Media Wrench presents: Occupy Talks: What Gravy Train? Austerity, Finance, and the Polarization of Wealth
MediaWrench went down to Occupy Talks to present it for you, and we had a really great time doing it!
Peaking at about 75-100 people of all ages, the turnout blew my mind. The organization and focus of the event only shows the positive directionality of the Occupy Movement in North America, especially here at home, in Toronto, Canada. The crowd’s thorough mix shows that this was an issue that was completely relevant and perfectly timed considering the austerity measures we are facing across the board. I’ve always said that the most important next step for this intellectual, and what some would call spiritual, revolution will be to bring in the people who have dedicated their lives to knowing the finer points of the problems that we all know are in our hearts and ever-growing. The maturation of the Occupy Movement is moving at a pace most cannot deny is truly impressive.
Our guest speakers focused appropriately enough on the systematic denial of workers’ benefits through union busting, the systematic status quo of the business narrative, and the need to focus on long term goals, whilst celebrating the singular victories within sight. This talk takes place, literally, the day after Mayor Rob Ford’s budget was rejected piece-by-piece due to trying to fix the problems of our community by taking more money from the poorest of society and children. Very little of what Mayor Ford had originally intended to cut from the budget actually survived the process of the budget meeting. And the visibly ‘subversive’ council member who had talked sense into his fellow city hall colleagues, Councillor Josh Colle, saw the necessity and urgency to step back and rethink the logic of Toronto’s bizarre proposed taxes – such as the $2 per head child-tax for children using small wading pools across Toronto. This is a major victory for all reasonably hopeful citizens! The political system affects you. We can all, more or less, admit for the first time in a long while that we have undeniably affected the system in a tangible manner. The lesson is this: the politicians who are in power now may not agree with the logic of fostering and nurturing our population. Rather than simply catering to the business narrative and the credit scores decided outside our country; sooner or later, the opponents of these politicians are going to acknowledge and bolster the public outcry. They will naturally and organically replace those leaders who are out of touch with the populace they are hired to serve, once and for all.
Linda McQuaig is an acclaimed Canadian journalist and best-selling author. She currently writes an op-ed column for the Toronto Star and has written eight books on politics and economics, including It’s the Crude, Dude and most recently, The Trouble With Billionaires.
Jim Stanford is one of Canada’s best-known economists. He is the founder of the Progressive Economics Forum and writes a regular column for the Globe and Mail. He has written seven books, including his latest, Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism.
Nathan Okonta is a community activist and researcher, studying the links between schools and prisons. He is a former member of the Metro Network for Social Justice and is currently a member of the Network for Pan-African Solidarity Toronto, and the Tabono Institute.
Sam Gindin is a respected academic and intellectual. Until recently, he was a professor of Political Economy at York University. He regularly publishes in academic journals and has written numerous books. His latest is In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives.
Lana Brite and Occupy Talks have set up the next generation of forum. These conversations draw such a crowd simply by utilizing a professional and deeply intellectual approach to activism. The conversation we could not show you, between guests and speakers through the Q&A, was handled with grace. It was a true credit to the Occupy Movement itself here in Canada and also aligned perfectly with the respect for a studied mind that I believe was at the core of Occupy Toronto in its infant stages back in St. James Park. The key to success lies not in brute force, but rather, in expertly applied pressure.
Written by Kris Harrison
Contributions for this piece: Kris Harrison, Jared Khan & Roberto Horta