We have become the land of “what’s free?” and the home of the “I will brave the street to see what’s in it for me.”

I have been watching the “Occupy” protests with both bemusement and confusion.   What do they really want?   What do they really think they can accomplish?   The message I am getting is that life is unfair because they can’t get a high paying job; or because other people and the businesses they own have amassed wealth; or because the system, as they wish to define it, doesn’t help them; or because they are part of the 99% (as if that is an accurate number) of people who are downtrodden and oppressed by our capitalist society.

On one hand, I can understand that people without jobs or new graduates with few prospects of jobs would eventually use their free time to complain about their lack of options.   On the other hand, I also recognize, as do many others, that what some of the protesters are really concerned about is the fact that they cannot find the fast track to wealth so they want to both blame the rich and bring them down out of some new fairness doctrine that “if I can’t be rich than no one else should be allowed to be rich.”

Such self-serving arguments always sound better if you can present them under the guise that it is unfair.   It has now become unfair that the protesters have to struggle and work their way to success or have to pay their dues to get into the so called 1% club.  To them, it appears that all those who have achieved financial success did so by some devious trickery or by somehow exploiting the protesters.   How else could the protesters try to explain why they have not achieved the same level of success?  It could not possibly be as a result of anything they did, so it must surely be as a result of the inherent unfairness of capitalism.

Where have we heard this refrain before?  The proletariat, I mean protesters have taken a page from other failed movements that have been foisted on society for centuries by many other self proclaimed spokes-people for the masses.  Every attempt to force a redistribution of wealth without earning it has always failed.   If everyone benefitted equally regardless of their effort and contribution, those who work hard and create wealth will have no reason to do so and those who never work hard will have all the more reason to underperform.

So, I have to ask myself, is this a movement with genuine concerns or is it a national tantrum by people with too much time on their hands and too little confidence that they can make it in today’s admittedly difficult world?   Most of us learned, as children, that we could not get what we wanted by stamping our feet and making a scene.   Sometimes, it takes a little more than just complaining to get what you want.

Annemarie will post her views on this subject this Wednesday.