Tag Archives: Occupy

The Pepper Spraying Cop gets Canned – finally

Remember this guy?

He was finally fired.
His name is John Pike, the the now former Lieutenant with the UC Davis police force. His 2010 salary was listed at just over $110k and he’s been on paid leave (aka vacation) since the incident – that’s ten months (see the article here). The police Chief Annette Spicuzza “retired in April after an independent panel issued an investigative report that severely criticized her leadership of the Police Department and found fault with much of the university leadership during the crisis.”

So a ten month paid vacation and a retirement – boy, those are some serious…ly pathetic consequences for hurting the people you were tasked to protect and serve. And, those are the only two that have been made known publicly – there is a lawsuit pending now around making the identities of the other officers public.

It is difficult to determine what was so difficult to determine in this investigation. The students did disobey a police order, but they were seated with linked arms and were completely non-violent. If you see the video, not a one of the seated protesters look like they even approach 200lb – I’m quite sure they had assumed they would be arrested and removed one by one by the officers in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience.

So many of us have nothing but our bodies to use in our fight for our values. Many of us do not believe that violence solves problems and follow in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. When the ideas of the minority butt up against the ideas of the powers in charge, the playing field is obviously quite slanted in favor of those already in power.

It is cowardly for those in power to use violent chemical forces in response to ideas and words. It is cowardly to hurt someone when what they want is a seat at the table to take part in a real discussion. This interaction is a microcosm of what is happening to many unarmed simple citizens of the planet that will not be a doormat for the powers that be.

Why was UC Davis so afraid of the protests? Why did they not channel the energy into a forum where folks could be heard? Why the riot gear and extreme measures. What was the threat that the students presented? Who was being protected? How many police officers across this country empathize not with the students, but with the sprayer, John Pike.

Some of the pepper spray victims are suing Pike, the university and others. I think he should have to give the paid leave money back anyway.

CEOs get to ruin companies and parachute away with millions, politicians can shoot people and get away with no questions asked, the 1% can pay someone to arrange subsidies for themselves instead of paying taxes. Where does one get beknighted or step through this looking glass of privilege? Why do the rest of us have to follow the rules or face the consequences?

Good riddance John Pike. I hope you have a conscience and it does what our justice system has not yet done.

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Minimum Wage = Maximum Rage

Check out the above graphic. A week only has 168 hours total, including sleep time and weekends. Let’s say that the average person needs a bare minimum average of 6 hours of sleep each night, that would subtract 42 hours so 168 – 42= 126 waking hours available to work. Continue reading

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The Hateful Rush to Frame


Political framing can find yourself keeping strange company. Progressives might find themselves agreeing with Newt Gingrich this week, here’s a quote from Reuters by Newt,

I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the president’s apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week

You would think there were no news worthy events last week because coverage focused on Rush Limbaugh and what he does best – get attention via bombastic statements.  He successfully dominated at least one news cycle, if not the better part of a week’s cycle. Rush would not work as a guest blogger here because he uses uncivilized language and tone. A boycott of his advertisers must have had some effect because Saturday he apologized for his crude choice of language – not for the sentiment behind them. Many on the right and left feel that this apology was extracted and strictly about responding to advertisers.  When questioned about the language choice before Saturday, he simply added more insulting words and scenarios to his previous assault – he doubled down.

Rush and his handlers may have overstepped even the mainstream media’s standards of decency, but they certainly did a great job getting attention. Continue reading

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The Best Buy – Consumers Activate!

Customer service todayPolitics are not just about candidates and elections, political impact reaches into the fabric of our lives – into our jobs, homes, bedrooms, relationships, consumer choices, even our uteruses. Sometime it can be difficult to see the link between a decision in Washington and the way it manifests in our lives. Using a figurative zoom lens – like the one described yesterday – can help. Here is a personal, real world experience in which I draw a parallel to the current business/political climate and get good results. It’s a bit of self advocacy.

I have had a few recent unpleasant experiences with large corporations that perhaps you can relate to. It goes like this: I research a product, make a choice and fork over my dollars to purchase said product. There is some issue with the product and so, to resolve that issue I attempt to get assistance with the company. At this point in my customer experience, customer service is only a myth of yesteryear; I only get phone trees, online customer forums, and multiple automated messages assuring me of how much the corporation appreciates and cares about me. I am only rarely able to speak to a human at all and if I do find a human, that human has no power or interest in helping me with my product issue.  Meanwhile I spend hours on the phone growing more and more frustrated, wondering what has happened to the motto, “the customer is always right”. Mention that to any financially successful business in the U.S. and it will probably be followed by gales of laughter.  Humans and humanity have been subtracted from the world of business; profits over people rule the day.

In my most recent case of making a purchase from Best Buy, I purchased a laptop online. Though I was told dozens of times how important my business and calls were to them – by a recorded voice – I was only able to find a human that could actually help me after a month of trying. They did not send the laptop and gave no indications that they would send the laptop.  Am I wrong to assume that a transaction still means an exchange of goods and services? Is it presumptuous of me to want to receive a product that I have paid for? Is it selfish in this age to want to interact with a human that can actually address the situation and provide me any indication that a resolution is forthcoming? Do I really need to traverse the phone tree equivalent of Dante’s inferno just to indeed receive what I’ve paid for?  I don’t think so.

It seems to be commonplace right now that many businesses – corporations – simply take money from customers and say to hell with the rest. I for one am sick of it; I am guessing that I’m not alone. The lack of customer service attention paid to me is not due to my rude behavior – I kept a civil tongue – it’s due to our business climate. In order for a company to get ahead they have to “run lean” (translation: lay a bunch of people off and forget the value they added to the business), they have to “oursource” (translation: make the customers do work for you), they have to “work smart” (translation: scare the crap out of the remaining workforce so that they will put in lots of free overtime work and take on more responsibility without additional pay). If a corporation does not employ these tactics the chances are that they will be forced to via an investor or shareholder. No value is placed on the humans involved; our work force is getting cheaper by the minute and we humans are treated accordingly.

I’m guessing that thousands or even millions of others have experienced the very same frustrating run around in regards to customer service. If corporations can outsource research (customer forums), management (phone trees), and follow ups (“hello?…..hello?…”) to us customers, maybe I can outsource some of my problem issues to them, you know kind of an exchange. Here is how I might do this; I welcome everyone’s creativity to find your own ways of upping the ante when it comes to dealing with these bullies of (corporate)personhood.

I have two children grade school age, somewhat hyperactive. I will give my local branch of Best Buy one more chance to be civilized and help me, their customer,  and then I will take action. I will purchase jelly filled, sugar sprinkled doughnuts and allow my two boys to keep them in their pockets. We will calmly enter the store and I will occupy my usual place in line with the customer service. I will only instruct my boys to find something to do while I wait in line, and allow them to eat when hungry. They love video games, computers, phones, and cameras and thoroughly enjoy the floor models in stores. If I have to wait long, I might need to offer them some juice boxes. If it is a very long time it may call for a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos on the floor near customer service. For this special occasion – and since my wait is likely to be quite long to get any true help –  I may even allow them to bring some of their electronic toys that sing, beep, and buzz loudly. The youngest sometimes keeps a whistle in his pocket and enjoys blowing that at times. Keeping kids busy while we consumers do the work that corporations have outsourced to us, is difficult. It’s time that those corporations feel the crunch.

We must stop taking this insult to our daily lives. Obviously customer service is a casualty of downsizing and rethinking corporate profits. Yes, some customer service lines reroute to India where we cannot understand the heavily accented “Justin” on the other end, but much of the work seems to be outsourced…to us!  We spend our precious hours trying to help ourselves, hamper our bodies with additional stress, our livelihoods suffer due to lack of equipment or attention (I went a month with no computer!!!). They continually ask us – through a recorded voice – to chase our own tails then insult us by using that same recorded voice to thank us for our business. I’ve met more considerate schoolyard bullies. Please join me in putting pressure –by any non-violent, legal means necessary – on customer service.  I do feel sorry for those behind the counters making barely over minimum wage, but we must make the company feel the inconvenience like we feel it. The old school motto of “the customer is always right”, has been replaced with a new unspoken one, “the customer is always too busy and weary to make a fuss”.

This lack of attention on the part of Best Buy and its corporate ilk are yet another reason to buy local. I did have a happy ending to my issue in that I finally got the attention of a local manager and ended up with a laptop for a seventh of the price. Civil disobedience- even when legal – can be effective if we take the time. Activate in all the areas of your life, that is what the “Occupy” trend is really about. Wake up and see how the political policy really does trickle down on you. In the meantime, if you are planning a visit to Best Buy in the near future, perhaps you should bring some handiwipes – just in case.

Thanks to Andrew Toos for the political cartoon.

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An Occupied Kind of Tea Party

The Occupy movement has done much to change the conversation in our country around issues of commerce, the worker’s plight, and the inequity that exists between the very rich and the rest of us. I am thankful that they’ve done it because the status quo discourse around those matters was painfully apathetic. There is one unfortunate aspect to what has happened in the Occupy movement that provides a chink in their armor, it’s a path that creates further division – not unity – for their cause.

I would have hoped that early on the Occupy movement would have recognized the similarities between themselves and the Tea Partiers that demonstrated a season before them. You can point out many differences but the power comes from pointing out the similarities. The Tea Party started as a rejection of the bail out of the banks – little guys vs. big guys, the workers vs. the monied classes.  They were hostile to Wall Street and the preferences showed them over Main St. It was said that they despised all things big, Big Government, Big Banks, Big Business and Big Taxes – hey, I see a solid half of values matching up. Even Big Government and Big Taxes are contested concepts and relative terms; I don’t know many people that want bigger taxes and government just for the sake of being big. Since the start of the Occupy movement – and since it is commonplace to pit folks against each other – comparisons have been made between the Occupy and Tea Party Movement.

It is time for those of us with respect for our fellow humans to try and recognize our similarities and affinities and draw from them rather than point and laugh at our differences. Originally Tea Partiers were grassroots, organically organized, and rightfully upset at a system that had discounted their opinion. These very basic and authentic roots resonate with most of us, especially the Occupy sympathizers. I for one, as a sympathizer, want to reach out to my fellow citizens and human beings. I can respectfully disagree with some points and then wholeheartedly agree with many others. We agree that our system is dysfunctional. We agree that opportunity should be fair and that favoritism is fundamentally unfair. We don’t like our tax dollars or reputations to be squandered doing wasteful or hurtful things to others. There are a host of values that we align with that could be emphasized instead of taking cheap shots and trying to “gotcha!” each other.

I come from a family and area in the Midwest where it is common that find myself in a room of loved ones that do not politically agree with me, it does not make me love them less. It used to make me like them less, but now I understand where they are coming from and the values that they hold dear. Because I also hold my values dear and would fight to uphold them, it gives me respect for my debate partner to hear their well reasoned points ring with passion and integrity. When I hear rigorous debate that ditches the sophomoric name calling and embraces ethical rules of engagement, I have hope for the future. A glorious, wonderful thing happens when we give each other the time and space to express themselves in a respectable manner: our guard relaxes, we feel safer and we open our minds to begin learning from each other. We will never all agree with each other, but we can remind each other that we are human and at least in that, we have some common values. If we are to continuing to exist, we might as well try to bring out the best in each other.

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