Octopi Regina – Day 5 Sound Off

What is the Occupy movement all about? Joe Flaherty would have you believe we have no reasons to protest, that all is ok in Canada. The Occupy movement does seem incoherent and without consensus but is it really all about a single point issue? Do Canadians really need a hook to hang their hat on?

Walking into the tiny camp and inviting myself into the conversations, I realize it’s not about a single issue at all, it’s about creating political dialogue when politicians want you to feel complacent, it’s about… well, I’ll let the people do the talking… passersby and the unhappy campers:

Mr. Wikman (passerby): “I’m a senior. My wife and I don’t make enough to pay income tax. They say we’ll give you income tax breaks. What good are they? They talk about how we are prospering. The increase in my house insurance is more than the increase in my pension. So where am I benefitting as a senior? The little guy has to stand up against the big cat.”

Cloudsley (passerby): “One of the things I was going to say about this. This isn’t just about the poor per se. This is also about the middle class in that wages haven’t gone up in proportion to the cost of living. A house in the 1970’s, you could buy a house here in Regina for 20-25 grand and the average family income in the 1970’s was about 30 grand. Today the average family income in Saskatchewan is 35 grand. The house costs 350 thousand dollars. I mean it’s insane the way things have changed and the way wealth has concentrated itself into the hands of a tiny percentage of the population. The wages and the populace haven’t really gained from the economic boom that we’ve had in the last 30 years… I’ve got a good job. I make a good salary, I make above average income in Saskatchewan but I can’t afford a house here.”

Peter Seel (Unhappy Camper): “We are putting out that it’s 99% against the 1%, the people (walking by) are realizing that it’s not just a bunch of bums on the street. It’s not like we are just there for a place to stay. They actually see what we are trying to. Since it is 99% of the world there are so many with us. There are people with good jobs who are staying here. Half of the people in the park have jobs or school. We are putting a lot of awareness out and people are responding well.”

So far the City of Regina has allowed the protesters to stay in Victoria Park but why make martyrs of them when the impending winter cold will drive them out soon enough? Will their strong convictions withstand a Saskatchewan winter? Especially the way the wind rips through the corridors of downtown buildings? We shall see.

17 thoughts on “Octopi Regina – Day 5 Sound Off”

  1. Okay, so I keep seeing comments like the one above, and I’m seriously wondering–is your thesis really that people who own electronics are less qualified to protest corporate ties to government, lack of housing in Regina, etc.? If so, why? And at what level of abject poverty do I need to find myself at before I can start talking about problems in our city and country?

  2. That’s not at all what I’m saying. It’s basically a non-binding, non-brilliant comment designed to conjure comparisons between the youth of the ’60s and the youth of now. There would probably be more people involved in this sleep-in if it wasn’t for our obsessive need to remain powered-up and connected (boredom-killing device). People who own electronics aren’t less qualified but they’re probably less aspiring.

    I do wonder how, now, how people ever got by without cell phones, tho. Not smart phones (excessive) but a basic portable communication device. I’d love to be liberated from my cancer stick cell phone but I can’t.

    Clearly, tho, you don’t need to be poor to be liberated from pricey radiating communication devices, nor to talk about social inequalities. I would worry about standing around in an anti-poverty rally beep-beep-blooping around on my $75/month data-charging space unit, as a clueless middle-class twat, which I am, alienating everybody who’s actually there, because they are poor.

  3. The problem the protesters is they know that this inequity is wrong, but don’t realize that issue isn’t really a problem. Rather the wealth distribution is a symptom of a much larger problem.

    Sure you can tweek the system with tax some more or others less, but it doesn’t solve the core issue is the system itself is broken. The issue is in fact that any hierarchy will cause concentration of wealth at the top. What we really need is a new social organization (or perhaps dust off an old one) which is better for people (not corporations). After all any revolution is just replacing those at the top of the hierarchy and leaves the core problem still in place.

  4. They should use their smartphones to check their facts. “Today the average family income in Saskatchewan is 35 grand.” In reality, the average family income in Sask. is about $85,000 (various sources). In addition, the average house price in Sask. is $250,000, not $350,000. It’s ok that their numbers are not exact, but to be over 50% off of the avg. family income and $100,000 off the price of a house, well, that pretty much kills your argument.

    These people are doing more than me for this cause (have a wife and 2 kids, we already went camping this summer), and in the end it is a good cause – who disagrees that income inequality has gotten out of hand?- but please be more informed with coherent arguments. It’ll really help make this a positive movement for change, not a means for others to laugh at the hipsters and hippies wasting their time.

  5. Why Joe Flaherty is weighing in on this issue is beyond me. Personally, I think his best years were as a part of SCTV. His career kind of dropped off after that, in my opinion.

  6. I think Cloudsley nailed it on the head. Even 5 years ago the cost of living in Saskatchewan wasn’t too shabby… definitely not perfect, but ten times better than it is now. A single person would pretty much have to earn at LEAST $60,000 a year to be able to buy a decent (not extravagant) house or condo. How many jobs like that exist in Saskatchewan, aside from engineers, nurses, etc? I have two very expensive pieces of paper on my wall (a.k.a. degrees) after attending university and yet buying a house or condo is a pipe dream for me in my current situation. And I’m obviously not alone.

    So many people are only one pay cheque away from not being able to afford rent nowadays. So thank Jeebus that so many people are finally making their voices heard.

  7. Cloudsley nailed it right here:
    “I’ve got a good job. I make a good salary, I make above average income in Saskatchewan but I can’t afford a house here.”
    …and we are supposed to be feeling so great because Sask is booming! The only “benefits” we will see from the boom will be that more of the big chain stores will come here for us to shop in, and that the City is about to find a way to build a gigantic stadium for US to finance.
    If things are so great then why is the stay-at-home parent an endangered species?

  8. My quoted figures are way off. — It would be great if someone could pull the actual StatsCan figures. The point is that in the 1970’s the average family could afford to by a house with about 3 years income, in many cases it was possible for a family to buy a house with their own savings.

    Today, if your household income is 65K and a house costs between 250-450K it will take 4 to more than 7 years income to just cover the price, so a mortgage is now a necessity to buy a house. With a mortgage, depending on its term, the price of a home can double, which means we are really looking at 8-14 years full income to buy a home. However, because we can put 100% of income into just buying the house, were looking at 20-35 years income, or more simply put a lifetime commitment.

    It could easily be said that today, only mortgage companies buy houses and we merely rent our homes from them with our lives worth of income.

    So in the 70s, Home ownership was achievable and affordable; now its not, and that a real problem.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement is not just about the poor. IT’S ABOUT ALL OF US. Our system is flawed and we need to change it. The mortgage issue is but one of the problems, there are others, some are easily solvable, while for others we can only hope to start making incremental changes.

    I strongly encourage all of you to look at http://robinhoodtax.ca/ and support making positive steps to change our system. The Robinhood tax is one of the obvious changes we can make and one that we should make.

    I am not just a passerby – I fully support the “Occupy” movement.

  9. Saw a sign downtown today spelled “bulshit.” Come on, at least get the vulgarities right!

  10. The Gordon Block is probably the most photographed building,( that along with his 12th and cornwall twin demolition baby ), in the last 2 weeks.
    Hey Harpervard just simmer down, you already destroyed that cool gas station on 23+Hillsdale, the stone faced Shell 3 years ago, and it’s still a detriment to the people as the next cloest gas station in this neighborhood is located where Kramer Turbo,(sometimes) , Esso Parliment. 24/7 I think.

    ASSingment after ASSignment. (rj)

  11. So Sorry..
    I meant Twin Regina historical building demolition. Cornwall + 12th.
    Where are the Professional architechs in this ” box store city”? No opinion, no need for argument? And we spent 9 million,guessing, on a plaza with no fresh drinking water or mflgtgts washrooms ? smrt real smrt ..

    A Question…. is the regaltown council in favor of the 99% first or the 1%…way later

  12. Anon y mous – the average family income in Saskatchewan is not fucking $85,000. And if even one of your “various sources” actually exists: it is wrong.

  13. What makes our system broken? We live high off the hog. We live beyond sustainability. We have high quality education and health care, most of which is paid for via taxpayers (a third of which are corporations and the rich). We have a reasonable welfare system. Any working Canadian is among the 15% highest paid people in the world. What is broken?

    As for housing, comparing numbers to the 70’s we have a higher rate of home ownership as a percentage of the population. In fact making it easier for people to buy homes was a leading factor in the sub-prime crisis.

    What bugs me is the shear lack of perspective and information people have. Here we are, the top 20% richest people (this includes Canadians living in poverty) in the world whining about how the top 1% doesn’t give us the fair share.

    Let’s tax EVERYONE with an income in a developed nation and give the proceeds to the billions living on less than a Toonie a day.

  14. #16 RE: yer last paragraph.

    When I was a kid ,we would get small orange boxes every Halloween from our elementary school teachers.City wide,( Edmonton ), for sure, probably country wide at the time We collected money for Unicef,as we trick & treated. Neat child labour trick for sure.

    Anyhoo, my comment is that Canada has given a shite load of foreign-aide, for quite a few years. Enough? I don’t know.
    I’m just hoping that in the last 50 years, that we have spent more on aide than on military action abroad.

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