Witnessing the “Occupy Boston” protest march first hand last Friday has left me, in part, with some mixed feelings while overall supporting my thesis arguing that the worst of the economic tumult has yet to be seen.
While I’m lightly sympathetic to some of the themes purportedly held by the protesters (broken political system, undue influence of money on Washington DC, absurdly high tuition costs, fraud in the financial system, etc.), overall, I found the group to simply be an overly youthful, ignorant and self-disenfranchised lot.
There were signs reading “End Foreclosure Now!”, “Tax the Rich!” and urging banks to reduce mortgage principle as well as indicating a whole range of other grievances covering everything from disdain for Bank of American to union affiliation to environmentalism and even to “End the Fed”.
Though most participants were youths, many wearing t-shirts printed with one slogan or another, there was a strong union/community organization presence as well, and while the march went off with little friction, short of some closed off streets and a lengthy rally in front of the Bank of America building, the overall presentation appeared plainly silly.
Take for example the concept of protesting for the banks to “end foreclosure” and reduce mortgage principle.
What gives someone the idea that they deserve to live in a home that they are unable or unwilling to pay for?
While there was clearly a wave of categorical predatory lending (literal fraud where clear laws were broken) during the housing boom, the overwhelming majority of homeowners who have gone into foreclosure only have themselves to blame.
They got swept up in the mania during the housing boom and made seriously poor choices either buying property they could not afford or extracting fictional wealth from their existing property through cash-out refinancing.
They were the rubes that got stuck holding bag and if they are unable to make good on a basic contract to repay debt that they willingly agreed to (no one held a gun to the head), then they must return the keys to the lender… it’s that simple.
On grievances pertaining to student debt, tuition costs and the poor job market the group shows it’s truly youthful bent.
Yesterday’s “On Point” program titled “A Lost Generation” captures the overall picture of seriously indebted college grads facing a historically distressed labor market and all the resulting tribulations such as moving back with parents, mal-employment, disrupted early work experience and declining household formation.
While it’s easy to feel sympathy for debt-laden college graduates facing a severe job market, it’s clear that youths have also made very poor choices that dramatically contribute to their own lack of success.
For example, a point that was made many times in the NPR program is that the very best paying and most prevalent jobs are in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics yet these are still majors that are undersubscribed by America’s youth.
Why after decades of a clear understanding that science, math and engineering are vitally important to the future and clearly bring the best jobs are droves of kids still choosing to get degrees in liberal arts, wrote business functions (accounting, marketing, PR, communications, etc.) or the social sciences?
You get a degree in something with little market application like English or Literature or a tremendously oversubscribed major like communications and you are angry that you can’t find a well paying job?
Again, you only have yourself to blame if you racked up mountains of debt getting a useless or totally redundant degree.
Finally, as was made plainly clear during this protest march as well as the Verizon strikes from earlier in the summer (which I also witnessed taking place in Boston’s financial district), Unions and community organizations have, at this point, completely lost touch with reality.
Shouting angry slogans concerning fighting for their way of life, taxing the rich or anti-1% nonsense, labor unions have drummed up idiocy into a fevered pitch.
I witnessed unadulterated thuggery earlier this summer with Verizon contractors having their trucks surrounded by spitting (literally!) angry union members screaming profanities and threats all in the name of “saving there way of life” which apparently includes 100% paid healthcare for jobs installing outdated and dying products.
There is really not much you can say about these folks… they are way too far gone and clearly the primary source of all their own problems.
Make no mistake, America is now “occupied” by an immense population of unproductive and self-disenfranchised and delusional fools that look in the direction of others success with disdain, to the government for solutions or to each other for solidarity but the last place they will ever look to discover the real source of their failures is to themselves.