The Occupy Thing

I just don’t have any desire to join the “Occupy” movement. That’s not to say I won’t change my mind, but it’s not calling to me even though I agree with many of the founding principles.

On my way in to work today I drove by the Occupy Hartford encampment. It’s on Farmington Ave near I84. I didn’t count the people, but there was a small crowd and tents pitched on the grass. All I could think of was the sixties.

When I was in college I was politically active. I marched on Washington in the Moratorium. I attended another Moratorium on the Common in Boston.

It was the right thing to do and I think our protests were heard. It’s tough to understand how politically divisive Vietnam was if you weren’t around.

I just don’t have any desire to join the “Occupy” movement. That’s not to say I won’t change my mind, but it’s not calling to me though I agree with many of the founding principles.

There’s a lot I don’t agree with too.

The political deck is stacked. The economic deck is stacked. Money buys power. Money corrupts. I’m on board with all of that.

I have written in the past about laws that encourage behavior bad for us in general. I have no doubt money bought those laws. This movement and I share anger at these laws.

The middle class in American society hasn’t existed that long. Now it’s on its way to extinction. Tragic.

How can you not support that part of the “occupiers'” philosophy?

On the other hand it’s tough to get behind some of the loaded questions Occupy Wall Street asks on its “A Modest Call to Action” page.

If you agree that a person is entitled to the sweat of their brows, that being talented at management should not entitle others to act like overseers and overlords, that all workers should have the right to engage in decisions, democratically, then you might be one of us.

I don’t agree with the second half of that.

Business needs structure and management. I’m not ready for a worker’s collective. It won’t work. The only thing most people agree on is what they dislike! I’m not an anarchist.

The answer to our nation’s problems isn’t pure capitalism or pure socialism or even pure democracy Dogma doesn’t solve problems. We need a more nuanced approach.

Yesterday Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) wrote,

When a board of directors removes a CEO for poor performance, we don’t expect the board to have a specific plan for how the next CEO will run things. The board’s job is to remove the underperforming CEO and start a search for a new one.

That model reminds me of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Some pundits are criticizing the protesters for not having specific demands, but I don’t think that’s a fair observation. The protesters are simply trying to fire the old CEO, metaphorically speaking. It’s not their job to micromanage the next one.

It’s not important for the Occupy Wall Street, Hartford, Boston, etc people to lay out the future. All they need to do is show our collective disgust. And I think they are.

5 thoughts on “The Occupy Thing”

  1. Oh, Geoff, I am so sorry to hear all this.

    I remember we all supported you when you had so unfairly lost your job with no notice.

    Now just imagine if this had happened to you and you were NOT a famous person with a long history of a big salary and benefits and a nest egg to fall back on.

    Suppose instead that you had no savings, a couple of kids in school, a spouse with serious health issues, no college degree, a mortgaged house with less value than it had when you bought it, or any number of combinations which lead to your being on the unemployment line—which is soon to end if the Republican-controlled Congress has its way.

    I am a 55-year-old single woman who found herself on Social Security after a life-altering illness from which I will never recover. I scrimped and starved for over 2 decades to keep my house.I was always very conservative in my financial decisions and have a decent fixed rate mortgage.

    Yet now when I try to re-fi at these really low rates, they tell me that despite a 785 credit score and never being late on my mortgage for 23 years, I am not able to get a loan!

    And they talk about reducing Social Security, ending Medicare, cutting out heating assistance. My expenses have gone up and up with no end in sight…electricity,food,taxes on my house,almost everything.

    I buy used clothing at estate sales and go to the flea market for all my fruit & vegetables,shampoo,home necessities.I have had energy-saving light bulbs for 20 years!I haven’t gone on a vacation since getting sick. I drive a 1994 Subaru that needs brakes and something else in the front.I haven’t had my furnace cleaned for the first time this year because I no longer have a service contract (the oil companies won’t give me one because I get heating assistance!).I don’t go to the doctor nearly as much as I need to in order to properly care for my disease. I had to stop wearing contacts and buy glasses. I stopped having my hair colored at the salon two decades ago and for a while, did it myself.

    I am struggling, Geoff, and compared to many people, I have “luxury problems”.There will be old and poor people who are cold in their homes this year—if they even HAVE homes.

    The Congress just voted to end giving surplus food to the elderly, which has been done for over 50 years.

    I don’t begrudge you your good fortune. But I am saddened to read that you do not feel anything for those who are so moved by the inequity in our contry that they are sleeping in TENTS OUTDOORS. They are putting themselves in danger of being assaulted and/or arrested to call attention to the fact that while you are once again comfy, for 99% of us in the USA, life is not easy!

    Before you turn your back on the same people who supported you during your tribulations, please walk a mile in our shoes. Think hard! You are a kind, thoughtful, intelligent man. Perhaps you are just too busy to have given those people in the park much thought. I am hoping you will go talk to some of them and maybe change your mind about this Movement to bring some amount of fairness to all of our country’s citizens.

    1. There are large chunks of Occupy Wall Street’s stated goals I disagree with. That’s why I’m not there.

      I do seriously feel conflicted and hoped my words would clarify that a little. Maybe not.

      I was driven to write this to try and better understand my own thoughts.

  2. The trouble with the phrase ‘Workers of the world unite’ is it was written in bold font on the front of Karl Marx’s Communist manifesto. So as soon as anyone calls workers to stand together it immediately becomes a communist or socialist movement. The comment you disagreed with can either be read as ‘Red Propaganda’ or just ‘trade unionist’. I like you can understand most of the occupy wall street movement, what they do lack is clarity. Mary Ann makes a good point, but what I would say is I agree with everything completely, but as soon as you make a point about workers rights this whole country screams socialist/communist and in the most part this is NOT what people are saying. In my opinion though some socialist measures would be helpful but the S word is almost as obscene as the N word in this country, which is why were getting no real clarity from the protesters.

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