On Saturday October 15th, there will be a demonstration in down town Toronto. The gathering will be in the name of the recent “Occupy” movement that has staged protest rallies in cities throughout the United States.
Today several Toronto Unions have thrown their support behind the movement. There will be buses of union workers coming into Toronto, meeting at King and Bay St. The unions say that they are joining the protest because they believe in the cause of fairness for the working class.
The Occupy movement does not have a central leader or a central message. The gatherings are loosely organized and people are invited to come and “Sit-in” or “march” on whatever topic they wish. However, the marches are targeted specifically towards Banks, Wall St, and Bay St., and the general theme of the protests seemed to be centred around the topics of:
- Fairness in wages
- The growing divide between rich and poor
- Corporate Profits
- Corporate Tax Breaks
- Excessive Executive Bonuses
These are all pertinent issues in today’s society. These issues seem to be more relevant to Americans than Canadians. The US unemployment is 10%. Americans have lost an incredible amount of net worth because of the housing crash. Canadians have not been affected by any housing crash and our unemployment level is not excessive and is still manageable.
The Occupy protest does have some valid points. But could it be that their demonstration should be aimed at the Government or even the consumer instead of Banks and Financial institutions?
If the Occupy’s beef is with corporate taxes, then shouldn’t they be demonstrating in Ottawa and lobbing to have the tax code changed?
If the Occupy’s beef is with the level of corporate profits, shouldn’t they be exercising their displeasure with their wallets? Will corporate executives pay attention to a protest, or will they pay attention to their sales dropping by 10%? If one million people show up to protest, what is going to change? If one million people decide to pull their money from a specific Canadian bank, or specific gas company, I imagine that executives will notice right away… and make changes.
Apparently the protestors are upset with Canadian Banks. Do these protestors have mortgages, lines of credit, car loans, credit cards? If they have these loans, then they are giving the banks money. If there is a divide between rich and poor, it might be because people don’t live within their means. (Side note: There was a study done in the US that examined poor people without credit cards to middle income people with credit cards. The study proved that the poor people without a credit card actually had a higher net worth than the middle income people with a credit card.) This study shows that some of the divide between rich and poor can be due to the “poor”‘s inability to live within their means. No bank forced anyone to get a credit card, take out a big mortgage, or drive a new SUV.
If protestors feel that corporate executives are making too much money, or have bonuses that are too large, they can also change this with their wallets or their votes. It might not be reasonable to think that a person can buy enough stock to vote out management of a corporation, but that’s the way it’s supposed to work: Shareholders get to vote on a board of directors that have control over a company. Alternatively, protestors can choose not to buy or use any of that company’s products. If you think GM or Royal Bank’s executives make too much money, then don’t buy their products.
Society’s issues are very important. It’s important to voice your opinion and exercise your right to free speech. The Occupy protests are a great example of democratic freedoms. Corporate greed, fairness, and the divide between rich and poor are all very important topics. Kudos to the Occupy movement for bringing them to the forefront of people’s minds. Now how about making an action plan that will get results, force change and change our society…for the better.
Its one thing to tell everyone that you are not happy with a situation, it’s another thing to change your behaviour and do something about your situation.
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