As a strong believer in the First Amendment, I feel that people should have the right to express their opinions and be able to protest. That being said, I cannot personally get behind the movement that is spreading across the country called Occupy Wall Street. What started out in New York city as a protest with good intentions has actually ended up putting a drain on cities economies and resources.
Originally the participants of the protest were speaking out against social and economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of cooperate money on lobbyist in Washington. Some of the demands of the group are increasing taxes on the wealthy as well as corporations, support for trade unionism and protecting Medicare and Social Security systems in their tradition form. While these seem like good ideas to stand for, the protest is unfocused, without a leader and lacks a cohesive agenda.
Currently protesters in New York are camped out at a private park known as Zuccotti Park, which the protesters have renamed “Liberty park. The park was built for general public use. The park is typically cleaned on a nightly basis, put due to the protesters campsite has not been cleaned for 4 weeks. Protesters were asked to move themselves from the area for one night so the park could be cleaned, but are refusing to do so. This is going to effect conditions in the park as well as sanitation concerns for local business owners and park users.
The protesters are also disturbing those who are trying to go to work on Wall Street, commuters and tourists. Those who live and work in the Financial District have to fight through picketing signs in order to go to their job or their home. Those who are not working and are protesting should not be in the way of other Americans who are trying to earn a living. There are plenty of people who live and work in the Financial District of New York City who share the protesters same concerns; they may have student loans, credit card debt, and may be under insured health wise or may have to pay a large monthly sum for their health benefits. Personally, I believe that no matter what someones job tittle is, salary is or what kind of car they drive does not mean you know what their financial status is. There are people who hold jobs as investment bankers, lawyers, doctors that are not wealthy. They are working hard each day to better their financial situation and still people that diligence and perseverance will pay off later on down the road.
The Occupy Wall Street movement not only lacks focus, it is costly cities millions in overtime costs for police officers and hurts tourism. The New York Police Department has already spent $1.9 million dollars, primarily in overtime pay to patrol and control the area where the protesters are demonstrating. The overtime pay for the cops is putting a drain on New York cities economy, which is resulting in budget cuts in other areas. These budget cuts in other public agencies of the city could have wide spread effects. It could lead to a cancellation of a new class of police officers entering the academy this winter. If Occupy Wall Street talks of creating jobs, well they just eliminated a few hundred jobs. If the protest continue on, costs will continue to rise. It would be better for the economy as a whole if the $1.9 million dollars in overtime costs went to the New York City public schoolsystems, and helped to educate the youth. Occupy Wall Street protesters are not considering the long term fiscal effects of this movement.
Tourism is a large part of the economy of most cities and the movements across the country are hurting tourism everywhere. In New York, tourists come to see the bull statue that is on Wall Street and with the protests going on, no one is going to want to venture into that area to take pictures or spend money at restaurants. Given the current economic climate, people should want tourists to flock to their cities to boost the local economy and should not be deterred by tented shanty towns that are covering popular monuments in cities across the country.
It seems as though many participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests really have no clue what is going on with the economy. They are uninformed spokesmen who are not lending additional creditability to the movement. There are people hanging out in the protest areas who are using drugs, hooking up with other protesters and treating the movement as a huge party. According to the New York Post, some parents have taken their children to the protests and they are living next to drug users. At sites across the country, there are those protesters who have bragged about living on the sites because of free food, cheap drugs and the ability to hide from law enforcement. One man boasted that he has been getting wasted for days and is avoiding arrest warrants. If this movement is to be taken seriously, clear leadership needs to emerge and clean up the current situation. The leaders should comply with requests by cities to allow them to clean up the areas and then return. They should comply with requests to not have shanty towns over cities monuments. If the movement was more organized and focused more Americans would be on board with it and it could gain real ground and possibly even spark change.
As someone who does have enormous student loans, who is under employed for their education and whose health insurance is about to run out, I do agree there needs to be change within the American economy. I also still believe that my investment in education will pay off in the long term. This may not look good fiscally now, but I still believe in capitalism, the spirit of entrepreneurship and that with policy and legislative changes America will turn the economy around. There are people within the Occupy Wall Street movement, who actually do understand the economic situation and have good ideas to help fix the economy. Those are the people that need to be at the face of the movement and show a united, focused goal of the protests.
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