"Get a job"



Source: U.S. Bureau or Labor Statistics

Many compare Occupy protestors to protestors from the 1960s, which allows for well-rehearsed arguments to run their course, over and over again. Here's a conservative example, from Newt Gingrich, as quoted by Reuters:

They take over a public park they didn’t pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn’t pay for, to beg for food from places they they don’t want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and to sustain the park so that they can self-righteously explain that they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything

“Go get a job,” he said. “Right after you take a bath.”

To see why "Get a Job" is so mean-spirited, one only has to compare the unemployment rate in the late 1960s (3-4 percent) to 2011's (9-10 percent, and much higher for the young).

It was a demand made by a society that saw itself as prosperous, directed by authority at rebels who, in their view, had never had it so good--and who could have even more, if only they got with the program and worked for it. It at least made sense, according to some view of what society's goals should be.

In the bolded line, however, Newt's formulation does more than transpose 1968's unemployment rate. He also echoes that era's ridicule of youngsters who claim to make virtuous choices in rejecting an age of plenty's norms and values. And this is where the anachronism of hippie-occupy comparisons really kicks in.

Earth to Newt: the Occupy movement is not about those things, because 2011 is not an age of plenty. There is little prosperity sloshing around, and no virtue to gain by condemning those of their generation who accept it. They want a cut, and they want to work. The kids are not dropping out. They have been excluded.

That's what makes "Get a Job" not only clueless, but cruel, when issued to students who have little hope of getting work. They indebted themselves to follow the gameplan for prosperity that Newt Gingrich's generation gave them, and that generation just screwed them.

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