I am NOT the 99%. A Reaction to “Occupy This” Movements

For the last month or so the “Occupy Wall Street” movement has been making waves across the country and the world.  Citizens, upset at corporate bailouts and lack of fiscal accountability, a strangling job market, and the state of the world economically in general have taken to the streets to protest. Along with these citizens, professional protest organizers, anarchists and anti-establishment folks have joined in to create a  volatile and very well publicized ‘movement’.

The common theme is to state the 99%/1% model in regards to wealth distribution. Anyone who is not in the 1% is subsequently called upon to join up in the “Demonstration of the 99%!”

Well, no one asked me if I wanted to be a part of the dang 99%. I don’t. I have better things to do. Yeah, I have student debt but I also have a good education. I carry a little bit of credit card debt and my bills are sometimes hard to pay but I also work really hard. There are things I want to do, like buy a sailboat, that I simply cannot afford to do but I don’t really blame anyone for that. My time will come. I am content to pay my dues. I do not feel entitled to the profits of large corporations for whom I do not work. That would be AWESOME if they wanted to pay my student loans off, heck yes. But why should they have to? Why am I entitled to that? Oh wait. I am not.

For my own two-cents, I support the right to assemble peacefully and of course, free speech. I can even get behind some of the regulation arguments, particularly when they cite how BP owes a crap ton more money in repayment/restitution for the Gulf disaster. I cannot, however, support the majority of the Occupy protests and this is why:

– Lack of clear direction/agenda. You know, living in a city that is considered ‘progressive’, we know our protests around here. People will protest anything and everything. I am pretty sure some of our hipster population are professional protesters. That is great for them. More power to them. The lack of clear goals in this movement makes me uneasy. Ok, so people want to show their displeasure? Great. How is shutting down parts of a city for a good chunk of the “99%” accomplishing anything positive? How is it that I can ask  randomly selected “Occupiers” and be lucky if even ONE knows why they are there for some reason other than ‘the government/banks/country/flag or military is evil.” Some have told me that they want to help usher in a new culture of identity for the country, they have even used the words “New World Order”. Something along the lines of “What about the Consciousness shift? Aren’t we moving into a unity Consciousness of unconditional love and equality?’ Yeah. No. Good try though.

– Association with Anarchy movements: The idea of “community-rule” in the United States is horrifying. We are a country where millions more will turn out to watch Jersey Shore rather than the world news. We are like a country of teenagers. I love the US. I do. Anarchy is not the answer. And to the lovely person on the train the other day who cited Somalia’s current political state as a “success story” for anarchy (while going on and on and on about lack of quality education in the USA). Well, congratulations. You just proved your own point. If you believe that the USA should seek to follow the political example of Somalia at this time, your education is indeed sub-par.

– Lack of respect for public servants: You know what always comes along with large and controversial mob movements? Hate. The vitrol that I have heard spewed out while walking around and talking to some Occupiers towards a police force that has, for the most part, let them do what they want is disgusting.

“The pigs are out there.” “They can say this because they HAVE a job.” “It’s a conspiracy!”

Yeah. They do. Their job is to keep idiots like you safe. For God’s sake people! People are not getting rich being police officers. Really, they aren’t. Just like people aren’t getting rich working in social services. People, such as myself, who have been barred from going to certain parts of the city because of YOUR need to march. That is really helping the “common man.” Now, he has no job and no access to services because his service providers work for the state and are considered the enemy. This latest development in Oakland where the port was shut down and truckers were not allowed to leave with cargo? Unacceptable. People have families! They depend on these jobs! You know who you are hurting by delaying cargo arrival? Not really the big corporations. They have contingency plans. You are hurting the little guy. The guy whose job it is to drive the dang truck and who wants to go home and see his kids this weekend. Jeminiey Christmas.

-Violence. In my opinion, for the most part, police have demonstrated restraint. My heart aches for the Marine that was injured in Oakland. I hate to see people hurt. Just like I hate to see tellers of banks be harassed because they happen to go to work. Or see businesses be vandalized because people are angry at the world. Or to watch on the news as people throw bottles and trash at police officers who are DEFENDING YOUR RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE. Did that police officer hit back? No. Mob mentality, mob violence.  It really doesn’t get us anywhere.  You want to block off a main artery into a city? Keep in mind that you are also blocking emergency services too. Is this cause really worth an ambulance not able to get through? Is this cause really worth destroying parts of a city and harassing people just trying to live their life? Is this cause really worth the reaction you will get from me if another Occupier lays a  hand on me to yell bullshit and get in  my face?

(I do not like to be touched by weird people I do not know. Ever. You want to make a point? Go get your GED. Never lay a hand on me and spew your nonsense. Ever. I WILL mace you.)

-Cost: You know, most of this is about the redistribution of wealth. We are talking about $$$. Well, these protests are certainly costing state and local governments a crap-ton of money.  Money that could have been spent elsewhere. As has been pointed out by all sides of this, money does not grow on trees. It has to come from somewhere. In Philly it is costing TAXPAYERS $80K a DAY to deal with the Occupy people. It is costing an exorbitant amount in police overtime, it is damaging parks and businesses. The “1%” isn’t paying for this. I AM PAYING FOR THIS. And I am pissed. You think the government owes you something? As a fellow citizen, I would rather ALL my tax dollars go to military budget and education rather than funding for the clean-up of occupy movements. I am fed-up with how much this is costing.  Not to mention, the “incorporation” of many of these movements and requests to make them tax-exempt, not-for-profits? Give me a friggin break. You are not a charity! You are a nuisance.

I could go on but I will stop now. My blog, while a wee bit neglected of late, is not intended to be hugely political. These are my thoughts. Agree, disagree, agree to disagree. It matters not. Leave some comments if you wish but I needed to get this off my chest.

Peace, love and hope that our “new direction” doesn’t lead to riots and more nonsense,


12 Responses to “I am NOT the 99%. A Reaction to “Occupy This” Movements”
  1. Anne Sellers says:

    Two thumbs up!

  2. magsmeds says:

    Bravo! You said it well! My take: http://wp.me/p1N2Bf-2u

    • simply.bekah says:

      Thank you! I appreciate your take as well. I absolutely agree that when the government is not working for the people, the people have the responsibility to change the government. The current movement as it is does not inspire much hope for me at the moment, however. I would rather we keep what we have then go with what some of these Occupiers are telling me they want. Ack! Scary! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. teagirl86 says:

    Loved this and is so true! I spent the day at OccupyLSX and the lack of organisation drove me insane!!

    • simply.bekah says:

      Thanks for the support! I am so tired of not being able to even move about my city freely because the camp is in the middle of where I want/need to go! Read your blog as well, love it!

  4. Ryan says:

    Thanks Bekah. This blog post belongs in the New York Times. (I really do mean that) Thankfully the protesters in my city are limited to one small area of town. It is also starting to get really cold at night here. I think they will be out of the way soon. BTW the park is not even near any large financial institution. Just banks that give loans to small business, loans to help families get into homes. But we wouldn’t want people starting businesses, providing jobs, or moving their families into a good home would we…

  5. Kim L says:

    Girly I completely agree with you!

  6. Mo says:

    I see where you’re headed with this, but think it’s dangerous to say things like “Well, no one asked me if I wanted to be a part of the dang 99%. I don’t. I have better things to do.”

    This movement does have a unifying force- and that is that people see the INCREDIBLE injustice in this country, especially for women, people of color, queers, immigrants, etc. If you’re not rich, white and male, you’re fucked in one way or the other.

    People are affected by this systematic injustice in a number of diverse ways, and so have different driving factors behind why they’re present in the protests. For one person, its their access to healthcare. For another, it’s their access to a decent education. For another, it’s being targeted by police violence because of the color of their skin. Every person has a different specific reason for being present at the protests, but its all under the umbrella of the oppressive patriarchy that doesn’t want to budge because the way the system works currently favors the people in charge.

    The movement is NOT primarily made up of anarchists and authority haters. They just get the most media attention. In Oakland, a SMALL group of anarchists smashed windows and tagged buildings and ruined an otherwise completely peaceful day of protests. And guess what? The next day the MAJORITY of non-violent people who made up the previous day’s protest came out to scrub graffiti off and board up the broken windows. And are currently RAISING MONEY to replace the broken windows.

    Our system is BROKEN. Unless people make a scene and continue to march and “occupy” and make themselves heard, the system WILL NOT CHANGE. It may seem like a nuisance to you right now, but it’s working. The BOA reversed its new debit card fee. People are leaving corporate banks by the thousands and joining credit unions. People are talking about everything that’s fucked up in our government and how we can change it so that education and healthcare and food and housing are no longer a privilege but a RIGHT.

    You are the 99%. And so am I. We’re all struggling while 1% of Americans are spending 17 million on a wedding that lasts 72 days (Kim Kardashian) or $600,000 a month to rent a mansion for their daughter in Florida (Bill Gates).

    You may not agree with the methods of the movement, but I hope you can see how important this movement is. People are done being silent, and are standing up and calling for accountability and change.

    • simply.bekah says:

      I really appreciate the well thought out reply to my post. Thanks, Mo. I am not down in Oakland so I am not sure what the situation is down there.

      I am really, really glad to hear that people are staying peaceful and being respectful of the greater community while standing for what they believe in. I really can respect that.

      To clarify: My statement of not wanting to be a part of the 99% was more geared towards not wanting to be labeled and associated with the behavior of the Occupy movements that I have observed personally. I would never seek to imply that all members of this movement who have found a voice or a way to express a need and a demand for reform as a nuisance or label them all anarchists. Absolutely not. I agree that we need to take a closer look at how we got to this point and we need to find a way out so that people no longer feel alienated from access to services, healthcare, education and justice.

      However, from what I have observed up here, the way people are going about it seems to be stemming from a desire not to ensure a better community for all through social reform but rather a publicity stunt. Not only that, the vandalism, the heckling of hourly employees who happen to work at banks or corporations deemed “evil”, the insults yelled at people who cross the lines because we have to work. Example: I worked downtown at the HIV/AIDS Services organization. At lunch I would go out to my favorite food carts. Every single time I crossed the park to go back I was made to feel deeply uncomfortable and unsafe. Maybe this is just a locally isolated thing. Maybe I seem to attract the creepers and hangers-on who incite violence and are not in it for the right reasons. It’s possible.

      I am glad there have been positive changes. Really, I am. But my post is more towards the behavior I have observed and I cannot agree with some of the tactics that have been employed. But, for all our sakes, I hope that good does come out of this rather than the riots that it seems headed towards. The attitude of “all or nothing” that i have observed is deeply troubling because it speaks of a belief that there is nothing left to lose. That is when people get hurt. Or more violence erupts. That is what I am most concerned about, frustrated with and utterly disgusted by the hypocrisy of people who say they want peace but then throw bottles and trash at those that disagree with them. I do apologize if it felt like I was labeling everyone with that brush, it was not my intent.

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