Wall Street Occupiers should try it in Zimbabwe

Occupy Wall Street

New York Skyline

This post is going to lose me some of my more liberal followers, I don’t like losing followers. But I dislike what I see happening in North America even more. I have also never shied away from standing for what I believe, being politically incorrect or going against the herd.

Up until now, I have not been overly concerned by the Occupy Wall street movement. It has to me seemed like a largely uncoordinated gathering of disenchanted but naive people with time on their hands and a desire to complain about something. Lately though, it seems that three disturbing trends are emerging.

  • The largely peaceful (until now) movement is being infiltrated by more sinister elements determined to cause violence.
  • The irresponsible reporting of the protests by much of the main stream media and influential blogs.
  • The portrayal, by much of the media, of the police as the enemy and the protesters as crusaders. Even before the police have had to use much in the way of force to control the crowds.
The “Occupy Wall street” movement has, according to the mainstream media, spread to Boston and many other major cities in the USA and now a similar protest is being planned for Toronto and perhaps more Canadian cities.

The spread is being given huge publicity by the liberal media and is supported by the usual suspects of certain celebrities, liberal politicians and various other publicity seeking personalities, few of whom seem to be suffering from any shortage of income.

The right to peaceful protest may well be a sacrosanct right in North America and other democracies, but the moment large groups exercising that right put other people’s lives, property or right of easy access to their city at risk, there is something wrong.

The very term  “Occupy” for a protest is worse than mischievous, it is not only confrontational, it is  a declaration of intent to take over property or at least deny the legitimate occupiers their rights to use that property. Carried to its conclusion, it could be seen as an act of sabotage or even of civil war.

France was “Occupied” in WW2, much of Eastern Europe was “Occupied” for years after. Our farms in Zimbabwe were, and still are, “Occupied” because the country descended into anarchy – in that case state-sponsored anarchy.

The argument that the protesters only target “Public property” does not hold water either, “Public property” has been paid for by your and my taxes. Every bit of damage, every Police car torched is paid for out of our pockets. Every extra hour of overtime pay to police officers or other government workers, including those who have to clean up the mess, also comes out of our pockets.

A further argument is that damage to private property is covered by insurance, a lot is not, and you can bet that those submitting large claims will soon be paying heavy premiums, if they can still get cover.

Am I satisfied with the way the USA and Canadian governments have handled the financial crisis or the bank bail-outs. Not completely, but in a democracy, there are legitimate and effective ways to affect change, one is called voting. Something 50% of Ontarians could not be bothered to do last week, it would be interesting to see how many non-voters would take the trouble to protest.

The second is called freedom of choice, if you don’t like the way your bank pays its top executives, then change banks. If you think the investment bank your retail bank uses pays too high bonuses, then change banks. If you don’t like the way your employer rewards its top people, then leave.

Protesters need to be very careful about calling for caps on earnings for anyone. That is the thin end of the wedge. While it might sound “fair” that a banker or CEO’s bonus should be limited to just a couple of million, once that has been legislated, it is only one step away from dictating how much any one in employment can be paid. Do we want to see caps on wages for everyone from laborers to brain surgeons? That is what the “Occupiers” are inviting.

Freedom of choice extends to earning a living, sure times are tough, I know better than most what it is like to start from zero, read my story here. But there are jobs available in some sectors of the economy, there are hundreds of ways to earn some income from home, with a small business, freelancing and any number of other ideas.

The unemployed Wall street occupiers would be doing themselves and every one else a favour by trying to do better for themselves rather than attempting to bring everybody down to their level.The employed protesters should be ashamed of themselves for supporting a protest against the very system that is providing them with an income, food to eat and a roof over their heads.

It seems that many if not most, of the protesters have cell phones or other electronic devices,  are wearing store-bought clothes and few look as if they are starving.  So there is rank hypocrisy for you, enjoy all the fruits of a capitalist system and use the things you can buy to try to destroy the very system that provided them.

Protesters in Western democracies seem to think they are hard done by, that the world owes them a living. From Greece where people expect their bankrupt government to continue to provide the same level of benefits as before. To France where people are appalled at the thought of having to work until they are 62 instead of 60 or less in some cases.

Perhaps it is a lingering effect of the hippy era in the 60’s and 70’s that surfaces whenever times get a bit tough. This hankering for overthrowing the establishment and expecting that it will all come magically right after a short period of anarchy.

It doesn’t work that way, ask the people of Egypt and Libya if they are happy with the outcome of their versions of the “Arab Spring” and I would bet that there will be many who preferred the certainty of the old regimes with all their faults than the lawlessness and jockeying for power that is and will be, going on now. A case of being careful what you wish for.

This will sound harsh to readers who have not travelled outside the developed countries. But even the most impoverished people in North America are better off than millions of people living in absolute squalor and poverty in other parts of the world. Why do thousands of illegal immigrants continue, or attempt, to flood into the USA and a lesser extent Canada.

Why do the UK, Australia and many other developed countries have a similar problem. Even South Africa has a huge illegal immigrant problem. Zimbabwe’s disastrous policies have forced 25% of its population to flee over the last 10 years, including over a million to South Africa.

Particularly disturbing, right now is that those attempting to organise a similar protest in Toronto, are demanding that the Police “restrain” themselves. Certain media reports are again condemning the police for being “brutal” at the G20 summit in Toronto.

We pay our police forces through our taxes to maintain law and order and I believe we should support them when they are compelled to use force to control irresponsible mobs bent on destroying property and disrupting law-abiding people’s lives.

If ever there was a time for responsible reporting, it is now. Let’s not glorify a bunch of  people attempting to destroy the very system that provides them with a standard of living and luxuries most of the world’s population can only dream about.

The last words I have for the protesters are:  If they think they are hard done by, they should try occupying a street in Havana  Cuba, Pyongyang North Korea or Harare, Zimbabwe, then come and tell us how it worked – if they survive.

Am I against all protests?

No, but I believe that the rights of law-abiding citizens to safety,  security of property and freedom of movement far surpass those of the rights of protesters. It is of course a different ball game when a government no longer has the support of a majority of it’s citizens, refuses to honour election results  and there is a concerted effort to overthrow it by a majority of citizens similar to what is happening in Syria right now.

The tricky part is to decide when that majority has been reached, it could be argued that if the Syrian government has the support of more than 50% of the population, then it is justified in using any amount of force to prevent a rebellion.

I sincerely hope we never get to that stage in North America.

What has this to do with marketing? Nothing and everything, It is already forcing commentators to choose sides, some bloggers who I thought were responsible middle-of-the-road-types  support the “Occupiers”. The print media and many TV channels seem to be siding with them too.  They have already started criticising opponents of the “Occupiers” as being “Tea Party Supporters”.

So it could be tricky for some brands, media and commentators, identify with the “Occupiers” and you might get some short-term gain but then face a big backlash when the party is over.

If we were to descend into anarchy, then it would be a whole new ballgame. Everything would change. Believe me I have seen what happens then, it is not pretty and  we do not want that.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright



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