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17 Jan, 2012 06:55

Modern America: Occupy the Dream?

Four months after Occupy Wall Street grew into a nationwide phenomenon, America's Occupy activists plan to descend on Capitol Hill to “Occupy Congress” on Tuesday in what organizers hope could be the movement's largest gathering yet.

A press release posted on the movement’s Facebook page pledges "the largest national unification of Occupiers to date.""Though our grievances are many, the common theme that runs through them will be amplified on the steps of Capitol Hill: corporations, special interests and money from the autocratic elite has created a government that is unable to govern for the people," the release stated.The pledge reveals how young Americans feel frustrated by the power wielded by giant corporations.For most of them, the dream of starting their own business looks set to stay just that.  Armed with college degrees and burdened with hefty student loans, they enter a marketplace dominated by giant corporations.  Robert Porter is a pharmacist. He works for a company that provides help to poisoning victims. He says he is glad to have a job that pays his bills, but sees no chance he could start a business on his own now.  “We used to be able to go out and graduate, start a business, have a drug store,” he told RT’s Gayane Chichakyan. “But I think those days are going away rapidly.  Personally, I don’t know any young pharmacists who are starting businesses like that. With competition from CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Target, there’s no way new pharmacists can compete and it’s a shame.”In the last few decades, thousands of independent pharmacies have been gobbled up by a handful of drugstore chains.Only a few remain, like this one which stands just a few steps away from a CVS. Its owner says they survive because he gives his customers what big chains can’t give – a homely atmosphere.   But even dedicated pharmacists like Huseyin C. Tunc have to suffer giants stepping on their toes. Huseyin remembers how easy it was to start a pharmacy some 30 years ago.  “It was a lot easier back then to stay and survive,” he recalls. “30 years ago they could just go in and easily open a pharmacy. Now – no. Young pharmacists already come with a lot of student loans, they can’t obtain that kind of money.”His two daughters are also pharmacists. “I would much rather be in my own business, or at least a family business,” says Zeynap T. Tunc. Most of Zeynap’s fellow graduates ended up working for big companies to at least have a steady paycheck. None of them started their own business.This is now a common tendency for the young in the US – and it’s in stark contrast to the situation in the 80’s. Indeed, many are unable to find even a minimum of financial security.   According to a report by Peter Hart Research Associates, a quarter of workers under the age of 35 in the US cannot pay their monthly bills. Another study shows the average net worth of those under 35 in 1984 was US$11,521, which is three times higher than the current figure of US$3,662 for the same age group.  “Millions of people’s quality of life is diminished for the profits of a handful of immense stores and corporations,” rages Richard Wolf, economics professor at New School University in New York.    For most young people in the US, starting their own business is not even a consideration. Most of them would be happy just to have a job which at least pays their bills. Many do not even have that. This is the poorest young generation in the US for decades. And the question many ask is, what kind of future can they build and what will they leave for the next generation?