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Tactical Ninja - Today's instalment on OccupyWellington

Oct. 20th, 2011

10:14 am - Today's instalment on OccupyWellington

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The old house finally got cleaned. After I handed over the key, I had to get the cleaning company to liaise with the landlords because I could no longer arrange access. I just heard from the landlord saying they did the job ok but actually getting them there was a nightmare. Now, I got these guys on a TreatMe deal, I'd already paid for the work and a bit extra for some other stuff I wanted done. They had my money then stuffed me, and my landlord around. So in case you are considering using A-OK Solutions in the future, don't. They clean just fine but they don't call when they aren't going to make it, and I had to threaten them with 'official action' before they returned my call to try and arrange service after they let me down the first time. Do Not Recommend.


So what's up at OccupyWellington?

It was a grey day, and it's getting to that stage where people are tired. Same thing happened with #OccupyWallStreet on the Wednesday and Thursday of the first week - it'd got enough coverage so some people knew about it, but hadn't yet grown into anything much. Meanwhile the haters were having a field day. This is happening here as well.

Yesterday morning I witnessed Sean Plunket (talkback radio host) having a conversation on Twitter. His schtick was "Any of you poverty-stricken occupiers want to phone me on your Android and tell me what you want?" In other words, same bullshit that's been levelled at the movement in the US as well - clearly you aren't poor enough to be pissed off because you can afford gadgets. Because there's a validity-meter on your anger, and it's hooked up to your income.

You know what? Fuck that shit. I'm in the top tax bracket and I'm pissed off. Not because I'm starving but because I can see where these problems come from and where they lead and how they are affecting everybody but particularly the poor, and I think this is wrong. Is it any less wrong because I'm not poor myself? Is my anger any less valid because I'm not poor?

Didn't fucking think so. Here was my original post on this topic, and I stand by what I said.

Meanwhile, this conversation - someone replied going "I note the quality of some of the tents, clearly trust fund hippies." Because you know, the quality of your (potentially borrowed, potentially gifted, potentially paid for after saving for three years) tent is evidence of the income of your parents. About an hour later, there was "And there are some really crap tents there too, obviously some folks' parents were dole bludging hippies." Because those people there that are in their forties? Still dependent on their parents, clearly - parents' income apparently being the yardstick by which we measure the validity of dissent.

So yeah, if your tent's flash you're too rich to be legitimate and if your tent's crap you're too poor to be legitimate. I say bollocks to that, and how about these people stop flinging shit from a distance, get their arses down there and talk to some of the people involved to see what they're about.

I sent Mr Plunket this cartoon:



Along with a comment saying "Removal of business ideology from state policy." Which he ignored in favour of more snide commentary. Which is exactly what happened with #occupywallstreet just before shit got real and they started to get some real support.

Last night while I was down there I witnessed a CEO having a conversation with a young Asian guy about the aims of the occupation. The CEO was saying he supports the movement but because of his employment in X (valid conflict of interest) he could not visibly participate. But, he was willing to leave an anonymous message of support on the board and his presence boosted morale quite a bit. Also, the DomPost is bringing them a paper a day and contributed this article as well. And the Postal Workers Union is bringing them a mailbox so they can have an address.

This is the sort of support that lends legitimacy to the occupation. Their cause is legitimate, and despite the tendency of media and others to focus on the fringe elements and use them as an excuse to discredit the entire group, people are beginning to realise this is not just a fly by night thing, that these people have genuine concerns that aren't just relevant to 'trust fund hippies'.

When I asked last night what they needed, the message was clear: people. They have the camping covered, what they need is people to come and hang out during the day, drop by, say hi, maybe sit a while, talk to other people. Sign the board, say what your occupation is, just be another body in support of the movement. During the day when everyone's at work is when they find it hardest to keep up morale, so then is a good time to go say hi.

I plan on going down there most lunchtimes for this reason. I'm unable to camp because of my life responsibilities, but the movement needs people like me and I'm not going to be one of those that agrees with the cause but won't support it because I don't want to be branded a hippy, or I can't be arsed, or I think someone should do something about the problem (but not me).

The other thing you can do if you have access to a photocopier, is print some flyers and take them down for them to hand out. There are some here, and I also have one on pdf that contains information and a consensus statement from #occupywellington that says what they are about. If you'd like a copy of this (it's made so 4 will fit on an A4 page) to run some off, email me tatjna (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm taking them 200 at lunch time, maybe see you there?



In the background you can see the inspiration for this TradeMe ad, which cracked me up. ;-)

By the way, I've also been told that most of the occupiers are quite happy to drink tap water, so I suggest if you take them some, just label it as such so those who choose not to drink tap water can avoid it.


Today I'm gonna leave you with this:



And this, the latest DomPost article in which the comments could use some Tats LJ flist style snark, just saying.

Comments:

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From:vernacularity
Date:October 19th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
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I know cauld. Or rather, I have met him via mountainbiking. He's one of these people that likes to talk about his investments.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 19th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
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Clearly his mountainbike is too fancy for him to be allowed an opinion. Or maybe it's an old junker and he's still not allowed one because that proves him to be shiftless.


Edited at 2011-10-19 10:07 pm (UTC)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 20th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
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That trademe flat ad is very amusing.

Part of the comment I left on DomPost was:
"
...
Besides, it's not just about income inequality, about about corporate interests controlling government policy. We've seen laws passed under urgency in New Zealand at the behest of American corporations which have no benefit for the rights of New Zealand citizens or our economy.

I don't think anyone begrudges people making their fortune, so long as that fortune comes from creating something of benefit to society. Many commodity and derivative traders are milking value out of economies by manipulating them and causing instabilities. The worst instabilities are only possible due to neoliberal dictum that says deregulation is the key to economic prosperity. It's not, unless you are part of the 1%."

Amazing, but not surprising, how the pick the guy that looks most like a hippy to interview. Unfortunately he didn't really say much about why they were there (or they didn't include it in the vid) :-(
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From:tatjna
Date:October 20th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
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The impression I get is that he was asked to show them around and talk about how the camp worked rather than about the purpose of the occupation.

But yeah, considering how many average-looking people are there it's kind of sad that the media gravitates to those who most easily fit the stereotype the haters want to set up as their strawman.
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From:bekitty
Date:October 20th, 2011 05:31 am (UTC)
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The impression I got was that Ben was the hospitality representative when the reporter showed up. She probably didn't gravitate to him so much as he was the first one to greet her and have a chat.

They've got a really well-organised structure going at the occupation. I'm quite impressed.
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From:phaetonschariot
Date:October 20th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
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We got some media today, sadly I wasn't wearing a tie and all since I didn't have work today. :P but everyone in camp at the time looked basically average. It's real interesting seeing who gives us encouragement when walking by - today we had two older guys (hair going white) in suits yelling out "We support you completely!"
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From:thatgirljj
Date:October 20th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
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I'm in a high percentile too, and I want to point out that these things really DO affect everyone. One of the things we're angry about in the US is that all this taxpayer money was used to bail out the banks so that they would loosen up the credit market so as to keep jobs and development coming. The banks just ate that money.

As a result on the corner 2 lots down from my house, there is a property owner who has all the permits to redevelop his property. He can no longer get the financing for the redevelopment. Which would employ people. But it also means he would maintain his property, as it is... he's let it fall into deep disrepair. Homeless people sleep there and defecate in the corner of the parking lot. A car went through a fence and he's done nothing to repair it. The weeds periodically get to waist high. Now on the one hand... yeah, this guy is a dick who should keep up his property.

But on the other hand... if we gave banks money to loosen up the credit market, why isn't that money flowing back to the community in ways that build up the community. Lend money to businesses so they can create jobs and invest in their infrastructure. Don't give it out in bonuses to executives that got us in this mess in the first place.

(Nevermind the part where we have extended family members living near the poverty line that we are also concerned about.)
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From:phaetonschariot
Date:October 20th, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
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On Saturday I made a comparison to herd immunity - the idea that if everyone is vaccinated against an illness, then the people who medically can't be vaccinated will still be protected. We really need to extend that idea to education, other healthcare and the costs of living as well. Every single proper study has shown that inequality harms everyone because prevention is far, far cheaper than patch up jobs, whether that's with the cost of addiction or illness or crime.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 20th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
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"You know what? Fuck that shit. I'm in the top tax bracket and I'm pissed off. Not because I'm starving but because I can see where these problems come from and where they lead and how they are affecting everybody but particularly the poor, and I think this is wrong. Is it any less wrong because I'm not poor myself? Is my anger any less valid because I'm not poor?"

Here's the thing. You're not poor, but you think things are bad for the poor and you have some ideas about how to change it. Yet the poor mostly aren't coming out to join you in Occupying Wellington. Does this imply that they totally agree with your ideas about what they need?
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From:tatjna
Date:October 20th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
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I have not expressed any ideas about what the poor need.

Also, if you read the post that's linked to in this one, you'll see the 101 explanation of why it's often the middle classes that participate in social movements.

Finally, plenty of the people I've been talking to at Occupy Wellington are poor. And believe me, it's not just me that 'thinks' things are bad for the poor.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 20th, 2011 08:20 am (UTC)

99% includes homeless

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The 99% includes everyone from the homeless to home owners paying exploitative interest, everyone from frontline workers to middle management, and maybe higher. Wealth has become so concentrated, especially with the latest financial crises, that all these people now realise they have something in common.

If everyone in camp was a poor, homeless person, you would write us off as vagrants. If everyone in camp was a middle-class person with a nice haircut, a flash tent, and a good mountain bike, you would write us off as lifestyle protesters. Actually we have both kinds of people in the occupation (both camping and supporting), and many, many more kinds. It's this diversity that makes our occupation something more than you have a convenient container for. Sure you'll keep trying though ;)

One of the 99%
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From:phaetonschariot
Date:October 20th, 2011 10:53 am (UTC)
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We're actually still pretty cheerful in Chch - I'm not sleeping there of course but I'm there every day. Today was a little sluggish in the morning because everyone was tired after the heavy rain yesterday but once they all got up we were back into action. We had to move all the tents again because we don't want to mess up the grass.

Morning assembly Matt said that from the messages he was getting we're waking up some of the sleeping giants in the city, some of the big unions and things, and they don't like him much so if he's hearing this it hopefully means something.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 20th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
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I heard there's been a big lockout at one of the freezing works down there after the management wanted to lower wages by 20% (for the workers only, not the management). Story I heard goes that the union would have accepted the pay drop if management took it too but they wouldn't, so negotiations fell over and management locked the workers out.

I find myself wondering how supportive that union would be.
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From:phaetonschariot
Date:October 20th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
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Yes I saw that in the newspaper yesterday and thanks for reminding me because I wanted to double check the details.
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From:fuvenusrs
Date:October 21st, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
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Commented. Snarkily.
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