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Occupy Portland Part 2

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The Occupy Portland protesters rallied and marched on October 6th and since then, have camped out on two city park blocks. You can read my first impression of the camp site in Occupy Portland Part 1. This part 2 will cover what I heard from various people at the camp site.

occupy portland medical tent

The medical tent. Protesters put down straw since the grass was turning into mud.

Here are 4 people that I managed to talk with the longest:

Josh came down to the march and protested on October 6th and felt so passionate about the movement that he quit his job to continue the occupation. (Someone said he has been a pre school teacher at the First Unitarian Church a few blocks away.)

Simon is a software programmer who works on contract jobs.Β  He is between contracts so he had time to join the protest. Simon goes home each evening and rejoins the protest the following day.

Sahish(spelling?) is a speaker from…?(I didn’t catch it) and is going to various cities to speak to the crowd. He spoke in Boston, Philly, Seattle, and more. I’m a bit jealous if he’s getting paid to attend all these protests.

Jake is a seasonal Alaska fisherman and a single father. He’s off for a while and is concerned about the economy.

First of all, these guys did not complain about Corporate greed. I should have asked more questions about this, but I missed it. Their main concern was the Corporations’ influence on our government. It’s difficult to get elected without Corporate support and when the representatives get to Washington, they are hammered by corporate lobbyists. They believe our politicians are not representing the will of the 99% and that needs to change.

Josh wants a separation of Corporation and State. He thinks the corporations have too much influence and need to get out of politics. He did not vote previously because he didn’t think his vote counted, but he just registered and will vote next time. In contrast, the others I talked to voted regularly. Josh now wants to raise awareness and spread the word that people can make a difference by voting. The group also wants to influence the future direction of corporate checks and balances in government, I guess by minimizing corporate contributions and lobbying power.

occupy portland protesters

Sahish and Simon

Simon thinks workers should own a significant part of their corporation. Right now, the officers and boards maximize profit without taking workers into consideration and do not hesitate to send jobs overseas. If the workers can take part in the decision making, then there might be a different alternative. I don’t know if this will work. The employees will usually vote for their best interest and that may make their company less able to compete. I don’t like the way the officers and boards treat workers and shareholders right now either, so I really don’t know the answer to this question. It’s pretty stupid when the CEOs get crazy compensation packages while workers are being laid off and shareholders are losing money. As an employee and shareholder, I don’t like it. Look at Jeffery Kindler, the ex-CEO of Phizer, for example. He got over $10 million in 2010 for making a huge mess of the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world. (I guess I am catching a bit of the anti-corporation bug too. πŸ˜‰ )

Another hot topic was the central bank and the federal reserve. Some people want to go back to the gold standard and stop the devaluation of the dollar. I don’t know much about this topic, so I didn’t get too much out of this discussion.

The group also asserted that protesters are not lazy bums who don’t want to work. It’s a lot of work to organize and run Occupy Portland. There are many volunteers who work all day in the kitchen, medical, and media tents. People are not happy with the status quo and want to be heard.

occupy portland food tent

The food tent needs volunteers to wash dishes. Hot Lips and other local restaurants donated food.

It’s noon and they were heading off on a march. I had to pick up some lunch and head back home to help take care of baby RB40, so I split. I’ll try to go down again next Saturday to talk to some more people. I might have picked the more respectable looking bunch of the camp this time and next time will try to approach the more sketchy looking protesters. I really want to follow up on the corporate greed topic and was surprised it didn’t come up much. These guys didn’t have anything against Apple and Walmart, they just want them to get out of politics. Surprisingly, nobody railed against the 1%er either.

Occupy Wall Street – Los Angeles. Suba went down to Occupy LA and talked to some protesters. Check it out.

To be continued…..

See my follow up post – Economic Inequality is bad for the nation.

portland food cart

I got Pad Kee Mow noodle and lamb shawarma to take home.





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{ 36 comments… add one }

  • cashflowmantra October 17, 2011, 2:37 am

    Don’t know that I agree with Josh quitting his job to join the protest. It sounds like the other three at least had the time. I am reading this series with interest.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:04 am

      I thought that was a bit drastic as well. He is really passionate about this movement though and he is young. Us older people are much more conservative.

      • Jon -- Free Money Wisdom October 18, 2011, 5:56 pm

        I am with Cashflowmantra on that one. I don’t agree with him quitting his job either. Not very wise. This is an interesting series though! I am intrigued.

    • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter October 18, 2011, 6:36 am

      Agreed. I think it is great to stand up for a cause and fight for what you believe in but I also think you need to be practical with your decision. Losing your income intentionally isn’t smart.

  • Niki October 17, 2011, 3:50 am

    Yes, this is very interesting. Thank you for some investigative reporting.

    By the way, I can’t believe you didn’t pack your lunch. πŸ™‚ Please know I am totally kidding.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:02 am

      Haha, it’s Saturday so I forgot to pack lunch. I guess I could have checked the food tent, but I didn’t want to take food away from the protesters.

  • 101 Centavos October 17, 2011, 4:04 am

    Great series, RB40. Some of the right-wing media and commentariat are frothing at the mouth at the lazy anti-capitalist bums who don’t have anything better to do. The ground-level picture you paint tells a different story. Keep it up, please.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:04 am

      Thanks! I’ll visit again next weekend and talk to more people.

  • Little House October 17, 2011, 6:53 am

    Thanks for doing the leg work and following up on the Occupy movement. Like I had mentioned in your previous post, I really don’t have time to read all the articles about this movement so I wasn’t really sure what the protesters were protesting. I’m with Cash Flow Mantra, I don’t think I necessarily agree with Josh quitting his job to join the movement, but the others do seem to have some free time. I’ll be checking back to see what you find out. Very journalistic of you!

  • Jeff @ Sustainable life blog October 17, 2011, 8:20 am

    That’s cool that you made it down to the protest joe. I’ve been curious to see how these are different across the country. I think there was one in my cit for a day or 2, but I was out of town. I’m curious to see what else you find out as well.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:05 am

      They are only about 8 blocks away so I really should have made it down there sooner. πŸ™‚ It looks like they are here for the long haul so I’ll keep visiting every week and meet more people.

  • Juan October 17, 2011, 10:34 am

    This sounds really interesting. I’m all for the aims of these protests but it seems like it will be really difficult. The truth is that the average working man hasn’t studied political science and/or political economy. So many aspects of the modern world are just beyond the current comprehension of people. Hopefully though they can reach critical mass and make some substantial and positive changes to the system.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:19 pm

      It’s a long road, but I bet if they can last through the winter, we’ll see some big changes.

  • Brave New Life October 17, 2011, 11:14 am

    “The truth is that the average working man hasn’t studied political science and/or political economy. So many aspects of the modern world are just beyond the current comprehension of people.”

    And the corporate leaders want to keep it that way…

    I think that when this movement finally reaches a culmination with a clear direction, the primary outcome will be a notion to end all corporate donations and add far more transparency to campaign financing. I certainly hope so…

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed October 17, 2011, 5:23 pm

      I think you hit it on head, campaign finance reform is a legitimate and achievable goal of this movement. The separation of corporation and state is a noble cause.

      • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:23 pm

        It will be difficult to do that especially with the Republicans in power. I think they are the one getting the most benefit from corporations, but Democrats are right behind.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:19 pm

      That would be great. If we can at least limit corporate contribution, I feel like it would free our representative up quite a bit.

  • Suba October 17, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I might have picked respectable people too as most of them seem nice and they don’t sound like they want hand outs. But I was/am never interested in politics and not sure what a protest will accomplish that talking to the representative cannot. I guess they are looking for strength in number, not sure…

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:21 pm

      At least the protesters are registering to vote so they will be counted. I’m sure it was tough to get the tea party off the ground too, but they are everywhere now. We’ll see how they do.

  • krantcents October 17, 2011, 6:09 pm

    The goals of the protest still seem a little fuzzy. There is no way corporations will not exert influence on politicians, but it should have limitations.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:22 pm

      That’s true, they don’t have one voice so each person has their own wish list.

  • Barb Friedberg October 17, 2011, 8:30 pm

    I”m so impressed that you went down and interviewed. I love to hear the info from a regular joe not a seasoned reporter. Makes the info so much more interesting.

    • retirebyforty October 17, 2011, 9:23 pm

      Thanks! It was fun to get out for a couple of hours. I think I’ll be more comfortable next time and get more viewpoints.

  • changeonabudget October 17, 2011, 8:48 pm

    This is awesome! I am so happy that you went down to check it out for yourself. I have been following the Occupy movement via Twitter but it’s been hard to get a real sense of whats going on at the ground level. There’s been so much misconceptions and name-calling on both sides that it becomes frustrating and easy to dismiss. I think if the common messages are ever able to be heard through the din, most people would probably be on board.

  • youngandthrifty October 18, 2011, 11:56 am

    That’s nice that you’re going there to talk to people doing Occupy Portland πŸ™‚ We have an Occupy Vancouver here at the Art Gallery too but I haven’t headed over.

    I like your pictures too- it’s so clear!

    looking forward to hearing what more people are saying πŸ™‚

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2011, 9:16 am

      Thanks! I’ll take more pictures next Saturday. They are planning to march every Saturday now.

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc October 18, 2011, 11:15 pm

    Sahish certainly has the sweeter of the deals πŸ™‚

    I totally disagree with Josh quitting his job to join the protest. Was there no middle ground?

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2011, 9:16 am

      I suspect there must be other issues. He probably doesn’t like his job already or there must be other problems.

  • Financial Success for Young Adults October 19, 2011, 11:16 am

    Wow! Thanks for taking us up close and personal with the protestors. I think the main reason for the protests is that we’ve just been in this recession for too dang long. Something has to change or there will be more than just peaceful protesting.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2011, 9:35 pm

      I agree with your recession is too long assessment. When times are good, people don’t complain as much.
      Next time, I’ll try to find more anti-corporate viewpoints.

  • Christa October 19, 2011, 12:59 pm

    This is an amazing movement! I don’t know much about it, but I enjoyed your reporting. I’ll definitely have to check out more; I do agree that corporations influence way too much in our country.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2011, 9:36 pm

      Thanks! I agree, it feels like the ordinary person has so little impact on politic. The corporations are disproportionately powerful and they are not even a real person.

  • Sandy - yesiamcheap.com October 24, 2011, 8:15 am


    You did an awesome job covering the protestors in your area! Hope to do half as well.


    • retirebyforty October 24, 2011, 1:25 pm

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to hear from NY. I didn’t make it down to Occupy Portland this weekend, but will try next Saturday.

  • Forest November 8, 2011, 10:08 am

    Been meaning for some time to come by and thank you for getting up close with some of these guy. I love any social movement that brings people out to talk and discuss in the public sphere.

    • retirebyforty November 8, 2011, 11:08 am

      I had fun talking to those guys. I still need to go down and get more update. Lately, the homeless have joined the camp so it will be interesting to see what’s going on now.

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