Editor, The Times:
As the ‘occupy’ movement in Vancouver draws to a showdown, sentiments from both sides grow strong. It is indeed an embarrassment to the city’s establishment and perhaps that is the important point. Various cities around the world are the unwilling hosts to this rapidly growing movement and they’d like nothing more than for it to just go away so they can get back to the business of making money – that soul-less preoccupation with profit that spawned the protests in the first place.
Yes, it may true that most of these protesters are ‘shiftless youth’ who don’t work and yes they are inarguably unclear about the issues and woefully lacking direction and leadership. However, one thing that is profoundly clear is that they represent a rising distrust and dislike for the current system of profit-before-people and the governments that support it.
This distrust is now, and perhaps for the first time, not restricted only to the youth or the unemployed, but to an ever greater segment of the working class, both blue and white collar, as well as many seniors struggling to get by on a shamefully poor pittance.
Few can argue that far too many elected officials have arrogantly and overtly chosen to disregard the wishes of their constituents over currying favor with their party leadership in the hopes of furthering their own careers. People (taxpayers) are fed up with consistently having to shell out more and more of their hard earned wages for less and less in returns from their governments in areas that matter the most like health care, affordable housing and education while, at the same time, living costs soar beyond many people’s abilities and food banks increase.
And yet we constantly hear of corporations making record profits while employing less people and government and crown corporations granting themselves huge raises, bonuses and retirement packages even when our pension plan is thought to be in jeopardy.
The youth especially are faced with the prospect of being not much more that indentured slaves to a banking institution in order to pay for the ever-rising costs of an education that increasingly offers little promise of employment in the chosen field of study. Many, faced with only minimum wage jobs after graduation are forced into a poverty-level existence while trying to pay $40,000 to $60,000 to a financial corporation – all the while making the banks and the rich richer!
Those who are fortunate enough to land a decent job in their chosen profession have little guarantee of job security in an environment of such economic instability and most doubt that there will ever be a pension plan for them to work toward. They see, perhaps more clearly than those of us of a different generation who own our own homes and are now looking to retirement, that the light at the end of their tunnel is very dim at best.
Add to the equation that fact that such a system of disparity, inequality and exploitation also includes unprecedented environmental devastation and we appear to be ravaging the planet at the cost of our sons’ and daughters’ future.
Why are they angry you ask? We should all be angry – especially at our own apathy. I think we should encourage and support these youth for (if nothing else) their tenacity and solidarity. And if it seems that they are lacking some direction then maybe rather than critiquing them we should be offering them some guidance.