Sunday, December 4, 2011


Our first reaction when we heard about the so-called “Occupy Movement” was here’s more senseless, disjointed and irrational gyrations from wide-eyed liberals out to save the world – more of that, here we go again anarchistic crap. It has turned out to be all that and more because of its lack of focus, direction and some violence and vandalism. But there is, however small, an undercurrent of foreboding - the old “have vs. have not” paradigm that harkens us back to not so kinder and gentler times that seem to be upon us once again – if they ever left. So, this is not a new issue, rather a continuation of one that democratic societies have had to deal with since their inception.

To many, the Occupy Movement is a modern Woodstock and party with a sinister beat. Their mission and goals have been poorly articulated with most coverage revolving around Occupy’s right to camp out here or there on public property and to disrupt business activity – ultimately both losing propositions. This writer had to delve deeply to ferret out their goals and suspect that most other folks won’t expend that kind of effort. FYI – Wikipedia does a good job.

It has been almost comical to hear proponents of the movement waxing eloquent about the seismic effect these protests have had on our society? Don’t know what planet these folks are on but the effect has hardly been negligible. They have mostly mobilized law enforcement and city sanitation crews that have had to monitor, eventually arrest law breaking protesters and then the indignity of all indignities - clean up after them, all at taxpayer expense. That effort hasn’t been easy considering the group’s poor behaviors with protesters using public parks and sitting areas as latrines. Yes, lots of doggie bags were used in the clean-up and come spring we’ll find out just how much grass they killed.

Lots of folks converged on these occupy sites including the homeless and party goers looking for food, sex, drugs and a good time. It would appear that in some venues and to the chagrin of Occupy security, the “fornicators and poopers” have hijacked the movement. The Dallas Occupy’s pro bono and frustrated attorney, Jonathan Winocour is quoted as scolding the group – directing them to, “Stop partying and start protesting. The opportunity is yours to waste.” Good though unheeded advice. Eat drink and be merry is alive and well in Occupy.

As for effect on the public - pollsters report that around half of all Americans say they have heard of the Occupy Movement, though most of the public don't have an opinion about the movement, positive or otherwise. It’s been a very benign experience evoking mostly apathy among the populous. The Occupy protests are part of a larger network of demonstrations throughout the world where the "we are the 99%" protest the rising costs of health care, the mortgage crisis, the exponentially increasing national debt and the burdensome influence that large corporations have on our country and planet, among others. Credible issues all, but their answer is to block the flow of capital and stop commerce? Nuts…

I remember well the Civil Rights Movement and even the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s which were successful (1968 notwithstanding) because of better organization, a coordinated articulation of goals and a cause embraced by the many. Two of these three don’t exist here. Agree or not, you understood their objectives.

We will agree that the Occupy Movement has created the opportunity for a continuing dialogue on the issues but there is no new consensus or headlong rush to right the wrongs created by the irresponsible behaviors of the few. We put a huge band aid on the problem in 2008 and 2009 that allowed our survival but now appears exacerbated by the current political gridlock which has paralyzed our government. Protest that…

Recent surveys reflect that the gap between the have and have nots (the disparity of wealth between the top 1% and the rest of us) is growing to absurd proportions. It certainly appears that some who occupy the domains we call Wall Street and the boardrooms of the world’s largest corporations continue to earn irrational wages and dividends by manipulating an already volatile stock market or exploiting the planet’s natural resources to our collective detriment. Having said that, many more (the great majority) earn their huge salaries and dividends honestly. The big Occupy issues we surmise are that international/transnational corporations are pulling all the strings now with profit at any expense their business model and the ever evolving First Amendment debate.

The Vancouver-based, not-for-profit Canadian anti-consumer agency Adbusters Media Foundation seems to be, sorta, providing the inspiration for the Occupy demonstrations around the world. While local protests clamor for their five minutes of fame, the media doesn’t appear to be buying into it more than just the day’s news as they too perceive Occupy as an event that’s attracted the vagrant, homeless, party animals and space cadets in our society along with a few very righteously motivated and indignant whose overall numbers might be approaching a very vocal 1% - nowhere near their 99% claim. That’s sad because while some of their issues are credible, few seem motivated to join the cause. They might as well be protesting sun spots. Ghastly things those sunspots

Free Speech and Right of Assembly aside, Occupy pushes the boundaries of common sense and constitutional law. No one will dispute the right of this or any group to demonstrate and express their views. Hunkering down, however, with the avowed intent to “stop the flow of capital in the United States” and disrupting businesses while still expecting accommodations by the tax paying public is a huge stretch. That Occupy was being allowed to camp out for even one night in public areas without the benefit of utilities and sanitation is a huge leap and deserves our extra scrutiny. Indeed, many cities continue to bend over backwards to accommodate the Occupy protesters though we feel concerns over public safety and security will eventually trump these nocturnal protests.

Some advice to serious Occupy activists – if you haven’t already lost confidence in the system - get engaged in the process, educate yourself on relevant issues, boycott (don’t disrupt) companies you feel violate good business ethics and planetary imperatives, contact your representatives and lodge complaints and effect changes from within. If you don’t like your representatives’ performance – vote them out. Learn the real difference between rights and entitlements and don’t deny me my rights while declaring yours. Limit your protests to daytime/light hours and address “private functions” at other appropriate venues. Other than that with your very bad start you will always be on the outside looking in.

Happy Holidays.


Ned Buxton

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