Occupy Wall Street — What is Next?

John J. Hohn and dog Jessie

Here is a story that makes a point about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

A friend returned from a visit with his son who is married and has two sons, ages 2 and 4. One night, he reported, the mother called both children for the evening meal. The two year old responded but the four year old, who was playing in a room set aside for his toys at the end of a lighted hallway, did not. Mother called again, but again he did not respond. Grandmother, expecting the older child to heed is mother’s call, reached into the room where he was playing and turned out the light. The room didn’t fall into darkness. Generous light spilled into it through the open doorway to the hallway.

The boy began to cry as soon as the light was switched off. Both father and mother rushed to his aid, comforted him, assured him everything was OK, and that Grandma didn’t mean to scare him. Teary eyed, the youngster finally took his place at the table, glaring resentment at Grandmother.

“Couldn’t he reached the light switch,” my friend inquired of the parents.

“Yes. He’s tall enough,” the mother promptly responded in a tone that seemed to suggest that Grandmother owed sonny an apology.

Countless articles have been written about what kind of special treatment young people expect from employers as they enter their careers. Everybody is special for some reason. Everybody wins. They are the children of boomers. Their parents were the children of the generation that fought World War II and survived as children in the decade of economic depression in the 1930’s. They gave their kids all the things that they did not get, and their kids want to improve on the legacy. But something got lost along the way.

I am a fiscal conservative, pay-as-you-go social liberal. I believe in a balanced budget, strong defense of our country’s borders, fair tax programs, social programs that enable personal achievement, support for education and the arts, judicious regulation of business and industry, and the constitution including all of its amendments.

I lost my first teaching job because I protested against the Viet Nam war and did nothing to discourage my high school students from ready ­Catcher in the Rye. I was married the last three years in college. My wife and I lived in a small trailer home that was parked behind a Mobil Oil filling station on Division Street in St. Cloud, Minnesota where I commuted each day to St. John’s University some 15 miles west of town. We had three children when I graduated.

John J. Hohn, wife Elaine and Sons, 1959

Yeah, I know, it sounds like another old fart talking about how tough life was when he was young—walking three miles to school every day, up hill both ways. I consider my four years earning my degree an achievement in ways others never consider. Even today, as I sit in front of my 54 inch flat screen watching the antics of college kids at sporting events, I realize what I missed and I wonder with a tinge of regret what my life might have been like had I just been another crazy kid who could go out for a beer after the game and still pass his English exam on Monday.

I was thrilled when I first heard about Occupy Wall Street. Yes! Show the bastards who profit from war, slack oversight, and taxation that favors the wealthiest among us. I know that Occupy Wall Street is not made up of just college age students. I am glad that all ages are represented because it strengthens the movement. Like the middle-aged and seniors who are protesting, I have experienced being out of work with bills to pay. I have been broke financially. (St. Paul’s letter anyone). Let the turkeys know there is a 99%. But, folks, it is either time to come to dinner or get up and turn on the light!

Beyond demonstrating that most of America is being radicalized against the established order, OWS is not putting forth an agenda that will galvanize the voters to act, elect representatives who will replace the liars, frauds and slackers in Washington, and enact legislation that addresses the many inequities and failures in our current economic and legal systems. Yeah, OWS may show the politicians the general issues that future campaigns need to consider to be successful but that is the most that has been achieved to date.

“I don’t have a job!” is not the stuff of a successful political change. Sorry, I wish it were. But it is the antithesis of JFK’s “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Study. Articulate the reforms. Find the candidates. Run the bums out of office. Campaign. If you back Obama, let him know. I you don’t think he is strong enough, find someone else. How about Susan Warren? My God, if an airhead like Sara Pallin can run for Vice President, anything is possible.

Mommy and Daddy are not in the kitchen, powerful and caring, to come to our rescue and rectify all that is wrong in our world. It is just possible that the skills young people developed in solving problems as they were growing up will not work in a big bad grown up world. If they could, I would not be happier.