Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why I support Occupy Wall Street

     There’s been a lot of talk about Occupy Wall Street this last month and a half, but I feel like there still hasn’t been enough.  I would like to take some time out of posting cute cat pictures*1 to talk about why I support this movement.
            There are several important reasons I support this movement, the first being our nation’s expanding wealth gap.  The middle class is falling out and the upper 1%owns 99% of the wealth.  Now I do not necessarily think the wealth should be taken from the rich and given to the poor in greater numbers through the government.  This isn’t even what Occupy Wall Street is about THIS IS NOT Just A COMMUNIST OR SOCIALIST MOVEMENT, and shouldn't be denounced as such, there is room for many political ideologies.  What these facts do make me think about is the fact that I doubt only 1% of the population is working hard.  The most common thing I’ve heard when discussing the previous point is “GET A JOB,” well that is easier said than done considering the unemployment rate in this country.  Corporations are making all time profits and yet unemployment is at a record high, and continues to stay high.  People are trying hard to find jobs, and many people are working several jobs.  Another problem facing this country is the fact that student debt is mounting and the jobs are starting to not be there.  Now all of this being said I think there are some things for us within the movement to reflect upon.  When choosing what degree to get in college and eventually use to land a good career there is lots of information available to us on how much our degree will cost, how many jobs are typically available in that market, and most importantly in this equation how much the starting and average pay for those specific jobs are.  If you have not fully compared all of these figures, and then come out of college with a degree that is for a limited job market, doesn’t pay as much as you want, and you have high student debt, it is your own fault, if you choose to do a career that isn’t financially responsible you take that risk knowing so in hopes that you will be happy doing what you love.  Now, here is the problem I have with all of this.  In our society I feel like a lot of things on the pay scale are backwards.  May people who do important, physically demanding, or non-exploitative jobs get paid on the low end while many people who do unimportant, minimal “work”, and very exploitative jobs rise to the upper 1% easily (please note there are many exceptions to this rule EX: Doctors).  I feel like the society in which we are all a part of values the wrong skills and decisions of people in reference to careers and pay scale.  Another thing for those of us in the Occupy movement to remember is to not demonize the rich (this also goes for the police, even if they are only there to protect the powerful).  Lazy, selfish assholes come from both ends of the monetary spectrum.  We are protesting the reasons why 40 % of the wealth ends up in the hands of 1% of the population and their influence 1% of the population has over 99 percent of the population, NOT everyone who falls into the 1% category.  Remember rich people, poor people, we are all human beings, and monetary means do not define who we are.
Sometimes people need a reminder
Speaking of the 1%’s influence over the 99% of the population, corporate money in politics has got to go. This is something both sides of the political spectrum (Ralph Nader, Ron Paul) can agree upon and have been fighting against for many years with little results.  Personally for me this is the more important stance that the Occupy movement has taken.  It’s one thing for 1% of the people to be more well off than the other 99% it’s a completely different thing for that 1% to have greater control than 99% in a nation in which the government is meant to be democratic.  There is and never will be anything democratic about a small group of people controlling a large group, segregated by monetary digits.  It’s as simple as that.  The disappointing part is that it seems inevitable in our society that corruption will always remain as a parasitic part of any established government.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight the little (and big) battles against it though and keep it at a controlled absolute minimum.  There are many easily changeable attributes about how our government works (or doesn’t work) that we can take care of.  The Occupy movement isn’t asking for any specific bill to be passed or an election of any specific candidate (shut the fuck up Ron Paul Supporters*2).  It’s about something bigger than that, something much more important and permanent*3.  A revaluation of the entire way we look at things and react within our government.  We shouldn’t have to be on the defense end of fighting corruption because our elected officials shouldn’t want to exploit other human beings for their own benefit.  This is also about the bailouts.  The American government handed many corporations money and they did the exact same thing with it that so many people paint as the picture for what people do with welfare money.  No difference except that they were doing this with a substantial amount of money and peoples lively hoods at stake.  Once again, why the need to exploit?  You’re already some of the richest companies in the United States.
The reason I most support the Occupy movement is because of the dialogue it is intended to create.  I feel like a moment like this has been a long time coming.  It makes me sad knowing that people the likes of George Carlin, HowardZinn, and Bill Hicks aren’t alive to participate and most of all observe at least a fragment of the population standing up and saying alright that is enough we have fucking had it.  Maybe as a society we don’t have to be a disappointment to great intellectuals like those men.  We can all think and act for ourselves it’s time we start.  The reason I support this movement is because it is the first step in shifting the paradigm of thought in our society from that of exploitation to solidarity.  Regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, and birthplace we are all human beings.  There is no reason in today’s world in which there is no shortage of food, and an easily preservable amount of natural resources (of course with the exception of over population in regards to space and a growing population but that is a completely different argument) for one human being to exploit another human being or to make them feel helpless.  Absolutely no fucking reason.  It’s as simple as the old cliché of treat others how you wish to be treated.  In a country where the majority of citizens follow Christianity you’d think this would be a minimal problem considering the main principles of said religion.  But it is a problem, a very big problem in the world as a whole, and even in our “civilized” country.  Whether the movement continues through the winter, whether it causes any positive legislation, I believe neither of these things are as important as this movement causing people to speak to one another about something that matters for once and evaluating not only their views, but how they apply those views via actions in their daily life locally and more externally in society.  We are the 100% of society, we are all human beings.  We can change the world anytime we want to.  As a species, as a civilized society, it’s time for us to quit talking out of our ass and actually treat other human beings with the respect and care they deserve.  Food, housing, and never feeling helpless should not be privileges in our country (and world) they are a right.  I believe if we fix this problem within ourselves, everything else will fall into place.  Yes the system itself is corrupt (at least by current design) but more importantly the people of our society (all of us as one) are what is truly fucking up the world.  There is only one way to change this, it’s not passing more laws, it’s not wars, it’s not voting for this president or that president.  Changing the world is as simple as this:  Treat everyone with dignity and charity, and educate, spread as much knowledge about everything as possible.  If we create a society that is well informed, intelligent, and caring, government corruption and class warfare will be a thing of the past.  SOLIDARITY NO EXPLOITATION.  

One of my all time favorite songs, I believe the lyrics are quite relevant to what I'm attempting to convey.

I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to have a slightly active involvement with not only my local occupy movement but also that of Occupy Wall Street.  Recently (almost 4 weeks ago now *sigh*).  I had the very fortunate experience of going to New York City which I am incredibly grateful for.  This is profound to my life.  For a little perspective, I live about 20 hours away from New York via driving and have hardly had a chance to leave the state in which I live.  I was there as part of a studies class on art, so we were visiting lots of galleries and museums.  I was lucky enough to have downtime so of course I went to Occupy Wall Street and it is a memory I will hold with me for the rest of my life. 
Being from the Midwest I don’t consider running into likeminded people as myself a regular occurrence, it comes with the territory.  New York was a breath of fresh air for so many reasons; one of them was meeting, and even more so just being in the company of so many protestors in Zuccotti Park.  When I went it was early afternoon so there were no big marches or anything going on but it was still amazing.  There was a library with FREE literature for expanding one’s mind, there was a row of Protestors facing Wall Street, there were 2 groups of musicians performing, there was a person wearing a gas mask doing a protest surrounded by many protest signs.  I am glad to have been a part of something so beautiful.
Our local protests have been going better than I thought they would, but still need some help (AHEM students I’m talking to you).  I am unfortunately only available on Saturdays (because fortunately I have a job and the privilege of attending college [Take that all you anti-OWS people who yell “get a job”]).  So I will share my experiences thus far.  The first meet up I attended was a march around our city’s downtown area around city hall.  There was around 30-40 people I think, which was a surprisingly good turnout considering the general opinions of the people where I live, but disappointing considering the population of the place I live.  Despite lack of traffic things went well, it was a great chance to see some like-minded people in my community.  The next event I attended was a protest in a busier part of town the next weekend.  Things also went positively here.  Of course there are always exceptions, while many people were supportive we had a few critical shouts from cars.  One person before I got there apparently shouted “Get a job you liberal mother fuckers,”  While I was there someone yelled at us “Hey Pricks”  and a guy tried to flick a cigarette at a fellow protestor and I (He failed miserably by the way).  I think it’s important to remember that unless someone has a legitimate reason and stance on why our movement is not the way to go, that they should be ignored.  Don’t give merit to ignorance and mean spirited behavior.  The ironic thing of course is that much of our opposition in our local protests rarely come from any of the 1% (Of course this is a generalization as I am just going off of stereotypical behavior and estimated value of vehicles).  It seems the people in nice vehicles just simply ignore us and don’t even listen to what we have to say.  Today I attended our second publicized protest and it was a similar experience.
Standing in solidarity:  Protesting with my brothers and sisters in the Occupy Wall Street movement <3

If you read this far I would just love to thank you for listening to me, and most of all to remind you to feel free to express your opinions about anything discussed in this writing (also if I should do more of these?).  I will say it simply here about the comments, don’t be a douche.  Feel absolutely 100% to disagree with what I am saying, but please express what you specifically you disagree with, why you disagree, and do not be disrespectful toward other commenters.  Another reminder make sure to scroll down and read the 3 foot notes I made to things I said within the writing.  They add more clarity to what I am expressing. 

And most of all remember that this is all pointless because if everyone in the world simply looked at my cat and saw how cute he is, it would end all conflicts anyway.
*1I know this has nothing to do with Baby K and the rest of the cutestcat site.  I think periodically I may start doing Ramblings which will not be posted on the main page of our updates (I’ll back date them) this means they will only be accessible by stumbling across them via search engine or by direct link.

*2I am mostly being funny here, I do not have any direct problem with people supporting Ron Paul and I believe you should be free to campaign for him at the protests.  However, this movement is not behind any specific politician and I also think people who think Ron Paul is going to swoop in and fix all of these problems are turning the man into a myth, much like the hope campaign which worked for current President Obama.
*3However if the Occupy movement is looking for another more specific stance to highlight, one I feel would be most important is breaking down all the barriers that prevent third party candidates from winning, and getting people to quit voting for the main two political party candidates in presidential elections who are one in the same.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

2012 The Year of Surge!?

I would like to talk about a subject which most people don't seem to relate to: My obsession with Surge soda.
Surge Soda, Surge Energy Soda, Nostalgia Soda
If you don't know what this is then you can get the fuck out.

Urge Soda, Norwegian, Old Soda
You can always buy some of this if you don't mind the $40 shipping!
Those who are a part of this cult following of a discontinued soda will understand where I'm coming from.  Now this soda hasn't been around for around a decade so why write about it now?  It is still relevant in my life recently because I have been purchasing full cans of it lately as well as a Surge Jacket.  Unfortunately there is another reason I bring this topic up.  It seems that as of September 2011 Vault similar to Surge soda has been discontinued.  While I personally didn't enjoy Vault quite as much as surge, it was the next best thing out there and it is truly a shame to see it going away.
Vault Soda, Discontinued Soda, Bad News
You won't be buying this anymore

Now I am part of the reason vault is going away.  As of the last couple of years I haven't bought it but maybe a couple of times.  However about two weeks ago I was at Burger King (for breakfast of course because that's the only time I like that place, egg and cheese croissant ftw)  and I decided for once instead of an ICEE I was going to get vault, probably from now on.  I go to order it and it's not there anymore, this had been on my mind lately until a friend of mine a few days ago told me that it's been discontinued. I couldn't help but nostalgia of that horrible day in a grocery store as a child when I found out Surge was no longer available for purchase.  Which brings me to some history of my interactions involving Surge/Vault soda.

After a few years of going about life as usual without Surge I found out about a fantastic community at SaveSurge.org  The site no longer updates but I spent a lot of time on there in the early/mid 2000's. We pushed and pushed and pushed for Coke to bring back the soda we all loved, while we kept demanding it Coke sat back and watched as expired soda was selling for hundreds of dollars, none of the money going to them.  Eventually we achieved some sort of victory/response by Coke deciding to release Vault.  As well as another now not updated site vaultkicks.org.  Somehow I lucked into a great experience, I was at a major festival in a tiny town in pretty much the middle of nowhere, and for some reason they had vault there (this was a year before it was produced nationwide in stores)  I bought 2 or 3 and drank them, later that night I went back to buy up all of what was left but it was all gone. 

Now like most situations with vault being discontinued there is a good side and a bad side to this.  Lets start with the bad.  I assume Vaults sales were not where Coke wanted them to be so they discontinued the product.  I think it is likely that the company considers vault equal to surge, seeing as how it was quite similar and took it's spot on their product line up.  This to me means they are most likely going to see the failure of vault as the final nail in the coffin of Surge.  They will feel like they tried and they lost which means they're not going to try again. 

But here's the good side, we can't let this happen.  We need to once again join together as we did in the savesurge.org days and demand that Coke bring back Surge soda like they should have done in the first place.  In fact there is already a group working on this very thing, they just need all the help they can get.  They're called "Surge Movement" and they can be found on twitter and facebook

I'd really love to see something positive come out of this, if not at least we can all make some new friends over a common interest. 

In the meantime later this week I am going to go on a soda run to all my local stores and see if I can pick up any Vault that may be left on the shelf.  I wish I was receiving this (8 full Surge cans) or this (Surge cooler) in the mail instead though!