Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why has the Occupy Movement not made Demands?

This is my response to a question that many are asking about the Occupy Movement and why they have not given a list of demands.

“Do you have suggestions for demands my friend? I'm not intending on being rude or argumentative but the fact is this protest is so vast that I seriously doubt they could give a list of 5 or 10 demands, or even 100 as did that Luther fellow.

The system is not working. It hasn't worked for some time now. The stock market fiascos we've been seeing had their seeds cast in the Reagan administration and before.

The corporation, originally a government licence to allow a group of investors to unite to take on projects too large for an individual now have grown so large that governments take their orders from them.

Government has left the common people. We have little or no voice other than the periodic casting of ballots. There used to be debate between the leaders and the local candidates about what they could do for the community and the country, now we get sound bites and smear.

In the U.S. they talk about who has the largest “War Fund” to win the Presidency, here we see a government trying to cripple the opposition by hamstringing them financially.

Policy is not important, Money wins elections.

Look to the South and you see perpetual gridlock in their government. The only thing they can agree on is that the other team is to blame. Up here we live under the rule of the 39% of the 60% who bothered to vote.

The time of our fathers is disappearing, the time of get an education and you’ll get a good job is history, find a job and work hard to get ahead is past.

More people are working past “retirement” age, they even changed the laws so they could! Not because they want to stay busy, they just can’t afford to retire.

Some are seeing a future where part time work will be the rule. Businesses will have a core of full time employees, as few as possible and will fill out their roster with part timers when demand increases. Think Walmart and Target stores and project that into the factories and offices.

When I was young, the 21st century was to be a grand time, no one would want for food or housing anywhere. 6 hour work days were going to be the norm and a 4 day work week so we would be able to spend more time with our families. It would be like Disneyland for the whole world.

I don’t know who did it, or how they did it and I’m certain the protesters don’t know either. The system is broken. The few live off the many and refuse to share.

I find it amazing that Lord Stephen and Boy Jim are “concerned” that the recovery is slowing but we should be ok when other parts of the world are seriously concerned that we could be on the cusp of a world wide depression. The rich needn’t worry, they generally survive depressions quite well, and many make gains during these periods. Some will lose their fortunes but they are usually not equipped to handle wealth anyway.

Since the 1970’s, most people have not seen any real increase in their income. Wages and buying power have stagnated. Only the wealthy have seen increases, and the gap keeps widening.

The Middle Class is dwindling. Originally made up of shop keepers and artisans and later by managers and higher paid labour, they are disappearing, especially the labourers. Good paying manufacturing jobs are going away, disappearing to the South and to the East or just disappearing altogether.

The Middle Class is the engine that drives the economy. The wealthy cannot do it, there are too few of them. The working poor can’t do it, they can’t afford to spend.

Governments look to the corporations to invest, but what should they invest in? The Risk/Reward ratio is too steep. There is no market for stuff, so we stop making stuff until the market gets better. When we layoff the people who make stuff the market drops even further. The first act was to move the making of stuff to low wage countries. We can make stuff cheaper and in turn sell it cheaper and still improve the profit line.

That worked for a while but now the people here can’t even afford the cheaper stuff made over there.

We used to make microchips and computers over here, as well as TVs and washers and fridges but we don’t anymore. Someone decided to make things “over there”. And it worked. All these things are at the lowest prices they have ever been. But they undermined their own markets. The people who made these things can no longer afford them.

The banks conned people in the U.S. into buying mortgages they could not afford. Well they could afford them unless the interest rates went up or the economy soured. Then the banks packaged these poorly thought out mortgages into derivatives and sold them all over the place and then interest rates moved up and the economy soured and these derivatives threatened to topple the banks.

If the banks failed there would likely have been a depression so the government threw money at the banks to save them. Government is so bent on this top down system that it never occurred to them to put them money anywhere else. They still believe tax breaks for the corporations will create jobs too.

Had the governments instead thrown lifelines to the people who were at risk of losing their homes, the crisis would likely have passed without the banks toppling. The economy would still be weak, but the governments would have been able to buy time to address the problems calmly.

And then we have Stephen Harper yelling to the world that they need to curtail government spending and pay down their debts and now many experts a warning this is precisely the wrong thing to do. All that this will do is remove money from the economy and give it to the banks who aren’t doing anything constructive with it anyways. We need to put money back into the economy intelligently.

We need to create a situation where people have money in their hands that they aren’t afraid to spend. Increased spending at the consumer level will get the corporations investing again and start the ball moving. Every recession that has passed has shown this. Every recession has been pushed back by the consumer. The consumers have run out of push. We need to get it back.

We need the government to represent the people, all of the people and be responsive to the people and their needs.

We need banks to get back to banking and to stop messing around in everything else. Banks should be in the business of providing loans to people in ways that they are able to repay them and to reward savers with interest again.

We need corporations to act responsibly and accept reasonable profits over maximizing profits and to build sustainable business models to the benefit of the people as well as the investors.

We need the system to change, but how to change it is a far more complex question than I dare ask.”

Now I’m certain that if you take this to the Occupiers some might agree and some would say I’ve missed it entirely.

The Occupiers are the vocal minority trying to represent a vast number of people and not all of those people want these Occupiers to represent them.

Look at the Occupiers, there are Students and Seniors, people with iPads and iPhones and the homeless, returning Vets and Anarchists, there are people representing all different facets of society and their polar opposites taking part.

About the only thing that they can agree on is the system doesn’t work and that they didn’t break it.

As for demands? I have no idea where they would start.

1 comment:

  1. "They" know what's happening and approve. This document is purported to be from 2005 - download the pdf and read it, the arrogance is palpable:
    As for how to do a stimulus, there is good sound evidence that if you just give the poorest of the poor money, they will spend it and it will stimulate the economy. If you give the richest of the rich money, it will disappear from circulation. So how about we give everybody whose annual income was below $15,000 12 cheques for $500 each over the next year and see what happens. That would probably be less than the cost of one F35