Archived Story

‘Occupy’ movements ignore facts

Published 12:23pm Thursday, November 3, 2011

“Whose Park? Our Park!”

This is the new battle cry for the various “Occupy Wall Street” movements that are presently occurring in metropolitan parks throughout the country.

At the beginning of these protests, there wasn’t a unifying slogan or theme that tied the movement together, except for a vague belief that something needed to be done about the income disparity that exists in American society, especially since one percent of the population controls the majority of wealth while the remaining 99 percent are languishing in debt and/or poverty with supposedly little chance of improvement.

What actions the protestors are proposing to fix this situation is hard to discern, especially since there isn’t a single voice that speaks for the movement. However, after police in Oakland and Atlanta removed activists from parks they had occupied for weeks, the slogan “Whose Park? Our Park!” has become the nationwide battle cry for the group.

In my opinion, this slogan is really the first widespread idea produced by the protesters that media types such as myself can dissect in order to determine what their goals are and what actions they’re proposing to achieve them.

Here is my analysis.

The slogan is a response to the recent evictions. In essence, it’s a rallying cry to re-occupy the parks for their own use. However, it tells us much more about the nature of this group than just the desire to re-claim a space to protest supposed injustices.

Now, it’s important to note these parks are either publicly or privately owned, which means these activists are claiming the right to exclusively use property that is not owned by them. In addition, the cost of providing security and cleaning up the area squarely rests with the taxpayers, since the government has to provide these services.

Just think about this situation for a minute. These protesters are claiming the right to exclusively use something they don’t own and the taxpayer is picking up the bill. To me, this is an example of what the movement really wants on a much larger scale – re-distribution of wealth at someone else’s expense. I’m sure this sounds like a great idea, especially the part about someone else dealing with the consequences.

A common complaint you hear from these folks is how unfair it is that our current economic system allows some people to prosper much more than others. They believe the majority in our country has a right to a better life and those who are more fortunate through hard work or sheer luck should pick up the tab in order to make this happen.

I truly understand this sentiment. It does seem unfair that so few people control so much wealth.  However, most of these folks are already helping make life better for the majority by providing jobs and opportunities that would not exist otherwise. In my opinion, simply ignoring this fact undermines the legitimacy of the movement and makes people wonder if the real goal of redistribution is based on nothing more than laziness and selfishness.

The slogan “Whose Park? Our Park!” is really about a small interest group wanting to take something by force what belongs to someone else. It is not a cry for justice or equality of opportunity in the world. Without a doubt, it’s not the beginning of a modern day civil rights movement as some would like to believe.

I see trouble on the horizon if this movement gains traction. Fortunately, most Americans are smart enough to ignore it.

Roger Steele is general manager and advertising director of The Outlook.