D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Occupy BayStreet–What’s the Point Again?

Sunday, October 16, 2011 9:26 PM

We’ve all been inundated with images from the various Occupy Wallstreet demonstrations that have been occurring throughout the United States. Hordes of people frustrated with how their country’s financial systems have imploded due to corporate greed. I’m not American, so really I can’t comment on the situation – its an internal family issue that’s really none of my business. After all, Canada’s economy weathered the global recession very well and we avoided the disaster that befell other countries.

So I find it funny that others have adopted this “Occupy Wallstreet” movement in their countries. Consider this map from MotherJones.com:

image

Now Europe I can somewhat understand, since they’re in a bit of financial disarray. But why is Australia and Japan joining the fight? And Canada – what’s Canada doing in there?! Maybe its because of how the US is Canada’s biggest trading partner, and a healthy US economy translates to healthier economic health up here. That, after all, would actually make sense.

But no, the irony is that the “Occupy BayStreet” movement in Canada (BayStreet is the financial district in Toronto) has very little if anything to do with what Occupy Wallstreet is about. Instead, its an opportunity for a human rights organization to associate with a prominent movement to gain media attention.

The Canadian Peace Alliance (and its Manitoba group, the Peace Alliance Winnipeg), were the ones behind the Toronto event…and in Winnipeg. From the Peace Alliance Winnipeg’s website:

Peace Alliance Winnipeg will be there because we want to send the message to Stephen Harper that we reject the growing militarization of Canadian society, the wars in Libya and Afghanistan, the addition of overseas military bases and the expenditure of billions of dollars to pay for “stealth fighters” that have only one use – wars of aggression -  while Canadian infrastructure and social programs crumble.

So while many may assume the protesters were standing up against fiscal wrongdoing, the Winnipeg event was meant to be an anti-war demonstration. As far as I know, that’s *not* what the American movement is about.

But maybe most of the hundreds that came out across Canada to join in the protests were fuelled by the “1% is richer than 99% of the population” rhetoric that has people so enraged. And I agree! I don’t feel that the richest 1% are doing nearly enough to help the other 99%!

So, what are you going to do Mr./Miss RichPerson?

Oh, let me explain. That MotherJones.com site I mentioned earlier had another really slick graphic, showing that the average income for the bottom 90% of US residents was $31,244.

So let’s head over to www.globalrichlist.com, a site created by a company in London called Poke who, from their website, state:

We built this site because we wanted to challenge people's perception of their personal wealth. And while we're at it hopefully raise some money for a good cause.

Now if we put in $31,244 US into their spiffy calculator (they list how they calculate this on the site), guess what?

The average income for the bottom 90% of US residents puts them in the top 7% of the richest people in the world!

image

That’s right, if you make just over $31k a year US, congrats – you’re actually part of the global financial problem.

Of course, everything is relative. But still, the fact that everything is relative makes Canadian demonstrations against the power of the Western Wealthy seem like privileged children not getting the new iPhone 4S for their birthday.

We are a fortunate country that supports its less fortunate more than most, and provides its citizens the freedom to realize their dreams. That’s not airy-fairy talk, its true! Want to start a company, do it. Want to start a non-profit, do it. Want to teach, or volunteer, or organize fundraisers, or get involved with politics – do it!

And to me, that’s what makes the recent demonstrations so frustrating. If people don’t like where our world is heading, then change it. Do something! Don’t just complain to governments, don’t make villains out of those that have embraced the opportunities our country provides.

Wealth is not a bad thing. Those that are wealthy are not inherently bad or evil. In fact, much good can come from wealth. Look at Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, two of the wealthiest men in the world and also two of the biggest philanthropists. And really, true wealth can’t be tied directly to salary or a bank account – true wealth is about family, friends, character; things that you can’t put a price on.

If we see social injustice, we should voice our displeasure. But what our country and our world really needs now are men and women of action who will do more than just put signs together and take a walk one day out of the year. We live in a rich country that gives us the freedom to change the world if we want to. Not taking advantage of that is the biggest abuse of wealth that I can think of.




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# re: Occupy BayStreet–What’s the Point Again?

A few points / questions:

What is wrong with people protesting and demanding change from their government when they see something they feel is wrong and/or harmful? How is this not doing something?

While these Peace Alliance people are either piggybacking on the OWS movement, or are just inspired by it (like alot of poeple in the world have been lately - think Arab spring). I don't see anything wrong with this.

You say Canadians should start "doing something", and suggest starting companies, volunteering, etc. This is all good, and people here should take full advantage of this situation, but how does this fix or change any of their issues with what they feel is a harmful direction our government is heading in? Voting and riding out the decision while keeping quiet should not be the way things are done.

Wealth is not a inherently bad thing you're right. But what I see as the fundamental issue that the OWS people have is that many of the so called 1% use their wealth to influence the government to pass laws that screw the rest. It is this culture of corruption and greed through lobbyists and campaign contributions is what the OWS folks are protesting against. Completely different from what those Peace Alliance people are doing.

It seems like you are confusing the OWS issues and the Canadian issues. 10/18/2011 9:07 PM | scott

# re: Occupy BayStreet–What’s the Point Again?

Hey Scott, thanks for your comment. Here's my replies:

Nothing wrong with protesting and demanding change.

I see something wrong with starting a movement that's assuming the moniker of another but for totally different reasons and not being forthcoming about it. They should have stated that their movement was about government funds going to support military initiatives, but people assumed that they were demonstrating against corporate greed.

I feel that closing the gap between the poor and rich isn't something that the government should be expected to fix. Government can only create policy and enforce it, but they can't get rid of poverty. That's a complex answer that does have a commerce component to it - create jobs where people can make means and move out of poverty.

Interestingly, I was reading in the paper today about how Canada is actually leading the way in trying to recover taxes from illegal tax havens offshore, so its not like the Canadian government isn't doing anything about the 1% that's acting illegally.

I agree the OWS people have a different bent than the PA people...like I stated, OWS isn't happening in my country and I don't have a firm grasp of the all the issues down there (government lobbeyists are obviously one of them). I'm not confusing the OWS issues and Canadian ones, I'm pointing out that the Canadian movement isn't the same as OWS. Also there are people who are marching simply because they want equality between all, but don't want to put in the work to help elevate themselves. I have a problem with that.

D 10/18/2011 9:38 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Occupy BayStreet–What’s the Point Again?

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