Friday, October 14, 2011

The Ants and the Grasshopper

I am going to break one of my cardinal rules. I am going to discuss politics. This probably won't be pretty. I mean I am not going to get ugly and hateful and spew vitriol all over the internets, because honestly I am not that sort of person. No it will be ugly because I am not a political person and therefor I am certain someone will have less than stellar reviews on what I have to say.

So it seems like you can not swing a dead cat lately without hitting something on the internet talking about "I am <fill in the blank>%". At first I diligently ignored it, as I do most things of a political nature*. Only you can only ignore things for so long, and honestly I was starting to become curious as to what everyone was getting so worked up about. What was it about these "99%" people sitting in protest that these "53%" people are so damned pissed off about?

From what I understand, and I will admit I could be missing something, the "99%" people are sitting on Wall street, and elsewhere in the country, to protest greed among other things. I was unable to find a comprehensive list of grievances since they don't seem to have one. What it boils down to though is a bunch of citizens who are frustrated and fed up with the current state of economic BS we live in, and are exercising their right to let people know that they are pissed off and it needs to change.

The other people, the "53%" people, seem to be pissed off at the protesters because they seem to think that the people holding "99%" signs are a bunch of lazy people who don't want to work hard and are looking for a free ride. I have also gotten a very strong idea that they view protesting as highly un-American.

So what do I think about it? Well mostly I think that both sides have the right to do or think whatever they like, though I am leaning more towards the second group being woefully underinformed or misguided towards the intentions of the first group.

There is nothing wrong with protesting. In fact I think there is a lot right with protesting. This protest seems to have started in a more organic fashion and might be a little disorganized and hazy in their goals, but it is still not a bad thing. It shows that the American people are frustrated and coming to a breaking point. I do not think that these are a bunch of shiftless layabouts, or radical hippies (or is that an oxymoron?), or crazed liberal/communist/socialists looking for the end of the American way.

I think these are probably all hard working, tax paying, voters who have reached the end of their rope. Just because you got laid off and found a new job in a few months does not mean everyone is that lucky. My husband has been through five or six jobs in the last three years due to constant lay offs, and we are just damn lucky that sales is a field where you can find new jobs. I know hard working, brilliant, college educated people who are going on three or four years of being unemployed despite constant job searching. A lot of people have hit a place where what they are qualified for has no jobs, but their qualifications make them over qualified for anything more menial to pay the bills.

The "53%" people keep saying they live under their means and work multiple jobs with crazy hours just to get by and they are not complaining. They say that they are alright having no cable, no internet, no smart phones, no modern luxuries. They say they are alright with that because they have no debt and have savings for the future. On one hand, good for you for being that diligent and that focused and that responsible.  On the other hand, shame on you for your complacency. Shame on you for not wanting more than a cheap apartment and a case of Naty Lite on a Friday night while watching a Red Box movie.

The whole point of America and the elusive American Dream is to want more. It is to want to have a nicer more comfortable life. Yes it is a totally capitalist thing, but face it people, we are capitalists. We are a nation of consumers, and there is nothing wrong with that. We should be able to afford a few little luxuries. We should be able to spend $100 a month and have cable and internet if we want them, or save a little and have a cool phone, or even be able to take a nice week long trip to Vegas once a year. We should be able to work hard and yet still enjoy our lives, because what is the point otherwise?

The problem comes down to the fact that so many of us are working ourselves to death just to get by and we have become complacent and accepted that this is our lot in life. We accept paying $4 for gas, we accept crappy 1 bedroom apartments in a not so great neighborhood, we accept that two people working two jobs each at 70 hours a week with no benefits or vacation is the norm, we accept substandard schooling for our children, we accept that execs of major corporations are going to get 6 figure bonuses even if they caused an environmental disaster, and we accept that major corporations will pay no taxes but still get millions in tax refunds.

That is what is wrong with this country right now. We accept all of that. As far as I can see the "99%" are tired of accepting that. I say good for them. Someone has to do it.

Yes I agree voting is important. You have to get out there and vote for people you think will make the choices that will represent us, but in the end you have to remember that once elected those people will not always do what is best for us. By standing up and showing that we are fed up we send a message to the lawmakers that are in office that we are pissed off. 

I leave you with the tale of the ants and the grasshopper. The ants toil all year long in order to live comfortably through the winter, while the grasshopper plays all day. When the winter comes the ants have plenty to eat while the grasshopper is starving.

The American people are the ants. We work hard all day long to have something nice in the end, only when winter came we had nothing to eat. The major corporations are the grasshoppers and they have been playing all day long and are still living fat and happy despite the cold winter. Always remember though that ants are many and grasshoppers are few, and once organized, the ants can be devastating.

*I have my reasons for ignoring politics, and maybe someday I will go into them, but not today. Keep your judgements on the matter to yourself.

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