Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Amsterdam is Tomorrow

Beursplein - Occupy Amsterdam will be here
Photo by Mark Hogan
For those back in the US thinking that the "Occupy" movement is a local thing, you'll take heart to know that it's spreading across the world. Tomorrow we will have our own Occupy Amsterdam rally. For those who've been living in a cave the past couple of months, the "Occupy" movement is groups of people across the US (and now the world!) camping out in various cities and demonstrating against the economic situation which has gripped the world.

In the US, the top 1% of earners pull in one fifth of the income and own one third of the wealth. Billionaires like the Koch brothers are getting richer by illegally selling arms to Iran while pouring millions of dollars into Tea Party groups to encourage the government to, amongst other things, lower taxes and continue to deregulate industries. The Supreme Court in the US has decided that, while you have a limit to how much you can donate to a political campaign, corporations do not. We're already feeling the effect of this as one individual created a corporation, donated $1 million to Mitt Romney's political campaign, and the dissolved his corporation. The sad thing is that it appears that he may not have violated any laws.

Do you have that voice in government? Of course not. Around the world, we see financial institutions crumbling because rich and powerful people are allowed to gamble with other people's money, reaping the rewards but being isolated from the risk. Meanwhile, here's the US unemployment rate:

US Unemployment Rate  Chart

Except that this isn't quite true. That's the U3 unemployment rate, the official one which the US government uses. The U6 unemployment rate is hovering between 16 to 18 percent. The U3 rate only counts those people who are unemployed and actively seeking work. Were you a highly paid professional whose sole job is now a paper route? Too bad, you're employed and aren't counted in U3. Do you live in an area which has absolutely no work available and you've given up looking after months of effort? Too bad, you're not "unemployed" by the U3 measure. You could be working one hour a week and not be "unemployed". It does appear that we're not even close to the peak unemployment during the Great Depression, but the economic malaise gripping the world doesn't appear to be lifting any time soon.

Hence, the "OccupyX" movement. People without money want a voice because it appears that the people with money may not be doing such a bang up job after all.