People are tremendously confused about the Occupy movement. Not only that, but people are tremendously confused in general, as they watch (and personally experience) the destruction of the middle class in North America.
Several weeks ago I was listening to the morning radio, and the hosts were both trying to get an answer as to what the Occupy movement was actually about. They hosted the organizer of the Vancouver Occupy movement to ask him some questions. He couldn’t articulate anything about the movement at all, mentioning that he was part of Zeitgeist, and nothing that he said left anyone with any clarity at all. The radio hosts at that point, asked if someone would please phone the station to explain it.
After listening a little longer and hearing them plea a few more times, I finally called the station and talked to one of the hosts for about 15 minutes, explaining what the Occupy movement was, but more importantly explaining why no one seemed to have the ability to actually explain it. At the end of our conversation she thanked me and let me know that I’d explained it better than anyone else had.
The reason why no one seems to be able to explain the occupy movement is quite simple: they have no idea what it’s about, they just know that something is wrong.
What makes things even more complicated is that the Occupy movement is about things that most people either don’t understand, or can’t be bothered to learn about.
So here it is:
1) The Occupy movement is about inflation.
2) Inflation is the result of debt.
3) Debt is the result of greed.
This is where the problem starts, because here is where the great divide between the rich and poor begins. The wealthy and the upper class are far better able to weather periods of high inflation because not only do they typically have more money, they’ve also structured their investments, their tax burdens and other financial affairs in such a way as to minimize the effect that inflation will have on them. The poor and the middle class generally don’t concern themselves with these types of things, simply choosing to rely on the financial advisor at their banking institution of choice to make sure that they’re mutual funds are performing admirably. This is where even the simplest understanding of inflation might help you make smarter financial decisions. I will digress for one moment…
The current advertised rate of inflation in Canada is 2.8961% (in reality it’s much higher, but let’s amuse ourselves by using the government’s official numbers). The current interest being paid on a savings account from ING Direct is 1.5%. Therefore, if you currently have savings in an ING Direct savings account, you are losing money. Your purchasing power is being eroded. Unless you find an investment vehicle or savings account that is going to pay you more than 2.8961% after taxes, the purchasing power of money in this account will eventually become zero. OK, back to the topic at hand…
The divide between the 1% and the 99%. James turk was recently quoted as saying that the current economic situation “is a crisis not of capitalism but of socialism, unaffordable entitlements”.
That’s only half true.
This worldwide economic crisis is a tale of two greeds. It is the greed of the wealthy and powerful, and it is the greed of the poor, middle class and non-powerful. Until you realize that the fault lies with both groups, you don’t have the ability to comment reliably on the situation.
The problem lies with greedy capitalists who pay their employees so little that a working couple can barely keep food on the table for their family.
The problem lies with lazy socialists who believe that simply because they have a degree, the world owes them $100K salary and all the benefits and entitlements one can imagine.
The problem lies with a corrupt banking system that educates and cajoles people to believe that investing in mutual funds, the stock market, RRSPs and 401Ks is just “the way you save for retirement”.
The problem lies with lazy, financially illiterate masses who are foolish enough to not educate themselves around the ideas of money, finances and investing, and gullibly throw their life’s savings into a stock market that is manipulated by the elite to further their own agendas.
The problem lies with over-regulated bureaucratic governments, lobbyists that have far too much power, and things like military spending and entitlement programs that are out of control.
This is a tale of TWO greeds, not ONE. I don’t believe that people are entitled to huge salaries and benefits without contributing anything to society, and I don’t believe that people are entitled to take advantage of and exploit the poor and middle class simply because they’re wealthy and powerful enough to do so. There has to be a middle ground.
The Occupy movement should, in fact, be about finding that middle ground. Unfortunately, in the case of Vancouver, it seemed to become more of a place for homeless to congregate, people to shoot up with heroin and push the agenda of Zeitgeist, orphan kittens and why we should all be vegans.
So I ask you, before you start contributing your agenda and opinions about the Occupy movement, please get educated. Read something about currency, inflation, the history of money, government bond auctions. Get educated. Learn about mutual funds and investing and make some decisions about whether investing in the stock market is really the best way to save for your retirement. Get educated. Turn off your television, stop paying for cable and read some books about economics. Get educated. Stop whining about what the world owes you. Get educated. Stop yelling at people out your car window telling them to get a job. Get educated.
If you read this as a capitalist and want to call me socialist-loving scum, don’t bother. I’ve started several businesses, some successful and some not. I’m striving to be on the upper edge of the middle class, and maybe one day the upper class because I love building businesses. I love employing people and I love contributing to the community. What I don’t love is the greed and the corruption that comes from the stereotypical desire for more at the expense of someone else, the pandering to shareholders who desire profit above all else.
If you read this as a socialist and want to call me capitalist-loving scum, don’t bother. I probably grew up poorer than you. I grew up in the woods without heat or a toilet in our house, and a piece of plywood with hinges on it as our front door. I’ve lived in a trailer park watching heroin addicts pawn their 13-year old daughter off as a prostitute so they could buy more drugs, all the while sucking away entitlements and manipulating the system so that taxpayers paid for their habits. I’ve watched several people milk the welfare system all the while dealing drugs and earning tons of cash under the table. Unfortunately, the attitudes of most of the socialists I know come across as supportive of this type of a system.
Don’t forget, this economic crisis is a tale of two greeds. Figure out which side you’ve been hanging out on, and figure out what changes you need to make in your life to meet in the middle.