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Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Alternatives to Occupy Wall Street

An inscription infront of Wall StreetImage via Wikipedia

Original Article

I thought I was pretty much done on the subject of Occupy Wall Street but an article today caught my attention.  Seems like the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York had actually led to job loss, as opposed to increased economic opportunity as some say the protests were designed to do.  And then there was a second article stating that many of the protesters may be closer to the 1% than the 99% yet they are still partaking in the protests just to enjoy the party atmosphere. So for those who want to actually accomplish something of a change in their economic and political lives sans the sleeping outside and protesting just for the sake of protesting part, here's some ideas:

  1. Shop local.  Skip the Starbucks and make your own coffee at home or patronize a locally owned and operated coffee shop.  Spend your money in your community and not with large out-of-state chains.
  2. Spend cash or barter.  Skip the big banks and spend cold, hard cash while you are shopping local.  Better yet, barter for the things you need.  A local cash and/or barter economy will do more to improve your local economy than shouting idiotic messages on the streets of New York City.
  3. Choose to not participate with big business as much as possible.  I say "as much as possible" because while it is simple to move your money from Bank of America or another national bank to a local bank or credit union, it is impossible to find a locally-based cell phone carrier.  But you can be aware of how you spend every dollar and spend it where it will do the most good and have the most local impact.
  4. Reuse and recycle.  Obviously there are many products that you want and need that are not made locally (or even in this country, for that matter).  Before you go shopping at Wally World and purchase a cart full of items made in China or Honduras, look at ways you can reuse and recycle these products that are already in the local economy (ie: shop garage sales, CraigsList, and thrift stores first).
  5. Cut back.  I am a huge fan of minimalism these days.  After purging almost everything I owned nearly a year ago (and selling most of it for pennies on the dollar before giving away what was left--about four truck loads), I have realized that the quest to have nearly every single item man has ever made is an exercise in futility.  There will always be better deals, there will always be newer products, there will always be more advanced technology...the secret is to buy only what you really need and then use it to death before replacing it.  We don't need that much stuff to live happily and the feeling of not being responsible for a mountain of consumer junk it truly liberating.
  6. Instead of being against something, be for something.  This is a paraphrase from Mother Theresa but the gist is that if you are always fighting against something you really don't accomplish much but if you are fighting for something you are much more likely to see results.  You can scream about being against the big agricultural complex but what good will that do?  The companies aren't going to shut down just because you tell them to.  On the other hand, if you are fighting for cheaper, locally-grown food, you can plant a garden or better yet, start a community garden, and actually accomplish something with all of your efforts.
  7. Do the work yourself.  We may rail about illegal immigration and big pharma yet we continue to eat vegetables picked by illegal immigrants and continue to rely on big pharmaceutical companies for our chronic illness medications.  How about growing your own vegetables and picking them or exercising and changing your diet so you no longer need to medicate yourself into oblivion because of poor health choices?
  8. Live as close to the source as possible.  I'm not talking about this in a spiritual source sort of way(although that isn't such a bad idea) but by living simply and locally you not only will be healthier and wealthier but you will be more in tune  Why drink bottled water from a municipal tap in a big city when your own water is probably much better?  Why buy fish flown in from Asia when you can throw a line in your nearest lake and enjoy really fresh and really local food? 
  9. Ignore advertising.  This is a hard thing to do for many unless you are one of the TV-less crowd since advertising is a constant barrage of messages of which we have been inculcated since birth.  The problem is that advertising makes you feel worse about yourself unless you immediately run out and buy the product being advertised.  Want women to fawn over you (women that, no offense, wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole no matter what you do)? Then you better run out to a national chain store and pick up a national-brand deodorant and "poof" Playboy-bunny like women will come running to you.  Want your kids to be happy (never mind the fact that the food that will make them happy will also make the sick, hyper active and pre-diabetic)? Then you better run out to the store and buy them choco-bunny-breakfast-flakes so they will look as cute and happy as the kids in the commercials.  The bottom line is that commercials are selling you a line of BS and if you want to make significant changes in your perception (and ratchet it back somewhere closer to common-sense normal) then you need to ignore these psychologically manipulative messages and think for yourself.
  10. Challenge everything.  Just because you aren't protesting doesn't mean you can't challenge commonly held beliefs.  Start asking why.  Start asking if there is a better way to do something that the status quo.  Start making changes in your life that the "Joneses" wouldn't understand.  Just because something has "always been that way" doesn't mean that you have to "go with the flow" and be just like everyone else.  Yes, it is easier to do that as it takes very little effort but it also lulls you into a false sense of security and it has been proven to have quite a few negative affects that people (sheeple) don't realize until it is too late.  My grand dad would be rolling over in his grave if he saw how people so willingly gave up their freedoms just to fly on an airplane (in his case, he probably would have learned how to fly and just flew himself...he was an ornery as his old bull when someone/something got his dander up and any sort of taking away his freedoms would do just that).
Eventually the Occupy Wall Street people will dwindle away but if you want to do something with staying power and if you want to do something that will make legitimate, concrete changes that will impact your life, you need to take control of your life and your self and put your efforts into being/making the changes that you want to see.

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