Friday, October 21, 2011

If Canada isn’t enough for Occupy, then what is?

In late September 2008, after the federal government took over Fannie and Freddie Mac and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, my development studies professor looked at the class and said something along the lines of “well class, modern capitalism as we know is going to change and I’m not sure what will happen.” In the years following 2008 it became clear the changes to modern capitalism would not be nearly as cataclysmic as my professor speculated—the Second Great Depression never materialized. In recent weeks however a new questions has been brought to the forefront—what should the modern capitalism look like.

The Occupy Protests have spread from Wall Street to over 70 major cities in the US. There is no unifying manifesto of the protests across America. Instead protestors have vented their frustration about the status quo of the economy. An often repeated fact is that almost forty percent of the wealth in America is held by the top one percent of Americans. The protestors identify themselves as the other ninety-nine percent of Americans.

An interesting off-shot has been the spread of the protests across the forty-ninth parallel to Canada. Fifteen Canadian cities have seen Occupy Protests as of October 14, 2011. The protests have found traction in Canada despite the presence of a more progressive tax system, less income inequality than the U.S., and the supervision and regulation of financial institutions, which are the very things American Occupy Protests implicitly advocate. But, in the view of the Canadian protestors, the Canadian system is still not enough to be what the modern economy should be.

The prevalence of the protests across the forty-ninth parallel raises an important question about what the ideal end result for the Occupy Protests in America will be. If the Canadian progressive tax system, and supervision of the financial sector is not enough to satisfy the Occupy Protest, then what will be? The protestors have been quick to vent their frustration with the status quo, but without a concrete vision of what the economy should look like, the Occupy Protest will have difficulty changing the status quo. Hopefully, if the protests continue, a clear message will be articulated other than just we don’t like the way it is. 

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