Pounds: Occupy thisWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there room in the Occupy Wall Street movement for a business middle ground? Does the anger and outright hatred expressed for “big corporations” diminish in proportion to the size of the business?
The people who are protesting and disrupting are expressing the frustrations and fears of those who see the tremendous challenges and demands of life in a capitalist society. I empathize with their concerns, but I also have to question how much of their reaction is a legitimate sense of what they believe is unfair and how much of their reaction is an aversion to the realization that for most people, success is the result of many years’ worth of hard work.
I have seen scores of news clips with Occupy protestors from across the country angrily denouncing “the rich,” their young faces warped with seeming hatred for those who are presumed to travel in private jets while they plot to crush the poor and keep younger generations from accessing the pie.
I do not travel by private jet and I am not in the storied 1 percent. What thoughts do the Occupy protestors give to the tens of thousands of small business owners like myself who have struggled and worked and clawed to find a modicum of success?
I wonder how the Occupy protestors would like the life of a small business owner — the personnel headaches, the financial worries, the effort to balance limited resources with the quest for quality service. If these young people believe every business person in a dry-cleaned suit spends his or her days with their feet up on their desk, enjoying three-hour lunches and altering lives with a thumbs up or thumbs down, they are sadly misguided and mistaken. Are the protestors going to be the people who put in the hard hours for hard years to enjoy modest comfort or are they going to be the ones who look back on their lives and blame others for where they are?
Of course the playing field isn’t equal. Some people are born into money and influence and never have to do more than maintain a minimum effort. But the vast majority of us start on the same crowded “go” square, and where we land is in direct correlation to how hard we work.
I admire the Occupy protestors for taking a stand, but as Thanksgiving provides a context for the people and things in our lives worth treasuring, I wonder if they truly understand that their alienation and exclusion is as much self-inflicted as it is the result of any conspiracy.
If the protestors really want to effect change, they will have to understand that the movement starts with individual responsibility and commitment to hard work, not an expectation of entitlement.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.