Paul Campos: Occupy Wall Street: Why Baby Boomers Don't Understand the Protests






Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

 

I am a baby boomer. Like many people my age, I have a high-paying and generally pleasant job, which features excellent benefits and a flexible work schedule. I’m also one of those people who, not long ago, would have dismissed the Occupy Wall Street protesters as just another bunch of spoiled kids, indulging in political street theater, while lacking any serious and constructive agenda. (Those people seem to include almost all of the mainstream media, which until a few days ago limited their coverage of the protesters to mocking their clothes and music. Predictably, time has transformed many boomers into their own parents.)

I am, in other words, part of what could be called the Clueless Generation. The Clueless Generation is made up of middle-aged, professionally successful people, who grew up in a nation that featured a mostly thriving economy, low-cost higher education, and some minimal commitment to economic justice. As a consequence, we graduated from school with little or no debt, got good jobs that featured real possibilities for advancement, and have on the whole ended up doing very well for ourselves.

A lot of us have also become insufferably smug and complacent. Over the past year I was lucky enough to be jolted out of my own smugness and complacency by a series of painful encounters with recent law school graduates. I began to investigate the question of how many law graduates were getting jobs as lawyers, and discovered that a shocking percentage—more than half—were not....



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