Sunday, 16 October 2011

Playing Protestor on Wall Street

On Tuesday, Gabriel and I went into Manhattan to see the Wall Street Occupy protests.

Signs, signs everywhere
Having never been a protestor before, I walked up to one of the officers on scene and asked him what the appropriate rules were for this. He was very friendly (all the officers on scene were) and ran through the basic guidelines: signs are allowed, and signs can be attached to rolled up cardboard or paper, but not to wooden or metal pieces (which is not unreasonable). People can congregate in the park itself but not stop to loiter on the sidewalks outside of the park. People were obviously allowed to use the park to sleep in, and some had been camped there since time began - or at least since the protest began - and then when the mayor stated that the park had to be emptied to clean it, the protestors scrubbed the park out forwards and backwards and the protests are still on.

Yay!

So Gabriel and I got in about 15:00 and at first walked around and took a lot of images (as seen on Facebook if you know me there). At some point we began to meet other protestors and talk about the different things that brought us into the Wall Street park (well, it's Liberty Park in Manhattan, two blocks down from the actual Wall Street, but close enough for jazz). We each met interesting people.

Me and John K. Waving the flag was fun
I liked most of the sentiments that were being touted there; my only issue was that the labour unions are somehow involved in this and I object to this. I am not a fan of labour unions, not anymore. Not after dealing with them as a Human Resources employee and certainly not with the little love showed their employees when times were tough and men were on the bench. And now, of course, there is the threat of my father losing his pension. I'm not happy with that.

The other unusual thing I found was the strong movement toward Communism. I'm not sure when that made a resurgence, but Communism is a philosophy, not a form of governing. I have objections to that. I generally feel it has been proven time and again, that while sound as a philosophy, it is unworkable as government - someone has to run it, and people who want to run things usually end up becoming dictators, and it all falls apart at that point, if not sooner.

The Socialist leanings sound okay, but I don't know how well that would work. Gabriel seems to feel that Socialism would work out just fine... but my thinking is that changes of this magnitude don't come so easy and nothing is that black and white. I may not think that the current system works as is... but I don't know that overhauling it so much is the answer as much as tweaking the current system. I don't believe in totally redistributing the wealth. I worked with many wealthy, wealthy people. They were people just like me - they worked their asses off for that money; they put their pants on one leg at a time, like I do; they worry about their kids just parents the world over. They pay their taxes and I rarely if ever heard them gripe - they know their civic and fiduciary duties and do them. It's the ones who don't do that - the Imelda Marcos or Leona Helmsly's of the world that are known for cheating on their taxes.

I love a man in a uniform! (And he's really adorable.)
I have no issue with the taxation system being more fairly set up, but that has long been a gripe of almost everyone the world over. I also have no issue with taking Big Business out of the voting equation. And then limiting what candidates can take for their campaigns is fine. But where is it okay for us to attempt to redistribute the wealth? I can't agree with that. Taking out tax loopholes, yes. Streamlining the taxation process, yes. Making the taxes more fair, sure. But taking someone's money that they have worked hard to earn and giving it to others makes it - well, it is just wrong. People have to want to donate their money. You cannot make them do it.

And labour unions - bbbbrrrrr. No, thank you. Unions did amazing things when they were first formed - they put in place age requirements, living conditions, working conditions, pay scales, safety issues were addressed. But now they grow fat, go into places where they know nothing of the business (such as the asbestos removal union going to golf courses to unionise them) and cannot pay them appropriately, will charge union dues and make them take insurance, whether they like it or not. That is just the top of the list. I know much better how that works.

Gabriel making friends everywhere he goes
So it is not a perfect set up. I loved most of the sentiments that were reflected there, just not the black and white thinking that Socialism and especially Communism will work and the backing of unions. But most people that I spoke with were not union supporters. Look at John K. (he's pictured on Facebook), he knew that unions only have 4% of the population in them, unlike 40 years ago, when they had 20% in them. (Those figures for 40 years and 20% may not be accurate, since it has been so long now.) But the 4% currently is correct. And I don't want to see unions gain more adherents out of this. I'm not sure what needs to be done about them.

She's wearing paint, before you say anything!
I'm taking Gabriel back in today to Liberty Park. I know he plans to stay there over the weekend, and then partake in today's march from Liberty Park by Wall Street to Times Square at 17:00 - I am not interested in marching my ass all over Manhattan. It will be too long. I haven't that kind of stamina to make the trek that long. But I have other things to do there as well - tea at McNulty's and maybe other items that I cannot find here in New Jersey. We'll see. Some of it depends on whether or not Luis comes with us. I'll have my hands tied to make purchases if he's along for the trip. That is just the truth.

That's right - I find all the cute guys!
Tonight we will have our house back to ourselves again, which will be nice. We really liked having Gabriel and he was an excellent guest, but it's been two weeks and we aren't used to having guests that long. Not to mention my house is my haven and not being naked in it was HARD. Now, nudity is back! (Hey... it is the little things in life!)

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