I've spent a lot of time here discussing ways to improve your lives. From integrity, to debt, to relationships… I've tried to be pretty inclusive. Today I'm doing something a little different. Today, I'm going to express my opinions on the Occupy Wall Street movement (or OWS, as it's being referred to). This is a long post, so strap in.
I'll start by saying that I believe I understand why the Occupy Wall Street movement is under way. We as Americans have had enough of the mega-banks and their grips on our economy. We've had enough of corruption, lobbying, big oil, wars, and inequalities. No, OWS wasn't started with all of that in mind, but I believe they've all culminated in the OWS movement. We're sick and tired of the status quo, and really want to affect some form of positive change.
I've posted a few pics of businesses with help wanted signs, and they've offended some. While I know that this movement isn't specifically about jobs and employment, I believe that many of the problems in our country begin there. There's a perception that in order to “get ahead” or to be successful, you have to have a good job. You need an education to get a better paying job so you can afford the lifestyle you've always dreamed of.
My perspective is likely different from most. I believe that the core of our problems, especially with those struggling the hardest, isn't the big banks or the death of the auto/manufacturing industries in America – mind you, there's definitely room for improvement. It's not the job market at all, as a matter of fact – there are as many opportunities out there as can be filled by those diligently looking. They're simply not “the ideal” job, or even in the pay grade we're accustomed to. Underemployment anyone?
The problem, I believe, is the Cycle of Poverty. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it describes the cycle wherein it's harder to extricate one's self from the grips of poverty, from generation to generation, while in poverty. Fewer opportunities, a grim outlook on the future (due to an unpleasant “now”), apathy toward the situation, they're all a part of the cycle. And it worsens with each generation.
That certainly applies to the poorest people in our country, but in a way, the exact same outlook is prevalent across many income levels. It's not called the same thing mind you, it's simply called “life.” Symptoms: every day is a challenge financially, there are no “good” jobs available, and we simply can't seem to “get ahead.” Sound familiar? If you watch the news (any news) you'd think the world is coming to an end tomorrow.
Here's my proposition: Instead of protesting the mega-banks and the evil doers on Wall Street, let's instead focus on doing things we have direct control over. If we start there, truly make changes in our lives, the rest will follow. I know it goes against the OWS movement – it feels way better to be a part of something. It's what we as humans strive for, we like to be associated with like minded people. But that's the problem.
To completely change who you are, and your situation, you really need to examine your influences. I wrote about this in another post, and it applies here. It applies directly, actually. If you're surrounded by apathy, dissent, and disgust, guess what properties you'll inherit? Look at your peers, your boss, the people you spend the most time with. Are they positive influences at least 85% of the time? If not, seriously consider giving them the boot. Your life, and outlook will thank you.
I'm putting an outline together that will address the Cycle. It'll be a process, proven over time, that will help people from all walks of life (even the poorest of poor) that want to do better actually achieve the goal. It all begins with a plan to provide high quality, free child care for working single parents. If you're interested in this project, please let me know. It's going to be a challenge, but the rewards will be many.
Back to the matter at hand. If you have credit cards, loans, or mortgages, it's really important to understand that banks make their money on them. They're called products and have profit, lots of it built-in. They're the things, especially the sub-prime ones, that made the big banks what they are. YOU are a big part of the problem, too.
The solution to the “big banks problem” is not picket signs. It's paying off your debts, and refusing to give them another dime in interest payments and fees. They'll die on their own – they're too big to bail out now as the headlines say.
There are plenty of things to fix at the executive compensation level, yes. But to support “innocently” picketing banks and Wall Street when you've got debt and uncontrolled spending of your own seems a bit hypocritical.
Leave a comment below. I'll answer every one.