Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It Would be Nice to Have a Month Off to Protest

I have, more or less, been working since I had a paper route beginning at age 12. My parents were separated and mom wasn't exactly shelling out the bucks to satisfy the whims of a pre-teenager (soon to be teenager). So, I got a job.

I was a newspaper boy. Then, I worked at McDonalds. I did telephone soliciting and door-to-door sales. I worked as a carpet cleaner. I did shit jobs for money because I needed money to live and to buy the things I wanted. It didn't matter to me how I made the money as long as it was legal.

Which is why the current protests that started in Israel (yes, Israel - if you really want to go back to the roots) and then spread to Wall Street and across North America and Europe kind of annoy me. It's not that I mind protesting or that I don't think there is some validity in the concerns of many of the people attending - it's the endless litany of hapless whining and the chorus of how unfair life is that grates on my nerves.

I have heard numerous interviews with these people. One, an American now living in Canada, complained a bank "conned" him into accepting a $200,000 mortgage that he couldn't afford because he only made $10 an hour. Apparently, he was incapable of doing the math himself. Others, asked about what they're protesting, mumble and stumble throwing around words like equality and justice without exactly identifying the inequalities and injustices of North American life. Another I heard advocated a society without money. We don't need money, she opined, we just need to share everything. And, still others have arrived to blame that age-old world pariah: the Jews.

They call themselves the 99-percenters to differentiate themselves from the wealthy of western society but they don't acknowledge that they are far richer than anyone not from a developed first world nation. Further, leaving riches aside, they have the right to protest and enjoy freedoms many people would gladly trade whatever fortune they have to achieve.

The problems in our current economies were not merely the faults of banks and government agencies, although they certainly played their part. They are also the fault of the millions of people like $10 an hour guy who happily accepted an endless amount of credit with some kind of expectation that it would all work out in the end. And, it did, just not the way they wanted.

I don't know how someone can sit on a street for 30 days demanding this, that or the other thing. How many opportunities at working for a living slipped by in that time for those people? How many left jobs so they could squat in a park with others feeling all self-righteous while accomplishing nothing? How many have never worked at all and have no intention of working because they feel, simply by the virtue of their existence, that the rest of us owe them something?

We have created a society of entitlement and this is the fruit we are being rewarded with. The protests will fizzle out when the cold weather sets in, at least in the northern states and Canada. And, those people will be no better off because they've been playing the role of Aesop's grasshopper while us ants - the true 99 per centers - have been preparing for the less sunny times ahead.