A Day in the Life of a Video Post about the Occupy Movement

I recently came across a video that was first posted back in October. It’s titled “A Day in the Life of an Occupy Wall St. Participant” by Matt, in Portland Oregon. This post is so full of misinformation I wish I could be surprised about it’s many thousands of facebook likes and comments of approval. Unfortunately, accurate information is less important than sarcastic rhetoric.

In the video, Matt describes Dakota, Marin, and Simon, a group of young, mindless, consumers, as they plan for a day of protesting while purchasing and using products sold by big corporations. Matt says that they are hypocrites for being compulsive consumers while protesting the evils of “corporate greed” and asks, “If you really wanted to change the system, wouldn’t you want to boycott these evil corporations?”

Well, no. Generally, what the occupiers hoped to accomplish was financial regulations to prevent the kind of investments which create great risk to people not making those investments. The target of the protest were primarily financial institutions, hence “Occupy Wall Street”. Since most of companies that Matt lists in his video aren’t financial institutions, the Occupy movement, though diverse, wasn’t generally targeting those corporations. As it turns out, many of the protesters did put their money where their mouths where, and closed accounts at large financial banks and moved them to local banks and credit unions. But even if they were protesting Verizon, Dell, and Cisco, boycotting isn’t the only way to voice displeasure and sometimes isn’t event he best. A massive boycott of dozens of major corporations would cause an even greater financial crisis than the one we’re recovering from now. That would be hypocritical.

Thus, Matt uses the activities of his three characters (I don’t know if he completely made them up ) to describe the entire movement as a bunch of “Self righteous, morally indignant hypocrites”, even though their activities, real or not, don’t demonstrate hypocrisy (thoughtlessness and consumerism, perhaps).

Towards the end of the video, Matt starts to sound a little bit like a liberal. He chastises his three characters for not giving money to homeless people, then he talks about Chinese slave laborers and Vietnamese children who make all the products that we mindlessly purchase. He actually says, “It’s your consumerism that’s driving the social inequality that you’re out protesting”.

So true. Interesting that the occupy movement was started by an anti-consumerist organization called
Adbusters (according to Wikipedia). Perhaps Matt and the occupiers have more in common than he realizes.

Matt doesn’t seem like a really bad guy, and I won’t chastise him for not telling us if Dakota, Marin, and Simon are real people, amalgams of stories he’s heard or read about, or just three dopes he dreamed up. He wasn’t expecting his little video to go viral.

The problem isn’t Matt, so much, as all the people who took this little story seriously, despite all of its irrelevancy, and hailed it as proof that the occupiers were all just a bunch of hypocrites.

It will be tough without Lowes, but we can do it.

Sasha and I have been pretty big customers of Lowes, but that ends now because Lowes decided to comply with the demands of bigoted family values organization in Florida to pull their ads from a TV show about Muslim Americans.

I personally find it shocking and heartbreaking, because Lowes was on the correct side of the bullshit English-Only campaign. I guess Lowes decided that Muslim Americans don’t buy as much lumber as Spanish speaking Americans do.

I wish a boycott of Lowes would teach them that it’s worth a business hit not to promote bigotry, but I’ll have to settle for trying to teach them that appeasing bigots isn’t a good business decision.

I hope Lowes apologizes for this miserable decision. Even they only do so for pragmatic reasons, it will demonstrate that Americans who hate bigotry are a larger and more powerful group than they expected, and that would be a step in the right direction.

The war on food.

While browsing Tina’s blog, I noticed she had a feed from the Polyface Farm Blog, which had a pretty interesting post about corporate efforts to shut down righteous food production.

I’m a little tired now. I was up late last night and I woke up early to do some chickens. I may write something that I’ll regret later and delete. So read now! Tomorrow it could be too late! With that in mind, I offer these thoughts:

Human production is turning to crap. Everything. The fine works of craftsmen are being replaced by plastic junk made by near slaves in factories supervised by people who have no connection to the product. It’s bad enough when it’s fake trinkets: Voodoo dolls sold in New Orleans museums that were actually made in China; Quilts made to look like they were sown with a grandmother’s love, mass produced and made of petroleum. They sell because they’re cheap. They make them cheap, sell billions at thin margins, make tremendous profits, and run the artisans out of business. Who cares if it’s hand made by a little old man in a 200 year old workshop who learned his skills from his grandfather. I can get one that looks just like it for $1.95 at Walmart. And because everything’s so cheap we buy lots of it and surround ourselves with gas-emitting crappy trinkets for which we have no respect. When the stupid thing breaks we’ll toss it in the landfill and buy another.

It’s cheap because of improved technology. It’s also cheap because of disrespect for the environment and for laborers, which of course, isn’t new, but technology has allowed us to take advantage of that disrespect in amazing new ways.

It’s bad when it’s trinkets. It’s worse when it’s food. We’re eating mass produced meat made from confined animals produced by near-slaves. It’s cheap but we buy so much that the purveyors of this poison make massive profits. It’s causing suffering to humans and animals by way of cruel treatment, deforestation, pollution, and the myriad detrimental effects of filling our bodies with chemical laden, disease ridden and nutrient deficient substances.

As the price of everything except the crap keeps going up in comparison to wages, it becomes harder to live without the cheap crap. In fact, the very existence of cheap crap justifies the low wages that make it easier to produce. Why pay someone enough money to buy real food when he can get ground beef from Walmart for less than two dollars a pound?

But there’s a small yet noticeable backlash against the mass produced substances that masquerade as food. And because there’s a backlash, the mass producers are fighting back, as described in the blog post that I mentioned above. If they win, it will be a tragedy. While I don’t actually believe that corporate executives are evil people conspiring against us, I do believe that the effect will be as if they were. We will have greater instances of disease outbreaks that will make headlines for a couple of days and then be forgotten. Animal cruelty will be institutionalized. The income gap will increase. Our waterways will be more polluted.

I can go on and on but as tired as I am I know that I might turn people off instead of encouraging them to read more. There are dozens of reasons to buy real food and encourage others to do so.

It is OK to indulge occasionally. I won’t tell you to stop eating at restaurants that probably use mass produced meat. I won’t tell you to spend $300 for burgers at you’re next cookout with friends, if you really can’t afford it. I support real food and real craftsmanship, but I also have made-in-china crap, and I occasionally eat fake food substances. I can complain all I want about mass produced trinkets, but I can’t write a blog without one. I think the benefits of communications technology outweigh the cost, and I make choices that reflect my beliefs.

But learn how important it is to support real food. Read Polyface Farm, See Fesh, read In Defense of Food. Then budget your time and effort so you can afford to support real food producers. Because we’ll all be better off if you do.