Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Conflicting Thoughts about Occupy Vancouver

Post 47--:

Occupy as a Critical Election Issue

Vancouver is currently in a campaign mode for her City Council. It could just be that the Occupy Vancouver movement will provide the tipping point about who will be elected, especially for the mayor position. The two major mayor candidates are quite at odds with each other on this issue. While Suzan Anton of the more conservative CPA, a designation of honour to me, wants to close down the Occupy Vancouver campout at the Art Gallery, the incumbent Mayor Gregory Robertson wants also to end it but seems fearful of riots if force is used.

My Observations as Visitor

May I treat you to my humble opinion. Almost every day I take a walk through downtown and then always take a detour to check out the camp. I have observed their meetings and listened to discussions. Most of it is quite civil; crudity is kept to a minimum. Also I can sympathize with many of the complaints written out on thousands of banners, cardboard and other means.

Just a half hour ago on this Halloween night, I checked out the place again. A leader was informing her followers that she would be speaking at the meeting of City Council tomorrow to help defeat Anton’s proposal. Nothing was said about Robertson. Apparently, they do not consider him a threat, perhaps even an ally?

Justice and Ending Prohibition

Another speaker affirmed two things about the movement. One: people have joined the movement for a large variety of reasons and purposes; nothing has been defined. Two: underneath all the variations is the hunger for justice. That’s what ties the whole movement together. He went on to assert that a huge justice issue is the imprisonment of some 52,000+ people for the simple act of drug possession. This, he explained, is a tremendous drain on the national economy and eats up our resources in terms of police, prison staff, lawyers, judges. It diverts much needed money from more needy causes and thus represents a great injustice to all Canadians. He proposed that simple drug possession should be decriminalized and all these prisoners be freed. Prohibition should be scrapped.

My own reaction to this is partially affirmative. Prohibition has never worked and only creates an underworld of crime and violence, with every prisoner costing us around $120,000 p. a. You’ve read that statistic before in my blogs. Yes, $120,000 a prisoner p.a! For 52,000 prisoners that spells a cool $6,240,000,000! If I’m not mistaken, that translates to nearly six and a quarter billion dollars! Per year! And the FG wants to increase the number of prisoners? For them to do so for crimes of violence and other dangers, is one thing, but for simple possession? I am a member of the federal Conservative Party, but I do not agree with the continued imprisonment of mere possessors. Prohibition should be scrapped forthwith and distribution regulated and taxed like all other products.

Concern about US Reaction

If the US balks at this, let them improve on their drug detection skills. After all, we don’t want their guns coming into our country but they freely allow everyone to own guns. We end up with smuggled guns we don’t want, but that has not moved the US to curtail gun ownership. And we end up with extra security expenses. At the same time, you don’t want to alienate the best customer of our products too much. That could really do damage to our economy and create more of the injustice Occupy is lamenting.

Advice to Occupy from a Sympathizer

However, as to the Occupy Vancouver movement itself, it is high time they begin to focus their efforts on specific issues. They owe it to the public whose resources they abuse and even ruin, such as the lawn at the Art Gallery. They should take responsibility for the public expenditure and reimburse the authorities that are currently spending their resources on them. And then they should move on to a less offensive location. They should realize that the public is getting tired. If they continue much longer, they will lose a lot of goodwill. And then they should form a committee to represent the movement.

After the movement has established a committee and decided on certain issues on which to focus, city and provincial governments should seriously listen sympathetically to them on condition that they pay for the expenses and the damages they have caused and that they move to another less public space. Together they should agree on some forms of action that will address various justice issue.

My Meaner Moment

In my meaner moments, I feel that the media should perform a news blackout on them, ignore them totally. It is the media that keep the dynamic of the movement going. If the media blacks out all references to the movement, it will soon lose steam and disappear from the people’s radar. They will simply dissipate and disappear as far as the public goes. But then, the dialogue will not take place either and that would be a shame. Let’s face it, there is a lot of injustice that needs to be addressed and I thank Occupy for forcing the discussion on us.

Source of Income

A final remark: someone (in the media?) should do a poll of Occupy participants as to where or how they get the wherewithal for food and other basics? Do they have jobs? Are they students with public scholarships they are now squandering? Are they on welfare? How have they contributed to society before they joined Occupy? I think that the public would be very interested in this question. I am going to suggest it to the Vancouver Sun.

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