Saturday, October 15, 2011

"For the Good of Mankind"

After watching coverage of the "Occupy Vancouver" protest on CBC, I am disappointed.  I'm not sure I have ever seen a more one-sided news story here in Canada.  There was not a single criticism of the movement (unless lack of focus on a specific goal is one), and every person they interviewed was either at the protest or said they wanted to go, because they supported the movement.  There wasn't a hint of controversy in the story about the radical leftist politics of the movement.  But, any mere mention of the tea party here seems to be enough to incite accusations of right-wing extremism.

The main message of the "Occupy Whatever" movement seems to be that 1% of the population (what population, I'm not sure) controlls about 40% of the wealth.  So, their solution to this "problem" is to take wealth from that 1% and redistribute it to the remaining 99%.  I don't view this disparity as a problem.  If you want wealth, capitalism allows you to get it if you put in enough effort.  That is, as long as the government gets out of the way sufficiently.  So, whatever these people are demanding, doing the opposite would likely benefit them more (as long as they were willing to put in some effort).

According to the protesters, they are good people fighting evil corporations, and they're doing it "for the good of mankind."  And, after watching another biased news story on "Occupy Vancouver" on Global News, I am glad they at least mentioned an opponent to the movement, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.  According to them, the "[BC Government Employees' Union (BCGEU)] needs to 'occupy' common sense":
  • Main beneficiaries of current political system are public sector unions
  • BCGEU owns major equity in large, profitable multi-national corporations
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) responded today to an e-mail sent to BCGEU members across the province on Thursday encouraging them to “come out and support Occupy Vancouver.” 
The note from BCGEU president Daryl Walker says that “Union members belong to the 99 percent who are not benefiting from the current political and economic system. That message needs to be seen and heard.” 
“Walker is dead wrong,” said Jordan Bateman, CTF BC Director. “Public sector unions are provided for very generously by taxpayers, thank-you very much, and insulated from the economic uncertainties felt by those working outside the public sector. If there’s any group benefitting from the current political system, it’s public sector unions.” 
According to number released earlier this year by Statistics Canada, the average Canadian public service employee earned $1,023.20 a week in July 2011. Meanwhile, everybody else earned an average of $777.69. More than 86% of government workers have a workplace pension plan, compared to just 25.3% of private sector workers.  
“If 99% of the population is not benefitting from the current political and economic system it’s because nearly half their incomes are taken in taxes,” said Bateman. “Those taxes are largely driven by the demands of public sector unions—they want to cut everybody else’s pay to increase their own. As the president of the BC Teachers Federation said recently, teachers want BC’s income tax cuts reversed so they can increase their own pay and benefits by $2.2 billion.”  
Further, the BCGEU is a huge investor in the very corporations Mr. Walker whinges about. Three of the companies skewered in Occupy Vancouver promotional material are Royal Bank, TD Bank and ScotiaBank.  But through their pension plan, BCGEU’s members own more than $439.7 million worth of equity in those three banks alone. 
“The union foxes are hiding in the Occupy Vancouver hen house,” said Bateman. “Unions like the BCGEU invest in some of the largest corporations in the world—the very companies Occupy Vancouver so passionately disparages.”
If you ask me, these people should not be protesting corporate greed, but rather public union and government greed.  Those are the real forces behind economic inequality.

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