It’d be easy to think, based on all the press coverage Occupy Wall Street has received (we’re up to 333 violent or outrageous incidents, by the way!), that the American people hate business. After all, what is “Wall Street” except an abstraction of business? But, as it turns out, more than 60 percent of Americans have a favorable view of major companies and a full 90 percent of Americans have a favorable view of small businesses, according to a Public Affairs Pulse Survey cited in an article on ChamberPost.com.
But what was arguably most interesting about the study is that it revealed Generation Y — ages 18 to 34 — are actually the most likely to think highly of major companies. That might be yet one more statistic that helps to correct the popular misperception that Occupy Wall Street consists of mainly spoiled adolescents. As more information about the demographics of OWS has come out, it’s become increasingly evident that the original hippies are still the hippies. According to data from Fast Company, about 44.5 percent of the protesters are aged 25 to 44 and another 32 percent are older than 44. Just 23.5 percent of the protesters are 25 and under.
This encourages me because, when Occupy Wall Street first started, I feared for what my generation might bring upon the country, with what I perceived as our characteristic entitlement attitude. The truth is more nuanced than that. Yes, we’ve inherited certain attitudes from our Baby Boomer parents and, in some ways, because of those attitudes, we’re especially susceptible to class warfare rhetoric. I still maintain that my generation has not necessarily responded with the unique challenges that face us — particularly high unemployment — with as much nobility as I would like. But, at the same time, we’ve benefited from the technological innovation of companies like Microsoft and Apple and have learned in some ways to revere inventors and to seek a creative outlet for our own energies and efforts. As I’ve reported before, my generation is actually particularly apt to make the connection between excessive government regulation and excessive joblessness — something not everyone is able to do.
Bottom line: Young people believe in the promise, as well as the peril, of business — and that right there might be the best reason to believe in young people.