Like many people, I was fascinated by the Occupy Wallstreet movement as it branched out into cities across the world. The Occupy movement was by far the finest resurrection of fighting “The Man” I have seen to date. The “We are the 99%” slogan captured my imagination and compelled me to think about my behavior as a consumer. As you might imagine — me being a princess and all — I am a bit materialistic. I mean, I’m no Imelda Marcos, but I do have an impression shoe collection. And a lot of my “entertainment budget” goes towards sparkly adornments. 😉 The Occupy movement forced me to recognize my spending habits are severely bourgeois and don’t benefit me beyond the “oooh” moment of possessing something new and shiny.* The 1% relies on the compliance of the 99% and I was (still am, really) fully compliant.
I was not, however, so fascinated with the movement that I did anything to participate in it. Though I did try to educate myself and identify other things I could do to be engaged that were copacetic with my spiritual, artistic (and materialistic) leanings. I looked through the Occupy Wall Street website, but it isn’t designed particularly well and the stream of information is not organized in such a way that I could digest it quickly. While I want to be a responsible data point in the 99%, I don’t want that task to take 99% of my leisure time. Don’t look at me like that! You are probably just like me and part of the lazy 99% of the 99%. *hmph*
So, I took a page from the Occupy movement and focused locally. Jax and I have bragged about our town before, but it’s worth another mention. Austin rocks (literally and figuratively). And I was happy to find the Occupy Austin site to be articulate and succinct. For example, while media types were harking on and on about how the movement had no focus, Occupy Austin had a clear list of tenets:
- This movement is about democracy. We demand that the government be truly responsive to those it represents. We demand an end to the massive corporate influence blocking the voice of the people by eliminating corporate personhood and limiting monetary contributions to political campaigns and lobbying.
- This movement is about economic security. We demand effective reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises.
- This movement is about corporate responsibility. We demand strict repercussions for corporations and institutions who cause serious financial damage to our country and its taxpayers.
- This movement is about financial fairness. We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
They also provide information on what the average Joe (and average Joe six-pack) can do. The primary recommended action is to fire your bank and hire a credit union. I have long been a member of a credit union for my personal banking, but this advice still resonated with me. Just the phrasing, “fire” your bank, “hire” a credit union. I don’t know that I’ve thought about banking from that perspective before. I haven’t framed my relationship with my bank as…well, as a relationship. But yeah, I have hired my financial institution for a specific purpose and if they fail at it, I am empowered to fire them. When I think about my mortgage, I don’t feel empowered (more like overpowered). I don’t feel like I have the option to go to another lender. But I do. And I always have.
Which as a Pagan, you’d think I’d already know this. I do know this, as evidenced by my choosing a non-mainstream faith, but I hadn’t thought of focusing my “question everything” attentions on the economy. So my big take-a-way from the Occupy movement was that I have financial capital choices and the human capital power to exercise them.
I just have to be active rather than passive. I need to move my butt from the lazy 99% of the 99% to the engaged 1% of the 99%.** It really is up to me (and you) to provide the momentum for this movement. Crap. I liked being lazy. But I want economic reform more than I want to watch the all-day Dexter marathon.
What about you realm? Did you participate in your local Occupy demonstrations? Do you feel compelled to be part of the active 1% of the 99%?
* I already knew this, really. I was justifying my materialism — my personal Occupy Princess movement — by telling myself, “I’m contributing to the economy!” But I should have been socking away money like a responsible person instead of buying stuff. Or being more thoughtful about buying local instead of buying cheap (or sparkly, which is more often what motivates my purchases).
** I’m pulling the 1% figure out of my hat, but my guess is its not too far off. I’d be interested to know if you think there has been greater participation in the Occupy movement than 1%.