Occupy reality: Redistribution is the mantra of another type of nation
The Occupy Wall Street movement is starting to smell.
Not because there is no reason to demand that the banking industry and others who handle money do so honestly. And not because there is no room for protesting in this modern world, either. That is what the Constitution guarantees and this is a free country where you can say what you think.
It is because it is beginning to look like politics cloaked in a people's movement. It is because no one can figure out how someone who is downtrodden by the fatcats can afford to spend weeks at a time protesting their existence. And, last but not least, it is because no one can really pinpoint just what the protesters hope to accomplish.
What is so scary about this movement is the basis of its arguments -- those who have worked to earn bonuses on Wall Street or in the corporate world, really, should have to turn them over to those who have not been so "lucky."
Wall Street is not squeaky clean. There should be stiff regulation to make sure that rules are followed and punishments administered to those who break the rules for personal gain.
But that is not really what these protesters are demanding. They want money that is earned by Wall Street workers to be redistributed to others.
And that is communism.
The problem with this movement is that it is based on a misunderstanding of how the world works.
People make choices, sacrifices and decisions based on how they want to live their lives. Some people choose careers that might not pay as well, but might offer more time for them to spend with their families.
Others choose stressful pursuits that require long hours, much education and continued competition to stay on top. They sacrifice in other areas to make this life choice possible.
Neither choice is right or wrong, but each has its consequences and trade-offs.
But they both are based on one simple American freedom -- choice.
The reality is, from the moment you enter school, you have a choice.
You can study hard, pay attention in class, behave responsibly through your teen years and earn the chance to go to college or to pursue technical training in the field of your choice.
You can work hard there and earn the chance for a job and a future.
And once you are employed, you can work hard, go above and beyond and earn promotions or perhaps the chance to be the boss.
And there are other paths, too. You can start your own business, work long hours to get started, struggle through hard times, and then reap the rewards of finally making your dream a reality.
All these choices have one common thread -- a work ethic. That is how you succeed, provide for your family or find your way in life.
There are no shortcuts, no free rides -- unless you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
We need a safety net for people in this country. It should be a place where they can turn to get the help they need to stand on their own two feet and to build a life for themselves and their children.
But in the process, we should not penalize those who used hard work and determination to create futures for themselves. We should not demonize those who earned a good salary for doing a good job. We should not ignore the very principles that helped make this country great.
Instead, protest those who have created a society where industry and hard work have been replaced by beating the system. If we want more for this country, we have to expect more. Handouts and free passes will not make this nation strong again. It is not how our parents and grandparents got here, and it will not be how we get there either.
Occupy Wall Street? OK. Protest away. But as you do, think about what will really solve the problem. Demand integrity from those who run companies, but also demand it from those who use the system and those who profit from it and use it as a political slogan, too.
Ask for a better world, but remember that there will never be a substitute for putting in the work to create it.
If you do, that might be a cause worth considering.
Published in Editorials on October 15, 2011 10:58 PM