Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts on the "Occupy" Movement

            You know what is funny about life?  No matter how much money one has you cannot buy something that does not exist.  Did I mean funny?  I meant obvious.

            In the last few months the 99% Occupy movement has taken to the streets in numerous major cities and state capitals.  The ultimate ideology, demographics, and really anything about the movement beyond its presence is a bit up in the air.  The general idea that motivates them is this, "Too much is in the hands of too few".  For the most part this is correct, but in many ways it isn't.

If you can find more than two signs that say the same thing...
             No matter what rung of Western civilization you happen to cling to over the abyss of death, fact is, you got it pretty sweet.  Think about this, the richest person/family in the world right, CarlosSlim now has about 70 Billion dollars according to wikipedia.  that is a lot, no human being could ever spend that much in any meaningful fashion, they would have to burn it Joker style to get rid of it.

It's not about the money, it's about the funny.
             Now that being said, I took a look at J.D. Rockefeller who held a vast financial empire during the Great Depression, and then looked at how inflation would affect it.  Again, just with wikipedia, JD would have the modern equivalent of 660 billion dollars.  More than the top 10 billionaires of today combine.  Hold that amount in your mind and then realize, that JD, couldn't buy cake mix, because it hadn't been invented yet.  He could not have bought a microwave oven for a billion dollars.  JD could not send an email, could not call a mobile phone, he could not look up his own value on wikipedia, none of that existed.

He also could not afford a decent hair cut.
             While a lot of what exists is in the hands of a very few people, and that is not really right, a lot of things exist that have never existed, and that make all the money of yester-years meaningless.  And this trend will continue, the disparities we see today will seem silly in the future when 20 years from now everyone lives to be 200 and can take for granted information in its entirety.

            And this is why the 99% don't have a real list of demands, because I don't know what the disparities are.  What do the rich have that I need?  What do they have that I should have for a reasonable price?  What opportunities are being denied to me that I need?  I have no idea, I'm kind of happy with things in that regard.

            If I had to come up with something, to be a banner cry to what is really wrong that needs fixing, it would not be the distribution of wealth (yeah I would like a mansion, but I would settle for not having to worry about essentials and the ability to project that security to my theoretical future offspring).  I would like to change the way my society looks at jobs in general.  People are defined far too much by their jobs, because the pursuit of money causes them to spend as much time as possible in the job.  I would prefer a world in which people are allowed to define themselves by a myriad of interests and are given the time to go after those interests, to spend time with their families, and to maybe read a good book and watch a good movie.

Or play a decent video game.

            So here are my suggestions:
            The work week should be defined as 30 hours, you then earn time and a quarter for hours 31-40, time and a half for 40-50, and double time for work beyond that.  This would compel companies to higher more workers and to break up the jobs being done into more shifts, but still allow a flexible amount of time for certain key employees to work longer for the purposes of training.  Truth is, people should work less over all because that means fewer stress and fatigue related mistakes, and it grants more time for exercise and additional training outside the work environment.

            I think that health insurance should be required for everyone, and treatment never refused to anyone who needs it.  Communicable diseases are a threat to everyone, not just the people who cannot afford treatment, and having improper and uneven care creates new diseases that cannot be effectively combated.

            I think that the minimum wage should be raised every year to match inflation or 4%, whichever is higher.  Wages have been frozen for far too long and are outpaced and marginalized by inflation, if we are going to have a minimum wage in the United States it has to be functional, up to date, and of a value that makes a difference in the lives of those working for it.

            I think that everyone should pay taxes, regardless of how much or how little you earn.  You are a citizen, you use the services, you must contribute, and the amount paid should be a uniform percentage of wages (the exact number is up for debate).  Uneven applications of payroll taxes create loopholes that are utilized only by those who have the money and time to seek them out, not by the typical person, by making everything uniform, there are no loopholes to exploit.

And if there is one thing the wealthy know how to do, it is exploit holes.

            I believe there should be a minimum amount of vacation given to all workers, you earn vacation time just like you earn a wage, regardless if you are part time or full time (this amount should insure 4 week long vacations a year minimum for a full 30 hour work week).  People need more rest, and we have a workforce capable of doing so much in such a short period of time that we can afford to have people take time off to actually see the country they are building.
Yes... more time to see... the countryside.

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