(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

Occupy New Mind

Posted on: Oct. 18, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: General

This was a sign from the Occupation movement in Los Angeles.  The top of the sign reads “15 years ago we had” (Photo by Harlin Kahn)

When the Arab Spring populist movement came about, it was not only about changing the type of government but also about jobs.  This translates to a demand for a better quality of life.  The Occupation movement which started as Occupy Wall Street in New York focuses on income inequality, the problems with the financial industry, but is also about the same demand for a better quality of life and jobs.  In each case, the government is seen as not providing reform, change, or better economic conditions.  Congress is now mainly seen as doing nothing since compromise is seen as betrayal and weakness.  The problem with U.S. government seems to come from two sides with singular minds that cannot seem to work together but just blame each other for the policies that make things worse.

So the electorate gets upset and views the next election as a referendum to “throw da bums out.”  Then the sides become even more divided and even more gridlock happens which then upsets the electorate even more.  Part of the problem is that that the newly elected still keep their singular minds and refuse to work with the other side so that we get back to nothing changing except the tenor of blame.

Now comes the Occupation Movement.  They have a referendum in the sense that they know what they think is unfair and a lot of it is focused on banks and the superrich.  Instead of a single mind, they know what they don’t want and what they don’t like.  This is a form of “no” mind in that they know what they are against but are open to changing it in any way they can.  What is refreshing though is that, as a populist movement, they are rough around the edges, have no true leaders, and do not have a singular mind.  By singular mind, I mean they have no specific solution or agenda but just want things to change especially when it comes to having the opportunity for gainful employment.

So we have the politicians on one side with a single mind who, because of the single mindset, won’t budge on what the solution should be since it could only come from reworking how they view the world.  On the other side, we have this populist movement who knows who to blame and what the problem is but really has no specific solution.  At this point, the Occupation Movement is either going to build more steam or fizzle out.  If it is the former, it is possible it will start to focus on some type of solution or principles for its demands but that will happen only if things evolve.

The nice things about social movements are that as more people join in there is even more potential for new people to join in or a jump on the bandwagon effect.  No one really knows if steam will build and the movement will become powerful or influential or what the specifics will be as to what course should be taken in order to go about getting change.  It is entirely possible that since the movement is about the other 99 percent of the income equation, the potential could be that even the average bloke can get involved.

In all of this singular mind, “no” mind, and blame game though, one thing keeps real change at bay.  The common denominator is that we have become a “we-they” world.  The singular mind politicians pit red against blue.  The no-mind populists pit rich against not rich and corporations, especially banks, against the middle.  If a politician speaks to trying to get things done by compromise, the other side ignores compromise and cares only about getting things done their way and being reelected.  No doubt, the amount of money in politics keeps feeding the We-They beast.  By We-They, I do not mean rich against poor but more about being so worried that your principles are so rooted in correctness that any deviation from those principles will bring about a dark world.

As for those who join the Occupation Movement, it would be easy to try to dismiss this as jealousy for the rich or a mob of young people feeling entitled to being offered high paying jobs but this is not the case.  On the other side, while the banks can be faulted with removing spokes from the economic wheel, our institutions, including government, corporations, banks, and individuals make up our economy.  There are tons of poor choices going on or better ways that progress could come about.  If you buy into the more is better consumer culture or feel it is not you but the other guy that’s doing all the frivolous spending and not seeing that the choices you make contribute to income inequality, than you are part of the problem.  There also has been an expectation of upward mobility in the U.S.  However, most of us do want to give back but don’t see how.  Many just feel frustrated that some advantages are being manufactured which stack the cards in favor of the one-percent and it is not just a matter of how things and success happen to work out.  Our culture has has deteriorated away from the level playing field while everyone seeks out their own rewards while not concerning themselves with how others are being punished.  We do not see the collective advantage of being in this together.  The 99% though do have a point that it is no longer a country where you can be anyone you want to be.  It is not sour grapes though that is making people as mad as hell but it is a sense of fairness gone awry.

While there is much unfairness in the way banks have handled their stewardship in society and changing them might go a ways in helping our situation, it is still too easy to get hung up on scapegoats.  In fact, those voters who just vote to “throw da bums out” need to take ownership that they are part of the problem too.  If everyone started insisting on candidates that blend principles with pragmatism, perhaps we wouldn’t see as much gridlock.  Money is extremely complex.  There is no simple answer as to why income is so unequal.  Sure tax rates are at issue but how money changes hands is changing and some of it is not because of just greed but from structural economic differences as well.  Still, in this global world where so many products are made all over the world, it is hard to pick out between who is working toward the common good and a better world or who is someone lining their own pockets before they get figured out.  It is also hard to get feedback on who the good guys are and who are not.  In any event, we also must bear some responsibility to own the fact that we direct where our money goes just as to whom we vote for.  If we want more jobs or those who understand fairness in the marketplace then we can try to find them, support them, and tell others about their products and services instead of just buying whatever is the cheapest or handiest all the time.  We can also support more products that match our values such as green products or whatever it is that you can get behind.

Kudos to those in the Occupation Movement who bring financial activism to center stage.  Anger is a great thing to start change.  A solution will always have to favor some over others but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fairer to the 99 percent while being directed to the 100 percent as well.

Using fairness as a yardstick is not part and parcel to the We-They world.  Money should be about fairness, connection, and trust as opposed to just self-interest.  With fairness in mind, we are not so apt to promote only our own agenda and see evil as the one to blame on the other side of the political or economic aisle.  Instead of single-minded or “no-minded,” we can become activists that are fair-minded.

One Comment

  • Job says:

    Excellent commentary on the Occupation movement from a different perspective. I also liked the suggestion of using one’s buying power to exact change

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