OWS: These Kids Are Not All Right

Those who view Occupy Wall Street protesters as nothing more than simpering, petulant children just don’t get it.

They’re adults we marginalize with the sobriquet “kids”. And these kids are not all right.

Take a look at this graph illustrating unemployment for those aged 15-24 in 15 industrialized nations, (cf. 2008 to Q1 2011):

Graph of youth unemployment industrialized nations

The chart is not provided by some liberal site but by the staid The Economist.

Or see the depressing round-up of unemployment surveys for youth in the Middle East and Africa from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.com. It’s obvious the rage that finally propelled young people into Middle Eastern streets in the fall of 2010 and into the “Arab Spring” earlier this year was economic as well as political. What difference does it make if the foot on your throat is wearing a fascist boot or squared-toe Berluti?

The situation has become so serious, it’s now being likened to a ‘time bomb’:

While the details differ from one nation to the next, the common element is failure—not just of young people to find a place in society, but of society itself to harness the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm of the next generation. Here’s what makes it extra-worrisome: The world is aging. In many countries the young are being crushed by a gerontocracy of older workers who appear determined to cling to the better jobs as long as possible and then, when they do retire, demand impossibly rich private and public pensions that the younger generation will be forced to shoulder.

In short, the fissure between young and old is deepening. “The older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones,” former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato told Corriere della Sera. In Britain, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has called chronic unemployment a “ticking time bomb.” Jeffrey A. Joerres, chief executive officer of Manpower (MAN), a temporary-services firm with offices in 82 countries and territories, adds, “Youth unemployment will clearly be the epidemic of this next decade unless we get on it right away. You can’t throw in the towel on this.”

Closer to home, economic demographers say the huge increase in the number of Minnesotans in their 50s and 60s who will be retiring will create an unsustainable situation; we’ll be siphoning the state budget off for entitlements and programs for health and aging while economic growth through 2020 will be half of what it was. Barring a miracle, we’re unlikely to see a growth in revenue again. Attempts to discuss tax increases will continue to be protested by tea-types who, nonetheless, are happy to line up for their state aid.

I don’t believe there’s a disconnect between members of this younger generation and their own parents and grandparents; they wouldn’t want to deny their elders any social benefits.

However, the young feel no loyalty to the noblesse oblige or the mystical market to which so many others swear allegiance.

And now I’m one of those gerontological messer-uppers who’ll soon need Social Security much more than social networking. But in my heart, I’m a closet protester, someone born to root for the underdog, who believes in comforting the afflicted but also afflicting the comfortable (with credit to Finley Peter Dunne) when necessary.

The current demonstrations remind me this nation was founded on protest and that no good idea since has been sanctified except through protest. They also call to mind the hyperbolic but thrilling end to the popular film “‘V’ for Vendetta.” Shortly before his death at the hands of a totalitarian police force, V instructs his protege: “Governments should be afraid of their people.”

It appears neither our government – nor our corporations – are there yet.

SPOILER VIDEO of “‘V’ for Vendetta.”

42 thoughts on “OWS: These Kids Are Not All Right

  1. Erik says:

    Yes, well, welfare states make hiring people very expensive. In contrast, trading stocks, bonds, CDOs and MBSs is not expensive. There’s the rub, and this is correctly identified. Maybe President Goldman Sachs will do something about this.

    Unfortunately, “green jobs” (pffft), adding a $5k insurance premium to the cost of a job, quantitative easing, and extreme open borders isn’t going to solve this. Entry level professional jobs in particular will be strangled off.

  2. PM. says:

    What would solve it (or at least help) would be some old fashioned pump priming. Right now, in the short term, interest rates are basically zero, so the government should use this opportunity to address the infrastructure problems that we have, which would be a boost (short term) to employment, and a boost (long term) to growth.

    But there is only one problem with this–it does not advance the republican party agenda of making Obama a one term president

    1. Erik says:

      I don’t know why we should limit ourselves to pump priming. Lets do it up right, and borrow or print say $100 trillion dollars. We could have full employment and accomplish all our social, ecological, and infrastructural goals.

  3. Ellen Mrja says:

    I’m no economist but I know we screwed up big time when we bought the propaganda cleverly created by the auto industry and then picked up by the banking-Freddie/Fannie-Wall Street trio that posited they were “too big to fail.” What a load of doo. They called our bluff and we proved we’ve devolved into a system where “privatizing gain and socializing loss” (as Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz put it) is seen as the American Way.

    The OWS is not just a group of people; it’s a true movement now. It doesn’t have “a leader” and maybe that will be its downfall. Or maybe winter will be. But for now, it’s spreading worldwide. Keep tabs at its website: http://occupywallst.org/

    But the long-term trick will be in not letting itself become part of Obama’s reelection strategy. Many who are protesting today were hoping for change they could believe in back in ’08; how could they know the next three years would prove a financial disaster for the middle and working class and a “thanks but no thanks” rejection of highly-educated and newly minted graduates? Our current administration and the Congress pretend a fictional stalemate as to what to do to fix the economy but, honestly, nobody knows what to do.

    The Tea Party started with real people who had their own legitimate concerns. But it’s since been co-opted by the Koch Brothers and gun nuts and prayer people and pro-hetero and anti-homo and on and on we go. Michelle can ride that bus from here to doomsday; she’s never going to be elected POTUS because the Tea Party has also been co-opted by the Republican Party which is determined to bend itself into a faint resemblance of whatever 26% of American voters who vote want on election day.

      1. Erik says:

        Rather than maybe pull that back, you’re going re-assert with this as an example? OK… what’s it emblematic of exactly?

        Very weak, kitchen sink BS, Professor. A scholar ought to be more cogent.

    1. Erik says:

      The fact of the matter is, we don’t need to co-opt anyone’s movement. We won on the merits, and we were less political about than any other issue advocates.

      You’re maybe not off the rails with the Kochs, but you are here. It’s a completely illiterate statement.

      1. Ellen Mrja says:

        Erik: I can’t quite see who “we” is/are in your response. Is “We” Republicans? If so, what were you less political about? Or, is “we” referring to Tea Party members and sympathizers?

      2. Ellen Mrja says:

        Erik: I don’t believe I’m illiterate nor a scholar. And I never claimed to have attended a Tea Party rally. But by god, man. Look at the slide show the TP homepage has running. http://teapartypatriots.ning.com/

        I do not believe in taking away the shotguns or rifles of hunters or sportsmen and women. But allow me to find it offensive at the least if not frightening at the most to see the number of assault rifles that are brandied about in this photos or – worst of all – having children hold semi-automatics.

      3. Erik says:

        Ellen, I have zero interest in discussing guns / guns rights / gun control with you. You wouldn’t be able to keep up, and yet you’d walk away with the smug certitude that you had made a salient point. Beyond that, my side won. It’s a dead letter, it’s over, get used to it.

        I want to know where you get off saying the Tea Party is co-opted by the gun people.

        There’s a photo of a dude at an OWS rally pooping on a squad car. With your logic I can assert that OWS is co-opted by people who poop on squad cars.

      4. Erik says:

        Still looking for that co-option… since as a movement, there’s soo much we haven’t been able to win on our own…prior to the existence of the Tea Party. Ya know, hell with it, I think I’ve won this trivial, pedantic point.

        Yes, I am a prick (insofar as I insist people get this stuff right). But when you’re corrected- with evidence – it should be fairly easy to say, hey, I made a half assed statement, I was wrong. Personally, I’ve done mea culpas myself, in this SRC venue. But like I alluded, here lies the phenomenon of liberals having such certitude for things of which they know so little along with a particular unwillingness to acknowledge their inaccuracies.

        I don’t think this is any different than PM insisting people not spread mythology about Soros.

    2. Gary Pettis says:

      I have some agreement with you in your post Elllen. Still, if turnabout is fair play, I can respond to your writing of:

      “The Tea Party started with real people who had their own legitimate concerns. But it’s since been co-opted by the Koch Brothers and gun nuts and prayer people and pro-hetero and anti-homo and on and on we go.”


      “The Occupy Wall Street started with real people who have their own fears and challenges in light of their own unemployment or underemployment, and they are demanding to know what kind of role they’ll have in the forthcoming new jobs, jobs, jobs world. But it’s since been co-opted by George Soros and Deep-Pocket Union types and socialists and anarchists and students skipping school and hippies reliving their past protest memories and on and on and on we go.”

      This sort of rhetoric is not going to solve the problems for our current lost educated generation that is struggling to get its foot in any kind of door to start a rewarding career. How is it going to help the high number of unemployed blacks? For them, the unemployment rate is hovering around 17 percent.

      Now the left wants to compete directly with the Tea Party like it is some kind of Pepsi going against Coke, but all that it’s offering is Jolt Cola.

      And for the record, the current strain of Occupy movements is no Tea Party because at least the Tea Party had cultivated a clear sense of purpose and has a message that’s easy to understand. Ellen, please give a read through of OCCUPY MN’s Objective/Purpose Statement from its Website.


      What are we (OCCUPY MN) trying to achieve?
      Our current objective and purpose is to establish a forum where our voices can meet and we can work on building a resolve to all of the issues at hand. This is about creating a voice, and that will be accomplished through the establishment of a General Assembly. This format is an open, democratic process that will allow us to work toward the same goals. Anybody, from any walk of life is welcome, and their needs and concerns will have a chance to be heard.


      First, as a professional communications educator, please grade this statement in regard to its ability to clearly and concisely inform the public of its mission. In other words, does this statement explain why this organization exists?

      Second, please offer your opinion about what outcomes these types of organizations hope to achieve. (The answer of “They just want their voices heard” will be unacceptable.”)

      1. Ellen Mrja says:

        Gary: My grading of the OCCUPY MN objective and purpose statement would not go well for the group, of course.

        “Our current objective and purpose” [as opposed to when? tomorrow’s? yesterday’s] is [should be “are”] to establish a forum where our voices can meet [this is going to be one noisy forum] and we can work on building a resolve [that’s a bit like actually DOING something, but not quite] to all of the issues at hand. [What are the issues?] This is about creating a voice [again, with the voice(s) – why do I still hear nothing?], and that will be accomplished by the establishment of a General Assembly.” [Oh my God, NOOO!! A General Assembly!!]

        In fairness, the Tea Party website says its purpose is “standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!” ! While that sounds better , I can’t say I understand what that party stands for, either.

        I don’t know what groups like this hope to accomplish. Ask Ghandi. Or Dr. King. Or the lone Chinese hero in Tiananmen Square, 1989. Or see the Wikipedia summary of “Arab Spring” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring. These, of course, are extreme examples. But those were extreme times…

        Thanks, Gary.

  4. Newt says:

    So Soros bankrolls these OWS “protests,” using his Wall Street-earned riches – the same money that these illiterate, misguided fools claim to oppose.

    Nothing about OWS is authentic or enduring. When Soros stops writing checks, it all goes away.

    Obama has been put in the odd position of distancing himself from OWS while embracing the media spectacle. Somehow he thinks OWS will aid his campaign.

    Meanwhile, Middle America watches in disgust, waiting for November 2012 to clean house.

  5. Ellen Mrja says:

    I think it’s highly unlikely Soros bankrolled the hundreds of farmers in Iowa yesterday who protested farm foreclosures and their bankrupt futures.

    1. Ellen: Troll-think is a weird and creepy place, inn’t? So many painfully unresolved adolescent ego issues. Such righteous certainty amid so much aggressively recycled misinformation. As a Prof., maybe you should offer grading on some of this stuff?.

      1. Erik says:

        Um, yea… it’s all very self-revealing isn’t it. Why don’t you make one of the dick jokes you’re so fond of Bri. That’s not a creepy ego issue at all.

    2. Newt says:

      Soros and the protesters deny any connection. But Reuters did find indirect financial links between Soros and Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada which started the protests with an inventive marketing campaign aimed at sparking an Arab Spring type uprising against Wall Street. Moreover, Soros and the protesters share some ideological ground.

      “I can understand their sentiment,” Soros told reporters last week at the United Nations about the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which are expected to spur solidarity marches globally on Saturday.


  6. Ellen Mrja says:

    Erik: Geez. I didn’t know I was supposed to respond to your demand for evidence IMMEDIATELY. Guess what? I’ve got a life. I fed the dog and took him for a walk. Then I thought I’d check in with TSRC before I read a magazine. Sorry you had to wait.

    Erik: You’re right. I made a half-assed statement about gun lovers. They have never, ever, ever, ever been co-opted by anyone.

    But I’m also never, ever, ever, ever, ever going to say our nation is better off now than it was before every Tom, Dick and Harry had guns, multiple guns, lying around. I have no interest in debating the numbers of dead children and school kids because of the infestation of unstable people who own guns. And if I started debating the devastating statistics of gun deaths in civilized countries versus the United States, you wouldn’t be able to keep up.

    And yet you’d walk away with the smug certitude that you, you, you, you, you…

    This doesn’t get us anywhere, does it?

    1. Erik says:

      Yes, I am right. Ellen, I can have certitude. I’m an expert on the subject matter. You’re not.

      I’ m strident, but also an ex-Democrat. My wife still is one. I think it’s important liberals and Democrats get this stuff right, for the benefit of things that are good about that movement. It’s beyond worthless for Democrats to maintain a platform plank for this.

      There was no before. It’s been this way since the end of the Civil War.

  7. Anytime the youth (and I include myself in that wide category) feel energized and compelled to fight for something greater than themselves, it should be recognized, rather than dismissed. Why fight (so nastily) against something that’s largely positive, non-violent, and bringing attention to a lot of urgent matters? Doesn’t make sense to me, but what do I know? I’m just a kid.

  8. Newt says:

    From the Boston Herald …

    Wall Street money for Elizabeth Warren

    Elizabeth Warren was all about transparency. We are all still waiting for her to file the required financial disclosure form.

    The Oklahoma Professor has been criticizing Scott Brown for being “Wall Street’s favorite Senator.” She has also denounced “Wall Street cash in politics.”

    But it turns out she may be indirectly accepting Wall Street money. The Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is helping the Harvard Professor, has taken over $40 million from Wall Street during the last 7 years according to records from OpenSecrets.org. In fact, Wall Street is the biggest contributors to them. They beat lawyers and labor union. Just during this election season the DSCC has already received $1.5 million from Wall Street.

    If Lizzy Warren is truly opposed to Wall Street money, then shouldn’t she reject the DSCC’s money? Otherwise she is just using the DSCC to funnel in Wall Street money.

    1. Ellen Mrja says:

      Anyone who thinks can see the ultimate result of unchecked inequality will be the destruction of the whole. Very interesting post, PM.
      Regardless of what one thinks of Petersen Institute, at least it was intellectually interested enough to open a dialogue with Occupy proponents. That’s cool.

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