Terry Paulson
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The mirror into modern-day America created by the "occupiers" who have taken to the streets reveals painful images and insights for those committed to traditional American values. Even without a clear, core message, most Americans can identify with the anger at those who have contributed to our broken economy. But many tax-paying Americans are equally fed up with the stream of complaints from the self-obsessed protestors who want their debts forgiven and the "rich" to pay for their "free" education.

This is not the orderly and respectful Tea Party crowd who scheduled demonstrations around working hours and cleaned up after their events. More than 1,500 protestors across the country have been arrested for charges ranging from assaulting police officers and disorderly conduct to trespassing. Instead of championing liberty and smaller government, the "occupiers" seem committed to attacking capitalism and using government to take from others to meet their selfish needs.

But these demonstrators are some of our fellow citizens, neighbors, and students--products of our educational system. A look at a variety of their signs challenges citizens to look at the culture we've helped create.

"Smash Capitalism--People Not Profits" and "Stop the War on Working People"...We've failed to sell the free-enterprise system that's created the American Dream. Without capital willing to invest, entrepreneurs willing take the risk, leaders and workers ready to deliver on the vision, and a profit to sustain the enterprise, there are no jobs, and people suffer. We've elected an administration that has altered the incentives that drive economic growth. Uncertainty and the fear of increased costs and taxes have put growth and jobs on hold. The "occupiers" should be marching on Washington, not Wall Street.

"The Too Big to Fail...Should Be In Jail!"... I'll wave that sign! Instead of bailing out big, failing corporations that turned public funds into big executive bonuses, we should've let them fail or encouraged guided bankruptcies. In America, we let people and corporations earn their successes AND their failures. But where's the anger at the politicians who mandated banks to give home loans to people who couldn't afford them? Such "caring" loans have turned cruel forcing many Americans to lose their homes and their credit.

"Climate Change Is Not in Our National Interest"... The "occupiers" love lecturing Americans on their environmental crimes but show little respect for the environments they occupy and march through. They fight global warming while trashing parks and local business establishments. "Occupiers" must never have been taught to clean up their own messes and to better the environment where they are!

"If Jesus comes back, kill him again!"... This sign doesn't speak for many demonstrators or citizens, but points out a danger. We've taken God out of the schools and the Nativities out of our public squares, and we wonder why believing in God has given way to believing in government. The "progressive" believers want forced "economic justice" that steals from the few to fuel the envy of the masses while trashing equal Constitutional justice. A humble appreciation for charity and community support has given way to arrogant demands for more tax-funded entitlements. Our spoiled children have become spoiled adults.

"Debt Is Slavery"... These "occupiers" funded a standard of living they couldn't afford on debt and now want bankers and politicians to erase the consequences for their irresponsible choices. Thankfully, my depression-hardened father would've said: "If you don't want the debt, don't take the loan. Work your butt off, save every dime, and buy what you want when you can afford it!" Responsible citizens blame the borrower not the banker.

Unfortunately, our "spread the wealth" president's own words have helped fuel the rage at the "rich." But when has taking down the rich ever helped the poor? Has communism worked? Has Europe's socialism worked? Class envy may provide a target for their anger, but redistribution has always ended poorly...spreading poverty instead of opportunity.

"Occupiers" have the right to exercise their freedom of speech, but their irresponsible behavior and incoherent demands are awakening the "true" majority of average Americans who recoil from their messages and actions. There's one of their signs that might come close to being embraced by the 99% of Americans they claim to speak for--"Hope Takes Work!"

Finally, a truth worthy of support. No fairy godmother will just grant you a job. You must find one and earn the right to keep it. As my parents said, "The world doesn't owe you a living." Here's my sign for the "occupiers:" "Clean up after yourself. Invest your demonstration time into making something of yourself and helping others in your community do the same. Forget occupying Wall Street; try occupying a job or starting a business of your own. Someday, Wall Street might just invest in you."

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Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

 
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