Commentary by James Shott
provides lessons for us in unusual ways. Occasionally, it is someone
totally missing something obvious that provides the lesson. Here is a
very good example of that.
A photograph posted on Facebook shows a
woman holding up a sign. The sign says: “I have a Master of Arts degree
in Women’s Studies. However, the only job I can find is as a bartender
at a local restaurant. I owe over 60k in student loans. I am forced to
rely on food stamps and WIC to support my son. Is this the ‘American
Dream’ I worked so hard for? I am the 99 percent occupywallstreet.org.”
lesson is there for all to see, but the woman – let’s call her “Ms.
OWS,” – not only didn’t learn from her experience, she didn’t even
suspect there was a lesson there. That experience was only an
opportunity to complain that America hasn’t provided a better life for
The lesson that unless you are independently wealthy or have
someone to support you while you go to school, you don’t borrow 60 grand
to pursue a degree in a subject area that will not equip you to support
yourself and your child and pay for the education that you have just
received totally escaped her notice.
Like the make-believe class
college kids used to joke about, “Underwater Basket Weaving,” Women’s
Studies, is not a viable career field. To prepare for supporting
yourself you study accounting, engineering, computer technology, law,
medicine, chemistry, elementary or secondary education, or one of the
other majors where jobs are available. But Ms. OWS, probably without a
gun to her head, instead chose Women’s Studies.
The Occupy Wall Street movement with which Ms. OWS so closely identifies, includes some pie-in-the-sky idealism, like:
• The right to economic justice, including a living wage for all,
regardless of the job, or the level of skills or experience one has
• Debt forgiveness for all debts
• Free college education
• Open borders
goals are not merely unrealistic; they are dangerous. None would be
good either for the country or for its inhabitants. Someone has to pay
for the higher wages, the free college education, and the debt
forgiveness, and that won’t be the people who think about life like Ms.
OWS does; it will be the people who approach adulthood responsibly, and
prepare to take care of themselves.
Movements like Occupy Wall
Street seem to attract those disaffected souls who, for whatever reason,
have not learned what life is about, expect to be provided for, and
become indignant when life does not provide to them the rewards to which
they believe they are entitled, due to nothing more significant that
they were not aborted and draw breath.
Like Ms. OWS, they float
through life indulging in the things they like, neglecting to seek out
things that will prepare them for life as a responsible citizen, and
then contributing to society and the wellbeing of our country.
it’s not entirely their fault. We have a segment of our society that
imagines it is possible to achieve Utopia, and a large group of
pandering vote-seekers all too willing to promise it to them, and who
provide a few goodies at taxpayer expense in return for votes and a
cushy career in government.
And then there’s government, itself,
at all levels. Even in cases where young people show some initiative,
and take steps to help themselves, they are often thwarted by
bureaucratic absurdity, as in these examples reported by The Daily
** Chloe Stirling started a business in her kitchen
called “Hey, Cupcake!” In addition to selling her goods to friends and
neighbors, she donated some to charitable events, including a fundraiser
for a student with cancer, and delivered cupcakes to residents in a
senior home. Not good enough! Illinois health officials declared that
she lacked the necessary permit to operate and told her to close up
** A zoning official in Holland, Mich. shut down a
13-year-old’s hotdog stand because he was supposedly competing with
nearby restaurants. Nathan Duszynski had planned to sell hotdogs to
raise money for his disabled parents. The boy’s mom has epilepsy and his
dad has multiple sclerosis. Within minutes of opening his stand, a
zoning official ordered him to cease operating because he lacked a
Is this a great country, or what? On
the one hand there’s a substantial number of people who think they are
entitled to whatever they think they are entitled to, and lack the
motivation to get off their duffs and earn their rewards, and on the
other hand people in government stupidly apply rules to punish young
people who take the initiative to earn something through work.
then there was a pleasant breeze of tolerance and common sense wafting
its way north from Dunedin, Fla. where 12-year-old T.J. Guerrero
operates a lemonade stand to raise money for summer activities with his
friends and family. After one neighbor complained to the city, Mayor
Dave Eggers visited the stand, enjoyed some lemonade, and praised the
Perhaps all is not lost. But we must be vigilant.
Cross-posted from Observations