Chasing the American Dream11-09-11-publishers.jpg

It is rare, in fact, I can’t recall when I have ever responded to an opinion put forth by a columnist in our paper. I have published many things that I disagree with to the very core of my being — things that make my skin crawl — and made no response. But last week’s editorial by Sharon Valentine, along with the local news, moved me out of my bed at 11 p.m. (even though I get up at 4 a.m.) to respond.

Occupy Wall Street is not a movement that will create reform. Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than a distraction from the real problems that face our economy, our nation and our society as a whole. It is a sound bite for the media. In short, Occupy Wall Street (Raleigh and Fayetteville) is a tempest in a tea pot with people who seemingly have nothing better to do.

I would suggest that if these folks really want to make a difference in our economic free fall, they get out of their chairs, put down their picket signs, pack up their $200 tents, put down their $4 lattes and get a freaking job.

Yes, I said it: GET A JOB.

And before you all run to your computers to say there are not any jobs — yes there are. They may not be what you want, but they will start to pay the bills. There are a number of people who feel that certain jobs are beneath them. Guess what? When you’ve got no money, your extended unemployment has run out and the rent is due, nothing is beneath you.

I have been poor. And I don’t like it. So I did what I had to do to change my situation. I have been a hostess at restaurants, tended bar, turned socks, lifeguarded, worked in a deli, a daycare and at a newspaper that expected me to work 80 hours a week for less than most people make on unemployment. (Oh, and I always paid for my own insurance.) I can honestly say, with no exaggeration, that since I have been 19-years-old I have worked no less than two jobs at any given time. I now have three.

Do I have to? Nope. Do I do it because I want what is best for my family. You bet. So I have little patience or time to listen to people who complain about not being able to get $50,000 a year jobs. Work two jobs, work three jobs if that’s what it takes to meet your economic expectations. Do what you have to do to be successful.

When my husband and I bought our fi rst house, we paid $83,000 for it. We didn’t go out and buy a $300,000 house we couldn’t afford. That, Ms. Valentine, is why the housing market crashed — people reached beyond their means to buy what they thought they deserved, not what they could afford.

I keep hearing about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Would it surprise you to know that if you earn more than $150,000 in a household of two working people, you are knocking on the door of what our tax system and our current administration calls wealthy?

Is it somewhat disconcerting to anyone that you are actually penalized for working hard, for chasing the American Dream? I know at tax time it’s pretty darn disconcerting for me.

I grew up in a one-income family. My father was in the military, and despite what you hear to the contrary, the salaries for enlisted soldiers are not that great. No one in Congress who keeps saying the military is overpaid, would work the hours, face the hardships or give up their plush lives in DC to spend one minute on a forward-operating base.

I forgot to mention that my father had five children. My mother was a stay-at-home mom. We didn’t have fancy cars, clothes or homes, but we always had enough. They always managed to make it work. In short, we lived within our means.

My grandfather, who lived through World Wars I and II and the Great Depression, raised 15 children. They didn’t always have everything they wanted either, but they had what they needed. I can assure you, they didn’t have $200 tents, and they didn’t stand around on street corners all day long whining about what they didn’t have. They worked. They worked long hours in the fi elds on the farm, the saw mill and in the house.

And at the end of the day, I will always remember what my grandfather said about the hard times, the good times, and what he would probably have said about Occupy Wall Street.

“Smart people don’t starve — they just work harder.”

Get a clue. The American Dream isn’t dead. What is dead is the desire of many to pursue it.

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