Welcome to the circus boys and girls! The tent is downtown and the main attractions are your neighbours and friends. The banner they operate under is the Occupy movement and right now we’re being taken for a ride, so lean back and eat some popcorn — this is going to be fun.
In principle, I agree with the Occupy movement. It is unfair that 1 per cent of the population holds 40 per cent of the wealth, but this is life, and not to sound cliché, but life is unfair. The current economic climate has brought about the self-awareness of the masses, finally opening their eyes to the fact that not everything is joyous and blissful in the world. Western economies are in slow decline and, as in all things, the base will feel the ground shake before the peak does.
That is to not say that those on top of the world do not feel the economic hardship like we do. According to the United States website, America’s had more prominent businesses file for bankruptcy in the past five years than the 10 preceding years. Everyone is having problems, but you know the one thing that won’t fix the economy? Sitting in a lawn chair downtown with a sign in your hand.
Here’s an economics lesson that I learned when I was 12: go get a job, even if it’s minimum wage, because it still helps the economy. Some will refuse to get a job “flipping burgers,” because it’s distasteful and degrading. But the distasteful jobs still need to be done and unfortunately it’s the youth and young adults like you that fill those much needed positions.
And because the economy is interconnected, a McJob on one end of the line helps employ others in the production chain, from ranchers to butchers to drivers. And a clerk at a clothing store contributes to the textile industry in a similar way. When these service industries are disrupted, it affects the entire economy we have, thereby bringing everybody back down to the figurative square one.
What do you think is going to happen if you protest? Even if your protest succeeds, it’s not like the working class will be promoted to CEO positions. The simple reason why the CEOs of big companies get paid so much is that they are highly qualified for their positions. They go to school for numerous years and work hard to achieve the status, connections and marks needed to get to where they are today. To believe that an unemployed stoner could run a multi-million dollar company successfully is to misunderstand how the system works.
This is a capitalist society and what many in the Occupy movement are asking for — an even distribution of wealth — of course conflicts with the very definition of capitalism. What those in the Occupy movement are asking for is a transition from capitalism to communism, a fundamental switch for everyone in the western world.
Yet those who are protesting often carry $300 cell phones, wear $100 jeans and shirts that could easily be replaced with ones that don’t have an alligator on them. These are the fruits of our capitalist system, in which we have the choice of what we want to do and what we want to wear. If you force political change on society, we will have more people protesting in the streets, but unlike the Occupiers, they will have a much more intelligent argument to make.
Photo: Pete Yee