Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Toronto

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Current Events, Integral Studies, Media Gleanings, politics

I’m having a hard time understanding the media heads who keep saying that they don’t know what these protesters want.  What are they protesting?

In the U.S. it’s more obvious.  A financial system that has turned the economy into a Vegas casino to the detriment of society in general would be a good place to start.  The rise of hedge funds and ill-advised mortgages allowed banks and investment institutions to put greed ahead of the interests of their clients, themselves and society.  And the entitlement felt by this sector of the U.S. culture is still there, with the same executives who caused untold harm are collecting six and seven figure bonuses.  Unemployment in the U.S. is largely a result of fiscal mismanagement by business, (not the government).  Companies that have their annual growth drop from 10% to 8% will often see their stock plunge because investors aren’t getting the profits that they expected.  In fact, even if a company’s annual growth continues to get higher, but at a reduced acceleration, the investors are still disappointed.  What happened to sustainability?

The biggest issue, in both the U.S. and Canada, is the shrinking of the middle class.  The economic landscape is becoming more polarized, with rich and poor getting farther apart, and the middle class losing ground.  Now, this is not because people are becoming more stupid or lazy.  It is because current financial and economic policies are favoring the rich unfairly.  I have no problem with innovative and hard working people getting their due.  I have no problem with wealth when it is earned.  But the current situation builds wealth at the expense of the middle class, not providing for them their due or adequate opportunities.  Many will say that they have had the opportunities to get ahead, but when judging a society you have to look to the overall stats, and in this case the losses of the middle class are a clearly seen trend.

Canada is definately better positioned economically than is the U.S.  Our banks play much more nicely, largely because of the regulation that is placed on them (not by Conservative governments, I might point out).  So what is the protest about here?  Well, we want to keep it that way.  The current Conservative government is anti-regulation.  While they are unlikely to restructure bank regulation, they have made moves to deregualte many other parts of our society, claiming that business best regulates itself.  What nonsense.  Evidence to the contrary could not be more plain.  The spectre of greed is only slightly less rampant in Canada than it is in the U.S., and our willingness to regulate is the only thing that sustains our difference.  The protestors are drawing attention to this fact, hopefully giving our government and its supporters pause before removing constraints on businesses.

Secondly, while we are not in the same dire situation as the U.S., Canadian stats also show a polarization between poor and rich.  Wealthy companies and individuals need to acknowledge social responsibility, perhaps contributing more in the way of taxes in order to sustain important social services and education.

There is no shortage of things that these protesters are spotlighting.  The problem seems to be that they are not focusing on just one issue.  This is by design as they are attempting to present a united, progressive front and by seeking narrow goals they would just promote division within their ranks.  It actually seems to be working rather well as these occupations seem to be the model of cooperation and civil disobedience.  Further, the problem seems to be that they are not providing any concrete answers.  Well, what do you expect?  Do you have to have the answers to be able to point out that a system is horribly wrong?

This is the radical Left.  We’ve had to endure the radical right in the form of the Tea Party and it’s (more moderate) Canadian equivalents for years now.  I should be surprised that the Tea Party in the States can’t recognize their mirror image in the Occupy Wall Street movement, but really I’m not.  It’s OK for them to be assertive in their attempts to throw society back a hundred years, but they’re not used to progressive Liberals being assertive.  How dare they?  They’re supposed to be soft and spineless.  Well frankly, I find it refreshing to see.  I’ve often wondered where the liberal were who could get angry and a little more pushy.  (I think the Democrats in the U.S. were wondering where they were as well.)

These protesters are disgusted with some of the things that are going on in the circles of high finance, and they have every right to be.  I’ve heard that disgust voiced hundreds of times on a variety of news comments.  Voicing it didn’t seem to make that much difference.  Many practices are continuing and guilty parties have never received any justice.  It’s time for more assertive tactics.

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