The Occupy Movement and You?

3 Oct

The Occupy Movement.  I’m not sure what the purpose of these demonstrations really is.  Nobody seems to say.  Mostly they seem born out of a sense of hopelessness and anger, of frustration and youth.  Not everyone is young though.  They seem to range from teens (anybody younger is just there because of Mom or Dad anyhow) to seniors.  I’m like many Americans.  I completely understand hopelessness, anger, frustration and even youth.  (I really wasn’t born with gray hair!)

I’ve been around the sun a few times though, and my days of blind optimism and hapless faith in the power of good are gone.  I know the good guy really doesn’t always win.  I also know that a few will always pay the price of the many in terms of standing up for what is right and just.  I’m a bit cynical, a lot cranky, and a whole lot of wanting specifics.  I really want to know what the Occupy Movement hopes to achieve.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think police brutality is right.  I don’t think the way things has been going is right.  I don’t like a lot of things that have been going on, and I may know a better way…but who’s going to listen to me on how to do anything?    I’m just not so sure that such a disorganized yet obviously spreading “movement” without objectives is really a good idea.

I like objectives.  They clarify things.  They make everyone understand what’s on the agenda, what our goals are, and what our target is.  How can you hope to achieve anything if you don’t even know what you want?

This Occupy Movement seems to be born out of chaos, and it carries chaos in its wake.  That’s the problem I’m seeing.  In chaos, there is no unity, and without unity, well, we’ve already been defeated.  Remember that old saying about “divide and conquer”?  It’s the opposite of “united we stand.”

If you want to believe in conspiracies, if you want to believe in that shadow government, this is exactly what they’d want.  A chaotic and disorganized uprising of the 99% will ultimately lead to complete disorder and the ultimate suppression of that same 99%.  Without unity and clear objectives, there is no possibility of success.

You think I’m wrong?

Start thinking here a minute.  Assume that shadow government is real.  Assume that the conspiracy theorists are right, and it really does exist, and it controls the money of the world, as well as the individual governments.  Along with those governments, it controls a lot of other things.  A lot of things that you may not think about very often.

Things like energy, which includes coal, natural gas, oil, electricity, etc.  That energy fuels everything, from your home to your car, your job, your hospitals…everything.  Shut down that fuel delivery system and guess what?  The world stops moving.  That means there are no food deliveries to cities.  No heat for your house (it is October, mind you).  There is no fuel for mass transit or your car.  The electricity stops coming too.  Telephones stop working, including those cell phones we all depend on.

What are you going to do then?  How long can people seriously keep on demonstrating, without concrete demands when they have no food, no water, no heat, and no transportation to even get there?  How long will they stay there when their families are cold, hungry and sick?

The first rule of street fighting is to not pick a fight you can’t win.

I don’t know how this movement can “win” anything, mostly because of the lack of clear objectives.  Some say they are demonstrating in favor of more socialism, others say they are seeking reform in banking and investment laws, others claim they just want jobs.  What do they all want?

I know what the people around me want.  They want jobs with decent pay that a family can actually live on.  They want the “American Dream” of a car and a house for every family to be an actual possibility, even if they are smaller houses built more efficiently than the McMansions of the 90’s and more efficient, inexpensive cars than the SUVs of the same era.  They want actual health care, not threats and promises that never happen.  They want decent schools for their kids to attend so that they can grow up to be productive, tax-paying citizens.  They want to be able to afford to drive to the beach once in a while for some R&R, or to have a vacation once in a while.

They aren’t asking for a lot, really.  Nobody seems to care what Average Joe and Average Jane want out of life these days.  Nobody seems to notice that sales of cheap bologna and hot dogs go up, while roasts and steak sales are down.  Nobody seems to notice that a lot of families are doing without a lot of things that they used to have.  A lot more families every year end up homeless, without the most basic part of the American Dream…a place to call home.

I’m not sure what the real “cure” is.  We need industry again, with jobs that provide basic income and benefits.  We need jobs.  Millions of jobs.  I’ve seen people who have real job qualifications and experience, who are willing to go anywhere to do that job…and they suddenly are in a position for months or even years, where there is no job for them.  The job isn’t one of those out dated jobs either, the job still exists…but suddenly, companies are shutting their doors or laying off, not hiring.  There is no building, no industry, and therefore no work.

Random chaos does not produce jobs.  Widespread social unrest doesn’t produce it either.  As much as I’m not in favor of big government, I have to say we’re in a position where the government is going to have to do something to produce a lot of jobs fast to save this country.  We have not been in this position since the Great Depression, and maybe we better look back to what worked then for solutions that are fast and sure now.  We already know that the bail out solution didn’t work.

The WPA did work, and it provided a lot of jobs for a lot of people in a very short time.  It started a cash flow that actually had impact nationwide, fueling entrepreneur’s ideas into full blown businesses that offered private sector jobs over the following months.  We could use a program like that now, as we move forward into our own future with less fuel and higher costs.

Why not put people to work building a passenger rail system that works?  Europe has one, one with affordable tickets too.  They even move across national borders, despite language barriers.  Surely we can duplicate a system here in the USA…we all speak the same language, right?  What would affordable train travel do for America besides put people to work assembling the system?

People could travel for work or pleasure, without spending a fortune.  Train travel is more efficient, fuel wise, than traveling by plane, bus, or private car.  Not only would there be service jobs created to feed, house, and entertain these passengers, there would be other jobs maintaining the railroad, the cars, and the engines.  There would be jobs selling tickets, jobs scheduling trains, jobs marketing train travel.  For the first time since the beginning of the highway system, foreign visitors could easily visit the USA and travel without having to master our laws regarding motor vehicles too.

Cargo can also be moved on the passenger trains, just like baggage, making economical shipments of goods from one location to another possible, and if done under the wings of the US Postal Service, would completely revitalize their services.  After all, they already are familiar with moving both packages and letters from one point to another.

There was talk a few years ago of expanding the high speed train system that services the more urbanized areas in the north eastern portion of the USA.  Skip the high speed…a lot of places would like just any speed!

Don’t point at Amtrak and say there’s our passenger system.  Amtrak is a joke.  It’s not only very expensive (usually about double the cost of air travel) but it’s incredibly slow.  As bad as our bus service is cross country, the train is worse.  If one person could drive from point a to point b in 3 days, Amtrak will take 5 days or longer to cover the same distance, often spending over 24 hours in a single location, during which the passengers on board may not have access to electricity, etc.  Train travel on Amtrak is not convenient, efficient, or cost effective, even with tickets being subsidized by the federal government.  There is not one single Amtrak station in the state of Mississippi.

Someone, I’m not sure who or what their source was, claimed that America rebuilt the European train system after the second World War.  If that statement is true, then our train system is truly a disgrace.  I remember, as a child, that car loads of grain and even livestock were shipped to distant markets by train.  When was the last time you saw a train carrying anything  like that?  Trains today are filled with cargo containers and tankers, car loads of new cars and trucks, and rarely even carry lumber.  Train transit for goods is only available to the truly large industries, not a small factory that needs to ship a few tons of goods per week.

So that’s my solution.  Provide transportation for businesses big and small, by moving passengers and small cargo on passenger trains.  Put a few passenger cars on some of the freight trains.  No dining cars?  Sell sack lunches at the train stations or better yet, let local businesses sell them at the train station for more variety and local flavor.  Put up space in train stations for local craftsmen and women to sell their goods too, while you are at it.  Encourage entrepreneurs instead of penalizing them with a magical, mystical list of requirements to get an overpriced permit.

I hope, out of the spreading Occupy Movement, we start to see some concrete goals, some type of leadership that speaks up and says, hey, we need to do this in a more collective manner.  It isn’t enough to just stand up and scream out of sheer frustration when you are older than three…you need to stand up and make a statement of what you need!

America needs jobs.  America needs hope.  America needs industry.  We don’t need more government agencies telling us how to do everything from raising our food to eating it.  We don’t need them telling us what to wear, where to live, how to dress, and what to think.  We need our freedom back, and we need it now.

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