To the Occupy movement:
I know some of you mean well. I even share some of your concerns. The dismal economy has made it difficult to find a good job with benefits. Meanwhile, the government is bailing out the wealthy banks and mortgage lenders that helped precipitate this depressed economy.
I hear your frustrations about student loan debt. Generation X has a lot of student loan debt too, with little relief available. The older generations have indebted our generations for years down the road, and with the rising costs of school tuition, we have double the amount of debt. Social Security is expected to be insolvent by the time my generation reaches retirement age. We have been warned not to rely upon it. We are in the same boat as you. In some ways we are even worse off. Most of us have families, children and mortgages now. Losing a job hurts us much more than when we were 25 and single.
But where you are off base is demanding too much. There isn’t enough money to go around for government to solve all your problems. We live in the wealthiest nation in the world. We are overindulged, not deprived. Americans are fat – one-third are now obese - and suffering from an increasing number of illnesses because we live a sedentary lifestyle too lazy to cook, subsisting on unhealthy processed fast food as we drive instead of walk everywhere.
Your generation has been raised by helicopter parents who catered to your every whine, and praised you constantly in order to get you to be quiet instead of teaching you discipline. You have grown up thinking you are more accomplished than you really are. You expect to have it all at age 25 – what my generation has worked for 10-20 years longer to achieve. My generation worked in fast food restaurants and low-level jobs in high school, college and shortly thereafter when we were your age. Most of us didn’t have benefits and we didn’t complain, we were just grateful not to work hard labor in the fields.
Now you want the government to put you in the place that someone much older than you has worked years to achieve. The same government that messed everything up in the first place by meddling with the housing and financial markets. The Democrats are the party primarily behind more government manipulation in the economy and bailouts, although a small minority of Republicans - including some in the executive branch no doubt influenced by Goldman Sachs - were complicit. Democrat Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner crafted the bank bailouts. 172 House Democrats voted for the bank bailout bill which established TARP, along with 91 Republicans. 39 Democrats and 34 Republicans in the Senate voted for the bill. It was mainly Democrats who ordered the quasi-governmental lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide subprime loans to people who could not possibly afford homes. Now, those homeowners are defaulting and the rest of us are paying for it, as we are left stuck in homes we cannot sell and probably cannot afford anymore due to losing our jobs.
The only solution the Democrats in government offer for you is big government with more unaffordable spending that will favor certain groups of people over others. This cannot work since we have already run out of money; we are borrowing 40% of every dollar we spend. There is no more money to spend. Spending new money will be charged to future generations. You will be doing to your children and grandchildren exactly what you complain the older generations did to us.
And you would go even further. The Occupy symbol of a clenched fist is the same symbol the Socialist Party uses. This is no coincidence. Your leaders come from the radical left and denounce our American system of capitalism, calling for the redistribution of wealth instead. They want to end our freedoms guaranteed to us in the U.S. Constitution and replace them with government control.
You claim to represent the 99% but the polls show that significantly less than 99% support you. Only 28% of Americans support the Occupy movement. That number is equivalent to the percentage of the population that supports Democrats and the left. You resent the 1% and their wealth, but their wealth is what creates jobs, not government. If everyone ends up on the government dole, there will be no one left to pay their government salaries.
The masks you wear of Guy Fawkes represent violent overthrow of the government. That mask was worn by an anarchist character named V in the 2005 movie “V for Vendetta,” who uses violence to overthrow a despotic government and murder everyone in Parliament. The government portrayed in the movie is not like ours. Our government does not capture women and rape them. While it is true that Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” he was not referring to unjust uprisings. As an Anti-Federalist, he was opposed to big government; he did not want to overthrow a government just to replace it with a bigger government.
You claim that the movement is peaceful and about exercising free speech. Occupiers endlessly retweet the phrase, “You can’t evict an idea.” Who are you fooling? There have been 5897 arrests so far, for everything from vandalism to assault to trespassing. If Occupiers are allowed to get by with crimes by claiming they are part of free speech, then why can’t the rest of us get by with committing crimes too, in the name of free speech?
The Occupy movement is being evicted from downtown public spaces in cities all across the country due to breaking the law. Occupiers are trying to keep the movement alive through a cyber presence on Twitter. I read tweets from the Occupiers regularly that are full of exaggerations and false statements about the evictions. If you have to use dishonesty in order to gain support for your position, there is something fundamentally wrong with your integrity. Occupiers regularly accuse the police of multiple things, but the facts come out differently. Occupiers accused police at the University of California-Davis of pepper spraying them, but one Occupier admitted later that the Occupiers had surrounded the police with locked arms blocking them, refusing to let them move. It is hard to believe that multiple police agencies across the country are all coincidentally engaging in illegal behavior regarding the handling of protests. It is more likely these aren’t just “protests” but rather something more sinister. Your alliance with the anarchist hacking group Anonymous, which has no regard for the laws, is telling. I am afraid you are trying to use violence to force your unpopular socialist and communist forms of government upon America.
What you are asking for is more big government that we cannot afford. You want the government to redistribute the income of the wealthiest 1% of Americans, but this would not solve the problems you complain about. The rich provide investment capital for business ventures that create jobs. If you take away their money, we will lose even more jobs. 80% of millionaires in America are self-made; they did not inherit their wealth. Only 14% are in the banking industry. The top 1% earns 14% of all income but pays 36.7% of all federal income taxes. There are even fewer millionaires now due to the recession; the number of Americans earning $1 million or more dropped by 40% between 2007 and 2009.
Socialism and communism are not the answer. Look how well communism has worked for the former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cuba. Socialism is gradually destroying Europe as those countries discover the hard way they can no longer afford massive government entitlement programs. Tearing down the top echelon of society and replacing their ability to create jobs with government job creation sends countries into poverty.
The best solution is the opposite of what you think you need. The solution is less government, not more. If government had stayed out of the housing and financial markets, we would not be in this recession. Instead, overreaching banks and mortgage lenders would have been forced to learn the hard way not to make irresponsible financial decisions. Direct your protests at the president and Congress instead who are responsible for the market meddling. Wall Street is only a symptom of the problem. Please do not indebt our grandchildren. Your parents may not have taught you the values of rugged individualism that formed the backbone of this country, but you can still teach those values to your children. We in America are better off than 99% of the rest of the world. We are all actually the 1%.
Sincerely, Generation X