Daniel Boone once stated "I've never been lost but I was a mite bewildered for about three days one time." Bewildered. Now there's a word you don't hear every day. It means "to confuse or befuddle, especially with conflicting situations ... "Well I am here to tell you -- I'm with old Dan'l. I have been a mite bewildered myself for the past few days. The source of my bewilderment is the gang of (mostly) young people who have gathered in New York and beyond over the past few weeks in a movement they call "Occupy Wall Street." The movement has spread across the country and is said to be catching on across the pond.
A few protestors have even shown up at the UGA Arch in Athens and in fancy pup-tents in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. What befuddles me are the inane ideas of those gathered in protest and the fact that the president and vice president of the United States seemingly find these demands rooted in credibility.
I found myself in Athens last Friday and decided to make my way down to the Arch and see what I could find out from the 25 or so kids gathered there. They were a pretty amiable group. A few had hand-painted signs claiming that the rich don't pay their fair share. I wonder where they heard that. Most looked like they were simply there for sport and a couple looked like they didn't know quite where they were -- which is probably fairly typical of most protests.
I approached one young man, who was busy texting on his iPhone --I wonder if he knows how much money Steve Jobs and his cohorts earned from the iPhone -- and asked him why he was standing around on North Campus on such a fine fall day. His answer was a shrug of his shoulders. Now you would think that someone astute enough to take part in a worldwide protest would be astute enough to verbalize his reasons for doing so. Not our guy. His only answer was a shrug.
That was OK, though, because I was more than willing to carry the conversation. "Are you skipping class to be out here?" I asked him. That was the daddy in me coming out, since two of my own children are still students at the University of Georgia and I wouldn't want them skipping class to protest anything -- except maybe the firing of a football coach.
"I'm not in school," the young man assured me.
"Why not?" I asked, because he was obviously of college age and obviously dissatisfied with his lot in life. What better way to improve one's lot than to seek an education. I didn't particularly enjoy overhauling twister frames in the Porterdale Mill, so I went to school and learned how to do something more to my liking. What a novel idea!
I got another shrug as a response.
"Well, friend," I continued, "what is it that you and your friends want to accomplish with your protest?"
"They need to make more jobs," he informed me.
"Who is they?" I asked.
At this point the first guy was joined by a friend. "Yeah," he chipped in. "The government needs to make more jobs and there needs to be a higher minimum wage. The minimum wage needs to be $20 an hour."
"Do you go to school?" I asked him.
He said he didn't. When I asked him why, he shrugged. But he wanted the government to create a $20-an-hour job for him.
Before leaving the scene of the protest I found out that the group wanted all student loans "forgiven" and, in fact, that they would like for all debt to be wiped out -- school loans, car loans, mortgages -- all of it. We should just start from scratch.
I also learned that Wall Street and the banking industry were all just thieves and that the rich had inherited their money -- or been given all of it by the government -- and now it is time for the government to take the money away from the rich and give it to the people who don't have as much.
None of these are my words, y'all. These are the words of the geniuses walking around in front of the UGA Arch last Friday, none of whom said they actually attend UGA.
I finally walked away, scratching my head in bewilderment and wondering where in the world young people would get such foolish notions. Then it hit me. They probably heard somebody read such idiocy from a teleprompter.
As I drove home I couldn't help but be thankful that my father, who never attended college or even graduated from high school, taught me all of my life that the world doesn't owe me a living. Guess what. It doesn't owe the "Occupy Wall Street" bunch one, either.
Darrell Huckaby will be signing his new cookbook, "Second Helpings," at Cowan Ace Hardware at Honeycreek, Saturday from 10:30 am until 2:30 pm.
Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.