I was in Vancouver for the weekend and spent some time at the ‘Occupy Vancouver’ tent-city. I read much of the material they had posted around the location, some of which, at a casual glance, was grossly erroneous; Canadian banks don’t have minimum capital requirements? Guess no one read Basel III before making their signage or (in Canada) the Bank Act. One sign had a suggestion that building tunnels between major urban centres to house a mag-lev train which could travel at 4000km per hour (yes, 4000) was more cost effective than continuing on with the airline system. Now I’ve read a bit about mag-levs (I think they have some in Japan, China and Germany) and while they can be powered by electricity generated by alternate energy power-plants, even when full-cost accounting is taken into consideration, I can’t see how a tunnel underground between Vancouver and Toronto (let alone closer cities like Seattle or Calgary) could possibly be less costly. Anyway, I digress.
I had a chat with the communications director for fifteen minutes – nice guy and very articulate. He was quite candid with some of his answers. Turns out he didn’t actually stay in the tent city but rather lived in an apartment in Yaletown and just came down to the site on evening and weekends. I didn’t realize that the majority of the tenters, according to this guy, are actually homeless people and are not directly involved in the ‘Occupy’ movement. Anyway, this fellow worked for a food distribution company, driving a rig and said Occupy Vancouver has had some problems with the organization of their ‘members’ – ‘too many chefs’ was his expression. Everyone wants to be at the top of the pile and there is so much in-fighting they can’t get around to actually codifying their goals and objectives. He hopes the winter will cull the herd, leading to a more focused group next spring.
I must admit that I’m still not entirely sure what the ‘Occupy’ movement is fighting for right now. I’ve read numerous articles, news releases and blogs but many have varying opinions or platforms. Here are a few words from the Occupy Wall Street website: “Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” What does this mean? I haven’t been able to find a definition of the 1%; for instance, if they mean the wealthiest people I would have to 100% disagree with them as two people I’ve personally met (Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) are in the top five wealthiest people in the world (ipso facto in the 1%) and one can’t really say they’re greedy as they’ve already given away billions. In fact, if I look at many of the wealthy people I know personally (and due to my line of work, I know a lot), most of them worked hard for their wealth, managed their finances and were prudent and these same people are extremely generous with their dollars, supporting a massive array of causes, organizations and groups. Are they part of the 1%? Are they not to be tolerated?
Does the 1% refer to countries? If so, we’re in trouble as Canada is definitely in the 1% of the world’s wealthiest nations? Does this mean Occupy isn’t going to tolerate Canada? What form of resistance does that take?
Don’t get me wrong; I think that some things need modification in our current global situation. One need only look at the absurd lending practices around the world. A more targeted change might include a cap on executive compensation, as long as it was across the board – every industry, every company. Hmm..I might take that back as I’m CEO of my company and I don’t want to limit my compensation. However, we could extrapolate this to celebrities? Sports stars? Where does it end? While we’re at it, I find it ironic that a number of the most outspoken supports of ‘Occupy’ are Hollywood actors, many of whom would easily fall within the 1%? I read an interesting article today regarding Michael Moore (click here) – it seems as though he is playing both sides of the fence on this whole issue.
I don’t know what solutions are proposed by Occupy Vancouver; indeed, as mentioned they don’t really have their platform solidified yet. I do know, however, that the government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. I’m still trying to get my simple brain around the whole concept but whatever your personal point of view, the ‘Occupy’ movement makes for a lively conversation.