On Jan. 3, Rolling Stone published an article titled “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For,” and it’s been circulating around the Internet ever since. The writer, Jesse Myerson, called for five of what can only be described as “a shade short of Marx” reforms: Guarantee work for everybody, give social security to all, take back the land, make everything owned by everybody and create a public bank in every state.
“The economy blows,” he wrote. “Unemployment blows … so do jobs.”
“Ever noticed how much landlords blow?” he questioned.
“Hoarders blow.” And so does Wall Street, according to him — and just about everyone, really.
Coming from a writer whose Twitter bio includes #FULLCOMMUNISM, it should be to no one’s surprise that he thinks this way. And it also shouldn’t be surprising that the article has been blasted across all forms of media over the past couple of weeks — especially by conservatives, but not exclusively.
The reforms have been called “tired, old ‘solutions.’” Of course they are. History has shown that this kind of economy does not work and will never work. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be learned from this not-so-eloquently written piece that was clearly published to create controversy.
Seriously, would it be such a bad thing to actually try to change the ways we — and especially our leaders — do things? And I’m not talking about change for the sake of change. I’m talking about change because let’s not pretend that our current version of capitalism and foreign policy is working that great either; the economy’s snail-pace improvement, the NSA scandal and a stagnant congress — among other things — don’t help the cause.
Consider the case of Dennis Rodman. He has also received a lot of criticism over the past week for his “basketball diplomacy” trip to North Korea where he went into a drunken outrage in which he mocked Kenneth Bae, an American who was sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp for “hostile acts.”
Dennis Rodman is obviously not the person we want representing the United States, but maybe we’re being too closed-minded about what he has done. After all, he’s one of the few Americans with any form of a relationship with Kim Jong-un. The way I see it, there’s no reason that “basketball diplomacy” can’t be actual diplomacy and create progress — the Olympics, another athletic event, have been used to make political statements for years, and this can too.
It’s so easy to say we can’t negotiate with someone who commits the atrocities that Mr. Kim and other dictators have. But I believe that some dialogue is better than no dialogue, even if it’s at a basketball game. So while I hesitate to applaud Rodman, his trip to North Korea represents a different way of conducting business that could initiate positive change.
As a country, we’ve just gotten lazy. And to steal Myerson’s word, that “blows” too. We’ve grown content with the status quo and would rather debate the traditional red-blue politics that we know than consider alternatives that may seem risky at first but produce significant rewards.
We can change this, but it begins with demanding more out of our leaders and even becoming leaders ourselves. Yes, we are all busy with our school, jobs and family, but we need to start caring more and hold our leaders accountable. The petty politics and deal-making that goes on behind the scenes can no longer be acceptable. And it shouldn’t take any more TV shows — “House of Cards,” for example — to show that this behavior, the obsession with greed and power, is going on. What we need are leaders — and they don’t just have to come from Washington — who want to bring new ideas to the table and aren’t afraid to do so.
It’s possible that I’m asking for too much, asking for people to, you know, actually think. And not just think, but “think different” — cue the 1990s Apple ads — because yes, it’s hard. But I fear that if we can’t change our opinion on change, then nothing will improve. Not jobs, not the economy or our leadership. Nothing.
So let’s make an effort to — gasp — think a little differently and have an open mind. And look, it’s still the New Year, so it’s not too late to make a resolution.
Derek Wolfe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.