The Occupy Movement and their Social Agenda Revealed. Where Did it Go Wrong?

English: Signs at the Occupy Boston demonstrat...
“Our movement is too big to fail”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I came across a post in a Facebook community group from someone claiming to be “organizer” of the Occupy movement here in Ontario.  He had just dropped this post in the group until it was removed a couple of hours later.  I can’t say for sure that he is with the real Occupy movement, but after reading through his message I can say the message of stamping out corruption through occupation of public spaces is lost.

Here is the posting from the Facebook group, in their words, not mine;

“The Peoples ISSUES OF FOCUS what would satisfy us ,addressing the issues that are essencial to the people
#1 ,poverty,
#3 affordable housing,
6)job creation
7).police abuse of authority
#8): political abuse of authority,
#9)..maintaining children rights
10)water/food safety and accessiibality…”

So spelling mistakes aside, I’ve never felt that this movement spoke for me, and I’m not the 1% they detest, but after seeing this list, I am certain that I cannot offer them my support, nor am I comfortable with them settling in on public lands (disrupting the 99% they claim to speak for) while they dance, read and sleep there waiting for any or all of the items on this list to be fulfilled.

I’m not even sure where to begin when I look at this list… I thought the whole “agenda” of the Occupy movement was to bring attention to how corrupt they feel the 1% are.  If that was the message, then yes, I do agree that those with considerable amounts of money who take advantage of those without should be held to a higher accord, but where myself and the Occupy folks differ is that I feel anyone could be in the 1% if they really wanted to. Hard work, a great invention, knowing the right people, getting a solid education, being born into a family with considerable wealth… All these options except probably the last one are available to everyone and not every person or corporation in the 1% are corrupt or take advantage, just like not everyone in the 99% gives a crap about this list of social wrongs that they pledge to eradicate – mainly through taxing those who have the most money.

From my perspective in Canada, the “abuse of authority” items, that the police and politicians abuse their authority – that people have lost their civil liberties – just doesn’t make sense to me.  In democratic countries all citizens have the right to free speech – provided we are not slandering or offending others, and we have the right to be free, be any religion we like, abide by the laws of the land and vote in elections for whomever we want.  All of this freedom makes the Occupy decision to settle in to major cities, camping their way to eviction, that much more puzzling.  What did they gain?  Nothing.  They did more harm to the land they settled on and the communities they disrupted.

If the Occupy movement is really upset with the way businesses operate in 2012, then they should be delivering their messages in a different way to make an actual point and the organizers of the Occupy movement should also come clean about their true objectives here.  If you hate Apple, for example, because you disagree that they are paying a low wage to their employees in another country, then don’t bring your iPhone to the rally.  If you never liked the GAP sweatshops, then don’t wear GAP clothing.  You can’t suck and blow at the same time.

What really puzzles me are the folks who claim to be against banks and the fees and interest they charge yet I’ll bet dollars to donuts that there are several members of their families who have investments in these big banks and require the dividend cheque to supplement their earnings.  To remove those fees and interest charges and increase taxation of the banks would ultimately remove the money from the pockets of elderly people on fixed incomes and those seeking to add to their income through investing in the markets.  Surely that is not what the Occupy movement stands for…

Imagine how a movement like this would go over in countries like Syria, Venezuela, Cuba or Iran? In these countries people have no rights. They cannot vote for whom they want, they cannot comment negatively against the ruling government or they are tortured, jailed or killed. These countries treat citizens, especially woman, like crap and in a couple of these countries they consider homosexuality a crime punishable by death.

So in Canada, how exactly are the government and police abusing their power and against whom are they doing this?  Is it by their enforcing of laws and rules? Is it because they protect property rights of those citizens who educate themselves, work hard to buy property and expect it to be safe from thieves and poachers?  I’m sorry but I don’t buy that there is that much political or police abuse and I certainly do not see it.  I’ve always believed that if you kept your nose clean and stayed out of trouble you would be fine.

What about children’s rights? Is sitting in a park in Toronto going to help bring awareness to the abuses that children encounter in countries where their parents sell them, or make them work in sweat shops for pennies a day to help support their 10 brothers and sisters?  And about poverty, homelessness, available community housing and job creation.  All of these are choice people make and it is very unfortunate that the choices are not made by the people it impacts the most, but were choices made by their parents and their parent’s parents.  No one wants to be homeless but if there is an underlying condition which went undiagnosed homelessness is the result. 

This is exactly why in Canada the tax rate is at almost 50% for the highest income earners and that is to provide a social netting for those put in these unfortunate situations.  If the Occupy movement doesn’t think this is enough or that the money is being sufficiently allocated then I would love to hear their opinion on how it can work better.  To understand how taxation works for individuals and corporations would go a long way towards determining what is fair for them. 

The original intent of taxation was not to subsidize those who could not do it on their own, but rather to collect money to purchase weapons for the war.  Nowadays wars and paid for on credit and the have-nots – apparently 99% of us – need the 1% to put more of their money into the economy to help us out.

If I work harder, educate myself more and get a better, higher paying job, then I contribute more to society.  How is that a bad thing and how is it that I owe more money back in the community in taxes?  But making more money I am contributing more when I buy a bigger house and pay even more taxes in property taxes, then I buy more items for my house and my family and those dollars go back into the local economy and support the stores and the people working in the stores.  I eat out more or visit more local attractions and that supports the service industry and again the people who work in it.  We volunteer and that gives back to the community.  Heck, on my increased wage, more taxes are taken off than before.  Occupy, I am not in the 1% but I am not who you are angry at, nor are the people and businesses you disrupt through your sit-ins.

I think deep down inside that this generation – so unkindly dubbed the entitlement generation – is angry at themselves for letting life pass them by while getting things handed to them by their parents and the Internet.  Now that the economy is in the tank they realized they have to work and starting at the bottom sucks.  We all started at the bottom as children of immigrants or recent immigrants and we have either seen our parents work their way up, or we ourselves have put in long hours, took extra education and held multiple part-time jobs.  We didn’t have the Internet to answer questions, we used encyclopedias.  We wanted music, we saved money and bought it and movies… In the theatre.  So excuse us if we see this type of social action for what appears to be short-sighted or selfish reasons and we dismiss it because we already know it is not going to enact the changes it wants.

If the Occupy movement were truly ready to enact change then they would have to do it with thought and clear communication. Using Twitter, a company whose creators and owners are certainly in the 1% for a call to action seems hypocritical but with social media now a part of our everyday lives it is also a necessity in getting the message out.  So with software companies off the Occupy landscape then they must come up with a list of the most evil companies around.  The ones polluting our lands, starving their employees, exploiting children and where the senior executive are bilking their company of billions of dollars so they can only afford to dole out pennies in a corporate dividend.  Then, once identified, take a list of this concerns public and give the company 2 weeks to fix it, then after than boycott the firm until it crumbles to its knees.  That is how you enact change.

This aint Woodstock, folks.  Any other avenue to achieve meaningful change is lost on the generations that preceded you.


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