Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Vancouver ~~ What Am I Missing?

The words "occupy" and "demand" are two words I have a problem with. In my opinion, they are not the words of democracy, and in that regard, I am having difficulty understanding the Occupy Movement. They claim to be peaceful, but my feeling is that in fact they are passive aggressive, which is the most malevolent type of aggression.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me to understand why I should be sympathetic towards this movement. So far, I am not, and I am moving farther away from any understanding as the days pass.

According to the October 14th issue of Time Magazine [page 22], "The movement started in Canada, of all places. The editors of Vancouver-based anticonsumerist magazine Adbusters called for a Tahrir Square 'moment' on September 17 in lower Manhattan to protest what they called the disproportionate power of the U.S. corporate elite."

It started in Canada? Oh, good grief, those rabble-rousing Canadians.  The only problem is, Canada is not in the same economic situation that many other countries are in, including the US ~~ not even close.  Canada did not have a housing bubble, and did not have a housing collapse. We did not have mortgage failures. Our banks did not get overextended, did not have to be bailed out, and are still lending. Unemployment and poverty are not rising in Canada, but are actually lower than at any other time since the 1960s.  There are so many jobs in Alberta, Canada's immigration department is fast-tracking applicants from other countries who want to come here to apply for work.

So, what am I missing?

So far, the only effect I have seen of the Occupy Movement is that the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London has been forced to step down. "In recent days, since the arrival of the protesters' camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues. I hope and pray that under new leadership these issues might continue to be addressed and that there might be a swift and peaceful resolution." St. Paul's Cathedral has done more to help the less fortunate of London over the centuries, than any ragtag band of people living in fetid stinky tents. The church saved people's lives during the blitz of World War II. Again, what am I missing?

A list of Occupy Vancouver's demands are here, if you care to read them. I don't blame you if you don't. Some of them are so out-of-date that I wonder if these folks are actually in touch with the 21st Century. I love number 17: Repeal the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. All synthetic drugs and hard drugs (including cocaine and heroin) should be distributed by prescription through a pharmacist. All botanical drugs should be distributed like coffee beans. Human medical autonomy must now be respected by all.

My favourite is number 11: "The CBC should get enough funding so it can go commercial free and not have to depend on big business for advertizing. Then it can be truly independent." Well, we all want that, don't we? I mean, wouldn't it be wonderful to watch Coronation Street all the way through, without commercials?

Oh, good lord...

Every year in December, the Santa Claus Christmas Parade is the biggest fundraiser for the Vancouver Food Bank.  This year it is being disrupted by Occupy Vancouver.  The street vendors and other businesses around the encampment report that their business is down by 40% since the "occupation" and their livelihoods are being threatened.  So, the very people these "occupiers" claim they want to help, are the very people who are in fact being detrimentally affected ~~ by Occupy Vancouver.  And to add to their credibility, one of the occupiers overdosed on drugs at the Occupy Vancouver site last night.


As I said, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to convince me why I should support these folks.  I have an open mind, so, you don't need to agree with my point of view.   I really, really want to know what it is that I am missing.  So far, I am not convinced.  So, please convince me.

Update: OccupyVancouver protesters given until 10 am tomorrow to remove all tarps, unoccupied tents & open flame heat sources by Vancouver Fire Department.


Alicia said...

Oooo, this should be interesting!

I have to admit I don't know much about the "occupy" movement, so maybe this will be a good way to get some insight.

I've read and seen what the media posts or has us watch on TV, but I've always found it best to find other people who want to share their insight and opinions and then form my own opinion based on everything I've learned.

So far I've learned quite a bit just from your post Jo and I'm glad you've opened this subject up for discussion!

Jo said...

Alicia, yes, I really want to know what it is they want, and why I should care? I have had to work really hard all my life for everything I have. I don't understand a bunch of people sitting in stinky tents *demanding* stuff. It just doesn't make sense to me!

Leslie: said...

It's interesting that these "occupiers" can AFFORD to be there all this time. Oh...they're mostly unemployed people who've moved over from Stanley Park? Oh!!! My mistake! Then by all means, we should support them in building an inner city hovel...

Anonymous said...

I believe that we do need protests like Occupy Wall Street cause corporate greed is the root to much that is evil in the world today. Corporations and the Consumer driven economic system speak in powerful whispers in the corridors of power. The voice of the people unfortunately is seldom heard if it is not shouted. Even Canada needs to send this message to their large companies who are stealing land from the poor in many countries (e.g. land acquisition by intimidation in Nebraska for PetroCanada's pipeline to Texas).

Jo said...

Leslie, I know! And now it's infested with rats. I'm beyond disgusted.

Calvin, on the face of it, I do agree with you. But this is not how change comes about. These folks do not have a concrete agenda. The protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s did bring about change, because they were focused. Large companies, unfortunately, are still the major employers.

Sextant said...

I also am not sure about this Occupy Movement. What I first read about it was the 99% going down the tubes are protesting the ever richer 1%. I would tend to support that line of thinking if not the movement--but I really don't know the true objectives. Call me strange, but I do find something somewhat immoral about the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than a billion a piece in that watershed investment year of 2009! I have this odd belief that democracy relies on a strong middle class to pay the bills. The rich won't and the poor can't. The US is whittleling away at its middle class at an alarming rate. I fear third world nation status is just around the bend.

The trouble with you damned Canadians is that you are too civilized and too well educated, and you got a picture of lady wearing a crown on your money.

Sextant said...

Oh BTW Jo,

I nominate you as the spokesman for the Office of Public Health for The Occupy Movement.

L. D. said...

I really like your header photo. It is quite good.

Alicia said...

Alright, so far I've learned a little more. I did have a vague idea of the 99% and the 1%. And I know that we do have to speak out. Just today I heard that Bank of America has decided not to charge their ATM service fee of $5 due to the outrage of the people and also NetFlix had to change their new increase due to the voice of the people.

I agree we do have to say what we mean, and protest things that are unfair, but who are these people? The ones that are occupying? What's their make-up? Who's the organizer?

Alicia said...

Enquiring minds want to know! :-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I sympathize with the 99% as I am a member of that group and believe that the giant corporations and banks are completely out of control, with no conscience and no sense of fairness whatever. But I also think that much of the Occupy Movement has become a beacon for those who are discontented for any reason, coming together to justify their own marginal existence. The one is SF looks exactly like the 60's hippie encampments at Woodstock and Peoples' Park, and it's hard to distinguish the protesters from the bums who are opportunistically cashing in on it. Of course, it's also a sad note that so many are disenfranchised and poor in what used to be the wealthiest country in the world.

I speak of the US, of course, as I know little about Canada, but from what I hear, your country is being run far better than mine and you should probably shore up your Southern borders before you are overrun by hungry wetback Americans.

PhilipH said...

We'd ALL like to see the ultra-rich brought down a peg or two but I doubt that this motley crew will achieve much, if anything, by their silly encampments.
Maybe they will get a bit fed up when the wind, rain, hail and snow starts to make them uncomfortable, who knows.
Vancouver: you've a lot to answer for - innit! <3

Meryl Baer said...

I have no idea why Canadians are in the Occupy movement. The country is in much better shape than the U.S...I think a lot of people joined out of sheer frustration, anger, and disappointment (at their personal situation as far as no jobs, etc., and at the endless no-recession slow economy) and have no idea what else to do.

Lynley said...

I must admit I quite like the idea of an unfocussed rabble that is saying that the world is NOT as it should be. We might not agree on the detail, or choose to make the protest, or want to spend much time with the protestors, but I think most people agree with one plank or other of the Occupy movement.

For example, I am fed up with inequity and think the government should have a more prominent role in providing basic services and distributing wealth. I would happily more taxes to see that happen.

Lynley said...

.. ooops "pay" more taxes. Or you could insert your own verb of choice :)

susie said...

I've been reading the 'we are the 99percent" site, and there are a lot of people out there who have made some bad choices, and others who have had some bad things happen to them. In both cases, it appears that they think something is going to change just because they want it too. It is full of "victims".

While I have thought for a long time that the ceo's, etc have been overpaid, the real problem comes from the government.

Our constitution provides for the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government has decided that they can provide everyone with what they think they want to be happy. The housing market burst because of the "ideal" that everyone ought to be able to buy a house so they were led into buying houses that they couldn't possibly afford to pay for. Now it's going the same way with education. The ideal is that everyone should be able to get a higher education, so government is giving loans to students to go to school. So schools are becoming very profit oriented, and the price is rising faster than inflation. In addition, the schools are promising unrealistic returns on the investment of going to school.

Government is trying to win elections by promising a cradle to grave lifetime of happiness, or whatever you want to call it.

Don't know if I'm making a lot of sense, I'm still trying to figure out what's going on.

Cloudia said...

our North American economy is more unequal than ever before. 1% of people own HUGE percentages of wht wealth through lobbyist-written laws and regulations. The average person no longer has a real opportunity to achieve this 1% status. The average person's prospects have dimmed over 30 years. I'd say that speaking up about this IS democracy.

The media people don't get it, because by and large they are part of the problem, broadcasting competing 'talking points' but shedding no light. We all need a chance to live a good life through our efforts - not just a lucky, intrenched elite! Thanks for listening.

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

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Cloudia said...

Does one person REALLY deserve billions, while another works all year for subhuman wages? We are ALL God's children - not winners and losers.

Jo said...

Hello, everyone! I got caught up in work and other things yesterday, and I did not have a chance to respond to your wonderful comments individually. I enjoy very much hearing everyone's point of view. I am definitely one of the 99%, however, I don't feel these Occupy movements represent me or my feelings. At least, not in the way they are going about it. They are not a peaceful protest, they are passive aggressive, which is one of the worst types of aggression. So far, they have not been hurting the 1% with their occupations, they are hurting the people at the very lowest rung of the 99%.

Unfortunately, America, for example, was based on the premise of capitalism. Socialism was a dirty word. The cold war was based on capitalism versus socialism. Now they see that capitalism didn't work. The people who got all the capital didn't share it. They got greedy. They system needs to be changed, for sure, but I don't believe this occupations will do that. If anything, they will lose any credibility the 99% may have.

Anyway, that's just my humble opinion.

Russell said...

I have no idea about occupying this or that.

However, I am still thinking about L.D.'s comment about your "header photo." Now THAT sounds interesting to me!

I am looking but can't seem to find it ....!

Jo said...

Russell...!!!!! Omigawd, you make me laugh right out loud...!

Doll Lady said...

They are just a bunch of bums. The place is a fire-hazard. Yes, big business and banks need to be held accountable but this is not going to work. Get jobs, if they think the Political System is wrong, then come out with a platform that the real people will support - not something their drug-filled minds "think" that the rest of us want.

Jo said...

Susan, yes I totally agree. My gawd, I have had to work for every single thing I have ever had in my life.

On November 24th the Grey Cup Football playoffs will be in Vancouver, along with 400,000 drunk, rabit football fans ~~ right in the heart of downtown Vancouver where the tents are. That should be very interesting. :-)

Katy said...

I have to agree 100%. I'm really all for people stepping up and using their right to protest. But if you are going to occupy and area until your demand is met you do need to have an actual something you are demanding.

At least the people in your city are demanding somethings... even if they are stupid things.

This is one of the few times I'm glad I live in Texas. No large occupy movement here...

Jo said...

Katy, you are so lucky...! The occupy movement is just stupid. There is no leadership, no cohesion ... in Vancouver they are just a bunch of thugs. I can hardly wait until the end of November, when there will be 400,000 rabit, drunk football fans in downtown Vancouver. *heh*

Linda Myers said...

I am remembering the late 60s and the student movement. Lots of passion. They made a difference in turning the tide against the war in Viet Nam.

Nothing like the young for passion.

Single and Sane said...

I don't understand why the Occupy movement has wound up in so many countries and I agree that they don't seem to have any particular focus. Too many of them don't seem to understand that the problem isn't companies making profits, or CEO's getting big bonuses. The problem is that too many of our politicians are owned by corporations, wealthy donors, and lobbyists. It's what's keeping Washington from functioning the way it should...or perhaps functioning, at all.


The Mound of Sound said...

Jo, Canada is not in the same situation the US is in but we do have a quickly developing problem of inequality of wealth, income and opportunity - in other words we're trending the same way. As Andrew Nikiforuk and others so powerfully prove, our Canada is fast becoming a genuine petro-state, manifesting the gamut of ills that brings.

There is a sharp disconnect that roughly hovers around the age 40. Those under-40s, the Canadians who will have to endure what we have set in motion for them since WWII have cause for concern, and anger.

Jo, our parents wanted us to have better lives than they had and we did. No Great Depression, no world war, just loads of peace and prosperity. We haven't delivered that same blessing to our children and our grandchildren stand to have it even worse.

I guess my point is that those of us on the lucky side of 40 shouldn't be too damned quick to judge the other side and have no right to be dismissive of concerns we will never have to bear.

The Mound of Sound said...

And by the way Jo, you might want to reconsider the line about how you've had to work for everything you've had. In fact, a great many others paid in different ways to enable you to have so much. Some paid a horrible price that you could earn your living in peace, without the miserable disruptions brought by war. Some paid for your education. Some paid for the roads you drive along. A lot of costs, not all of them monetary, that you might otherwise have had to pay have been covered by others.

I was a professional and it irked me to no end to listen to lawyers and doctors complain about their tax burdens because I knew if it hadn't been for those thousands of blue collar workers chipping in through their taxes out of their modest incomes, most of these advantaged would never have been able to afford their educations.

Jo said...

Mound of Sound, my husband died when my daughter was four years-old. I raised her through the most difficult times anyone could possibly imagine. I'm not even going to get into it here, but it was extremely difficult. Employers, landlords, bank managers, etc., were not exactly kind to single mothers or their children. I helped change laws regarding employment, child care and housing. My daughter now has a Master's Degree and is a professional. Please ... do not lecture to me about what people sacrified for me. I have made sacrifies that have made HUGE differences for people who are less fortunate than I am.

Earn my living in peace? That's the biggest joke of all. I have had bosses who have trapped me in closets, even bosses who have come to my home. Bosses who have fired me because my little girl got sick with measles and I had to stay home and look after her. Landlords who decided they were not going to allow children to live there anymore, and we were evicted ~~ essentially homeless. I struggled and I prevailed.

So, please do not lecture to me. I have been there, done that, got the Tee-shirt.

Those bums down there at our Art Gallery are a bunch of losers. They will not change anything. Change comes from personal responsibility.