Sunday, October 9, 2011
If you've been having trouble understanding what the Occupy Wall Street (Bay Street and any other street) movement ultimately stands for, please read my letter to the Toronto organization:
Dear Occupy Brothers & Sisters,
I'm hoping you'll take the time to read this article, as it explains some of the background behind the theory of this movement. I feel there's been a few challenges to organizing the masses due to the missing element of a core message. http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/552.php#continue
I will be attending the event as a peaceful protester for a number of reasons and share these thoughts with you as a matter of caring. I want it to be successful as possible! But I feel the event needs to pick up the important torch of leadership. I've seen many folks asking questions and the common response seems to be, "YOU'RE in charge"!
While we want to empower and mobilize everyone, if no guidance or motivating reasons are provided then the movement will not receive the type of positive support it requires. Telling participants they'll have to be responsible for everything is a sure way to keep them at home. There is true importance in what we're doing and we can't afford for that message to be lost. This has the potential to grow bigger than the G20 (which I also attended, peacefully).
But many are wondering why they should be there. Is this a union protest? Is it for the unemployed, the impoverished, advocates of housing, childcare, tax arguments, bank fees, gap between rich and poor, the middle class, pilots, teachers, librarians... or is it just a bunch of communists? (And don't kid yourselves, the term communist will be applied frequently.)
The true answer is it's for everyone - the 99%, but they need to know who they are or why they're the 99%. The middle class goes to great lengths to mentally define themselves as doing better than most. So you need to make sure they're engaged and understand this applies to them as well. Otherwise the "institution" or "establishment" will paint this as a fringe rebellion and do nothing to respond. Everyone needs to keep in mind that the goal is compelling a response!
Ultimately people are occupying because of "trickle down economics". That's it in a nutshell. The article I provided will demonstrate as banking and investment were deregulated, the rich got richer and everyone else got poor. The working person's wages remained stagnant at rates equal with 1971, while the top 1%'s earnings grew by 261%.
The other problem with this scenario (on top of families unable to shoulder the burden) is that financial industries will outnumber all public sector jobs by the year 2023. Once private investors hold control of not only the wealth but the people themselves, they then control their governments and every aspect of the way they're allowed to live.
On top of that; Canadian Conservative and Liberal, American Democrat and Republican parties all support maintaining this ideology, so the foothold of private finance malefactors is already entrenched in our system. They claim tax cuts for the wealthiest will create jobs and yet their financial manipulation (allowed through deregulation that has defined today’s world markets, banking and the fiat monetary structure) is exactly what cost the 99% millions of their jobs. It also cost us in taxation because we have to bail out the billionaires “too big to fail”.
When they start eating into our tax base (through kickbacks, tax cuts, bailouts, deregulation), they also eat into our health care, child care, education, pensions, EI, housing, borrowing and every public/social service we hold dear. It also means they’re eating away at our ability to survive (or prosper!) from all angles. It’s set up so they continue to benefit no matter what they’ve done to the economy while you and I are forced to pay for it – WE, the 99%.
I think part of the reason mainstream media hasn’t delved deep into coverage is due to the fact they can’t figure out a story title. So many people are getting involved but they’re coming up short with a core message. I think organizers aren’t even sure how to formulate “demands” as I’ve heard it referred to. On that note, I don’t think demanding anything is a good way to gain support, as it puts up a side and most of those alienated are actually part of the 99%.
I hope the movement is able to formulate a direction that’s identifiable and inclusive. And I really believe “trickle down economics” is a sound byte media can run with. Once they have a direction themselves, they can begin to branch out to individual reasons – but not the other way around! If leaders are willing to step up and take the bull by the horns, this should generate top news coverage and put pressure on the government.
Ultimately you’re not protesting the actual people who work on Bay Street (or the police for that matter, they’re the 99% too!). The financial district was chosen as a symbol of capitalism gone awry, without the courage of governments to control them in the best interests of their people. And make no mistake; while Canadian banking is more regulated than our counterparts, the entire act of trading, speculation, lending and borrowing is still done on the same global playing field, to the same rules and repercussions. New studies have come out that identify Toronto will not have a middle class by 2025 (coincidentally 2 years after private financial domination is predicted).
Canada has been undergoing a personality makeover for a great many years. Although we pride ourselves on our social network, it’s been a harsh battle to keep that balanced with the shift toward total capitalism (also totally supported by Conservative theology). As you can see with every new budget, there are more cuts to public networks and more padding for the wealthiest.
In light of massive deregulation and a bid to morph into the United States, Canada has seen 11,724 foreign takeovers of its companies. This has resulted in lost jobs that are moved overseas in every instance. It was thought we could replace them with open markets and even distribution of competition, but with the loss of our jobs (and homes I might add), it’s been impossible to maintain a system of minimum wage, health or safety regulations and compare to countries that don’t have them. We will either give up safety precautions (Walkerton, Maple Leaf anyone?) or work for pennies (enabled through employment/placement agencies and union busting).
Since middle class incomes haven’t risen since 1971 and the cost of living has gone through the roof, we also lost our buying power – which is essential to keep a capitalist system running. We were thoroughly supported by manufacturing to meet our own demands, except we can only need so many TVs, cars or new clothing patterns and our ability to purchase them on a whim has diminished.
And so enters the business of speculation and commodities. We still must eat, drive and light up our homes. Again through deregulation and privatization, we’ve seen hydro, insurance and interest only climb. When that wasn’t good enough for the 1%, they started tinkering with our food and its transportation to our tables.
For those who don’t understand speculation, it’s basically the practice of buying something up without the need (or perhaps intention) to sell it. This creates a manufactured shortage and drives prices up across the board. It happens by the minute with oil and you see how this translates at the pumps. We’re paying the same price per barrel of oil today, as we were when it cost 79 cents at the gas station. It is purely through speculation that it’s increased to $1.30/litre today.
Since that endeavour has been so successful, they’ve begun doing it to our food. Corn, grains, sugar and water – the basis of everything we need to make all others. And like clockwork, the price of food has doubled at the grocery store. (This is also why gathering at Wall/Bay Street is significant, because that’s where speculating occurs every day and has become the focus of trading.)
I hope this helps explain why we’re the 99% and why everyone needs to support this movement, no matter which path they take to get there. The mobilizing has already occurred so it’s time to step up and organize! Whether you protest the practices that have landed us in this situation or want to focus on a specific repercussion – please join in and have your say. United we stand and it’s time to overcome the policies that keep everyone confused with education!
In the meantime I highly advise making inroads with media. You must not forget we are all the 99% and once they understand the message they may become the movement’s biggest ally. We’re not asking for “a” program. We’re not asking for “a” tax rebate. What we’re asking for is fundamental change within our system and this is no easy task. Please use all the tools available to you and don’t shun them! And please don’t become overwhelmed when you realize what we’re attempting. Our parents and grandparents did this in the 1960s and gave us a better life for their efforts. The time has come for us to show the same care to our children. Cheers everyone and see you next Saturday.
by Amy MacPherson
The country had fallen into a state of moral putrefaction, with corruption running rampant throughout the government ranks.