Occupy this, bitches!

Nov 04, 2011 12:45

It's pretty common knowledge that I'm a bit of a lefty socialist, so as you can imagine, I've been following the Occupy movement with great interest. I'm not anti-capitalist as such, but I'm very much against rampant, unchecked capitalism, and it warms my heart to see that large groups of people are finally beginning to agree that this is a problem. It's a shame it took until hundreds of thousands of people in the richest country in the world started losing their homes and wondering where their next meals would come from to get some action going, but at least it's going. Whether this is the beginning of a revolution or whether it will peter out eventually with the 1% firmly retaining control of pretty much everything remains to be seen. I'd like to believe that what we are witnessing will lead to a change, even if it's a long time coming. I think it has to - corporations control the world because the people allow that to happen. More and more people have stopped being complacent and are starting to speak up. I think that's brilliant, and I hope fervently that it's not too late.

Having said that, when I first heard about Occupy Melbourne/Sydney, I was actually a bit annoyed. I considered it a bit of a slap in the face to try to align ourselves with a country full of people who are experiencing real hardship and have few - if any - safety nets to protect them. As pointed out in this post on We Are The 99%, Australia has free health care, interest-free tertiary education loans and one of the world's best welfare systems. Okay, it's not perfect - I'm sure everyone can tell a horror story about that one time their granny was left on a trolley in a hallway for four hours because there wasn't a hospital bed available, or Centrelink screwed up your payment and you got too much and had to pay it back or whatever. But the point is, in this country, there is help for those who need it. If you get cancer, you will be treated. If you lose your job, you will get welfare. We are certainly not the 99%.

Yet.

In this country, the mining industry is powerful enough to oust a Prime Minister to avoid contributing their fair share of tax.
In this country, banking, electricity, gas, water and the phone system are all privatised.
In this country, 70% of the print media is owned by one company (who also own or have shares in a large percentage of TV media), which actively campaigns for or against governments to serve their own corporate interests.
In this country, political discourse has been reduced to abusing one another like 10 year olds in a schoolyard, thanks largely again to the privately-owned media.
In this country, mortgages are more and more outside the realm of possibility for a single, average income person, and house prices are still going up.
In this country, there is a chronic shortage of housing for low income earners, and shrinking public housing.
In this country, there is an outcry when a family earning $150,000 or more are told they can pay their own child care fees rather than claiming half of it back from the government.
In this country the middle classes screamed bloody murder when told there would be a carbon tax that would end up costing the upper tiers about the price of two coffees a week. And they're still screaming.

And the icing on the cake: the shareholders of the country's major airline voted to give the CEO a 70% payrise, at the same time as he decided to put a stop to the staff's collective bargaining negotiations (5% payrise, less outsourcing of their work and other such 'unreasonable' demands) by shutting down the entire business and attempting to lock everyone out.

No, we are not the 99%. But the poor are getting poorer while the middle-class and wealthy bitch about how much tax they have to pay to contribute to the society we live in and scream the place down at the mere whiff of losing some of their many handouts.

We live in a society that begrudges taking in a couple of thousand asylum seekers a year because they cling to the myth that coming here by boat is jumping some non-existent queue.
We live in a society where a group of middle-aged, middle-class people can scream abuse at the Prime Minister in Parliament because of a tax that would cost most of them pretty much nothing with no repercussions, but a hundred or so protesters sitting around in an area hardly anyone uses protesting rampant corporate greed warrants the use of several hundred riot police moving them out by any means necessary.
We live in a society that wants free education, free health care, welfare for those who "deserve" it (my relative who lost his job and is hard done by but not that bludger up the street), but we also want - and get - tax cut after tax cut after tax cut. And still we bitch because it's not enough. And our granny is in the hallway of the hospital on a trolley. And my kid can't get a special needs teacher. And that's the government's fault because they're not paying for these things with their magic pot of money that comes from somewhere but it better not be from us.

Do we wait until we reach the point that the USA has gotten to, or do we act now?

So, to those occupying Melbourne, Sydney and wherever else - you have my apologies. I was wrong to be annoyed.

Bring on the fucking revolution.
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