Why I Occupy – Donna Clarke

25 Nov
Everybody who disagrees with the Occupy movement seems to think that if you work hard you can be successful in this city, country or world! (This, I realise, is a bit of a presumption.) SO WHY AREN’T I RICH AND SUCCESSFUL? I went to university and got a degree and a large debt. I paid off that debt in full. I have worked for over 20 years. I work hard. I work a full time job during the day and two evenings a week. I don’t have any benefits with either job. I need $5000 in dental work. I pay my taxes. I do not have a luxurious lifestyle. I take public transit or ride my bicycle. I seldom drink and don’t do drugs. I have volunteered at a few inner city community centers. I don’t have a TV or own property. I help out my friends when I can and have been too generous at times. I am $12,000 in debt and don’t have any savings. If i broke my leg tomorrow I would be unable to pay my bills. i want to live in a just society where people care about each other, where I am safe and secure. THIS IS WHY I SUPPORT THE OCCUPY CALGARY MOVEMENT.
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5 Responses to “Why I Occupy – Donna Clarke”

  1. Disapointed in today's educated November 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    I disagree with you 100%. My parents came to this country with 2 suitcases in the 1970′s they sit in the basement of their 6,000sqft house to this day. They came here from a Communist country where private enterprise was illegal, and owning property was a pipe dream. They started their own business (a hair salon). They also discovered it was very easy to buy property in Canada and purchased revenue properties. In the 1980′s they also discovered that anyone could buy land and build a house. With no prior education in any of these fields other than hair dressing they began purchasing rental properties and building houses. They now live in a very exclusive part of the city still operating a successful business, rentals and building dream homes.
    I went to University; they pushed me to because they saw that was a path to success. I finished 2 degrees and am finishing a Masters. I work as an educator and own property. I consider myself very successful and well off. Was that a given no I WORKED for it and sacrificed to get it. I have travelled the World and each time I get on a plane to come home I always say “Wow I live in the greatest Country in the World”. My parents taught me one thing: “If you want something in life and are willing to put in the work and sacrifices for it you can have it”
    I disagree with the re-distribution of wealth theory. Why should I be penalized for what I earn or what I have worked for. You were born here and had all of the chances to be successful the same as me. Unfortunately some folks do not see opportunity or do not seek it out they think I go to school get a job and make money OK why am I not better off? Education is a vehicle for success not the end game. There are those less fortunate than myself yes. My Dad puts it perfectly when he sees people in this Country struggle “I don’t get it in such a rich country with so much chance (his word for opportunity) why do these people fail? They can go to school even if they cannot afford it someone will give them money (student loan) to go to school. They can buy property, start a business, start a company and make as money as they want. In my old country these people would have died.”
    From reading your statement “Why I Occupy” I gather you are frustrated. Stop looking at everyone else and starting looking at YOURSELF. Pick yourself up and make the most of life. Why are you in debt? No one put you there other than YOU. It was your choices that put you in that situation you fix not everyone else. You went to University if nothing else you should know how to THINK CRITICALLY!
    Best of luck to all of those looking to find their way.

    • AFish November 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

      Thank you for your story!
      Your parents came to a different Canada than what exists today, however, and, while their tenacity and creativity are commendable, I sincerely doubt that their hard work would pay off the same way these days. You have experience with university education, so you must be aware of the costs and how many times more expensive those costs are compared to even when you started university. Getting a financial foothold is incredibly difficult these days, and if you’re not sure about that, take a tour through the NE of Calgary. There are hundreds of thousands of immigrant families who are working full time or more and are still struggling to get by.
      Your father has an excellent question: ““In such a rich country with so much chance, why do these people fail?” Why indeed? Please don’t say because they’re stupid and/or lazy.
      You say you don’t believe in redistribution of wealth, and that you have traveled the world, and that when you come home, you think about how much you love your country. But you don’t see the contradiction in that? Canada was founded on the principles of co-operation and giving a helping hand to your fellow citizen. You are reaping the benefits of social equity every day. It’s what makes Canada so great. Maybe you’ve been to countries where it really is “every man for himself”. They’re not nice places.

      • disapointed in todays educated November 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

        You are right it is a different place but that doesn’t mean it has changed that much. For sure I was aware of the financial costs associated with my education but at the same time what I learned from Mom and Dad was that my education was the vehicle for doing great things without it you can grind all you want and get no place. That is what it has come to you need education to even have a shot at getting a foot hold.

        Many people fail in this Country because they are not willing to sacrifice to get where they want to be or what they want to have. Guess how many of my tenants in the rental I own have cable, video games, and take vacations? Almost all of them….. In 31 years my parents have taken 2 vacations, we never had cable and rarely ate out at a restaurant or went to a movie. Now that we have that foot hold we do it all the time.
        Another reason is risk. How many folks here still rent? I have a tenant pay $1,000 a month in rent he could easily afford a mortgage on something in some part of our city. Many people just don’t see it.
        I get the occupy movement I understand the idea of supporting a movement and I was all for protests and getting noticed until you started breaking the law by camping out on city property and claiming it is a protest. You can still get your message out there without breaking the law. Would I like to see the city loosen its grip on land costs? Yes I would that has contributed to the huge spike in housing prices. I can’t support something that is fundamentally illegal and causing chaos.
        There is no contradiction in my view of our great Nation. We help each other but at the same time this system is designed to help those that help themselves. Social equity is not the same as economic equity these are 2 different principles please do not confuse them. I worked hard for what I have and no I am not willing to give it away I worked hard to get here. I am willing to help those but not hand out ever. This is at the heart a capitalist a Country where you have the same opportunity to make it as I do.

  2. Anonymous November 25, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    First of all, that’s a pretty general statement to say that “everybody who disagrees with the Occupy movement”. There’s various reasons for disagreeing with the movement. Some don’t agree with the message, some don’t agree with the way the message is being conveyed, some don’t agree with the solutions, etc. That’s as general and erroneous of a statement as me saying “Everybody that agrees with the Occupied movement needs to get a job and smokes marijuana”.

    Secondly, what your paid usually coincides to how much value you can add, not how hard you work. Thus, because an engineer can add value to a Company, he/she will likely be paid more than the receptionist. That’s not a judgement on the work habits or hard work of the receptionist, but that’s a reality of life.

    Thirdly, I’m tired of people who have university degrees somehow thinking they should have it better in life than people who don’t. I have two degrees, by the way, one in Political Science and one in Management. One of them is worth nothing in the real world. Guess which one? But when I got my Political Science degree, I didn’t think “great, now I’m guaranteed to be paid more than a high school graduate”. I did it because that interest me and I got that other degree because that’s eventually what lead to a job that paid me.

    Lastly, being rich and successful aren’t the same thing. My sister is a school teacher. She’s very successful. She likes what she does and she influences youngsters. Often I’ll have dinner with her family out and we’ll run into one of her old students who comes over and says hi and fills her in on what he/she is doing now. My sister does okay as a teacher but is by no means rich. I work for an oil and gas company. I make likely twice if not three times more than my sister does. I influence no youngsters and while I have many friends at work, I’m not sure anyone would say I’ve made a “significant influence” on their lives. So, whose more successful, me or my sister?

    In my opinion, this movement is not about everyone who works hard should be rich and successful. If that’s the end game of the Occupy movement, good luck. It should be about looking for fair means to redistribute some wealth (The Robin Hood Tax elsewhere in this blog is a good example of a means to do so). But, even if that’s the case, you’re not the person that will benefit, Donna. There’s millions of people in Canada and worldwide that are in alot worse situations than you and they’ll be the ones that will benefit.
    For interest sake, I also pay my taxes and I don’t drink or do drugs and I’m generous to donate both time and money to causes. I spent six months living in a tent in Kampala, Uganda building schools out of brick and mortar. I know the world isn’t fair and I look to see how I can change not a thousands lives, but just a few. I support your last sentence, Donna, which is “I want to live in a just society where people care about each other”, but I don’t believe that can be legislated or forced upon people. That comes from within and I’ve always believed 20% of the people in the world will leave it a better place, 60% are just along for the ride, and the other 20% are trying to burn it down. Try as you might, those percentages will never change, it’s just up to you to decide which category you want to fall into.

    • AFish November 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

      You sound like a rational and thoughtful individual, and even a hesitant supporter of some of what Occupy is attempting. But you seem resigned that the world won’t get any better, which is really too bad.
      Occupy supporters are attempting to do just what you said, to leave the world a better place, because it is obvious to those who see beyond their own (extremely privileged, Calgary) circumstances that unless something is radically altered, we will not leave this world a better place. Can you disagree?

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