Public Comment

Occupy Yourself!

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:17:00 AM

Around the bay area, all the Occupy franchises are Occupy_______(add your city's name), but in some parts of the world, occupiers have gamed the name. 

Take, for instance, a franchise near New York's Zuccotti Park, Jews for Jesus calling themselves Occupy Judaism. And reportedly there's a group in Arizona which objects to the occupy brand and is calling itself un-occupy. Can you imagine calling a McDonald's un-McDonalds (although we've all been to a few of these). 

A sign near Boalt Hall recently read: Occupy Boalt Hall. Why couldn't you then occupy your church, or your kitchen? 

I asked one of the key Occupy Berkeley people about splinter chapters, and he said these spin-offs dilute the force of the protest. 

But what if that weren't so, and that feathers wouldn't be ruffled? 

Occupy yourself! 

You'll save on gas or bike tires and won't have to do any heavy lifting. 

All you need to do is figure out what's wrong with you that you have become one of ninety-nine percent, or, if you are part of the one percent earning over $375,000, what's up with that? 

Go figure. 

Are you not giving back because you feel that your money is your money and that you resent being asked to give any of it up? Do you feel $375,000 is barely adequate? 

Do you give to panhandlers, or do you secretly despise them for loafing on the walks? 

Are you greedy? What exactly is that—pigging out at an all-you-can-eat? Do you tend to have too much stuff? Have you misplaced gadgets because you can't keep track of them, or battery chargers? 

Is your home much bigger than your garage? Could you live comfortably in your garage if all your hoard were not in the way? 

Have you spent a lot on cars, jewelry or watches? Or do you "read" all those expensive watch ads in the New York Times and feel sorry that you can't afford one. Do you believe that $50,000 is too much for a car? Do you drive? 

Been to Vegas? Lied about winning? About losing? 

Are you a corporation? Why not? It has its advantages. Have you ever been sued? (One of the advantages). 

Did you know that most people are doing better than you (as you see it), and some are doing much worse, which you would rather not think about because you are too busy feeling sorry for yourself. 

When was the last time you loaned someone money? Did you get it back? 

Do you influence any politicians (family members excluded)? 

Would you prefer that the whole subject of money not come up? Why are you like that? 

Consider your background. 

Does the word Wall Street send chills up your spine? Do you like the feeling? Ever worked or applied for work there? Can you imagine yourself in an office on Wall Street with a bunch of financial reports on your desk? 

Have you ever read a financial report? Your bank account statement? The denomination of your currency? 

Do you consider yourself broke? But do you have a broker? Do you know what brokers do? 

Have you ever visited (perish-the-thought) Wall Street? Who paid for the visit? 

Subscribe to cable T.V.? Apped out? 

Are you unable to afford medical or dental treatment and prescription drugs, or do you have a cabinet full of "medicine"? You may count marijuana as a drug, a very expensive drug. 

Do you drink cheap wine, or do you believe it's worth hundreds of dollars for a good glass of wine? Would you spend for that? 

By now you should be identifying with either the ninety-nine percent or the one percent. 

What do you think made you that way? Fate, accident of birth, or your own achievements? 

Do you have advice on how to get into the one percent? Why don't you tell the world the secrets of your success? "Then they would no longer be secrets" is not an option. 

Nor is most people can't do what I did, unless you are a test pilot, a physicist, a pro athlete, or famous actor. 

Could someone write a book on your poverty that would arouse pity? Someone like Charles Dickens? 

Do you sometimes think that being in the one percent is a liability? Is this because you don't have enough money? 

What's the least amount of money you could live on? Your entire income is not the least. 

Are you uncomfortable being occupied, even though you are also the occupier? 

Would you donate to a foundation, except that you consider most of them corrupt? 

Do you feel uncomfortable in South Berkeley or downtown when you are well-dressed? 

Does this keep you on the North side, on Solano, or in the Elmwood? Do you shop in thrift stores because they have all the good stuff that someone else with more money than you picked out, or because you prefer the ambiance? 

Would you drive to a Crate and Barrel, but resent that you couldn't afford Neiman Marcus? 

Do you want to save the world or to just get it off your back? 

Do you feel that people pay too much attention or envy people of wealth? Would you take the envy with the wealth? 

By now you should more fully understand yourself. 

The occupation is over. 



Ted Friedman usually reports from the South side, but sometimes comments for the Planet, as well. He has been reporting on Occupy Berkeley since it began. 

Editor's note: See correction re Occupy Judaism in Letters.