But I've been seeing and hearing flickers and soundbites from both sides of this Occupy business, and it's got me thinking thinky thoughts.
There seems to be a huge disconnect between what each side believes the other side wants - on a colossal other planet scale. The one side is claiming that the trust fund protestors are howling because they've spent themselves out of house and home, yet they want to buy iPods and shite, and the other side are claiming that it's more to do with the banks using their bailout money to pay themselves rewards.
As well, I've seen the right wonder where the protestors are finding the time to be in the streets when they should be working to earn the toy with which they want to play.
See the addled oversimplification? 'S why I usually hold my tongue.
I'm trying not to skew my words in favour of one over the other, but I do tend to come out standing nearer to the 99 than the 1, for a variety of reasons. Oh - lest I forget, this post's inspiration is a photo that's been running round Facebook. It depicts a sheet of paper in which a college student has stated that s/he's got through school mostly unaided and free of debt. The one side is pointing to it and declaring: see? It can be done, whilst the other side is saying '...erm, are you sure the person is telling the truth?'
There are inaccuracies meant to tease the mind and tug the heartstrings on both sides this row. I'd even go so far to say there are as many inaccuracies and spun claims on one side as the other. Persuasion's a dodgy art at best. I don't know whether it's possible for a student to come away from uni debt free and smelling of a financial rose. I know my cousin didn't do, and I can hardly call herself nor her parents daft wastrels wont to chuck their dosh at any shiny thing that strikes their fancy. I mean, they're thrifty. And she got scholarships. So...if my modest- living cousin came away from her experience with years and years of debt... I'm sceptical that it's all that simple.
And this business about how those protesting ought to be spending their time. Well, firstly - have you had a go at finding work these days? I have. I've spent months and months doing just that: baiting my hook and reeling like a mad, mad thing when a fish nibbles. I've been turned away every time but once - and that resulted in me being chucked back into the water again 'cos the Powers That Be had over estimated what their sales would be. You could say to me 'well, it really is your fault 'cos nobody's ever made redundant who didn't deserve it'. In fact, I welcome you to say that to my face - go on, do. 'Them's fightin' words' so say ye? Sure, possibly. But come down into the trenches with me and see how it is before you decide that I've made my own bed, and thus I should be made to lie in it.
'Cos, a chairde, I did everything I possibly could to keep my household's head above water. When the company to which I'd given the whole of my adult years presented me with an awful dilemma (in short, they shut all of my department's offices but three: so I could stay, but I'd have to go), I uprooted myself and carved my life in half. They praised me, and lauded me, and they could have made an exception and kept me - hell's bells, they'd done it for others whom they'd deemed as irreplaceable as myself - only they didn't do. They whinged and moaned about how hard it'd be once I'd gone ('this is the thing I've been dreading' so said Fearless Leader - fucking dreading, sez he), yet they did little beyond begging me to extend my time by two months.
Sure, thanks. No, really - it was a great help.
You might be wondering why I simply couldn't transfer into another department, right? Sure, so did I. I had it down on paper that my work record was stellar. Stellar. Do you know how often I boast of my own skills or accomplishments. Never. In fact, I find doing so to be rather uncouth. So that I should stitch that word to myself ought to show how much weight it holds. I do not know why all other doors were shut to me. I'd proven my worthiness, and it wasn't enough. I was even told by one group that people from my department wouldn't even be considered, so I shouldn't waste my time.
All of this I'm saying from the perspective of somebody who's actually farther from the brink of catastrophe than many others. Now then, one big nasty blow could shit the lot. I'm tangibly aware of that.
So, I'm wondering how I've cooked up this stew into which I may yet fall and boil. What have I done wrong? I'm not addicted to anything (as has been bandied about recently), I don't spend all of my money on the women and the drink (I need a pair of trainers, actually, but will I buy them? No. I will not.), and I tend to believe that earning a meagre bit of brass is better than none at all (which I put into practise - knowing full well that we'd still be sunk should that Nasty Blow befall us). So. I can see how I'd tend to be one of the 99, but I fail to see how it was my own avarice and stupidity that put me there - and if this is true of myself, surely I'm not the only one.
I think it all comes down to mis-conceptions. Would I be more employable were I, say, a nurse? Oh, absolutely. As the numbers of aged and infirm people grow, so do industries meant to serve them. It's a positive correlation. So, bootstrap it and go be a nurse or something, right? I could do that. There's no guarantee, though, that at the end of those four years (we're assuming - I've done no sort of schooling thus far that would prepare me for nursing in any way, it would be starting afresh) and 90,000 (if I'm lucky) I'll be in any better shape than I am in now. I doubt I'm eligible for grants or scholarships (for fuck's sake, I've been away from acadaemia since 1997 - how could I get scholarships - enter contests?), so if I want to pay for a new career, I've got to either get loans or divest my 401(k).
In four years, I'll be 42 - nearly 43.
Good luck with that, ducky.
Sure, this might be an extreme scenario. I'm sure that there are other sorts of retraining that can had for less gold and in less time. It still comes down to experience (which I've got in my field. Damned pity that hundreds of thousands of others do as well, right? /ironical) Only I know the sort of time it took me to build up to that modest level I had with the fit hit the shan - it was fifteen bloody years. Sure, I can do it again; I cannot ignore that my age does put me at a disadvantage for Doing It Again.
I've heard it said recently 'the world doesn't owe you a living'. I suppose that's true. 'The world', being a mental construct is incapable of owing anybody anything. I think what people are actually saying here is 'I don't owe you a living'. Alright...but shouldn't all of our lives be a damnsight more pleasant if I had one? If all of us had one? You're right in that there are some people who are dead set against doing a bloody lick of work at all if they think they can get by without doing. I am hard pressed to believe them the majority. My skin crawls when I've no work to do. I've spent most of today frantically doing the wash, 'cos for fuck's sake it's Something to Do. And I'm sure there are those who'd latch on to that, wave their judgements in my face and crow that 'Aha! You're freely admitting to wasting time. Layabout!'
I could go on, but I'm finding myself dangerously near to wasting time when I've other things need doing. So I'll close by saying this is why I can't point to the Occupy Everywhere lot and call them shirkers (it strikes me as odd as well that it's assumed that the same people are standing in the streets day in and day out). Will they effect any change? I suppose we'll wait and see, won't we.