The Humanoids: Occupy This

It’s been about seven weeks since I last put together a Humanoids column. This week, though, between the Occupy movement and leaking complaints about Google’s strategy, there have been some interesting doings a-transpiring over the last week or so. That’s why I’m occupying The Humanoids column this week in order to get better answers to the burning questions. Specifically: What the hell is Occupy all about?

Do any of the Occupy protesters know what they want?
Reports from major news organizations are making it more and more clear that the members of the Occupy Wall Street protests and the subsequent spin-off protests don’t have a clue in hell what they want. They know that they’re mad as hell at the 1% and they’re not going to take it anymore. Seeing as the 1% controls a significant amount of American wealth and also can buy and sell Congress as it sees fit (though funding candidates/parties or lobbying groups).

The way things are going for the Occupy protesters, they may as well adopt JG Wentworth’s slogan and start screaming “It’s my money and I need it now!” That probably wouldn’t be too far from the truth. There are enough tax loopholes that Warren Buffet (the third-most wealthy man in the world) notes that he pays less in income tax than his secretary. The lower and middle classes of America are paying a disproportionately large amount of tax compared to the 1% that Occupy is protesting against. With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives more interested in limiting the increase in US debt by cutting social programs rather than larger money pits like defence, the 99% who are likely to need some form of social assistance at some point in life.

So what should the end goal of the Occupy Wall Street protesters be? I think the answer is a fundamental reform of the US tax system in which the 1% do not pay proportionately less in income tax than the lower or middle class. Obama’s increased marginal tax on those who have taxable income over $1 million is was opposed by both Republicans (essentially the political arm of the 1%) and even his own Democrats. I think that tax is such a good idea that we need it in Canada. Hell, there should be another marginal tax for earnings over $10 million too. Corporations should also be subject to marginal tax rates to so to protect small business while making large corporations pay more at $1 million, $10 million, $100 million and so on.

The argument that reducing tax on the wealthy and large corporations will spur the economy through increased investment in capital and hiring more employees is bullshit. That would only work as an argument if you run a luxury home or yacht manufacturer where increasing the disposable income of the 1% would likely result in an increase in your sales. For everyone else, it’s a bullshit argument. The rich didn’t get that way by being stupid. Suddenly having more money doesn’t mean they’re immediately going to put it back into the economy. There has to be a reason for them to invest in the economy through increased capital or workforce. That reason is making more money. You can cut taxes all you want but it that newly found extra cash can’t produce more money through investment, it’ll be hoarded and the benefits of tax cuts for the rich won’t be realized by working class.

Let’s get Team OWS to start there with their demands and maybe we’ll see some worthwhile change in America that will take it from a joke to back to economic powerhouse for good.

Okay, so that’s Occupy Wall Street settled. Does anyone know why they’re occupying Canada?
I should be much more supportive of the Occupy Canada (which has protests in cities including Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax and Sault Ste. Marie) because I’m firmly part of the 99% in Canada. However, I don’t really see what harm has been done so far that requires protesting. But that’s what happens when you have a social media based movement against the bourgeoisie by the proletariat.

Again, I have a couple of suggestions for the Occupy Canada popsicles. First, campaign for those marginal tax rates I mentioned above to wealthy individuals and obscenely profitable corporations. After that, more than anything, I think we need welfare reform in this country. Walk through the streets of Toronto and you can’t help but ask yourself how these people end up on the streets while the able to contribute to society are allowed to live at home on welfare. People who can’t contribute to society are marginalized and left on the streets to freeze while those who are able to do something aren’t penalized for wanting to stay on their couch all day. It would be the Canadian thing to do to help those who can’t help themselves. That’s why the whole Occupy thing started in New York anyway. Maybe we should be occupying Parliament Hill and provincial government assemblies in order to get the point across.

Where does Google Plus fail most compared to Facebook and Twitter?
What’s the one thing that everyone always scrambles to see on their Facebook posts or tweets? They’re always looking for comments or likes of their Facebook posts and replies to or retweeted of their Tweets. These two social networking websites have a sort of instant gratification for your content. You want people to like your posts. You love seeing people comment on your photos or links or whatnot. Why else would people post “I hate my life” on Facebook unless they were practically begging people to comment “What’s wrong?”

The feedback that people on Facebook and Twitter crave is really like a drug. Even though I’m fully aware of the fact that Twitter and FB are designed to make you want that feedback, that recognition of your existence, I’m not immune to it. Getting a retweet or a reply or a like or a comment creates this amazing feeling of satisfaction. It’s addicting. I seldom post on Facebook but I do when I know I have something to write that will virtually guarantee some likes or comments. When I’m tweeting, I very regularly check for mentions or replies or retweets because I crave the pat on the head that they essentially are. I would think I have a problem but I know that the people who are like-minded far outnumber the people who just don’t care when they get replies or comments.

So how does this affect Google Plus? Well, no one can post on my profile/wall so it doesn’t have that gratification aspect from Facebook. It’s a lot harder to track down what people are talking about too which makes it hard to get the +1 from people you don’t know (which is G+’s equivalent to a retweet). Comments are there but I don’t know if you can comment on someone’s post if you don’t know them. All in all, the instant gratification that comes from comments or likes or what have you just isn’t there in Google+ yet. When they can get people to care about what other people think about them on G+, then Google Plus will succeed. Until people care about getting a +1 on their post, G+ will continue to be a failure.

Why does November have to be National NOVEL Writing Month?
I actually thought about participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month thing that WordPress has been promoting the hell out of for the last three years that we’ve been writing here. I actually thought that I would give it a go this year despite the fact that in the last third of my November, writing would be the last thing on my mind. But I figured that it would be a worth a go. It might generate a little traffic for the blog and I could always e-publish it afterwards and make no greater a fool of myself than my Grade 9 religion teacher who wrote a spiritual book which didn’t sell a copy or even get in the local library despite an article in the local newspaper.

Then I read the about page on the NaNoWriMo website. It turns out that you’re not just writing a 50,000 book, which would be difficult enough in itself. You actually had to write an original piece of fiction from scratch. What the hell kind of movement is that? Shouldn’t NaNoWriMo be promoting more than fiction writing? Not everybody that has ever dreamed of writing professionally, even as a low-level self-publishing writer, has dreamed of writing a novel. I’m not a fiction writer by any stretch of the imagination (though I’m sure a lot of people would accuse me of pulling my writings out of my ass). Why can’t I write a book of non-fiction?

For NaNoWriMo, I was thinking of expanding The Humanoids column into a daily column in which I examine the continuing downfall of Western society as one obsessed with emulating the success of people who have nothing to contribute to society as a whole. It would be like a blown-up version of this column. I would have done at least thirty topics in thirty days at close to 1,000 words each (a typical Humanoids Q&A section goes for between 250 and 500 words). But that wouldn’t be a novel, even if our society is based on fictional ideals pushed upon us by marketing executives and PR firms. But The Humanoids will still be here, even if NaNoWriMo doesn’t appreciate that not everyone wants to be cornered into the same genre of writing.

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