Thursday, November 17, 2011

Opinion Thursday*

*In an attempt to inspire myself, I thought I would write about my opinions on current events on a weekly goes!

Dismantling of Occupy Wall Street
I have to admit, I was unaware of the Occupy movement until maybe about a month ago. I the rush up to the wedding, I didn't really pay much attention to the news. I returned from my honeymoon to the growing media coverage of the Occupy movement and I was curious. The media portrayal of the movement has not always been positive, so I sought some answers from the Occupy movement themselves. There is an Occupy site here in Philly, and I've inadvertently been a part of their demonstrations (I'm everywhere, people). I've also read a bit of their tumblr site and the Occupy site. I must admit, I do support the Occupy movement. I've struggled a lot financially, and I think that my generation and the generations to come after us are going to have a harder time that my parents' generation ever did. By the time my parents were my age, they had both owned homes individually, and had bought the house I grew up in. Granted, I chose a different path, but Alex and I are nowhere near close enough to buying a home. In fact, we still owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. I understand that it was my choice to attend school and to take out student loans. I am not saying that I don't want to pay my loans myself, I am just saying that my generation is in so much debt (as compared to income) I cannot imagine us collectively pulling ourselves out of it. I also see the job market failing, the absence of jobs (for all ages) in smaller towns and cities, and the shipping of jobs overseas. I see health insurance and benefits being slashed (in a really short period of time, too). I also see an enormous lack of health care in all walks of life, even people with jobs. Granted, Alex and I are the intellectually elite, so we should have no problems finding the jobs we want at the institutions we want to work for. But I see other people struggle immensely. Most of my friends do not own homes. My friends that do own homes either live someplace really cheap to live or had some help buying their home, either from family or from buying at the right time. I don't think that Alex and I live extravagantly, yet we struggle paycheck to paycheck. The bills we have are rent, electric, gas, internet and cell phone service. We don't belong to the gym, we don't have a car. I can't remember the last time I went shopping for new clothes. The wedding hit us pretty hard, and we are struggling with credit card debt as well. We've been cooking at home more often, making large meals we can eat for a few days. I'm not complaining, these things are our reality. I see people way worse off than us, without health insurance, struggling to live. Unable to move up or down, left or right. I think the Occupy movement has brought all this to the forefront. I think people are talking about it more. I think we have a lot more awareness that policies that bail out big business hurt our own people. I think the regular person needs some bailing out, every once in a while. If not monetarily, then with some policies that help people get affordable healthcare, housing, or some necessities, like food or gas. I think we need some policies in place that protect the regular citizen, as opposed to protecting Wall St and big companies. I also think that the richer 1% should pay more taxes.
I can honestly say that I was really, really disappointed with the reaction to the Occupy movements. I mean, these are movements occurring not just in the US, but all over the world. This is a movement that encourages non-violent protest as a form of civil disobedience. I agree with that. I also believe wholeheartedly in the First Amendment to the Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
We have the right to assemble, and the right to protest. This idea alone is what bothers me the most. Even if this was a protest I did not agree with, I understand their right to carry it out. Peaceable assembly should not require permits. Assembly in a public space (I don't care that it's privately owned - it's a public space for all to enjoy). It concerns me that cops and mayors can make decisions to stifle this essential right. It concerns me. It concerns me a lot. And I don't think it's right.

Penn State Debacle
This will be shorter, I promise. I work with and know a lot of people who attended Penn State. It's a good school, with a good academic reputation. The football team and the coaches really concern me. The fact that a child would be raped on campus, in front of someone and the cops weren't called? That's a red flag. The fact that this behavior was ignored is so disturbing to me. Why weren't the authorities called? Why did the person who saw the act go home and make an appointment with Joe Pa for the next morning? What? These things are not OK, and it suggest a culture of insulation, a culture of, "protect football at any and all costs". Well, it cost you, all right. And you deserve it, Joe Paterno and everyone else involved. You deserve to lose your job. I don't think the football season should be cancelled, but I do believe that people need to remember that this is a sport. And that the kids at Penn State are rioting over the loss of a game, a sport. Think about it. It just aint' right.

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