Friday, October 14, 2011

Response to an Open Letter

 Mr. Udargo,

I want to first applaud the sentiments and emotions behind your open letter. I think most empathetic human beings will second your desires for fair compensation for work, for the availability of medicine and care for everyone who needs it regardless of their station in life, and for the American Dream to be a reality.

Open dialogue, including letters like yours, are part of what our country and world needs. Even though it feels like we might sometimes have too much media, in truth, there can never be too much communication. Too frequently it appears that we (myself included) talk at each other instead of with.

However, dialogue is not the ends in itself, but rather the means to an end. Americans, and I would guess the modern world as well, are frustrated by many things. If I have been following correctly, the general complaints are: too much time spent working, too little compensation, student loan debt, credit card debt, health insurance, car insurance, rising cost of living, too much money given to people who already have money, not enough money give to people without money, to name a few.

The overarching theme seems to be money in general, right? Yet, it feels like there is a greater undercurrent. The economy is only the surface. Beneath the monetary complaints is a feeling of helplessness. People feel like they aren't being heard.

How does that make sense? We have the internet. We have cell phones and land lines. We still have the post office, as well as television. With so many outlets for our voice, what is causing this general feeling of powerlessness? I would argue it's a lack of results.

We talk and talk, and nothing happens. Our leaders have too many plans to agree on, and we as a people have too few. Some of the OWS protesters are doing useful things such as "teach-ins," which takes a step toward educating people. Hopefully, with education can come informed decisions.

But that is also where the weakness of OWS, at present, lies. The amorphous nature that one side claims are too many problems, too many demands, and the other side points to as lacking in direction or goals, is hindering the protest more than helping it. Sitting down and camping out on Wall Street is a nice publicity stunt, undeniably it is working to raise awareness, but people are aware now, what is the next move?

As you let people call you liberals, even claiming the title for yourself, you help draw lines. Do not make this a war of liberal versus conservatives. That's not 21st century politics. Fighting amongst ourselves only serves the people who know how to capitalize on war.

Full disclosure: I am neither a liberal nor a conservative. Both labels make me wince. I would love a universal healthcare system, and find it absurd when Republicans fight taxes on the wealthy because 71 billion dollars would not eliminate our debt. I also think people on the 99% tmblr site complaining about money but posting from smartphones with data plans (or even simple personal broadband connections) are absurd.

I think we, the American people, deserve more than a publicity stunt. I think we can do more than a stunt. Using the internet like this, for dialogue, not yelling or complaining, is an amazing step in the right direction.

So we've heard the complaints. Here are SOME of the facts (and I encourage more facts): the U.S. Debt is 14.8 trillion, our Tax Revenue is 2.28 trillion, the GDP is 14.1 trillion for 2009, the unemployment rate is 9.1%, and for employed people the average workday is 7-8 hours long in 2010.

The irony is that the 8 hour day is truly mostly only a reality for the median, the middle-class. It is also a very modern invention, not a right (like you mentioned, less than 100 years old in the U.S., barely older than that in Europe). Eight hours usually maintains your economic status, not increases it. If you're born poor and want to rise above it, you will have to work more than someone born into the middle class who wants to stay middle class.

Isn't that the real American Dream though? Eight hour work days are an invention. The Dream is that anyone can, through hard work, rise higher than the situation they were born into. Money is not a privilege of class, but a privilege (again, not a right) of hard work that earns it. I think that's at the heart of the 53% response, not that they don't want to see hard work rewarded, but that they want rewards to be earned.

So what are the solutions? Part of the solution is hard work, but that's only a part of it. I do not have the other part of the solution, and I admit it. I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. I am not sitting in a park raising awareness, but I do not currently have a job. I am looking for a job, expending nearly all of my energy towards that goal, but I also have a fear that the jobs I want are not there.

Will you help me figure out the solution to our problems or will you waste energy fighting me?

- John

1 comment:

  1. good reply, orthogonal to the post, but adding dimension to it.
    the 1 % would love everyone to be like this guy, and anyone without that drive can just go away and die of hopelessness, because THE JOBS AREN'T THERE!

    and this is where it gets sticky, because they could be...
    people don't just want a job, they want to have meaning in their work. to feel part of something bigger and better that we can all pull together and create with our time here, not just create something shallow, ephemeral, that will be part of a landfill sometime soon.
    dignity in work, not just the paycheck! this could be achieved by a massive green energy rollout, but vested interests are more concerned with keeping the status quo, from saudi oil prodicers who artificially keep the price low so we remain addicted to it, and also don't fund alt energy research as much as we would without that subsidy.
    we need a change in attitudes to work, leisure and money, a change so radical it will take a miracle to avoid mass violence to achieve. this clash would be unnecessary were we not being lied to and brainwashed 24/7 by the PTB who want to keep this rigged game going as long as they can, climate change be damned!

    these people are literally selling their own children's and grandchildren's right to clean air, water and a level playing field upon which to dream and then act. it is so totally unfair and light years from the values we purport to adhere to, as we can see plainly in the results, worldwide... yes material growth and improvements are occurring and we can be grateful for that, but our own socieites are being held back from real growth, because the 1% want to keep their assets intact, and indeed profit off the ill luck and health of those less well-placed to find a role in the vulture capitalism model laid in front of them. they are not pundits or demagogues, these occupiers, they know whatever they say will be willfully twisted into a reason not to listen, so wisely, they let their presence to the talking, as that is incontrovertible. they aren't all blessed with persuasive minds and deeply researched arguments, they just know that the game is rigged and they prefer gather and learn from each other than remain atomised, each in their own bubble of fearful despair. they're not into politics, they know from tunisia, egypt and libya that change never comes by staying at home and suffering in silence, and they see no leaders empathising with them, showing them how to contribute to a fairer society for all of us and our descendents. so what else is there to do?
    they're not all budding steve jobses, they just want their share of the pie, which is miserably divided right now.

    we talk about human rights and criticise less developed countries for dispensing with them, yet these peaceful protestors are being treated like common criminals, grandmothers, young people, all punished for exercising their constitutionally protected right to assemble and share free speech, the two cornerstones of a mature and balanced civilisation, and the first thing to go when leaders have dark and secret intentions on how to treat their people.

    just the reaction proves the necessity of these protests needing to continue in the spring, as they will since there will need to be more bailouts/handouts to the vampires soon, as sure as eggs is eggs. that's the only world they know, they worked hard to create such a soulless, ruthless wealth extraction machine and they fully intend to use it to the bitter end, hell or high water.

    reason will never sway them, until they see enough people reject their worldview and drop the predator mentality that enriches only a precious few on the backs of the poor worldwide.

    thanks for writing, it was a pleasure to read your post.
    cheers, m