Friday, 14 October 2011

The Point of the #Occupy Movement

The movement to occupy Wall Street, which has spawned other occupy movements here in Canada, is being called by some as an attack on capitalism. This kind of reaction by the media is just fear-mongering and serves as an attempt to reduce the actions to a level of ridiculousness; to get the majority of people to ignore the situation as a group of horny, drug-fueled students and hippies, asking for hand-outs and seeking attention for their own gains.

Saying that these people are looking for an end to capitalism is like saying that religious folk are looking for an end to science. It's reductio ad absurdum. The truth is, it's not just students and hippies. It's the middle-class workers who work just as hard as the multi-millionaires, work just as many hours, sacrifice just as much, and often are the reason the mega-rich are as rich as they are. These people are tired of the breaks that the corporations get and the multi-million dollar bonuses of board members who drive the companies.

It's the right-wing folk who are most against this.

Truth is: much of what the "Occupation Army" are asking for can be achieved while still maintaining capitalism. It isn't a black and white decision. We don't have to have pure capitalism or pure socialism. We just need to have a system of capitalism that's fair to the middle class and lower class.

Greed is at the root of the problem, both in the corporations and in the government. Money is power and the corporations with the most money push government toward legislation that best serves the top 5% of the citizens. In return, governments have introduced tax breaks to the ultra-rich to the point where it's been reported that some of the most wealthy among us paid no tax last year.

A great refreshing voice among all this comes from one of the richest in America: Warren Buffet. Buffet has asked for the rich to be taxed more. Buffet donates much of his money to charities and other not-for-profits. Why don't others? A small fraction of individuals making $10+ Million annually donate at all. Where do most donations come from? From the middle class!
Low-income working families are the most generous group in America, giving away about 4.5 percent of their income on average.
With all the tax incentives that governments put in place, why aren't the uber-rich giving more of it to good will? Well, because they don't have to. There are so many other ways for them to avoid taxes, that they end up being able to keep more of it for themselves. I mean, who wouldn't want to get another new yacht this year? Instead of giving it to charities, the wealthy go and give it to the already-wealthy politicians that hold sway in decision making.

So this all comes back to the cause that the Occupation Army are fighting for. Equality, and an end to greed. Yes, this sounds very utopian, but what's so utopian about asking for those who have, to have just a little less? What's utopian to ask for a fair chance? These people are not asking for communism, nor an end to capitalism. The mega-rich can stay rich, but the divide between the upper and lower classes is growing at a scary rate, and to what end? When will it be enough? We've already seen a recent recession that was caused at least in part by the extreme greed on Wall Street. By the driving factors behind awarding massive bonuses to shareholders. And by corruption in banking and lord knows how many other business sectors. Even locally, we've learned that Nova Scotia Power has asked for increases to energy rates to customers, citing a need to increase shareholder dividends as a reason for the increase.

The point is not to receive handouts. On the contrary: if anything, government money should be handed out less easily. There are too many handouts given, leading to a lazy nation. What the government gives back isn't the focus, it's what the governments take. The lower and middle class pay a higher percentage of income tax than the upper class. #TaxationFail

The point is not to pass legislation that requires equal distribution of wealth throughout the land. That's the extreme socialist scenario that the right-wing media use to scare off people from supporting this, and to rally corporations to battle the moment.

The point is not to bring down large corporations. Large corporations create jobs. And yes they do pay taxes. But we need to focus at the level of individuals that are making millions and paying no tax, or avoid most of it.

The point is to bring about some sensibility in how wealth is retained. If there's anyone who is going to receive lots of tax breaks, it could be the lowest income. If we want to reduce the national debt, increase taxes to those who will miss it less. This isn't heresy. This isn't communism, it's honest capitalism. It also isn't new. In France, the most wealthy have asked to be taxed more as a response to Buffet's cry. Viva La France!

Someone who nets $10 million a year won't lose their homes because this year they only brought home $9.8 million. Despite what Bill O'Reilly might say or "threaten". Corporations don't have to leave the country because they now have to pay an extra $300,000 a year in taxes. Just make better use of the money you do have. That goes for you too governments.

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