#Occupy Movements

I guess that it’s time for me to write something about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and the global #Occupy movement.  It has been very intriguing to to watch this develop and grown.  Full disclosure: I have not been down to the #occupyyyc site at all (probably won’t) but I am a regular subscriber to Adbusters (the originator of the OWS idea) and I generally sympathize with the much of the OWS movement.

The reason I felt I’d like to write something now was that I was listening to a piece on CBC’s “The Current” which had a conversation with Anna-marie Tremonte and three 1%ers.  It was very interesting to hear their perspectives and I found myself agreeing with some of their points and sentiments.  Most of the OWS critiques I’ve heard range from, “Just get a sweeper machine to clear those hippies out” to “they don’t even know what they want” and finally, “We’re never gonna leave!”.  These response are neither helpful more generative.

One point made in the interview that I strongly agree with was made by Terry Campbell, the Chair of the Canadian Bankers Association.  He felt that much of the #occupy movement in Canada is a spillover from the American OWS situation – that, for whatever reason, we are grabbing hold of some of their anger and misdirecting it onto our system. He definitely has a point.  Here’s how I break it down:

  1. Canada is just not as messed up at the US.  We definitely have some unethical systems and we struggle with how we use and fund the public purse…but nothing akin to the US system of liassez faire finances.
  2. Canada as a strong regulated banking system that has withstood the global financial meltdown.  The banking bailouts that have rightly angered many Americans did not occur here.  It is right to be angry at the government for bailing out Wall Street while allowing Main Street to languish.  The multi-trillion dollar bailout that was put together could easily have been reworked to provide more direct support to help Americans keep their homes, continue to run their small businesses and stimulate local growth…rather than shore up greed and mismanaged banks (and financial service corporations) that only intended to put their bailout cash into savings.  Trickle down economics does not work!!!  It never has and it never will.
  3. Canada has different laws in regards to the extension of influence available to lobbyists and corporations.  I’m not naive to suggest to that corporations and 1%ers do not actively lobby government but the system in Canada is certainly not as one-sided as it is in the US.
  4. Canada has always maintained corporate and personal limitations on political patronage and financial support to political organizations.
  5. Canada did not have a housing bubble burst in our face.  We have always had a more conservative mortgage system that never bet on the potential homeowner to suddenly earn 2-5 times as much income within 3 years of home ownership.  We were definitely caught in the housing collapse backwash…but it wasn’t a home grown problem
  6. We do not extend the same legal rights to corporations as are provided in the US.  It is my understanding that although Canada does some legislation that opens the doors to corporate personhood we do not anthropomorphize corporations to the same degree as the US.  This practice clearly needs to be repealed in order for a healthy economy to be established.
Tomorrow, I’ll bring a post that highlights what I believe are the some of major themes or points of conversation contained in the #occupy movement.
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