Facebook Link: http://www.facebook.com/OccupyOrlandoFL
When I got the the park this afternoon the activity was of a higher pitch that it was yesterday. The tents Occupy Orlando had started to build on the vacant lot yesterday were pretty complete. But there appeared to be a problem with the tents in the park.
From what I could gather a number of Teabaggers had held a long private meeting with the mayor at city hall in an attempt to bring pressure to bear on the administration to remove Occupy Orlando. While I was there a police sergeant (I'm assuming I'm looking at sergeant insignia) met with some of the Occupy Orlando members. During the discussion (of which I was not participating, only looking on) it appeared that the Occupy Orlando members could be charged with trespassing if they were still there and the structures (tents) were still up.
Fortunately there appeared to be level heads on both sides. Between the low-key actions of the police and calm voices in the Occupy group, a simple but painful course of action was taken to avoid a confrontation.
It involved the simple act of cutting down the lines holding up the tents in the park and moving over to the vacant lot where the newer tents were located. All of the park-side tents were taken down. Including the large communal tent that took them three days to complete. It was enough to make you sick.
And while all this was happening two businessmen dressed in some of their finest walked obliviously through it all from a local hotel to where their car was parked.
Later in the afternoon the local news showed up. Cameramen for channels 2, 6, and 35 were on the ground with video gear, while 9 was up above it all hovering in their helicopter. About 30 or so of the group protested the whole time they were there. I left soon after.
I should note that if the police wanted to they could have arrived in a far greater presence and the situation could have been a lot worse than it turned out. Maybe I have it all wrong, but I don't think the police want to really hassle these people. Both sides are desperately trying to avoid a harsh confrontation. The enemy is not the police; they're just doing their job. If there's an enemy, it's people who've gamed the system so that the majority of us in the middle class have been left holding the now-empty bag.
It should be remembered, at least here, that Muammar Guaddafi was captured and killed near his home town of Sirte in Libya. It will be interesting to see how events shape after his death.
Of greater concern are two stories I read and heard about today that directly effect the youth of this country.
- Student loan debt hit $1 trillion dollars. That's more than our credit card debt. My girls did not take out loans while in college; when they were born we bought Florida College Prepaid for both, and had them fully paid up by the time they finished middle school. Between that, some scholarships, and the bank of Mom and Dad both girls went to state schools and made excellent grades. But many other of their cohorts did not have that kind of backing.
I remember reading years ago an article by Susan Orman on Yahoo's "Money Matters" that parents should have their children subsidize their education with loans so that the parents could save all that money for retirement. Here was someone without children recommending we put our children into debt slavery. And she was but one voice recommending this.
My wife remembered her struggles to pay off her relatively small student loans after graduating in 1973. She'd lost her father when she was 19 and had to use a combination of student loans and working through college. I managed to just worked my way through college. Based on those experiences, before the girls were born we both made a promise that we would finance their undergraduate education, so that they would be free to do what they needed to do unencumbered while they were in school and after they graduated.
- Nationwide the poverty level of 18-24 year-olds is now at 22%. This was from a story I heard on NPR while driving home. I also heard the story about college food banks for students still in college, and how they've been increasing, especially during our Great Recession (nee Depression).
And you wonder why we have these protests springing up all over the country. You shouldn't. Caught between grinding debt and high unemployment, what chance do they have of paying off these loans and building something for their future?
A full link to all Occupy Orlando entries in this series: http://blogbeebe.blogspot.com/search/label/OccupyOrlando