Occupation

16 10 2011

Some thoughts on the Occupy Toronto movement and its siblings:

  • Toronto doesn’t really have a large open space anywhere near the heart of the financial district. The closest green space suitable for occupation is the one that the protesters chose: St. James Park, near King and Church. Unfortunately, this park is far enough away from Bay Street that there’s no real connection between it and finance. The people who might be influenced by the movement will be able to safely ignore it, unless the organizers are very clever. (As I write this, there are plans for some kind of operation on Monday.)
  • People who plan to remain in the park face a daunting challenge: the weather. Obviously, it’s going to get colder. If campers give up and go home, it will be seen as a sign of lack of commitment (Jim Flaherty, among others, has stated that this movement is about Wall Street, not Bay Street). But repeated nights outdoors, even in a heated tent, will be taxing for even the most dedicated of activists.
  • I don’t claim to understand the big picture, but here’s my $.02. Over the last 20 years or so, corporate taxes have been steadily reduced: the corporate tax rate was 29.1 percent in 2000, and will be reduced to 15 percent in 2012. The reasoning for this, as I understand it,  is that lower tax rates will lead to stronger and more profitable companies, which will lead to more jobs. For whatever reason, this hasn’t happened: there aren’t more jobs now than there were when the corporate rate was higher. Governments of all stripes now are deeply in debt, and there is considerable pressure to cut social services. Many people are wondering if there is a better solution. Is there?
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