Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Generation Gimme

I've watched for months in astonishment as the Occupy Wall Street movement has swept the country, demanding that the voices of the 99% of non-rich people be heard, and that we're being oppressed by that elite 1%. I don't like to argue politics, but I heard a news story this morning that I wanted to share.

An economics professor, Jack Chambless, from Valencia College asked his students to write a 10 minute essay on what the American dream meant to them. Eighty percent of students that their American dream included:
  • Free tuition and health care
  • Guaranteed jobs
  • Money for a house
  • Money for Retirement
  • Money for me (by taxing the rich)
Many of the students talked about how they expected the government to provide them with an education, health care, a guaranteed job, money for a down payment on a house, and other perks, truly labeling themselves Generation Gimme. Many of the students echoed OWS by suggested taxing rich to get money for their American Dream.

John Locke and Adam Smith have said that while we have a God given right to life, liberty or property, the government doesn't have a requirement to provide those things for us.

As I'm studying Property law for my law school finals next week, I think of Locke’s labor theory: Every person owns himself. Because you own your own labor, when you mix that labor with something unowned by anyone, you own the resulting mixture. Another philosopher, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, 1809-1865, is generally known for one phrase, "Property is theft" or "Property is Robbery." That seems to be what OWS is saying, that those who own property and who are rich have stolen that from the masses- their wealth is another's impoverishment.

There are two ways to make money. 1) You can work. 2) You can own stuff. Generally we respect people who own things because they've worked for it. Or their parents have worked for it.

I'm not rich. My parents aren't rich, but I don't begrudge those who have worked hard for many years. The key idea is work.
Prof. Jack Chambless discusses how he uses examples in his economics class to teach the Generation Gimme about "why using the government to plunder people to support our American dream is fundamentally, morally wrong, constitutionally wrong, and leads to a lot of economic [woes]... if we let that idea gain ground."

Economic woes... could that be the staggering number of people who are currently unemployed in the United States. Yes, I know that people don't usually have much to say when their company downsizes or folds completely, and in our economy that's happening almost daily. But spending upwards of 99 weeks on unemployment? I find that outraging.

My financial plan for the future? Keep working hard. Hard work will always pay off in the end.


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3 comments:

Reluctant Grownup said...

I think the point of OWS is not that we should get everything free and not have to work. It is that we are all working harder than ever, and getting less and less. Look at this:

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1

And read my own post on the topic, which I wrote before OWS:

http://www.reluctantgrownupblog.com/2011/08/22/fishing/

I love reading your blog, but I completely disagree with you here. I, as a supporter of OWS, do not think things should be free. But I cannot afford my simple life now, even though I work hard all the time, and made all the "right" choices. Imagine how much safer I'd feel, how much more I could accomplish in this world, if I didn't keep getting cut off at the knees because of unexpected health costs (broke my back! kid has amblyopia and I have no vision coverage! suddenly I have a thyroid problem! I have "great" insurance - ask me how much of these costs my insurance pays). And the specter of a non-pension retirement terrifies me - look at the economic downturn now. Read this story about people who worked at Kodak, saved, did what they were supposed to do, and now all of a sudden their well earned retirement is destroyed by the economic downturn:

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/12/141257737/the-picture-isnt-pretty-for-some-kodak-retirees

Also, having wealth is not synonymous with hard work. There are plenty of lazy wealthy people (Paris Hilton? The Kardashians?) and I have met hundreds of poor people who are working their tails off, and can't get ahead. Here's one final note - an article from the daily kos, with which I largely agree. A response to a 53%er:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/12/1025555/-Open-Letter-to-that-53-Guy

gtyyup said...

Lots of food for thought...and I can see both sides from your and Reluctant Grownup's comment...but...

I'm not in favor of OWS and don't think that trashing our cities and putting undue financial and safety hardships upon the rest of us who didn't participate is the right way to go about making a point.

Personally, I'm tired of working hard to continue paying for people's food and housing for people that eat better than I do!

It truly is a Gimme generation, and I believe the combination of lack of parental responsibility in teaching their children and fast growing technology (yes, technology) is becoming the downfall of America...and add to that the belief that the government needs to supply them with all their needs. I'd say maybe they need to move to a communist country.

I live in a very small community where unemployment is very high...the people who live here who are unemployed moved here because there were excess benefits available to them.

They don't WANT to work!!

My husband has heard it over and over again as the company he works for tries to hire new employees...these people just want to apply to fulfill their requirement to continue receiving unemployment...and food stamps...etc. Most of them can't pass a piss test either...

A genuine understanding that if you work, you survive is the only thing that will save America.

OK...off my soap box ;~)

Cowgirl in the City said...

That you guys so much for your comments! Just these two comments and my blog show how much the United States is torn on the economy, what is causing the current problems, and even more alarming how the heck we're supposed to fix it.

Thanks again for your comments, I really appreciate your thoughts and you taking the time to write such a lengthy comment!

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