To ‘Occupy’ is not an Occupation!

Just about everyone I know has been impacted by the tremendous economic fluctuations that began back in 2008. Believe me – none of these changes have been positive. Am I happy about any of this? Of course not! Studying the economic landscape makes my blood reach a slow deep simmer every time! As a wee worker bee I’ve spent a lot of time adjusting my expectations…and managing my frustrations!

Still the ‘Occupy’ movement has left me stunned.

Seeing people marching through the streets with placards condemning corporate greed in our society is ludicrous. We as consumers have built these companies with our whims and desires and even our own greed. You see with every purchase and investment we make as consumers we are supporting the very corporations ‘The Occupists’ are condemning. Our power is not in protest – our power is in boycott. If all the efforts and energy being poured into these protests were being applied to a mass boycott of the companies these folks take issue with – trust me, sooner or later they would take notice and change.

Just as a truck or a pencil do not have feelings, neither does a corporation. The real bone of contention here is the One Percent. The millionaire and billionaire CEOs are with whom the protesters actually take issue. I wonder if these incredibly busy people have even had the time to notice the placards, tent cities and the marches? North America was built on the concept of the ‘American Dream’ where anybody, regardless of ancestry, has the opportunity to work hard and achieve a limitless lifestyle. This ideal is the envy of the world!!! I don’t deny that the ideal has been fractured – but it’s still the best scenario available on our planet. Speaking of our planet – on the planetary scale we fortunate folks who live in Canada are the One Percent. We are blessed with so very much. Our resources and opportunities are coveted around the world. I’d like to know how the protesters would feel if folks from the slums of some of the poorest nations in the world would demand they give up their earnings. If these truly downtrodden people would call ‘The Occupists’ greedy how would they react?

What I find really interesting is that nobody has called upon the hollywood elite or international sports professionals to end their greed. And why not? If the CEOs of the world should to be willing to open their wallets why not these abundantly blessed individuals? After all they get paid astronomical sums of money for work that is really play. In most cases the high powered CEOs of the world have taken a series of extremely precarious personal risks to achieve their success. Why should they not be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labour?

It’s only natural to want to take action and assign blame in this gigantic economic mess in which we find ourselves. It’s part of our survival instinct! But protesting isn’t the answer. Protest movements are a last resort: when a group of people has nowhere else to turn. The American Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage Movements involved individuals fighting for their very lives – begging the government to recognize them as equals; persons no less. Voiceless people were being killed or imprisoned unjustly!!

‘The Occupists’ in contrast are looking to other people to guarantee them a lifestyle! Sitting in their tent cities whining about their station in life when they ought to be the change they seek. Not to mention their continued protest – peaceful or not – requires a constant police presence! Not only is this a drain on taxpayer resources but it takes police attention away from legitimate concerns.

...dawn of a new day full of opportunities!

Sure I’m frustrated that it’s not as easy to get ahead these days. However, that will just make my successes all the more valuable to me!

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12 comments

  1. Bravo! I am so thankful that you can put my feelings into words so succinctly! Just reading your article makes me feel so proud of my ancestors who came to this country in 1874 and lived through their first Canadian winter in dirt caves dug out of the ground. Not nearly all survived. When Spring came after a long, harsh winter, they began to till the soil and grow the stuff that our lives are made of. With their bare hands they eeked out a living. During the first few years, my grandparents lost all three of their children because of Typhoid. But they soldiered on, making it possible for their children, grandchildren, and great -grandchildren to achieve their dreams in this wonderful free country. Then we had WWI and WWII where thousands died for us — for me, for you, to be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have. And now —- these occupists are whining, sitting around idly, just hoping for handouts. Shame on you!!! Get busy and get to work all of you!!! This country needs people who are part of the solution and not part of the problem!!!!

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    1. I’d like to add, I don’t actually know what the Occupists stand for. All I know is that persons have a tendency to shift the blame so life is easier for themselves. If we can blame corporate greed then we don’t have to take responsibility for our consumer choices, as the writer mentioned. If we all maintain the mentality that just one purchase won’t make a difference then it certainly won’t! Conversely, I’m not all for the CEO’s that make millions. What for?! Does not responsibility to your community increase with your power? I know God says it does.

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  2. Yes, so true. The Bible says that from those who have much, God demands much and so yes, the more wealth a person has, the greater his responsibility to the needy world community. Our system is, as the writer says, not perfect but certainly the best there is on the planet. By world standards we are all wealthy, actually. And thank God that there actually ARE many wealthy CEO’s out there who DO take their responsibility very seriously and give millions away generously and with open hearts and hands. These are also the same people who provide jobs for millions .. .so where would we be without them?

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  3. Great article. You are sooo right. I totally agree that these occupiers are only in it for themselves and aren’t representing the masses, the middle class. Its just a bunch of homeless whiners that never held a job in their life.

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  4. Excellent writing! I couldn’t agree more. It is absolutely true that we as consumers are also part of the problem. Protest has no meaning anymore and yes! boycott is the answer. Since corporations don’t care until they see dollar signs that is fleeing out of their pockets – then and only then will things change. There are companies who are for the benefit of society but lets be honest – they can only be found with a magnifying glass.
    As in the movie ‘Corporations’ it says – ‘ultimately as individuals we have to accept responsibility for our collective actions and the larger harm that causes in our world.’ To me that means being aware of our consumeristic living styles and the ever growing hunger to get more. Corporations to be blame for one but that 99% is also to be blamed for keeping their head in the sand pretending everything is fine.

    Occupy Vancouver must go – it is no more about the representation of the masses. Do these people actually have jobs? What kind of a job do you have to do that allows you to spend all your days sitting/living in a tent and complaining? At what point do these people become the useful members of a society?

    Demonstration is a great tool when you have to fight for your life or your freedom – as you said in your article. But in a country of plenty people are complaining about – what? If you are really had enough check your cart the next time you go shopping. Corporations and that 1% understands money and it is not them who control it – it is the consumer!

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  5. The protests are a last resort. Do you really think the political party you vote into power makes any difference at all? Without a reformed voting system, you aren’t likely to see many new independents coming to power that might be able to change the direction of things. As for capitalism, it is doomed anyway – treating people as nothing but a labor commodity is not sustainable because the ultimate end point is automating most jobs out of existence. It is like a monopoly game when someone gets all the money — game over. Before capitalism, everyone had their own land and tools and were a lot more independent, even if the feudal lord did own the land. Land reforms displaced millions just in time for the industrial revolution where there were forced to become wage slaves in horrid conditions. Our current middle class is an anomaly due to union activity decades ago, but the gains are being rapidly reversed.

    Everything is going to have to change as we transition (whether voluntary or by the forces of nature) to a sustainable society and we should be planning for that now. These changes are extremely radical — while you might not live long enough to see it people born today will. I can’t emphasize radical enough. Imagine life tomorrow without gasoline or electricity. Is your house insulated enough to keep from freezing? Can your children walk to school without school buses? Can you walk to work? When cities can’t keep the sewer and water facilities operational, do you have a well and septic? Are you in a residential only subdivision with no work and no land or way to support yourself, or grow crops? Everything will change, and if we are lucky, 500 years from now, our descendants will not be back to the stone age. Technology will not solve the energy problem.

    A small group of 140 very interconnected, mostly financial, trans-global corporations have created a more immediate issue by corrupting most governments of the world and things are boiling over. Also, these protests do not require a constant, massive, paramilitary police presence so complaining about the cost is misguided. Just look at the police brutality south of the border against peaceful protesters. We are not far behind. All I can recommend is that you read everything you can, both in the political/sociology realm and in the engineering realm. Following twitter hashtags is a good way to find things you wont read about in the mass media propaganda organs.

    Many occupy protesters are jobless, but well educated (B.Sc. and higher) with massive student debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy which means they can be harassed by debt collectors until they die. Others have jobs but want to be part of change for good. Others are there because it is home (e.g. the inner city homeless that are often mentally ill). It is a really complex issue.

    Corporations are sociopaths by nature and need to be strictly controlled, both in what they can do, and how large they can get. The changes required require political change (legal), but the system is owned by the corporations. So how can you change it peacefully? Best case, by protests and political change. Worst case, protests followed by a cycle or police brutality and more protests leading to full scale civil war.

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  6. One of the main reasons we are losing a middle class has nothing to do with corporate greed. It has to do with people who insist on a year off for maternity leave – for both parents. For those who insist on taking extra time off work yet still being paid for it. It has to do with those who are certain that a slight sniffle or ache gives them a day off work with pay. It is because of people like those at the Occupy site who think that protesting, damaging city property and spokespeople who get on TV and prove how stupid they are as soon as they open their mouths will change anything. They are not creating a change, just a disgusting mess that most people shudder when they think of it.

    The CEOs etc have worked hard to get where they are. They have sacrificed personal time, health in some cases and relationships. When something goes wrong with the company they are the first ones that the brown stuff falls on. I’m not saying that there isn’t jerks in corporations because there is.

    We have to go back to a time when people worked hard for what they got and didn’t expect everything to be handed to them. Just because you have an education doesn’t mean that you are going to succeed. Nor does it mean that you deserve that great job – now you need experience. Yes we are in a recession but we have been in them before and survived. This is the time when those who are truly innovative will flourish and prosper. This is when a person has to be smarter than they were before. It is a time of great promise though it may not seem like it.

    As for some of the people being homeless where do they live when there isn’t a tent city? They will just return to whereever they usually go.

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  7. @Karen, you need to read a short book like The City: A Global History by Joel Kotkin. It is standard reading in many sociology courses covers a few thousand years. You will then understand that workers have always been abused and that conditions were 3rd world until workers began to unionize and fight for decent wages and conditions. The middle class we have now is left over from that era, and it is disappearing rapidly.

    Little things like Maternity leave, or not working 80 hours a day isn’t the problem. The problem is that in capitalism, labor is just a commodity. To increase profits, you have two choices — automate your workers out of existence, or send the jobs overseas. Companies are doing both, profits are greater than ever, and there are fewer workers.

    The US government intervened when Hati tried to rise the minimum wage from 31 cents an hour to 61 cents. Why? Haynes and Levi Straus wanted it that way so the state department used their influence to keep it that way. It doesn’t matter if you work 23 hours a day at high speed — you will never be cost competitive with 31 cent per hour slaves unless you want to live like them too. In a cold climate like Canada where we need heat to survive the winter, it is impossible. That is also one of the reasons slavery was scarce in Canada — it cost more to keep slaves than it did to hire people only when needed. It is also the reason that the masses were evicted from common land just before the industrial revolution and forced to go to the cities as wage slaves. Land owners made more money and the new capitalists were looking for cheap labor. When you have a piece of land and a small home and enough food to get by, you just aren’t going to sell yourself out as a wage slave. That is why Puerto Rico used to have to import sugar cane labor from other islands. Look at the average Canadian — they are absolutely dependent on earning wages, and when there aren’t enough jobs to go around, things will get ugly.

    There was a time where there were lots of small business, and they had limited powers to exploit. Most of the monies were spent locally. Compare downtown shopping pre and post WalMart. Now the products are all from China, and the all profits are exported from the country. Thousands of small stores have been wiped out by larger and larger chains. There is a classic book called “Small is Beautiful” that covers this topic well.

    When you hear about efficiency, ask efficient for who? 10,000 local fisherman made a community. What does a fleet of mega trawlers that clean and process fish on-board and offload frozen cargo to freighters? The mega trawlers are more efficient at making money for a corporation. The 10,000 local fisherman were more efficient at catching food AND supporting 10,000 families. If you take people out of the efficiency equation, efficiency is better replaced by the word greed.

    No Canadian can or should be expected to scrape the bottom of the barrel so that large, transnational, amoral corporations can abuse them. In the mean time, vast wealth is building up in the coffers of the super rich. A far better alternative are worker owned cooperatives such as the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain, where the profits stay in the community and a hard working manager might make four times that of a skilled worker, but no more.

    Take a look at the fundamentals of our economics policy. Compound interest is a good example — everyone expects to make money in their savings accounts, but there is a flaw. Had you been around in Biblical times had a dollar coin, invested at 7% (the current bond rate in Italy), it would be worth ($123,247,161,247,263,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00) today. This is a number greater than the mass of the universe. Use a spreadsheet like Excel and use the @PV() formula and play around. 1 year gives you $1.07 as expected, but compound interest is exponential, and exponentials are explosive. Put in 500 years and you have a monster of a number — more cash they could be printed cause there aren’t enough trees. The end result of this is that the world will default on its interest bearing debt. There is no other way mathematically unless you can make billions of new solar systems.

    The only reason interest seems to be OK, is that our population has also been growing exponentially. Exponential growth is ok for a very short period. We are at the end of that period. Interest has made those families and corps that were rich in the 1930s, super rich now. Not rich like the CEO of Air Canada or Loblaws — rich as in the people with low profiles you seldom hear about but quietly rule the world by proxy (tens of billions in personal fortunes and influence to match). There are about 140 of these entities — see here: http://nlcpr.com/blog/?p=2357

    A good analogy is monopoly. When someone ends up with all the money, the game ends. In this mutant monopoly game, the banker not only cheats, he doesn’t want to quit — he would rather bankrupt you, lend you survival money and then take everything you have as payment on the interest. It is a form of slavery.

    The first step is to eliminate corporate influence and bribery from elected governments — however this is a very difficult task because those in power are willing to use force to keep it. Peaceful protests may or may not be able to force change – we shall soon see.

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