The Occupy Movement creates or exacerbates the risks of homelessness by packing public spaces with the destitute poor, transients, and “hippy kids” who are unsanitary.
Drawing attention to a problem is not to be confused with creating a problem. While Occupy movements across the globe have indeed attracted a number of marginalized people to the camps, these people were in very bad shape to begin with. Not only has the Occupy movement drawn attention to the results of economic inequality—such as homelessness—some camps (like Occupy Oakland) are providing these folks with food, medical attention, toilets, and safety in numbers. In her official apology letter,Oakland Mayor Jean Quan gave “the rationale of public health and safety” as the justification for dismantling the Ogawa Plaza Camp on 10/24. Poverty, not direct democratic action, is the public health and safety risk this country must face.
The Occupy Movement is made up in large part by people who aren’t from the city they are occupying.
Not being from a given place has never stopped the U.S. government/military from acting, as current involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya demonstrates clearly. Conservatives who claim the above myth as truth should be reminded of the foreign policies of the people they vote for and support. Liberals who use the above myth to invalidate tactics, strategy, or message should be reminded that Che was not from Cuba, Cesar Chavez was not from Delano, and the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement were not from the Deep South. Passivity is not tolerance; inaction is not restraint; and where you were born or currently reside does not lessen your obligation to your fellow citizens.
The Occupy Movement is bad for local businesses.
What’s bad for local businesses are multi-national corporations that use their size to lower the price of consumer goods by exploiting labor wherever it is cheapest and least organized. What’s bad for local businesses are banks that make irresponsible loans that lead to foreclosures, banks that siphon off local resources by enacting late fees, transaction fees, and overdraw fees. It seems more likely that a movement that draws people into a designated central location cannot but help nearby businesses as people must eat and that food must be bought somewhere. I’m sure tent sales are through the roof lately.
The Occupy Movement is undermining already cash-strapped municipalities by pressuring them to enact reforms and saddling cities with expensive policing and clean-up efforts.
Things are bad and getting worse for cities as real estate prices continue to stagnate (property taxes are one of the few ways cities are legally allowed to raise funds). Inaction in the face of school closures, teacher (and yes) police layoffs, and public services cuts will not solve the problem. The Occupy Movement is not “picking” on poor cities like Oakland. The Occupy Movement is pressuring every level of government, business, and society to create a system that serves the majority of people who keep it running every day. Neither can Occupy be blamed for costs related to oppressive police crack downs on the exercise of free speech; this accusation is almost too ridiculous to mention. Finally, the more stable and organized occupations of public space become, the more sanitary they will be, as the installation of ten portable toilets at Oakland’s Ogawa Plaza on the 10/28 demonstrates.
Things might be bad here, but it could be worse, like in Egypt, so stop whining about it.
Recent opinion polls suggest few Americans believe the economy is getting better. Yet the biggest corporations continue to reap huge profits without hiring new workers. Clearly things are bad here, and not looking to get any. And yes, we do have many privileges in this country the envy of the world over, like the rights to free speech and demonstration. We must take full advantage of all of the benefits of being U.S. citizens if we are to create a system that works for the majority, as well as a system that does not invade and destabilize those less fortunate nations around the globe. Unless you are the 1% of Americans who are content with the status quo, the best solution to changing the tone of the Occupy movement to better represent your concerns is to add your voice to the mix.
Those who subscribe to these myths, more often than not, mistake the effect for the cause. If there was more affordable housing, there would be less people living on the streets. If there weren’t problems in cities like Oakland, people from other places wouldn’t be showing up every day to protest those problems. If small businesses were not in trouble to begin with, no one would worry that people camping in tents nearby would be disruptive. Finally, if cities (and all levels of government) were providing the services that people need, no one would accuse them of serving first and foremost the billionaires, corporations and banks.
If your friends are sick, you don’t tell them to stop having a sore throat. If it’s the system that is sick, do not blame those who are working diligently to nurture a recovery. Join them and work to shape that recovery.
Might be good to have these handy answers for the Thanksgiving dinner with family!