,312,151 (and counting) people in the world…

You clamor over the ideas of social justice and social equality and forget that you live in one of the more equitable countries in this world. You are the 99% that does not get an equal share in the tremendous wealth that is afforded to this country; try being the 99% of a country that has nothing. Before you begin wearing that number like a badge of honor or a display of your harrowing hardships, I ask you to think about:

  • the 13% of the world that have no access to basic education;
  • the 26% of the world that have no basic literacy skills;
  • the 21% of the world dying from HIV/AIDS;
  • the 13% of the world who are suffering from hunger or malnourishment;
  • the 17% of the world who have no access to clean drinking water;
  • the 25% of the world who have no access to electricity;
  • the 70% of the world who have no access to the Internet;
  • the 6% of children who will never reach their fifth birthday; and
  • the 22% of the world that live below $1.25 a day.

The level of prosperity in this country is something that is envied throughout the world; do not forget that arguing for social justice requires a global consciousness. As you go back to your tent to your clean water and your daily meal, waiting to protest those who have more than you, remember that most of the world has less.

The Missing Message:

The General Assembly of the Occupy Wall Street group recently released a list of grievances. There are 25 complaints on that list, ranging from home foreclosures to animal rights, and it is nothing more than a list a liberal talking points. In New York, in Boston, and in other cities across the nation, we see hundreds if not thousands of Millennials all coming together, and yet they speak in hundreds if not thousands of different voices.

This is the question I pose to each and every one of you – and to this I will get thousands of different answers: What are you fighting for?

While protest is a critical part of the democratic process, so is political organizing, and in that second grain, Occupy fails. If you want campaign finance reform, then go and participate in the process, instead of screaming about why you have no voice.

While your numbers and your persistence have made you a staple in mainstream media in the last week, most stories focus on your utter lack of message. Without a goal, without a stance, and without an end, your means mean nothing. Awareness is great, but as you aim for tangible action and demand accountability from those you protest, the need for a unified message increases.

Be more than a group of people who need to vent; we all need to vent. Proclaim what you are fighting for and fight for it, because right now, though I stand with you in sentiment and with solidarity, I also stand embarrassed.

What do you think about Occupy’s message? Does it fall short? Let us know what you think!

Photo by NextGreatGen

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Jen Schmidt I currently live in Washington D.C., though i still call New England home. I have a master's degree in public health and policy and a background in political science and communications. I work for social justice in health care, and am eager to engage social media, public movements, and sound policy to create and sustain lasting change. Twitter: @Jschmidt19

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38 Responses to “Occupy Wall Street: Gen Y Against It”

  1. Siyabonga Africa

    Thank you JEN for asking the question that we all have been unable to ask. What is the end goal of the Occupy Movement. When it first began it seemed like a noble cause: corporations are getting a somewhat more biased treatment than the disenfranchised but lately there seems to be no end goal, no overall statement besides being pissed off that the current government (Obama in particular) has not made good on the promises made from the last election.

    And I agree with you totally about the protestors missing the bigger picture. The Daily Show illustrated it well last week when they did a spot with Samantha Bee on the Occupy participants urinating everywhere and pissing off local businesses. Those people (also part of the “99%) are the ones suffering. The police, who have to maintain order in this protest , are suffering as well and have racked up $1.9million in over time (this is New York alone). In the grand scale of things, the rich will carry on as always and corporations will continue business as usual unless the movement makes a unified political effort like the Tea Party (sorry to put the two in the same description). The Tea Party would’ve floundered if it didn’t align with an established political side and their arguments are close to the same. If the Occupy movement ends up being a collection of disgruntled liberal twenty somethings without a goal in mind then there really is no point and it will go down as that one time New York had a toilet problem on Wall Street.

  2. Derek Gildea

    I think there are multiple ways to evaluate the “Occupiers”. As a political movement, it’s fair to say that they’re thus far ineffective – no coherent narrative, no clear leaders, and a wealth of vague and inarticulate demands.

    The key phrase is “thus far”. At the moment I think its more appropriate to identify the protest as a mass expression of frustration. However poor its members are at articulating a specific argument, the general sense of the crowd is clear: the status quo – economically and politically – favor the “haves” over the “have nots”. That the movement is better at defining what the problem is than how to fix it is a reflection of the movement’s early stages. It’s possible that in the coming weeks, organizers can do something about that – its certainly clear that they’re going to try.

    At the moment I confess that the occupiers irritate me – strikes against my liberal credentials! – for exactly for the same reasons that you mention. Chants without a specific purpose are just noise. But I’ll hold off on writing the movement off entirely as a political force, because I hope more coherency is on the way.

  3. Chris Slocum

    Thanks for writing this, it’s an interesting op-ed. I do have a few points of contention, if you’ll indulge me in expressing them:

    I reject the argument that “because most of the world has it worse, we should dismiss the desire to fix the problems we have”. Our country remains the “city on the hill”, and other countries DO look to it for an example of how to act. So while we are better off, that does not mean we should diminish a need for improvement.

    I agree that this protest is frustrating, because unlike other protests, and the norms and expectations that we have for protests to have very neat and tidy goals that can be captured in soundbites, this one’s narrative is essentially “This is Effed Up.” Things that are Effed up include a lack of social responsibility as practiced by corporations (dollars are valued more than people. This is pretty stark in the state of Washington right now, for instance, Working Washington’s work regarding Chase Bank) and the increased resemblance that we have to Brazil in economic class inequality.

    Will most of the protesters be able to articulate that? In my experience chatting with them, no. The protest is an expression of frustration at general powerlessness. The Have-Nots know they have little ability to alter anything because power is concentrated in the Haves. I understand a bit of context because I am privileged enough to have more education that I ought to need to get by in the world and I study this stuff. Grassroots organizations are going to be full of people who look around and understand that the world doesn’t make sense – they may not be able to get why. Experts cannot fit our country right now, so I think I can forgive the rank and file for not knowing either.

    While dollar for dollar, more of the tax revenue comes from the wealthy to pay for the infrastructure, if you want to measure the relative sacrifice of the loss of each dollar, lower classes suffer more (suffer being a bit of a hyperbolic term here, but I am at a loss for a more fitting term) than the wealthy do. Again – power is not equitably distributed.

    The difference in power might not be so offensive to people except that we are in a democracy. Being a citizen gives one the right to vote, and that right to vote is supposed to permit one a piece of determining our country’s fate and future. But because other things, money, determine what happens before, after, and during that process, others are disenfranchised. The frustration against corporations, I suspect, is because they are where the wealth is and perceived source of power. It’s not coming from any sophisticated economic analysis.

    Inequality tends to be tolerated when it doesn’t hurt as much, or when the oppressed groups are completely dominated. It’s starting to hurt. That’s why we see protests. I’m interested in watching what happens next.

    • Jen Schmidt

      Thanks for the comments chris!

      I agree with your point that the general feeling from the protests is a, ‘ this is effed up’ mentality, where i struggle is that idea that awarness is a strong enough force to bring about change. There needs to be a certain level of political organization or awarness is all that these protests will ever be about. As far as the power of a democracy, you are right, we have the ability to participate but it is often the uber-wealthy and the corporations that get there first. That does not mean that your voice is silenced, rather should spark an occasion for you to scream even louder. The problem is that a) we don’t vote, and b) that we refuse to recognize our ability to vote for someone other than who ‘they’ tell us to vote for. What about a write-in or a third party? Participate in a way that forces the system to change, instead of changing your values in order to participate in the system.

      • J-Woot

        this article, while it does have points…seems ignorant of the actual hands-on movement and also the larger picture of it’s concern. Jen (author) have you been to an actual occupy protest? more importantly a GA (general assembly)? There are concerns about the movement (ie. violence noted in Oakland both on police and protesters side) but also the type of corruption of concern is MUCH larger than voting, especially when there are active efforts by governments (GOP specifically) to make voting more difficult specifically for those that are disadvantaged. Yes, we can vote, but what would it matter if all the candidates available are basically on the same team and platform? What would it matter if we elect somebody who is then bought out by corporations? Or perhaps appoints people to positions that are then bought out by corporations? Or Washington’s revolving door (ie. Treasury Secretary during the bailout Paulson…Goldman’s former exec)? Things are difficult to accomplish when 1000s and 1000000s are involved, but awareness and education are the first step. The occupy events I have been to have teach-ins, educating people about the government, financial system, the corruption, and also education at the local level…how communities are affected, the taxes, companies, schools, etc.

        Not to mention…when considering corporate corruption and political corruption…this IS a global concern. Problems with food, medicine, environment which are global issues, all controlled by corporations and corrupt politicians working for them which are also working to keep it that way…increasing student loan debt to prohibit more people from getting educated and advancing, cutting schools and social services so that those in need most are kept in a cycle of poverty all while cutting taxes, giving industry subsidies, reducing regulation, and allowing unethical and at times illegal practices by corporations (ie. foreclosure on homes by banks that have no actual ownership to the property (deed?). The movement is not saying necessarily that corporations are bad and evil (although personally I think corporate personhood was one of the worst SCOTUS allowances) but the way that the corporations have taken over government and all dealings of communities. Most people do not even know how our financial system works let alone the details of financial instruments such as MBSs let alone the money trails that the financial system and corporations have throughout our government. Major decisions have not yet been made, but educating the public, providing small initiatives (ie. current initiative to overturn Citizen’s United), and pushing for individual financial responsibility such as ‘move your money’ are the first baby steps that are being fueled by the Occupy movement.

        It seems rather naive and elitist to say…oh, it’s been a month, what do you want? where is your decision? What other major revolution has been done so quickly and turned out well? People need to be involved and educated…primal needs such as food and healthcare need to be available which is what occupy camps are doing. Especially with media the way it is, and also considering people’s lack of access to information as you mention (internet), sometimes it takes a slap in the face before people are aware of real issues that are affecting them on a personal level…without some major in your face action, many people would be left with their television happy to watch the next episode of some pseudo-reality show for the next shiny item they should buy…that would be great wouldn’t it?

  4. Kevin Wang

    Very well said, Jen. Took the words right out of my mouth.

    There was a NY Times article on this though that pointed something out: regardless of how poorly organized (ideology-wise) the Occupy movement is, and regardless of the hypocrisy and hidden intentions of some of these participants, this movement is getting EVERYONE talking about Wall Street. Occupy may be hopeless in directly catalyzing changes in economic policy, but it’s sparking greatly-needed conversation on this matter. People are just starting to learn that not a single indictment was issued to anyone on Wall Street for the 2008 financial crisis, and (to borrow a line from Fight Club) they’re very, very pissed off.

    As a fellow #TNGG writer I look forward to reading more of your thoughts in the future. Great job once again!

  5. McKenzie

    Jen, you could not have put it more eloquently. I appreciate your point of view, and I’m really excited that you’re one of the few questioning this movement. That takes a lot of guts.

    • John-Michael Torres

      There are a lot of people questioning the movement. Many of them participants in it. Luckily many of the cities creating these types of protests are doing it in a democratic way so that everyone is involved in critiquing and shaping the movement. Don’t think these protests are un-self-reflective. They are growing and learning just like any political movement ever has. Glad yall are interested in helping them grow. It’s equally important to engage with them (us) and help shape that growth (and in turn help shape your own).

  6. steve

    Jen, while I agree that there is a lack of a cohesive message or goal, does that mean that we should just ignore the growing corporate influence in our political system? You say that you agree with the occupiers but then more or less say “even though we are smart and have college degrees but no jobs, it could be worse! You could live in THE THIRD WORLD.” I respected you opinion until I realized it all revolved around this not being Somalia. Yes, I agree we could have it worse, but it could also be a lot better. Unprecedented amounts or corporate money is being spent to get people elected to do what is in the donor’s best interest instead of what is good for the country.

    There is no more national loyalty among corporations. They care about profits–which is fine that’s their sole purpose for existing–but there comes a time, like now for instance when millions of people are without health care, jobs or a home. When banks get bailed out (and while you’re right they got bailed out to prevent a catastrophe) other PEOPLE were forced into the streets.

    While I agree they lack a solid platform, their grievances are a lot more real than those of the media-loved, corporate-backed Tea Party

    • Jen Schmidt

      Thanks for the comments steve!

      I was not trying to center my post around the idea that it could be worse, that section was more about the notion that having a global consciousness, and being aware that we are not the only people in the world. While you are right in the idea that corporations and money have a strong influence on our political system, i disagree with your statement that it is those forces that control election. It is the populous that votes, and that has never changed, except maybe for the fact that most of us don’t vote anymore. Perhaps, we believe in the foregone conclusion that those with the most money will win, but if you don’t change that opinion, but instead cling to it, then change to the system will be impossible

      • Steve

        Jen, thanks for your response!

        I agree that we have to remember that we aren’t the only people in the world. But, it seems that there are many countries going through similar social unrest such as ours–some are even more intense! England, Greece, Spain, etc are all going through austerity measures that will hurt the youth of that country and they are taking it to the streets (some more constrained than others). Meanwhile, back in the US, where the actions of the few have affected the many, it is business as usual. Corporations are sitting on trillions because of “uncertainty” created by a Do/Know Nothing and Say “No” Congress and any hint of reform is shot down.

        I did not mean that these monied interests “control” our elections but rather those who are already elected. The Tea Party got a lot of fiscally conservative Republicans elected, but can this OWS movement get progressives elected? That questions remains to be seen. I agree with you 100% that we must use our strongest weapon: our vote. But, to fix this country requires a well-informed electorate to vote for the best candidate with the best policies. And currently, we do not have that electorate.

  7. steve

    Sorry about the typos, etc.. typing thing this from my phone. Great read and point of view though, Jen. I hope this makes the occupiers think and develop a more concrete philosophy.

  8. Art Vandelay


    Many banks and big corporations made irrational decisions — why can’t protesters make irrational demands?

    Occupy Jen Schmidt!

  9. Celia Nissen

    Thanks for writing this, Jen! Many people our age are frustrated with this movement for these exact reasons. I agree that a lack of unity and purpose is hurting a front that could be much more effective.

    There are so many organizations out there dedicated to helping the poor & struggling in our country. If I was out of work right now, I would spend my time volunteering and working to help those on the absolute bottom — that will actually help something and make positive change.

  10. pixelpimpin

    Demanding the occupiers articulate solutions to be approved or disapproved of by those remaining on the sidelines is not only an infantile, but also deeply undemocratic request. They do not intend to become yet another party in the beltway brothel. They are voicing dissent in the name of everyone disenfranchised by the system (and that includes you!), a fraction of society that is guaranteed to grow unless the current system is fundamentally reformed. Fundamental reform of this magnitude can not be compressed into convenient soundbites, so don’t wait for it.

    Stop acting like babies, start acting like adults. Take responsibility for yourself. That includes coming up with personal political convictions. Become more than a political consumer, become a political creator. Then join the now established and ongoing discourse so we can figure out together how best to proceed.

    • Jen Schmidt

      I find it odd that you urge me to become a political creator and define my own convictions, and yet at the same time you claim that my ideas are less than democratic becuase they don’t aggree with your own. Solutions are generated by hearing various opinions and ideas and breaking them down into their strongest aspects. I do not want the message to be boiled down into a sound-bite, i think the media will do that on its own, my argument is that there is no message for the media to work with.

  11. John-Michael Torres

    Thank you for writing this article and aiming to strengthen the movement with constructive criticism. And thank you for allowing people to chime in and help you understand how misinformed you are. I’m sure you unintentionally do not understand this series of protests. After all, they have not received a fair shake in the media (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/opinion/panic-of-the-plutocrats.html) and our educational institutions in this country give us very little understanding of the vastness of the problems of our economic and political institutions.

    With all due respect, allow me to help you understand a little better.

    Sadly, we have given more and more power over to private businesses, such that it is almost impossible to operate without giving our individually earned dollars back to them. It would give me great pleasure to be typing this message on a computer produced by a workers’ cooperative using open source software that reinvests profits in programs to teach children how to create their own media. However, the international corporations that have gobbled up the technology markets, greatly empowered by Clinton’s telecommunications act of 1996 and market deregulation, give me no other option but their own dirty goods. That doesn’t mean I should shut up and stop fighting. More so, I should raise my voice and participate and say, “I demand a world where technology corporations do not exploit child labor, pollute ground water, and pay poverty wages in order to make a profit!”

    It is not hypocrisy to be stuck in a moral dessert and traverse sands to find your way out. In order to reach your destination, you have to start from where you are. The real hypocrisy is the dominant economic system that derides the poor for taking “handouts” when the top 1% receives all kinds of tax payer funded gifts from the government along with their tax breaks.

    Your general argument in the section titled “The Lack of Awareness” is along the lines of, you’ve been beaten up, but you’re not dead, so why are you complaining? You fail to see, however, that the thugs that tattered the US economy have been beating on the rest of the world for decades. The Occupy Wall Street movement is expressing international complaints against the thuggery of US and international (IMF, World Bank) banking and finance institutions that have drastically increased inequality throughout the world. We are part of an international 99% who’s voice has been drowned out by the increasingly loud calls of international corporations for increase profits and decreased democracy. It is our duty, as hosts of the majority of these institutions, to raise our voice with the rest of the world (15october.net) and take on these institutions that have been protected by US complacency for far too long while the rest of the world rises up against them. It is our turn to join in.

    You say that “While protest is a critical part of the democratic process, so is political organizing, and in that second grain, Occupy fails.” The Occupy movement is only 3 weeks old. To expect a fledgling movement to hit the ground running toward sophisticated political strategy and organization is unrealistic. In order to walk you have to first learn how to crawl.

    Case in point: The Civil Rights movement did not spring up over night. It took years for the infrastructure for organizing to be built. Even after the seemingly spontaneous nature of the Greensburrow sit-ins and the following wave of sit-ins that spread throughout the South, it took months for a coordinating organization to be built. And the Civil Rights movement always progressed a long list of grievances, a whole series of goals, and very little uniformity among the movement organizations.

    One major goal that the movement is progressing successfully throughout the nation is the reclaiming of public spaces from for-profit interests for the sake of discussion, dialog, and real relationships, unregulated by economic rules. While there are a whole series of grievances being expressed by the hundreds of thousands of participants nation wide, we all have in common the desire to create a better world and to do it together, rather than relying on bought political parties or for-profit businesses. The human spirit is not for sale, and the world is finally coming together, in a beautiful chorus of many voices, of harmony and disharmony, to declare just that.

    I hope you loose your feelings of embarrassment. In these times, it is essential that we all be ‘sin verguenza’ in order that we might have these necessary conversations and create the road that will take us to a better world. But we have to create that road by walking.

    • Jen Schmidt

      Thanks for the thoughtful yet slightly patronizing comments John-Michael, if you would allow me to point out a few things:

      I have no idea what type of computer you are using, but if it is made by apple, compaq, dell, gateway, HP, or Cisco, then it is manufactured by a compnay called Quanta, the very same company that makes the xo-1.5, a computer that is given out to needy and impoverished childern all over the world through the one-laptop-per-child-program, a “program to teach children how to create their own media” as you said.

      You talk about vocal opposition or support as being a means of participation, and of course it is, but it is not just that. Active participation requires action as well as voice. I also have no problem with these groups trying to find a moral center or even claim the moral high ground, but high horses don’t walk well through the moral desert, in fact crawling might be the best way.

      The civil rights movement, as you point out was not sparked in an instant, but grew overtime. The movement had leaders, two in fact and a singular goal, that of equal rights. I have no doubt that if this #occupy movement continues that the people have the ability to come together, i argue that they have yet to do that, and as such are still lacking credibility.

      As far as taking back the public spaces, they were public to begin with. If you wanted to have a debate in central park you were more than welcome to do that. No corporation ever took away the publics access to public spaces. However, when you claim that you now occupy a space, that very statement denotes a feeling of, ‘ this is now OUR park, not yours’ inherently taking away the public access.

  12. Nommh

    While I totally agree with Chris Slocum that your right to protest cannot be (morally) void just because someone else is worse off, I think protesting against wall street is a very good way to help the poorest of the poor. Even as we speak fancy food-derivatives are traded across the globe. This has been going on for a couple of years now and has priced thousands, if not millions of people out of the market for food staples. The growing bubble of food speculation is now beginning to affect developed nations.
    I live in Europe and in most of its western countries everyone can see a doctor… So much for the idea that US-prosperity is looked to all over the world.
    And I love it that the occupy movement has no demands, no leaders yet. Unlike the arab spring revolutions there are no dictators that need toppling. But the system is broken, figuring out how to mend it will take time.

  13. Tyler

    Al-Jazeera (not Al-Jazzerra) is one of the most well-respected and influential (and pretty unbiased for where its based) news sources in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    Don’t. Spell. It. Wrong.

    With all those facts, figures and valid arguments, I immediately became distracted by this error. Spelling errors (especially on proper nouns in articles) should not exist.

    • Stimpy

      All you can see is the spelling error, Tyler? Really? I suspect the larger points (all well written and spelled correctly) are lost on you, then.

    • Ronald Baez

      Agreed with Stimpy here. If you’re biggest concern is the spelling of something, well then that’s what you should be concerned with as quite honestly an intelligent article offering several views on a complex situation or problem honestly wouldn’t concern you. I did see a nice piece on a Washington spelling bee though. Check that out. It’s right up your alley.

  14. Ronald Baez

    I think you’re a bit misguided in some respects and quite right in others. There are two simple points you make I disagree with. One is the hypocrisy of young people tweeting their hatred of corporations from their Iphones. Unfortunate as it may be, we as millennials are an entire generation built, bred, and well trained in the art of technological dependence, (despite our weird desire to love all things LP, 8track, and David Bowie). We’re ninja downloaders and Samurai warrior typists, busting out a worrisome amount of WPM considering the fact that we recieved for the most part simple on the job training via our 6th grade year, when Instant Messaging really took off. We are exactly that. To deny that which makes us mellenials I think is misguided, and to cast a shadow of hypocrisy, and thus incoherence and irrelevance on a dependency we neither asked for nor controlled I think is misguided. When we use our facebooks to organize, it’s hypocrisy, but when young Arabs do it, it’s impressive and one of the fueling forces of the Arab Spring? That’s, in my opinion, not a good way to go about thought processes. The fact is that we are a generation that mobilizes with mobiles. It seems to me that what we want is hardly to throw our iphones on the ground and call entertainment piracy quits, but rather reasonableness on the part of the corporations which appear untouched, both in conscience and wallet, by the hard times they have played a hand in causing. That we drive their in a gas guzzler texting on our iphone four square orgy of electronic corporate tattooed devices quite honestly does not take away from our right to plead with fellow citizens, as you quaintly pointed out corporations are, for reasonableness, an argument which enters the realm of asking rich people to pay 3 percent more for taxes when most of us are drowning.

    The only other point I had a problem with was when you attempted to shed a bit of perspective via the plights of the world. I always agreed with Tractatus when good ol’ Ludwig said “The world is my world”. That 13% of the world suffers from hunger is a terrible thing, and hopefully we all attempt to do our part to diminish those really sad numbers you put up. that being said, it is by definition Ad Hominem, and you’re hardly attacking a point by pointing out the plights of the world in order to guilt our generational Iphones into donating to Darfur. It just seems to me misguided.

    I do agree that there needs to be a more concrete message amongst the protesting crowd. That being said, history taught me, at one point or another, that the message is reflected by the individuals, but delivered by the leaders of movements. And that, I think, is what Occupy is really missing. We’ve had some amazing people walk through Occupy, in my opinion most formidably the genius Cornel West. But we do not have any concrete leaders with which we may organize and deliver our message, and that is the problem. You cannot look to the followers of a movement for a clear-cut definition of their involvement, at with the individual it’s always personal, and thus not so reasonable and can come off as idealistic or muddy. You look to the leader, to the Kings, the Littles (X), and the Leary(s), though admittingly Hippies was more of an alternative lifestyle movement that brought with itself certain political paradigms, not a solely political influence. So people keep asking, “What’s your message?” to these individual protesters. I think the smarter question about message, but rather the good ol’ fashioned Mars Attacks quote “Bring me to your leader”. You’ll find what you’re looking for there.

    I’m interested in your thoughts. I hope you can find the time to get back to me.


    • Jennifer Schmidt

      Thank you for the comments Ronald,

      To your first point, the difference is that the arab spring and those revolutionaries were not protesting their government over tax breaks for facebook and apple, and #Occupy is. I was not trying to say that using mobile devices to mobalize was a bad way to go about doing, nor was i trying to diminish your rights or abilities to engage in debate, I was simply noting an observation.

      To your second point, it was not my intention to propogate a guilt trip by displaying those numbers. For me it all comes down to keeping things in perspective. It is not a comparison by any means, but by keeping a sense of global awarness at all times allows for a greater level of compassion for those around you. We have it bad, they have it worse, and that does not make our bad any better, but it does allow for a sense of perspective when looking for localized solutions

  15. Shanna

    “I stand with you in sentiment and with solidarity.”

    What exactly is your definition of solidarity, Jen?

  16. Mark

    Best article I’ve yet read on TNGG. I do think there needs to be a clear message from Occupy Wall Street or it will continue to founder into chaos, as you have noted. I do think it’s the most major and glaring grievance of all that the majority of the world suffers unimaginable levels of poverty while we as Americans are, in contrast, prosperous. However, I do think that we are asking pivotal questions about our society and that this time is comparable in importance to previous crises we’ve experienced in our history. If we don’t set our own house in order, how can the world look to us for help and guidance?

    This article sets out some talking points on what needs drastic re-evaluation in the economy.


    • Camille

      I agree with you on that “best article” I’ve read so far on TNGG. Maybe just among the best :) Nice on, Jen!

  17. Jennifer Schmidt

    i define solidarity as having a shared responsibility for the issues at hand, am i wrong?

  18. Jennifer Schmidt

    I feel like i need to make a short clarifying statement. It was not the intention of this peice to be a proclomation of my support of big business and corporate greed. As you read through, you will notice that i never make any such statement, nor will i ever. The corporate greed and monetary inequality in this country has reached a tipping point, and i believe that the #occupy movement has enormous potential to be the force that turns the tides.

    What i was trying to emphasize in this article is that there are things that are happening in the #occupy movement that not only work to discredit them but allow the media and the government to turn a blind, often times mocking eye to the main tenants of the movement. There is a failure to sacrifice our corportae toys, albe them a proverbial millenial security blanket, there is a lack of global awarness which can lead to an overall perspective when we look into issues of social equality and global justice, and whatever message we are trying to convey as the 99% is undermined by the onslaught of liberal ideas we also stand for.

    As i said at the start, i am the 99%, and i am angry, but as we sit still in parks around the country, the world continues to go forward without us.

    We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

  19. Joshua

    First time reader, first time comment…er…I suppose.

    You’re absolutely right on how things are going with this “Occupy” movement. Now, I’m a legally blind individual. While I don’t speak for the entire visually impaired and totally blind community, I’ve heard countless stories of so many people – even my friends – that have graduated from college with their degree and are still looking for jobs, while dealing with a long time stigma that people who have some sort of disability – or who are “differently-abled” – are some sort of liability to an organization, rather than an asset. I can definitely sympathize with those in the Occupy movement, at least on their ideas of jobs. These times are unbelievably hard. I have to be honest though, there are times that I’m not so sympathetic to these people.

    My thing is this – its one thing to boycott, and say you’re not going to contribute to the things that you claim to hate but, its completely hypocritical to send video of a protest via computer or – say – an iPhone, and then blame the same corporations that they consume from! Someone explain that logic to me, please? And what about the people whose situations are worse than ours? This article hit the nail right on the head! I too will stand in solidarity but, I won’t be a part of the movement. There is no sense of unity. If you want to put across a point, find a focus, then fight, protest even! But don’t be upset when the rest of the world manages to move forward without you.

    To be very honest, the only thing that these “movements” are accomplishing at this point is a way to become a nuisance rather quickly.

  20. chris

    this is how the world’s leaders are trying to poison people against standing up for themselves… hell… if people would just think for themselves for a change instead of eating the crap the media puts out, the world would be better off. I really can’t believe that anyone would believe in this crap.

    And for the record… the ONLY reason people have to use items from large corporations is that the corporations put all the little guys out of business.

    So much for Democracy and True Capitalism… send that on your stinking iphone.

  21. Camille

    Thanks for this, Jen! I’m not an American, and I live in the developing world. Many of the grievances of the so-called 99 percent are nothing compared to what our people suffer from.

  22. Daniel

    I am completely on the same page as you… being a Gen Y’er myself, I see a lot of glutted apathy, a lot of disengaging from the world the world around us. Ironic, to say the least considering we can look up statistics, find out anything we need to know in a matter of mere seconds. Yet, most people are ignorant of global affairs.

    Yes, our generation is more civic minded, but at the same time that civic mindedness comes at the cost of selfishness and hypocrisy. The hipster movement effectively bled out the Occupy Wall Street movement. I cite New York City, they were literally segregated into a camp where people lost everything and the rich kids who set up wifi hotspots that their parents payed for.

    I’m 21, I’ve been to three continents… I’ve seen poverty firsthand of the ‘developing world’ and it scares me. It scares me into wanting to take action, to help these people succeed in business and global politics. It utterly DISGUSTS me that the movement thinks that we have it so rough here in the states. We really don’t. It will be the movers and shakers of my generation who herds the rest into following. America has to be prepared to lead and unfortunately we are not.

    Unfortunately to me, the Occupy movement and the Tea Party movement showed the ugliest truth of our society – true ignorance in the face of the unknown. Instead of banding together across partisan lines for the common good of all citizens, we have banded together within partisan lines. ‘A House Divided against itself cannot stand.’ Biblical quote yes, but also a quote by Abraham Lincoln, and it remains true to this day.

    In my eyes the following is what Occupy should be about -

    1.) Smaller government – i.e cutting the number of representatives in Congress by about 100-150 members followed by the imposing of a 4-term limit and a 100k a year pay cut on the grounds government is NOT a career path but the path for all citizens to have freedom, a say in politics, and a means for a future as a civic servant.

    2.) More executive power to make decisions in the event Congress fails to make a budget.

    3.) A better funded military geared towards disaster recovery and humanitarian missions. Also a call for a streamlined process in the event of a disastrous natural occurence. I cite that the US nearly did a normandy style invasion in delivering supplies to Haiti yet we let our own people suffer and die in the wake of Katrina.

    4.) Medicare needs to just go away. I work in healthcare and I see elderly patients having to pay 400 dollars a month out of their hard worked Social security for medicare AND supplementary insurance. That to me is just abhorrent. Medicaid should be forced to cover the elderly, the mentally disabled, the physically disabled, and the poor. Money should not prevent people from getting the medical attention they need. Republicans, you want big government out of your way? Fine then, COVER YOUR CITIZENS ON MEDICAID AND WE WONT HAVE A PROBLEM.

    5.) A greater focus on the declining educational quality of our society and the ramifications. This includes putting together a better student loan program, larger educational incentives.

    – A greater increase in educational competitiveness.

    – The abolition of the department of education.

    – Harsher punishment for e-bullying.

    – Better distribution of funding to schools.

    6.) Breaking an entire generation from this perpetuated ‘feel good’ crap. Get rid of the participation trophy’s, get rid of it! Its taught our generation that ‘Oh, well we gave it our best shot.’ is all we need to do! No! Its not! Where is the drive to be better than the rest? Where is the drive to compete on a global scale?!

    7.) The issue of Civil Rights.

    8.) The federal government should step back and let the states handle more of their own problems. The Feds should be there for help when states fail to do what is best for their citizens.

    9.) A third party of moderates to combat the disgusting polarization of our politics. I’m a die-hard independent, I have voted both Republican and Democrat and I am not a fan of either party or their handling of the financial crisis.

    10.) The abolition of the PATRIOT Act and the veto of CISPA.


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