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.
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. 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.
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. 😉 )
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.
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.