Friday, October 14, 2011


Coming to a city near you, are protestors armed with signs, tents and a litany of complaints they hope someone else will do something about. And they don’t care what it’s going to cost you.

Occupy Wall Street was a grass roots movement spawned from the creative team at Adbusters magazine in Vancouver, BC Canada.

These sharp minds recognized that the American Tea Party was representing the right wing, but no one was representing the left. The revolutions of the Arab Spring seemed sexy and exciting. Everyone loves a David and Goliath story!

Starting with a beautiful photo of a ballerina on a bull and about $100,000 from shadowy benefactors, the creative team designed a poster that screamed for sex, greed and revolution.

Now in it’s fourth week of occupation, the OCW is taking the show on the road.

Occupy will be taking to the streets in Vancouver on Saturday and judging from the past performances of crowds and over/under zealous police, I fear it won’t end well.

I can understand that there is some built up angst among people on the left coast. Lotusland can’t buy a break. Pacific Rim investment has forced real estate prices through the roof. Without four jobs and a 100-year mortgage, no young person could afford a starter home. There are few jobs. Businesses are leaving Vancouver for Calgary on every available stagecoach. Tuition rates are higher than they’ve ever been. Strategic voting turned out to be a disaster.

So here we have a city full of out of work young people, whom can’t afford to go to school, represented by a Prime Minister they didn’t vote for. Of course they want to protest. I get that.

What I don’t get, is what do they hope to accomplish by bringing America’s war to our doorstep? This is not our war. Our banks didn’t fail, in fact, they’ve grown exponentially since the US bailout.

Where was the support for poor, sweet Iceland as they slipped into the economic abyss? What about Greece, Portugal and now the rest of the EU is swirling down the economic toilet, but we’re going to offer the Americans our support? Don’t you know they are the ones who started it all? People get the government they deserve and America got off pretty easy, considering the rest of the world is paying for their idiocy. So far, at least. Eventually chickens come home to roost and once the EU defaults on all that bad paper, Goldman Sachs, Bear Sterns, AIG and the Federal Reserve will be holding the shit end of that stick.

Angst for angst sake

The Vancouver occupiers say they will be protesting a laundry list of things, from oil sands to election reform to personal debt. Again, there is no clear message here, but that’s the way they roll.

What do they hope to accomplish? Well, I didn’t get a clear answer on that. In fact, I didn’t get any answer at all. Just more of the rhetoric about the right to assemble, free speech, civil disobedience, need for a conversation, baggy pants, bongs etc. etc.

Before journalism became the steaming pile of puke it is today, we had two questions we’d ask ourselves before we ran any controversial story. “Whom does it help and whom does it hurt?” “Does this serve the greater good?”

There is a cost attached to policing every protest and municipalities have very tight budgets. When you pay police, transit, sanitation unbudgeted overtime, that money has to come from somewhere.

Certain parts of the budget cannot be reduced. You need money for water, sewer, snow clearing, street sweeping. Essential services like fire, police and ambulance cant be touched. The “discretionary” part of the budget includes things like under-funded soup kitchens, women’s shelters, arts and cultural events. In Vancouver, you can throw in the safe injection site, needle exchange and free crack pipes.

This protest will hurt those who need it most and help no one. You may offer some moral support to the protestors in NYC, but you do so at the expense of your city’s needy.

The City of New York has reached the breaking point now and can no longer afford this occupation.

Queens City Councilman Peter Vallone said the discretionary budget is spent and now fears the closure of essential services.

“We’re going to spend hundreds of thousands, maybe even $1 million on this that we don’t have,” Vallone said. “Because of these protests, we might even wind up shutting down schools and firehouses because this is costing a lot of money.”

Extrapolate those costs across the US and around the world. This is an enormous waste of tax dollars, to say nothing of the wasted human effort.

Taking Occupy on the road will not only diminish Occupy Wall Street, it will diminish every legitimate protest that follows. This is not recreation, people and your angst over the election, the oil sands or the Canucks losing the Stanley Cup do not compare to the Civil Rights Movement, Tiananmen Square or the Arab Spring. I hate to burst your bubble, but if you plan to protest every time you feel disenfranchised, you will lose your audience very quickly. You’re not nearly as compelling as you think you are.

You are the 1%. Although you may feel downtrodden, you are the richest people in the world and you won’t be seeing Occupy Darfur anytime soon.

As they fumble towards sanctimonious self-satisfaction, I’d like to offer the Occupiers some advice:

  1. Proceed with peace in your heart and humility in your soul. You don’t hold any answers to your myriad of questions. You will do best to tread lightly and don’t alienate those who do. You are going to need help.
  2. Give instead of take. Along with your list of demands and manifesto, signatories should offer to repay their host city with volunteer hours equal to the amount of time of occupation. Leave the community better off than it was.

I am part of the 1% of the world’s richest and I apologize in advance to the 99% for the foolish and unnecessary waste you are about to witness in the world.