Wednesday, December 7, 2011


December 7, 2011

I don’t occupy Wall Street, I occupy my armchair with my tired behind and I’m ashamed of this because my head and my heart are out in the streets and in the squares with the people. I’m little more than a minuscule nanopercentage of the 99 percent but I am avowedly one of them. And I should be doing more than just cheering on these worried and bewildered Americans from the warmth of my home.
But they have youth and energy. I’ve enjoyed a life of opportunity that the young people are already aware will not be theirs because the runaway capitalist juggernaut that’s had its brakes disabled skedaddled with their future.
When every hope is gone, Gandhi wrote, prayer is real. Sure. But desperate people also act in a more earthly fashion. They protest.
Malicious politicians like Newt Gingrich tell the Occupy crowds to “take a bath”. You see the uninformed advising these folks to “just get a job”. Like what? Gravedigging, since people are always dying? Maybe a job competing with the children Gingrich has been saying he wants to put to work. That’s right, go wash dishes, clean toilets “until” something better comes along. There’s got to be a well-paid and satisfying position that utilizes your skills somewhere along the line, surely.
A lecture from the unknowledgeable who’re fortunate enough to actually be employed today. How convenient for folks still in work to look down on those who aren’t, to insult them with simple epithets. How snotty. I think I’ll ignore that kind of brainless advice. Let’s hear these low-information Einsteins repeat their mantra when they, too, fall through the cracks, and the cracks are opening up everywhere, earthquake-style. One person in every eleven is unemployed today against one in 20 just ten years ago. In Georgia it’s every tenth person: at least one of our immediate neighbors is jobless.
Our military coming home to rampant unemployment are among the most numerous and most disenchanted protesters because they fought for a different, purer, America, not the United States of Greed. Moreover, the Occupiers in general are all ages and from all ethnicities and income groups.
Jobs are a terrifying problem in this country and those affected are crying out, yet they’ve resisted attempts by politicians to co-opt their movement because it isn’t aligned with either party. They want to change the entire system. Get the money out of politics and have a government that’s truly representative of the people in place of our current, thoroughly corrupt, structure that makes a mockery of the word “democratic”.
What if all the work – not just in the factories but also in the engineering, executive and other fields – is no longer in this country? And anyone who doesn’t believe this is already happening should count the number of Chinese and Indian students at Georgia Tech where a class of 40 includes only a handful of Americans. Same at Georgia State, where the math, science and physics classes are overwhelmingly Asian. Their governments pay for them to learn here, then yank them back home to put their skills to good use.
Our society is different. It’s all to do with money. Who can afford $100,000 for four years of college? Plus living expenses. This is what’s bringing the young people out onto the streets because if they even get into college they leave heavily in debt with no job in sight.
Learning in America today is prohibitively costly for our sons and daughters, even if they use some of their study time doing menial jobs to pay for books, supplies, accommodation.
I know a 22-year-old in that category, doing manual labor with an aching back that might be sciatica because that was the diagnosis years ago at George Walton Academy, but the pain is far worse than that. What is it? How serious? He should find out for sure with an MRI but has to choose between the $500 deductible on his insurance or spending that money on tuition. So he suffers, hoping his spine will hold up until a decent job makes diagnosis and treatment affordable.
Not right you say? That’s what I say. And that’s what the scholars among the Occupy Wall Street contingents say. We have college grads saddled with enormous student loan debt being denigrated by the unenlightened. That and being brutalized by sycophantic authorities doing the bidding of the moneyed interests that own this country.
It isn’t just the young. Watching the various Occupy gatherings you’ll see ‘em all if your TV isn’t just locked on to Fox News. There are many old people voicing a similar quandary, only their choice is between buying food or medicine. One or the other.
Again not right? Well, that all depends on whether we’re human or not. Several animal species eat their young, many shun their sick, their old, even kill them off. Survival of the fittest. And that is what differentiates us from God’s other creatures, although, listening to the “me and mine” rhetoric that’s so common these days, I’m not so sure.
“Hey, I’m not sharing my stuff. I worked hard for it. Keep back. Go get your own. Can’t afford it? Tough. Begone with you. I’m keeping all of mine and you’re not getting any of it, so git!”
Whoa! Forgot to add the beastly word capping that little outburst. Here it is...


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.