The protesters occupying financial districts around the world are expressing a growing frustration that governments and their financial policies are losing touch with the people they’re supposed to serve. Instead, the rich are getting richer while the rest are being left behind.
The voices of discontent and disaffection first gathered and rose up on Wall Street, where they denounced taxpayer-funded bailouts of huge financial institutions that were supposed to correct mistakes they’d made, but instead lined executives’ pockets with huge bonuses.
The protests have since spread to countries where years of corruption or short-sighted policy have put economies in peril, costing people their livelihoods, darkening the prospects for future generations.
It might be easy to dismiss such concerns in Canada, where the economy and unemployment levels have been fairly stable since the last recession. The thousands of protesters who filled Robson Square in Vancouver and Bay Street in Toronto on Saturday petered down to a few hundred on Monday.
But our politicians should pay attention.
The gulf between the haves and have-nots is growing. Everywhere.
For most working people, wages have stagnated over the past five years while the cost of living continues to soar. In Metro Vancouver, a litre of gas costs 25 cents more than it did in October 2010. That 22 per cent increase eventually trickles into everything we consume.
A modest, aging bungalow in Burnaby or New West now commands almost a million dollars, out of reach for most people earning even a decent income.
The middle class is the foundation of economic and political stability around the world. It’s being crushed by corporate greed and government policy that cultivates it. While most of that middle class may not be downtown sleeping in tents this week, their own fears and frustrations are being awakened by the occupiers.
– New Westminster News Leader