‘Occupy’ movement offers wake-up call

Re: ‘Occupy’ camps just another squat, B.C. Views, Nov. 10.

To the Editor,

Re: ‘Occupy’ camps just another squat, B.C. Views, Nov. 10.

Tom Fletcher decries the Occupy protests as “pathetic,” “nonsense,” and nothing but mere “squats,” all examples of language that distort the real issues that the movement has raised.

He states that the protests are just platforms for a “stale leftist ideology,” one that presumably has no basis in today’s world. If he were only to look at the facts though, he would see less ideology, and more of a sad reality.

This new reality has been 40 years in the making, enabled by laws that allowed companies to accumulate wealth at unprecedented levels. Some call it neo-liberal economics, others call it theft.

Either way it has created a society that is less equal than that before it.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), between 1997 and 2007 the richest one per cent took 32 per cent of all growth in incomes in Canada – a bigger piece of the pie than any other generation before it.

In 1977, around when neo-liberal economic theory was being put into practice, the richest one per cent of money earners held 7.7 per cent of Canadian income, compared to 13.8 per cent in 2007 – almost double.

Another study by the Conference Board of Canada shows that Canada ranks 12th in income inequality out of the world’s 17 most developed nations.

The Occupy protesters, seeing this growing gap in income inequality, are worried that if the trend continues they will not be afforded the opportunities that the previous generation had. As well, neo-liberal economic policies are decaying many of our social programs, making it harder for people to seek help when they need it.

Therefore, when Fletcher says the Occupy protesters are “anti-capitalist,” it’s not true. Occupy protesters are against the modern form of unregulated capitalism, the form that led to the 2008 economic crash, and the criminal corporate bailout that followed it.

Unfortunately, it’s the sort of ad hominem attacks that Fletcher uses, calling the protesters “spoiled young drummers and hula-hoopers,” that takes away from the opportunity the Occupy Wall Street movement has given us to talk about serious issues.

Let us not just scratch the surface, but really dig deep to understand all sides of the story. When millions of people in more than 2,000 cities across the world gather to display their dissatisfaction with the economic status quo, it isn’t just your run of the mill protest – it’s a wakeup call.

David Geselbracht

Nanaimo