The connection between us–Occupy Edmonton

hopenothate"The economy is a reflection of the connection between us." This is the first line in a flyer that was handed to me as I arrived at Occupy Edmonton this past Saturday. It continued, "Therefore, trying to fix the economy without fixing the way we relate to each other is bound to fail. We must look at the root crisis and address the real problem—the egoistic and sour self-centered values that prevail in our society and manifest in our economy."

By my estimation, anywhere from 1200 to 1400 people turned out to ‘Occupy Edmonton’. It was an inspired, even surprising turnout, that suggests a broad concern and discontent.

There was a raft of signs—from a farmer carrying a sign chastising Harper for his plans to jettison the Wheat Board, to various environmental warnings, to anti-war messages, but the single dominant message—as touted, a message from the awakening 99 percent to the ultra-affluent 1 percent—was the call to end corporate greed and corporate influence on government, and to rein in unrestrained capitalism. 

Of course we Canadians have faired better than Americans—millions of whom haveoccupycrowd been foreclosed on, millions who have lost their jobs and still have little prospect of returning to the work force. Their lives and livelihoods have been raided by corporate fraud and elitist indifference.

In Canada the disparities between rich and poor not as pronounced as in America: Our 1% earn 11% of total income while in the U.S., their 1% earn 20 percent. (In terms of overall wealth the top 10% in Canada own 53%, while in the U.S. it’s 70%) 

However, perhaps what should concern us more in Canada is the gap that’s quickly widening between the very rich and the rest. Even conservatives are beginning to worry about this.

While we can be thankful that we have been spared from the kind of recession that has hit the U.S.—primarily because of regulations that are still in place between investment banking and commercial banking—we are not immune to the hegemony of corporations. There’s a ready army of lobbyists pushing for corporate friendly legislation, and with a corporate friendly government, we would do well, if we are awakening, to stay awake.

But concerning the “root crisis,” we are of course complicit. The charge of acquisitive self-interest can be levelled at most of us, not only corporations. Corporations salivate and bloat because of our buying habits, our lifestyles, mimetically derived from the rich-and-famous, our prurient wants we deem needs. All this has hardened us and helped create artificial classes and divisions between us, while leaving us no independent access to the basics of life, further fracturing local communities and giving us the illusion of independence.

Like corporations we’re messed up, myopic and mercenary, but we also have it in us to be empathetic and compassionate and to desire an egalitarian society. And it’s this that separates us from big corporations.

raginggranniesOur governments have granted corporations the rights and privileges of an individual; but a corporation is not a person, it is a principality—it is a power structure. It is not inherently good or evil. It does not create anything on its own. Whatever tangible goods it produces is the result of an entrepreneurial vision and a company of workers. The owner/entrepreneur has the right to keep a substantial portion of profit. But with that right comes great responsibility—social, environmental, and certainly, a responsibility to its workforce.

No doubt, there are humane and socially conscious corporations run by diligent and caring people. The problem, to my mind, is that it requires a herculean vigilance to keep a halter on a corporation when it reaches a critical size. The larger the system/corporation becomes, the more it operates according to its nature.

The hard reality is that the corporation, as an entity, exists solely for its own growth. It grows by keeping income private while socializing financial loss and costs. The corporation is an externalizing machine. It externalizes any and every cost a neglectful or complicit government, or unwary public, lets it get away with. For at the hollow heart of the big corporation lies the principle of self-preservation and expansion by way of the duel. Only winning commercial wars satisfies shareholders. (Sun-Tzu’s the Art of Warfare & Karl Von Clausewitz’s, On War, remain popular and recommended reads for CEO’s)

The corporation has no mechanism for social care. In the documentary “The Corporation,” management guru Peter Drucker says: “If you find an executive who wants to take on social responsibilities, fire him. Fast.” And if an owner should decide to be responsible to the workers, to pay them fairly, to protect their jobs, to refuse to outsource labour, and to be stewards of the environment, the shareholders can, and should, according to people like Drucker, sue the corporation.

Corporations do not care about relating, they do not have a lexicon for social-welfare. In the documentary, Psychologist Dr. Robert Hare lists psychopathic traits and ties them to the behaviour of corporations:

  • callous unconcern for the feelings for others;
  • incapacity to maintain enduring relationships;
  • reckless disregard for the safety of others;
  • deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning others for profit;
  • incapacity to experience guilt;
  • failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviour

If its true that mega-corporations are psychopathic, then the only treatment is proper boundaries and in some cases the use of restraint. And this is what the Occupation is calling for. It is simply asking to reintroduce relational responsibility into the economy.

Perhaps it was a taste of the fever that is gripping Occupation Wall Street, or simply the harmonic of hope that a peaceful protest for creative change sets off, but while I stood listening to the speeches and marching on the downtown streets I felt my own cynicism about the possibility of change soften.

Did this enter anyone’s mind at the beginning of the year that our northern Alberta city, and cities across Canada, would be part of a near global protest in support of, and spawned by, a New York sit-in? 

Is it too much to hope that this could be a spring board for a congealing movement that is as self-reflective as it is probing and provocative? Whether that’s possible at this point may be beside the point. There is already—despite main media’s talk-circuit smirks, derisive dismissals, and confused portrayals—something of an awakening.

And the spiritual movement that the term awakening alludes to is not unwarranted. Because how we connect and relate to one another, both personally and economically, is a matter of deep spiritual import.



  1. Thank you for this Stephen. So well said. As I’ve listened to some of the “info” that is sent our way through main stream media I’ve recognized that they are being intentionally obtuse. If anyone listened to the speakers at Occupation Edmonton they would have had no problem recognizing the very clear and coherent message – the desire for governments to require the corporate responsibility of the 1% (before we get into the huge mess the US is in). Yes we are somewhat ‘better off’ in Canada but for how long?

  2. The protestors claim there’s an appetite for fundamental change, perhaps even a revolution, among the 99% they presume to represent. But so far it has not been apparent at the ballot box with all incumbent governments at the federal and provincial/territorial government re-elected. The federal NDP surge can be explained away, at least at this point, as the result of Jack Layton’s personal popularity rather than any kind of substantial agenda for change.

  3. I felt uneasy, Steve, as I read this. A few thoughts:

    The real evil, it seems to me, is not the size of the corporation. There are many very small privately owned for-profit corporations that will cheat those they do business with. On the other hand, there are very large corporations that act very honourably. As Solzhenitsyn said, the line between good and evil does not run between them and us, but through the hearts of each one of us.

    Are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates evil men?

    If we didn’t have corporations, we would have to invent them. The very fact that we can have this conversation in this way, in a way that we can afford it, is due to the fact that mega-corporations have produced computers and internets, etc. And those mega- corporations have needed others to produce the materials that they needed. Are we participating in a psychopathic process as we engage in this way?

    About the 1% figure – 1% of what? A better figure, I think is to understand that all of us in Canada belong to the wealthiest 5% of the world’s population. What’s an appropriate benchmark to say when a person is too rich?

    Having said that, I agree wholeheartedly that corporations of all sizes need to be watched. Then again, I need speed laws too.

  4. One more comment: It is true that the economy is a reflection of the connection between us. I told an economist friend once that I thought that economics was a behavioural science. He thought it was more “scientific” than that. I still think I’m right. Good corporations, as do good individuals, pay attention to that connection and nurture it, knowing that they have to deliver value for money or the money will stop coming.

  5. I think Lucy’s right–the media is being intentionally obtuse.

    Sam, you’re uneasy with condemning our corporate state, but what I’m uneasy with is accepting the grossly immoral and unethical behaviour of those at the top of the financial system as okay. Watch Inside Job if you don’t think it deserves condemnation. We need to be overturning the tables in the temples of power.

    What I’m uneasy with is labeling the victims here as part of the problem. Yes, we all want to live in a degree of comfort, but when the middle class is disappearing (bad for the economy, and for stability), when ordinary working people can no longer put money away for retirement, when we continue in the direction of less regulation and fewer taxes on the extremely wealthy, and when the poorest give proportionally more to charity than the wealthiest, it’s hardly fair to judge the want and need of the 99% as self-centered and greedy. It is the extraordinary excesses of those at the top of the chain and governments more than happy to let them determine how they’ll be regulated that deserve judgment.

    I’m tired of our generally lazy defense of the the status quo, of the media functioning more as a propaganda machine than watchdog. Watch some of the interviews available on youtube for intelligent and spiritual insights by Chris Hedges and Cenk Uygur. Watch Inside Job. Watch and read anything but what the corportate media is saying.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Connie (I have enjoyed reading your responses to Steve’s pieces in the past). I totally agree with your point of view, that corporations need watching. There has been grossly immoral and unethical behaviour of those at the top of the financial system, and that’s not okay. The guilty should go to jail, and we need lawmakers who will do that and media .

    But not all of them are immoral and unethical. Furthermore, and this is my main point, I don’t believe that the reason for immoral and unethical behaviour lies in tthe nature of corporations themselves. What I hear in Steve’s blog here is that the problem is the corporations themselves, and that if we could just get rid of them, this problem would go away. I don’t think it will, because we will have to replace corporations with some other institution that will be just as susceptible to human frailties as are the corporations.

    I agree with you that there have been extraordinary excesses at the top. I liked Warren Buffet’s idea, that the rich should be taxed more – he of immense wealth and a modest house and car.

  7. Of course there are good eggs and bad eggs, Sam. But it is the mandate of publicly held corporations to protect and increase share values above all. When we own shares, we expect them to do this with our money. But regulations and limits on how they do this, preventing risky games with our money are grossly inadequate. Money is power, and the largest financial institutions have a major voice in the regulatory process. The riskier and more deceitfully they play, the greater the profits. Inside Job makes it pretty clear that the very risky behaviour leading up to the crash was carried out knowing just how risky it was. It looks to me like it is very much within the very nature of the corporation to behave badly. As Steve said, reintroducing boundaries and imposing regulations onto the powerful players who would rather not have any is what the Occupation is about.

  8. Sam, I always appreciate your wading in and do thank you for your probing as it stimulates my thinking.

    So to your main point: I reread my post and can’t find where I said if we could just get rid of corporations the problem would go away. I did say that there are humane and socially conscious corporations run by diligent and caring people; but that corporations, in their present configuration, independent of the will of well meaning people, tend toward the psychopathic because their chief motivation is not merely profit, but ever increasing profit through externalizing and socializing all and any costs. And here I would appeal to your own theological understanding regarding the warning against the love of money and ask: is a corporation’s “love” of profit not the root of something tending toward evil?

    What I tried to do in my blog was to expose the nature or spirit of the institution, structure, or in theological terms, principality, which is what a corporation is. You seem not to see a difference between the corporation as an entity, or principality, and governing group or CEO. (Is this why you would jump to ask me if I thought Steve Jobs or Bill Gates evil?) While the differentiation is obviously not absolute, I do see an important distinction, as I tried but evidently failed to point out. While the CEO influences and steers an emerging corporation, the spirit of the corporate structure–should there be no adequate boundaries or a truly vigilant and socially conscious CEO and board–can soon begin to run and even corrupt the CEO. (There are too many examples. See documentaries ‘Inside Job’ and ‘The Corporation’) The Corporation now is the “individual” that dictates the terms. This is the whole upshot of St. Paul’s discussion on the principalities and powers.

    And while I’m on a theo-track, it appears to me that one of the great failures of the Christian church has been its unwillingness to discern the spirits of institutions and structures, governments and corporations. If an institution is organized around idolatrous values, what Walter Wink has called the Domination System, they must be recalled to their divine vocation. This is one of the crucial prophetic roles of the church, but I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon on this. What would a corporation look like if it was organized, not around maximizing profits at all costs, but realizing reasonable profits while maximizing the well-being of all people? Wouldn’t we still be able to have this discussion, this way? Wouldn’t there still be spin-off jobs and secondary resource gathering? You seem not to think so.

    The answer, as I tried to point out, is not the removal of all corporations, just the reintroduction of proper boundaries and in some cases restraint. Which again, is all the Occupation is calling for. That the Christian church has again missed this call is both telling and saddening. Should not the church–as it proposes to be a sign or reflection of the kingdom of God–be at the Occupation, should it have perhaps even started the Occupation?

    Finally, you’re right to remind me that I live in a country that is in the 5% of the world’s wealthiest. I can be, and most days am, truly grateful for this. But gratitude should never be a sedative leading to an omission of asking why and how I, we, got this wealth. Furthermore, speaking of our wealth, we should never forget that in some sense we Canadians live on stolen land. Which is another but not unrelated discussion.

  9. This has become more fun than I intended! To both Steve and Connie, I continue to resist the notion that the corporation is inherently evil because it seeks to maximize profits. Every farmer I’ve ever met, including our dad, tried to externalize costs and maximize profits. That’s what all businesses do. But he did it while being a good neighbour, etc. Do you think it’s possible for mega-corporations to maximize profits and be socially conscientious? Incidentally, most large corporations will have an office or department setting policy about, and making decisions on requests that they get for donations. You’re probably aware of this, Steve.

    You’re right – you did not directly say that we should get rid of corporations. I may have been attributing to you something I heard in an interview with an occupier who was decrying the “corporatization” or our society, whatever that meant.

    On the other hand, and here’s where I hope that you both see that I’m on side, is the need for proper boundaries. We need enforceable and enforced laws that will curb the atrocities.

    I’m intrigued by the notion that corporations are principalities. I need to reflect on this. I have included in my lectures on family systems the statement, “Humans create systems, and then the systems take over.” There is a sense in which we are co-opted by the systems / communities to which we belong, and these influences become invisible to us, exercising power over us of which we are unaware. The biblical injunction seems appropriate. Of course, such systems and institutions are much bigger than the corporations that are the subject of our discussion.

    Your comment about the failure of the Christian church rings true, I think, for large parts of the western church. May I serve as pastor of the church I serve differently. For some hopeful alternatives, see, especially the July-August edition of the magazine.

  10. Steve, I’m loving your continuing coverage of Occupy. Happily, I’m noticing all the agreement here; that corporations need to be reigned in by rules of some kind – rules that have been struck down for the last four decades with no let up in sight (Supervised by a half-dozen “evangelical” presidents.) Funny how only Obama raised the free-market highway speed-bump removal program as an election issue, only to not follow through. In light of a 40-year trend, isn’t our movement, at last and at least, a form of repentance – a turning from our own greed and the machine-like rapacity of corporations. Arrayed in sack-cloth and ashes, the crowds at the Zucotti and Melcor Parks in New York and Edmonton are, in a way, kneeling on behalf the crony capitalistic collusion sucks life from the poor. This “power” preaches austerity but practices extreme usury. But isn’t it wonderful that, at last, we’re talking about these issues – and from many different spiritual perspectives, not just the miserly spin of corporate media. Thank you brave Teryl for standing firm! And Sam, I have questions – what are these “systems and institutions”, much “bigger than corporations” that are taking over? And what are we to do to confront them? How is the heroism we see around the world not sufficient? PS. I see our friends from Sojourners (Jim Wallis et al) are down there on the front lines. I’d suggest they view their sidewalk vigil from a principalities and powers perspective. Truly, may God bless America!

  11. Thanks Sam, appreciate your comment. But I wouldn’t make the stretch to compare farmers to corporations. The costs externalized by average farmers bear no resemblance to the large corporation. Interestingly, I heard the following interview on CBC after our last exchange. Consider the labour practices in the Chinese factories where Apple devices are made. Steve Jobs, not an evil man, would not normally, I believe, choose to turn a blind eye to the labour atrocities in these factories. I’m not sure how better to point out how the “power” of a large corporation can turn and possesses those that began them. Listen here: Also, the “corporations that are the subject of our discussion” are not “much bigger.” Such systems and institutions Are the powers and principalities. This is Wink’s whole argument, and to say they are beyond or bigger misses the point and again allows them to escape scrutiny.

  12. Re the Crosswalk article kindly posted by the other Mr. Berg. The author of the article has judged and found the movement wanting – why? Essentially, because the Occupiers are lazy hippies who say wild things that he finds unsettling. What’s jangled his “God loves me” tea cup even more is they use the word “legion” a sure clue to the one behind this unsightly group. The pharisee-twang here makes me want to re-read “In his steps” so I can gaze upon the Wall Street hordes with new eyes. Even a small excerpt from Charles Sheldon’s classic is instructive. The sermon-writing pastor impatiently greets the tramp at his door. ‘There was a moment’s pause as the two men stood facing each other, then the shabby-looking young man said: “I’m out of a job, sir, and thought maybe you might put me in the way of getting something.” “I don’t know of anything. Jobs are scarce ” replied the minister, beginning to shut the door slowly.’ It’s an interesting beginning – then something amazing happens; the pastor wakes up! Would that we all could see with eyes of compassion.

  13. Ian, I’m going to hope you don’t take Dr. Newcombe seriously for long. It’s easy to assume that those unable to provide for their families are simply unwilling to do so, and easy to call the protestors able-bodied misfits or hippies. It’s a little harder to get the facts, and be willing to let go of an ideology in light of those facts. Fact: Millions of jobs, homes and retirements, literally, have been lost as the result of Wall Street’s knowingly reckless gambling with the savings of good and hard-working people. Wall Street is behind the regulations that have allowed them to play dangerously with other people’s money. A growing income gap and a shrinking middle class are bad for the economy. Ordinary people use their money for things that keep the economy humming; the uber-wealthy use theirs to fuel speculation, and on extreme and immoral-by-any-standard self-indulgence. (Watch Inside Job if you want details on that.) Goldman Sachs’ CEO Hank Paulson was compensated $31,000,000 in 2005.) I can’t by any stretch of my imagination see how the Jesus Newcombe says he follows would tolerate these kinds of inequities.

    Growing numbers of hungry, homeless, jobless people in wealthy countries is reprehensible. Dr. Newcombe either doesn’t have the facts, or really truly wants to defend an ideology more than he wants to care about what’s happening.

  14. I think it’s important to not lose focus on the distinction between institution and individual. Noam Chomsky (I believe in The Corporation documentary) likened modern corporations to the institution of slavery; claiming in the same way you could have the nicest slave owners ever, you could get the nicest CEO’s alive – charitable, kind etc., but it’s the institution that’s monstrous. The fact that corporations are legally obligated to do whatever they can to maximize profits, and that plunder is actually obligatory is what makes them evil.

    I really liked the term ‘externalizing machine’. I think the difference between a farmer maximizing profits and a corporation primarily the scope to which they are able to operate, but also the – resulting – uncomfortably cozy relationship with government they are able to muster. A farmer wouldn’t dump sewage in his neighbors water supply, but, if it were profitable, a corporation would, could and legally SHOULD lobby government to lax sewage dumping laws to the greatest extent possible with respect to profit margins. Furthermore, were the neighbor to complain, he’d be complaining not to a real person, but to a ghost entity backed by an army of lawyers. This modus operandi is not an exception, it’s not even the norm, this is universal, legally endorsed corporate policy.

    Also I would argue that crediting corporations for the level of affluence we enjoy today is somewhat shortsighted. Simply because capitalism has manifested itself at the same time science and technology has reached the point that it has, doesn’t imply a causal relationship. Certainly corporations have pushed distribution of these goods, but most of the inventions which have revolutionized society were not done for money. Nicola Tesla, Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers etc., these weren’t people out for a cash grab, and arguably it’s the corporate pushing of these goods which is directly responsible for the environmental degradation we’re stuck with today.

  15. Michael – welcome to the discussion! Let me help you with a couple of things:)

    Re Thomas Edison not doing it for money, here’s a quote from an online biography: ” And, by 1892, his Edison General Electric Co. had fully merged with another firm to become the great General Electric Corporation, in which he was a major stockholder.” Yes, that THE General Electric Corporation.

    Re There is a causal relationship between science and technology and capitalism. See Deidre McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World.” I confess I haven’t read it but I heard her interview on the CBC (yes that’s the leftist CBC) program Ideas last week. Her thesis is that it’s innovation that creates wealth.

    Having said that, the financial institutions that brought about the collapse of 2008 engaged in what needs to be seen as criminal behaviour. It needs to be punished, and stopped. It truly was an “inside job.” Also, corporations that exploit their workers – such as Steve’s example of Apple in China – need to be brought to heel.

    Is there an alternative to corporations? The alternative to capitalism is socialism, which to my mind has been proven to be inadequate to the tasks of innovation.

    Point of confession: I own shares in about a dozen corporations as the main part of my self-administered retirement fund. Point of action: Every year I get the announcement from each of my investments of the annual general meeting that every corporation is obliged by law to hold. I get also to vote my shares. Almost always, one of the resolutions deals with the compensation issue for the CEOs and directors. I have always voted against their raises. But – there’s not enough of me. What if there were a whole lot of us, who owned the shares, so that we could actually make a difference.

    It can be argued that farmers do a lot of polluting as well, with fertilizers, etc. driven by the profit motive. We are stuck with the profit motive

  16. Thanks for welcome Uncle Sam!! Ya, I deliberately didn’t chose Edison as an example; certainly their are exceptions. But as I understood it, much of Edison’s fortune was accumulated via theft of Tesla’s ideas (the reason I chose him) That is, Edison struggled to the bitter end trying to discredit Tesla’s alternating current design (the one used today), and – despite being wrong, ended up rich, whereas Tesla died broke. So, Edison as ‘the inventor’ vs. Edison as ‘the capitalist’ I think is debatable. Either way you argue it, Edison was pretty adept with obtaining patents, financial backing etc. which is a different skill set from innovation and invention in itself. But I would argue that it’s perhaps besides the point. Certainly some people innovate because they wanna get rich. I don’t think I said EVERY innovator does so for more noble purposes, and if so, I apologize.

    I agree that innovation CAN create wealth, what I was saying was that historically, wealth has not been the motive behind innovation (perhaps something that is becoming less and less true as the world becomes more and more engulfed in a capitalist framework). Maybe communism isn’t conducive to innovation, but what does wall street innovate?? They don’t create anything, and today, if you want to get rich, you don’t become an inventor, you get a job on wall street.

    Finally, I don’t think corporations are necessarily a natural extension of capitalism. Originally corporations were temporary government-funded entities which were created to, for example, build a bridge. How much they profited was pre-determined, and they were dismantled after the public work was completed. Speculating used to be a crime punishable by hanging in the US, and now it’s come to rewarded by seven figure salaries, so capitalism’s relationship with corporations is by no means unchanging.

    (I hope I’m making sense.. I didn’t get much sleep last night, and it’s been a long day.. Either way, I think maybe the silver lining to all of this is that we get to have this conversation (someone said something similar in an earlier post I think..))

  17. Sam, thanks for your confession; and for doing your part in trying to keep the salaries of the CEO’s in check. That “almost always, one of the resolutions deals with the compensation issue for the CEOs and directors” seems to make the ‘Occupations’ point. We are “stuck” with something more insatiable than the profit motive. I remain impressed by your faith in the invisible guiding hand. Is there an example of a mega-corporation being brought to heel by an abundance of good-hearted shareholders like yourself?

    By the way, let me know when you’ll be preaching on proper restraint of corporations. That may be worth a trip to Regina:) Thanks in earnest for your contribution.

  18. Jeff: Thanks for rending the veil shrouding Dr. Newcombe and Truth in Action Ministries (who unlike the dreary editors at Sojourners always put a little something nice about the USA in their communiqués). But I fear you may be Dancing with this Present Darkness.

  19. Connie, thank you for outlining the ‘poverty’ in Dr. Newcombe’s understanding of gospel. There is a wilful blindness, a concern for a kind of Christian doctrinaire, in saying you would stand in support of the poor and needy but not with the protesters–as if these had nothing to do with each other. At the same time I get the sense from his article that he can’t stand the protest because Jim Wallis got there first.

  20. Ian, The notion that Jesus sides with the Wall Street Occupation is popular because it’s correct. You see, not everything that is popular is wrong. And not everything that is ‘evangelical’ is right.

  21. Here’s a quote I thought we might all enjoy:
    “What’s happening in Europe is much the same thing happening here, in that the debt situation has become government at the people rather than for the people or even by the people. That means politicians are still smoking in bed while the house is burning.”

  22. Thanks. Here’s some more:

    October 27, 2011

    Crony Capitalism and the Eurozone Deal
    by Shah Gilani

    Dear Subscriber,
    Is it ironic that my new e-letter is titled Insights & Indictments, and in our very first week, along comes the actual indictment of former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta?

    Actually, no.

    There’s nothing ironic about seeing the inevitable coming.

    I would add that the six criminal counts levied against Mr. Gupta – also the former director of Proctor & Gamble and AMR Corp., and former managing director of consulting giant McKinsey & Co. – should more properly be termed an indictment of “crony capitalism.”

    By the way, those five counts of securities fraud are a testament to what allegedly resulted from Mr. Gupta’s insider-tipping calls to convicted hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam.

    But it’s the single conspiracy count that should be commanding the most attention.

    Conspiracy is exactly what the Occupy Wall Street crowds should be protesting, because that’s what’s undermining America.

    Crony capitalism is the manifestation of the conspiracy of powerful, moneyed insiders to manipulate information, trades, markets, and the economy for their own personal and corporate enrichment.

  23. Thanks Sam. It’s not “should”, it’s what we “are” protesting – government bought and paid for by your friendly lobbyist.

  24. I wanted to respond to Michael’s thoughtful and informative contribution. I didn’t know about the relationship between Edison and Telsa or about the history of corporations.

    About the relationship between wealth and innovation, I agree that the motive for innovation is problem solving, not wealth, but the result is nevertheless wealth. I agree that Wall Street doesn’t innovate anything either, but often the venture capitalists have made innovations available to the rest of us.

    About getting rich – neither Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Zuckerman (what’s his first name) or hundreds of others had jobs on Wall Street. The most usual route to wealth for those who get wealthy is innovation plus hard work plus some good fortune….

    Do the occupiers want to make us all have exactly equal incomes?

  25. btw – if you listen only to main stream media regarding this issue you will get a very skewed idea of what it’s about. I’ve been very disappointed in the huge difference between what I experienced and heard at the rally in Edmonton and what our reporters and news agencies reported. It’s like they are purposely following their own agenda and not willing to hear what is going on. It is then interesting to see people ‘pick’ a side thinking they have all the information because they watched the news. It is so not true… If you really want to know and speak well to this issue then I encourage you to find an Occupy city and go and hang out with people for awhile. I liken it to people having a strong opinion on homeschooling when they’ve never experienced it but have only looked at it from afar, made huge assumptions and then become ‘experts’. Thanks Sam for teaching me to not be an expert where I’m not one and thanks for continuing to show your own willingness to not only challenge but to learn and listen. It is a great example for us all!!

  26. I would like to ‘thicken the story’ of my last post…
    When I was asked to go down to Edmonton’s city center and join the Occupy Edmonton day I have to admit that I was expecting that it would be a small group of mainly young adults and that they would give some passionate possibly rambling speeches and then have a march. I’m not big into marching for causes that’s just a personality thing with me. So I was surprised when over 1200 people showed up of every age and nationality and also when I found myself entering into the moment as I listened and observed what was transpiring. They brought Malcolm Azania (also known as Minister Faust) up to speak (you can find his speech at Occupy Edmonton on youtube) and he gave what I felt to be an amazing speech – clear, concise, coherent, articulate and impassioned. I was reminded of some of the speeches that I have seen of Martin Luther King, Jr. There was an MP from Vancouver (sorry I forget his name), a young First Nation’s woman who spoke and an older First Nation’s man who gave an amazing prayer reminding us that our secularism was leading us away from the Creator and now we were being called back through current events. There were also other young adults and each of them were clear and concise. I could have missed something but I never did see any of this on or in main stream media. Instead they interviewed a young man who was hanging out with the group and decided to not go to a job he had just been hired for. Then they interviewed a homeless person. Not to put either of those people down but really now isn’t that a bit of biased reporting?
    So having experienced a bit of a ‘converting’ moment myself I have become somewhat passionate about having people go and experience the full thing. My professor’s words did literally ring in my ears regarding not assuming, not knowing but being curious and I was humbled in that moment!

  27. Thanks much for your thoughts, Deb. That is fascinating research by Richard Wilkinson. I’m glad that he said some things at the end about possible causal factors, especially the notion of “social evaluation anxiety”, something that I can confess to having experienced, and something which could certainly contribute to the social ills correlated with income inequality. The notion of using the tax system as a means of redistribution, whatever means the redistribution takes, is useful. We already do that in Canada, for individuals and for provinces. Warren Buffet also said as much. The idea of bosses being accountable to employees is valuable, and I would add, as an investor in mega-corporations, bosses being accountable to shareholders is also on.

    Thank also for your account of the speeches at Occupy Edmonton. These certainly didn’t make the news. Here in Regina, CBC radio also aired comments from a hanger on who didn’t really know why he was there at Occupy Regina. The reporter, in self-defense, said that she went there at 8:00 a.m. and spoke to the only person she found awake!

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