November 20, 2011

Occupy wants to work.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 5:56 pm by chavisory

There was this guy…

(Here’s a link to better visibility and a transcription, along with a great point by point response.)

And then I saw this one today…

(Sign reads “OCCUPY BAGRAM: Quit Your Bitchin’ and Get Back to Work.”)

And that’s not even everyone in my Facebook news feed, let alone some corners of the internet where I don’t hang out, suggesting that the real problem with all these people bitching, whining, and complaining, is that they “just don’t want to work.”

Let’s get a few things sorted out, internet critics of Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement:

Protesting injustice and corruption is not the same as “just not wanting to work.”

Calling attention to it when something is seriously wrong is not the same as “not wanting to work.”

Standing up for your rights is not the same as “not wanting to work.”

Doing any of those things is not even a sign of somebody “just not wanting to work.”

Saying that “what is being done to us and our communities is wrong,” or that “the conditions under which we’re being expected to make ends meet are crushingly unsustainable,” is not the same as “not wanting to work,” nor a sign that somebody just doesn’t want to work.

Pointing it out when an entire system has become radically unfair, or that the people who *did not cause a global economic collapse* are the ones being disproportionately punished for it,  is not “just making excuses” or “not taking responsibility for your own life” or “wanting to blame somebody else for all your mistakes.”

So you can think that the OWS protesters are dirty hippies.  You can resent them taking up park space and making too much noise.  You can dislike their tactics and criticize their vagueness, disorganization, and lack of concrete goals or actual policy proposals.  You can think they’re misguided and wrong.

But do not slander them as “just not wanting to work.”  They’re doing the work of calling attention to major injustice and keeping the tradition of protest and dissent alive in this country.

As for the people on the 99% Tumblr–not the Occupy campers–it takes all of 20 minutes to write a screed on a piece of paper, take a picture, and put it on the internet, so you really have no basis whatsoever to judge these people’s use of their time or decide that they’re putting insufficient energy into finding or keeping a job or working for their own futures.

Telling a story on the internet is not the same as not wanting to work.  Telling the truth about how hard things are for most people in America right now is not the same as not wanting to work.

Daring to say that “the circumstances that allowed this to happen to me are not okay” is not the same as not wanting to work.

The thinking that says that it is, is a relic of the way we were treated in middle school–that somebody speaking up about unfairness or calling attention to a problem was shamed as guilty of creating a problem where there wasn’t any when no one was speaking up.

I guess a lot of people learned that lesson well.  I didn’t.

A lot of the Occupy and 99% protesters are college graduates or have advanced degrees.  You really think they dragged themselves through that many years of school, and the work and expense involved, because they “just didn’t want to work?”  A lot of them went deep into debt for their college educations.  You think they did that because they *didn’t* want to get a job?  Or because they believed parents, teachers, and employers who told them that they needed a college degree *in order to get a good job* these days?  Do you really think that what they’re doing now is easier than working a regular job, earning a living and going about their daily lives?  Do you really think they’d all still be out there, with winter coming, if there were enough jobs paying livable wages to go around and they could just go get one?

When the economy first went into recession and unemployment spiked, many of these same people now protesting and occupying–including myself–yelled for a new WPA and Federal Theater Project, for the government to directly create jobs and put people to work.  We wanted desperately to work–to put the economy back together, to put the country back together, to contribute in meaningful and permanent ways to our culture and future.

We begged to be allowed to work, to do the work that this country needed done.

But our government didn’t go that route…it mostly tried instead to entice private enterprise into bringing jobs back.  Private enterprise didn’t come through with that.

And now you say that we “just don’t want to work.”  It makes the irony-processing center of my brain freeze up.

It might be funny if it didn’t hurt so much.


  1. Grumpa Joe said,

    For once I believe you are wrong. This bunch of fools does not belong to the 99% they belong to the 1% at the bottom of the heap.

    • chavisory said,

      You can think they’re a bunch of fools, but that STILL does not indicate that they “just don’t want to work.”

  2. Traveller said,

    Ya know, the dirty f***n hippies– they were right!

    It doesn’t even matter that the truth is that 70% of OWS demonstrators are but only about 39% of Tea Party Demonstrators were employed at the time of their demonstrations. It doesn’t matter whether the OWS protesters work or not want to work; bathe or not or even want to bathe or not. The logical fallacy is the ad hominem attack and has no bearing on the truth. Truth is always the truth regardless of whether it comes from a drug addict prostitute of a Cadillac queen with 10 children scamming welfare or the most clean cut kid on the block.

    The truth is that we never addressed the issues raised in that video in the 70’s when the hippies were saying that our system is not working and is not sustainable. OWS is trying to raise these issues. We never addressed the fact that our industries are not globally competitive and we are relying on shell games to keep the system going. We never instituted a system that protects the vulnerable in our society; instead we are descending into Social Darwinism. Our environment is trashed and the irony is that had we built sustainable systems we would have had developed new industries that would have employed millions–think the Green Revolution that would have supplemented the Internet Revolution. We wouldn’t have the debt to the magnitude that we have because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are happy to take cheap products built to minimum functioning specifications by slave labor often children instead of well made products by unionized labor living a decent lifestyle. We just want crap and lots of it regardless of the working conditions of the people making it.

    If those soldiers had intelligent leaders, they might not be in Bagram and would not be losing friends. I have to ask what are these soldiers dying for, if not for the basic American right to assemble and ask their government for redress of grievances. Are they dying for dollars? Wall Street and people who will never send their kids in harms way? Wall Streeters children ain’t in Bagram. As Dick Cheney put it so eloquently, they had “other priorities”.

    In fact, the military is set for a drawdown and those very soldiers may well be out of the service and jobless out on the streets themselves. There’s a very high rate of joblessness among vets. All those nice clean cut types aren’t hiring vets. The vets are only one drawdown away from the rest of us. Who knows, they might even be joining OWS once their consciousness has been raised. The good old fashioned guarantee of a military pension is on the block with thoughts of turning the military pension into a 401k. I would not be surprised if military retirement health benefits gets privatized as well. Good luck filing with Blue Cross over a Traumatic Brain Injury. Watch the screaming start when you take away the socialism from the military. A lot of ex-servicemen became hippies back in the sixties. Why? The system betrayed them. Ex servicemen came to the conclusion, “Ya know, the dirty f***n hippies– they were right!” Bathing or not bathing, working or not working, don’t matter: “The Dirty f**n hippies–they were right!”

  3. Traveller said,

    Oh yeah… and who is going to stand up for the rights of the disabled and the autistics but the dirty f***n hippies. It aint the clean cut follower of Rush Limbaugh.

  4. Traveller said,

    In response to the guy holding his letter at the top of your post:

    not all autistics can be Marines, work two jobs, have health insurance. work 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay their own way through college or can exist in a work environment that won’t allow 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.

    It’ll be a dirty f**n hippie who speaks truth to power along with empowered autistics. There are already people in OWS disability committees working these issues.

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