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Are the Occupy Wall Street protests going to get people what they want?
October 30, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
I've watched the Occupy Wall Street movement these last few weeks with a bit of bemusement.
I do think the things they are protesting are very real concerns and something will have to be done about the issues they have raised or the country will suffer.
But I also just don't get protests. I have strong opinions, but even when I was young and far more starry-eyed than I am now and had friends who were protesting something or other, I wasn't inclined to march anywhere, especially on a cold day, holding a handwritten poster.
At the moment the Occupy Wall Street protesters seem to be mainly about "raising consciousness" in the various spots where they are protesting and the establishment can't seem to figure out what it will take to make them go away.
I've always thought real change is more likely to be effected by appealing to the self interest of those with the power to actually change things. For instance, to look at one of their issues, a well educated student who can't get a good paying job to pay off $300 to $600 a month in student loans isn't going to buy a house or buy any of the other the things that the businessmen sell. He also won't be making investments that will help keep the bankers' pocketbooks fat. Perhaps the bankers and legislators need to look at ways for students to get rid of their crippling debt and to find better jobs.
Does it take a protest to make people aware of that issue? Well, maybe. Maybe a letter to the editor or getting a group of students to lobby their congressman wouldn't have quite the same effect.
On the other hand, some of the protesters seem to be demanding Utopia: redistribution of wealth, a total revamping of the political and financial systems; a new, more egalitarian society. I felt like singing "Age of Aquarius" when I was reading one protester's passionate manifesto over at Alternet.org People who don't get what they want, he said, are part of the problem.
I get what they want, which is essentially the same thing their hippie grandparents wanted back in about 1968 and various other movements have promoted since the dawn of time. It is a beautiful dream. I'm just not sure it has ever been possible to make that dream a reality short of heaven, in any time or place. Making the world a little better, a little more comfortable, if not quite Utopia, IS doable.
What do you think?
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