“Occupy” is only the beginning


It’s been four years since the world entered its greatest economic crisis since the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s. Yet it seemed that the world had taken this deep crisis in stride. That was until Oct. 14. The world, united in some form for the first time since that fateful year, is finally realizing where the uncontrolled capitalist greed of the 20th and 21st century has brought us. The world is finally realizing where the inaction of our political leaders and the degenerated political system we call democracy has led to.

For decades we have seen and known that the gap between the rich and poor of the world’s countries has been widening. While we may have denied this truth through the 80s and 90s, we can no longer do so. American unemployment numbers today are at levels not seen since the late 80s and early 90s. Our middle class, the very backbone of a healthy and robust economy, has been eroding at an astonishing speed over the last decade. Nonetheless, we continue to be content to wear rose-tinted glasses and ignore the problems we face. In mid-September of this year, the media reported that for every one dollar Canadians earned, they carried one dollar and fifty cents more personal debt.

Saskatchewan is in election mode, and Brad Wall will tell you that the province is well-positioned for the future. The problem is though, that this province, like Alberta, is basing its economy largely on natural resources. Without a market for them, Saskatchewan is simply another poor schmuck. While this is not an endorsement to vote for the NDP, this is, however, and endorsement to take back our democracy. The smallest beginning is to vote. The next step is to make sure the processes in place are not abused and to stay on top of our politicians. If we do not, we shall see a boondoggle of political corruption and the neglect of the middle and lower classes in favour of the industrial moguls of society. The rich will weather any storm that comes, but it is the middle and lower classes that will suffer most. We need to fight for them.

You can say this doom-and-gloom perspective is that of an eccentric, yet history provides too many examples that vividly illustrate what happens when the power of the political elite and the wealthy are left unchecked by those they rule or employ. Capitalism is not to blame, for it is only the vehicle we use. It is the drivers of that vehicle that we, the middle class, need to hold accountable. It is the laissez-faire attitude of countries like the United States that has delivered us this calamity, but it will be the inaction of social democracies across this planet that will exacerbate the problem. It is democracies that serve the people, not the people serving democracies. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” While his context may have been different, these words ring true, even today.

If we wish to see riots and general strikes like those in Greece and Italy, we only have to sit idly by. If we wish to see social inequity spread like wildfire across our province and country, we only have to close our eyes. The poor and struggling are already marginalized in this province and this country today. If we do nothing, if we do not say, “Enough is enough!” we shall not only see the poor be worse off than ever before, but we will also be joining them. We need real change, not just a cosmetic façade. Occupy Wall Street and the global Occupy movement are beginnings.

Do not content yourself by saying, “I’m OK.” Such thoughts are divisive and allow the upper class to undermine those below them. The phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall,” rings true. Collective and positive pressure from all levels of society, and from all economic and cultural backgrounds, will bring about the change we all so desperately need. If we wake up from our material obsession and our vegetative coma of monetary acquisition, we shall realize that a balanced world and society will benefit all, from poor to rich.

Sebastian Prost

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