Students on #OWS Protests

We were discussing Spain’s Indignados movement today and, of course, I simply couldn’t resist asking my students what they thought about the #Occupy protests.

Here are their responses:

“What’s #Occupy Wall Street?”

“Never heard of it.”

“I’m opposed because they are all corrupt.”

“I’m in favor because they want to stop the corruption in the government.”

“I’m in favor because they want to stick it to the big corporations.”

“I’m opposed because they keep whining how they are in debt. And if they took out all those credit cards to buy stuff, that’s their own fault.”

“They are OK, I guess.”

“Oh, that’s all just silly. I have no patience for those people.”

“I don’t care. I have more important things to think about.”

“Boooorrrrring!!”

The other 55 students valiantly resisted my efforts to elicit their opinions on the subject. Many smiled enigmatically. I believe they didn’t want to share what they think because I made it impossible for them to guess what I thought of the #OWS.

And that’s a shame because I don’t grade on political opinions.

29 thoughts on “Students on #OWS Protests”

    1. Translation of what Ben Stein is saying: “I’m old, I’m old, I’m a hopeless ancient old fart and I hate young people for being young and not being hopeless old farts. How dare they not be beaten down and pathetic and old like I am?”

      Thank you for the enlightening video, NG!

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      1. Ben Stein is still around? I thought he fell forever from the public eye when he lost his fortune due to paying all those fines for multiple violations of Godwin’s Law in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

        Back on topic: One of my professors mentions Wall Street combines a lot, in relation to the (surprisingly pivotal) role they played in the Russo-Japanese war. That of course led to the discussion of OWS, and in the context of this particular class, a lot more people were in favour of the ideology behind it, but we had a spirited debate about whether it would last nor not as a protest and a mini-culture when it was so closely tied-in to the idea of location, which would invariably fold in when the police and winter moved in.

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      2. Completely disagree. Stein hit it right on the head – the ‘occupy’ protestors were nothing more than spoiled kids afraid of getting a job. That’s why they’ll drift into oblivion, and be nothing more than an amusing footnote on the ‘decade in review’ come 2020.

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        1. Have you heard what the unemployment rates are among this age group? When the unemployment was low, nobody protested. When it skyrocketed, people whose age group is the most hit by unemployment are protesting. That is hardly a coincidence.

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      3. The unemployment rate among youth has always been high. When I was young, it hovered between 18-25% by official stats. Guess what – I didn’t stand on street corners or camp in parks and complain about people being richer than me. I DID something about it. Many things. I never expected the world to fix my problems. Those around me that remained unemployed were always frustrated they couldn’t find the job they WANTED. I took the jobs I could get. And eventually, worked my way into a job I wanted. I didn’t sit on my thumbs, waiting for Big Brother to come hand me what I thought I deserved. That’s the attitude I see from this children – they’re waiting for the world to hand them what they believe they deserve.

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  1. I’m saying that high youth unemployment is nothing new – any economic shock always affects the young, inexperienced workforce the hardest – and even in good economic times, their rates of unemployment hold up the average. The current media attention is akin to the ‘Summer of the Shark” type reporting – taking something which is and always has been, and presenting it as a new or shocking development. Not to say that youth unemployment isn’t a problem that should be addressed – but the ‘woe is me, life is unfair’ type rhetoric emanating from protestors is tiring, and I don’t have sympathy for them. My sympathy, and assistance, will go to those who are doing something to improve their situation.

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    1. “the ‘woe is me, life is unfair’ type rhetoric emanating from protestors is tiring”

      – I agree with this part. I do see many of their slogans as whiny. And it seems like my students who work 2-3 part time jobs or one full-time job while going to school are annoyed with the protests for the same reason.

      However, we cannot deny that the economy of this country is in a precarious state and something needs to be done to change things.

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      1. Absolutely. There is a huge mismatch of expectations, skill sets, needs and opportunity. One of the reasons we closed one of our production facilities was a labour shortage – despite an unemployment rate in the region of 15%. I’m sure that’s not an isolated issue.

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        1. “One of the reasons we closed one of our production facilities was a labour shortage – despite an unemployment rate in the region of 15%”

          -Really?? That must have happened in Canada, right? It’s true that in Canada you often see even young people reject employment opportunities because the unemployment benefits are high and who needs the hassle? My sister encounters such people often in her job as a recruiter.

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      2. It’s about reversing the policies of the last 40 or so years which have created the crisis, and also changing the tenor of public discourse / what has become conventional (non) wisdom. I don’t see the woe is me I am unemployed in it –
        my understanding of the individual narratives is that they
        are illustrations of how / why things really work and don’t.
        It’s also consciousness raising.

        I am sort of allergic to calling analysis and discussion
        complaining – my students say Arundhati Roy is “just
        complaining” -.

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        1. The problem is that every individual narrative of woe can be countered by an individual tale of success. And then all we get is the “I managed to achieve things, so why can’t you?” discourse. I don’t think that is productive.

          Objectively, the bank deregulation was a tragic mistake. I say, let’s reverse it irrespective of how anybody’s individual story turned out.

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  2. Yes – Canada. But the issue was really a mismatch in skill set and labour available. The people qualified to do the work (well) were out west working in the Oil patch. Those that were left (on employment insurance) were generally the unemployable (drug addicts) or didn’t have the experience necessary to do the work – and the learning curve would be too steep to take some 18-25 yr old who’s never had a job and expect them to learn a complex, intricate production process. The specs were just too tight to take a flier on unqualified people. The smart move was to close the plant and move operations to a different region.

    For that matter – I shouldn’t even put an age on it – the process was sufficiently complex enough, that the experience required was fairly specific – thus the idiosyncrasy of a labour shortage in a region with high unemployment.

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    1. Sounds like a tragedy of the commons type situation. “Tragedy of the commons” is a theoretical construct that market fundie types like to hit us idealist types over the head with, as with almost the precision of a mathematical proof it demonstrates that there categorically is no such thing as a free lunch. Every employer only hires experienced candidates. Education doesn’t count as experience (or are you one of the 1% of employers where it does?) so in effect they want people trained by their competitors.

      The ‘unemployable=drug addicts’ talking point is insulting and is indicative of an attitude problem; a common problem in the employing class. They whine and piss and moan that help is unavailable when what they mean is that the help they want is unavailable. If they would suck it up and cut the bellyaching long enough to take a chance on some 18-25 year old (who is probably very motivated; having the need to prove themself and all) they will eventually have the employee they want. For those that don’t I have no sympathy.

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    2. Sounds like a tragedy of the commons type situation. “Tragedy of the commons” is a theoretical construct that market fundie types like to hit us idealist types over the head with, as with almost the precision of a mathematical proof it demonstrates that there categorically is no such thing as a free lunch. Every employer only hires experienced candidates. Education doesn’t count as experience (or are you one of the 1% of employers where it does?) so in effect they want people trained by their competitors.

      The ‘unemployable=drug addicts’ talking point is insulting and is indicative of an attitude problem; a common problem in the employing class. They whine and piss and moan that help is unavailable when what they mean is that the help they want is unavailable. If they would suck it up and cut the bellyaching long enough to take a chance on some 18-25 year old (who is probably very motivated; having the need to prove themself and all) they will eventually have the employee they want. For those that don’t I have no sympathy.

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  3. Occupy Wall Street isn’t going to accomplish a damn thing,We need to riot like LA,-Smash some windows,Burn a building,Trash the streets,-That should get the message out that we aren’t going to be fucked with anymore Huh?

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    1. Yes, because LA riots REALLY improved quality of life in South Central. Solved all of the problems right there.

      And the London riots this summer stopped austerity measures right in their tracks.

      Oh, wait. . .

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      1. You think the government will be less corrupt if it is forced to move into a different building?

        No, I’m not seeing that. All this will do is give the authorities the excuse to jail the protesters and dismiss them as psychos.

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