Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The new generation of choice

Pepsi said it was the choice of a new generation. That's my generation. Personally, I chose Coke, but that's neither nere nor there. They were right about one thing. It was a new generation and choice was a key word there. We have been given more choices than any other generation - in all areas of life, including the choice to take no responsibility, have no accountability, shift the onus or pass the buck. Maybe I was just lucky in how I was raised, but I don't do that. Not to day I've never done that, but when I did I was young. I didn't know better. I was an adolescent. If you want to compare my mistakes as a teenager to those of adults, go for it, but it doesn't help your case.

Maybe it is not  ALL our fault. We are, after all, products of the Baby Boomer generation. They had more to give and subsequently we got spoiled in a way no generation prior to us ever had. But surely, we can't place all the blame above us. I had too much. I won't lie. I was spoiled at every turn. When I was younger I took that for granted and didn't appreciate it, but how many 14 year olds do? The sense of entitlement plaguing my generation is what gives the rest of them this "right," in their own minds to deserve everything, sometimes without working for it or putting anything in.

I saw a sign held up by someone that spoke of the debt generation. He was $80,000 in debt and said now he'll never be able to pay it off. He chose to take that money. It didn't arrive in his bank account unexpectedly. This is not the first five minutes of the movie "Eagle Eye." I don't know his choice of major for school or if he even finished his degree, but if it's in something that ends in B.A. the chances are that he will have a harder time paying that off. It's not that I have no respect for the arts, but it's fact that unless you catch a big break, they are generally (overall, averaged) not as lucrative.

You know what is? Being a doctor. These are the people that don't have choices in their tough times ahead. One of my best friends is just about tying up his 16 year process of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He's not wiping snotty noses. He builds and fixes bones. He is fortunate in that he's a huge nerd and has had scholarships for most of his time spend in academia so his loans are minuscule compared to some others. Regardless, he should have been living high on the hog within a couple of years and taking his best friend on vacation, right? Instead, let's take a magic carpet ride through the mentalities and choices that leave him worried about finances with a wife and child - as an ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON.

The liberal, commie, pinko, hippies want everyone to feel better and be ok. Everyone deserves a fair shot and equal treatment (wrong. Jim busted his ass for 16 years to have more. Not everyone is equal). So we give away healthcare to people that are breaking the law by sneaking in - that costs money. The cost is going up to doctors, more and more people don't have the money to pay it, they lean on insurance companies who can't keep up. They are paying less to doctors and the docs have to eat the rest. Of course, the hospital wants their cut. The average Joe gets all he or she needs, the insurance company gets to pay less since they have no damn premiums coming in with everyone shaking them down for free healthcare and the highly trained, brilliant, educated doctor is left holding Herman. Let's not even talk about the price of malpractice insurance that doctors have to carry because people sue every time they see the doctor for a cold and sneeze once afterwards (must be the doctors fault for not curing them, SUE SUE SUE).

You chose to get that degree in philosophy. You chose to go for psychology which can make tons of money, but stop after a Bachelors degree. The Ph.D. at the end of the name of every psychologist means you need to stay in school to make money on it. You chose a career path with no ROI. You spent and overspent by going to a school you couldn't afford. Why should the government pay your way out of your debt? If you commit a crime, should the community do your time?

Let's also keep in mind that functioning, productive members of society take drug tests to get and keep a job. Welfare recipients don't have to. I have held a security clearance for almost a decade and have never been in a lick of trouble, yet I have to prove myself several times a year to the government that has approved and vetted me in every other way. These people can show up, grab a check for doing absolutely nothing and have no accountability for their actions in between.

I support small businesses. I'm going to make one. We will sell candles that smell like dog shit. When it doesn't do well, I want the general public to rally around me and pay my debts, even though everyone told me it was a disgusting idea and would never work. Fair?

I want to take a job that doesn't pay as much as bankers, complain how much the bankers are making, threaten to block them so they can't get to work, shit in a privately owned park, create the need for extra police, strike their vehicle and complain when I get my ass beat, file for an injunction when the city has me removed from someone else's private property and at no point try to find a solution. At a minimum, were they ever going to outline their requests and fight appropriately or just run around and bitch. Did anyone have a clear plan or organization?

I made bad choices and got thrown out of college. I went to community college and worked my way back up to NYU. I had a great job that I lost. Whose fault? My fault. The economy was bad, but not EVERYONE got fired. I could have done something better to ensure I held my spot. I went from the New York Stock Exchange and New York University to Best Buy and Berkeley College (the little shitty one in Paterson, NJ). But I didn't stop. I took my lumps and moved on. Now I'm in the United States Air Force. I made a choice to get shelter, income, benefits, education and training. Never asked to have it handed to me.

There may not be any honor in flipping burgers, but there's honor in working for yourself if that's what it takes. Make a choice to be a better person. Make a choice to change your world and enlarge your territory. Make a choice to be an active participant in taking the blame as well as the credit when the pendulum of life swings either way.

At the end of the day, your life is your own. Take control of it and make it what you want. Take the credit when it goes well. Take the blame when you fuck up. It is what it is. Nobody else will be there to fix it for you. People will show up every day to help fix it WITH you, but it's your life and ultimately you are responsible. Hate that the bankers make that money. Feel it should be distributed differently? Become one and affect change from the inside. Or just give your millions away. Don't be mad at them. They recognized a piece of the system that would reward them handsomely for their efforts. They're shady and slimy, but that's the business and they're using it to their advantage. Kudos to them for recognizing the opportunity. They're not the ones shitting in the park with no place else to go, no job that'll have them.

Questions to the OWSers:
- When you put Zucotti Park on your resume who will hire you? The big businesses you fought against or the small business you negatively affected by your presence?
- If a small business hires you, will you take the job or do you deserve more than the man/woman with their life savings invested and more sweat equity in it than there are turds in Zucotti Park?
- If a big business hires you, will you take the job because you need the money and risk being a hypocrite or will you stand your ground and be broke, making another choice but blaming the system?
- Will you reprimand your Oakland counterparts for making weapons and helping ruin your "peaceful" demonstration?

Pepsi or Coke - working or broke. The choices are yours and yours alone. Make them, stand by them and work with them to achieve your goals. The world is NOT your oyster boys and girls. It doesn't spit pearls at you. You must make it happen. I wish you luck. I want everyone to be successful. I'd help you all if I could, but first... you must help yourselves.

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