During my adult life span, a number of protest movements have been initiated.
Three have been long-lived or memorable — the Civil Rights protest movement of the 1960s, the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1970s and the protests that began nearly three months ago as Occupy Wall Street.
The first two are memorable because they had purpose.
The Civil Rights movement was a well-organized and largely peaceful exercise in civil disobedience for minority rights, with Martin Luther King Jr. as its respected leader.
The anti-war movement had no real leader nor was it particularly well-organized or peaceful, but its purpose was unmistakable.
On the other hand, if the "Occupy" movement has a purpose, it is expertly concealed behind a facade of adolescents acting out about a perceived unfairness in their allowance or curfew.
The notion that they, as "99 percenters," are victims of the wealthiest percent and, as such, deserve to share in a redistribution of property is absolute nonsense.
With the encouragement of the media and left-of-center adherents, the movement has outlived any meaningful benefit. Instead, it has attained elevated-nuisance status.
The "occupiers" are costing cities and municipalities millions of dollars in police and sanitation functions and, in many locales, are obstructive and disorderly to the point of requiring forcible removal.
Among the most vocal and wrongheaded of the media supporters are Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton; Paul Krugman of the New York Times; and former Des Moines Register and now-syndicated columnist Donald Kaul.
Reich laments the violation of the occupiers' First Amendment rights, while Krugman finds the accumulation of unredistributed wealth to be unAmerican.
Kaul claims there are no jobs available, specifically the kind of jobs for which the protesters are college-trained.
Reich conveniently overlooks the caveat that freedom of assembly must be peaceable — that right is forfeited when the protest turns violent or a lawful order to disperse is ignored.
I am not certain to whom Krugman would cede the power to decide how much wealth a person may accumulate and who is to determine its fair redistribution.
Kaul's jobs lament is rather curious. There is obviously no lack of jobs requiring manual labor, as illegals seem to find ready employment.
And, the need for skilled workers — welders, plumbers, electricians — is such that these jobs go begging. Perhaps the occupiers are not into soiling their hands?
As for the jobs for the college-educated — alas, there is little demand in the workplace for those with degrees in ethnic, gender, social ecology or various humanities studies.
Ironically, the United States is experiencing a current and future critical shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals, the most pronounced in physics. Maybe the academic requirements of these disciplines leaves too little time for social interaction?
I suppose the Occupy Wall Street protest has been a new and joyous adventure for the neophytes, a nostalgia trip for the geezers of the Vietnam era and a ready vehicle for the anarchists and professional antis.
But, a reality check is overdue, inasmuch as every one of their demands — whether a living wage without employment, forgiveness of debt, free education or free health care — must be paid by someone with the capital and the ingenuity to do so.
"Social and economic" justice are mere buzz words or slogans for protest posters. The idea that employment can be stimulated by raising taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent ("fair" share) is patently dishonest. Tax revenues automatically accrue to the government, an entity that has neither the history nor capacity to create productive jobs.
There is a role for government in job creation, that of working closely with the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship, investment and expansion of existing businesses.
The current love affair with "green" jobs, expanding environmental regulations and mythical shovel-ready infrastructure projects in opposition to bona fide and ready energy-producing employment fails to meet that criteria.
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.