"The One Percent Solution," Full Disclosure, 11/16
Writing From the Rabbit Hole
If anyone thinks that a protest with anarchists capturing public property to make their statement — coupled with police actions to enforce laws against illegal conduct — is "good" for business, then one might suppose this article is the new primer for making the best of a bad economy by staging similar protests in every downtown area of every city and town in the nation. Perhaps that will stir the economy to new heights and bring the record-low employment levels back to acceptable levels.
Of course the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and other business-related organizations are populated with larger (and big) businesses. They can afford the membership dues and they have the staff members to participate in these organizations. Small businesses often do not consider chamber membership a necessity — especially when the economy is making them watch every dime they spend. So why would this article throw innuendo after innuendo, like "They contended that the City Hall encampment was bad for downtown businesses, especially small ones. The chamber and the business groups also purported to speak on behalf of small businesses in downtown" (emphasis added)? It brings an interesting — but false — counterpoint to the almost certainty that riots and occupations of the public right-of-ways impede the normal course of commerce. And by attacking the organizations that point this fact out — by making them appear as the enemy — the article gets readership among those who would like to think anarchy does no harm. Well, think for a moment about the $2.4 million in public tax money spent to police the Oakland demonstrations through mid-November, and tell us all if that public money — gone forever — would have been spent had the Occupy Oakland siege not occurred. Is that the way to boost the economy — by pouring $2.4 million down the drain, instead of using it for other things to help the community? Try hard to convince us of that!
No, this article is nothing less than a hit piece suggesting that riots and illegal encampments seizing public property are not such a bad thing after all — and that those who would say differently are part of some "mafia-like" clique made up of those who are among large businesses. This is an Alice-In-Wonderland premise — and the entire article is straight from the Mad Hatter's mouth.
William H. Thompson, Walnut Creek
The 99 Percent Solution
Long ago, in Montgomery, Alabama, they enforced laws to segregate and impoverish black people. Finally, the marginalized people boycotted the buses to protest the society's inequities. Businesses complained. But, even the "progressives" in today's Oakland city government said that the people had the democratic right to protest.
Far away, in Egypt, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Finally, the marginalized people camped in Tahrir Square to protest the society's inequities. The businesses said it was hurting the economy. But, even the "progressives" in today's Oakland city government said that the Egyptian people should have real democracy.
Today, at home, we see increased unemployment, foreclosures, homelessness, and deterioration in education and other public services. Finally, the marginalized people camped on government property to protest the inequities in our society. But, to the "progressives" in today's Oakland city government, democracy must not be that broad. The 99 Percent are too untidy and hurt business. Democracy, it seems, is better confined to the owners of the media, corporations, and other defenders of the status quo.
If democracy is not defined broadly enough to include the 99 Percent, soon, in our land, we the people are doomed.
Peter Haberfield, Oakland
Big Business Isn't All Bad
Come on, look: If folks aren't coming downtown to shop, to go to restaurants or patronize business because of a "perception" of danger, that's a real impact — not fabricated. After thirty years, Oakland's downtown was finally coming back, with more restaurants, galleries, great drinking spots, and more. No doubt the Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street movements have brought up important issues regarding income equity, but the reality is that those have become lost in the rhetoric of all the different factions, from socialists to anti-capitalists to anti-cop and anti-war groups. And what's the goal — make all the Republicans suddenly see the light and tax the rich?
I've got a small business and it's clear that we need both big businesses as well as small to make things work. The big businesses you characterize as part of the One Percent in Oakland actually contribute a lot to the city and are committed to making it a better place. Clorox gives tons of money to education and nonprofits and has one of the best affirmative action hiring policies. Big businesses help fund the free Broadway shuttle (through a business improvement district), pay for events and keep the streets clean, and often make it possible for small businesses to open and thrive because their big-business employees have to eat lunch and get coffee. It's not all about big vs. small business. That's absurd. We all need each other.
Lastly, everyone I know who actually lives in Oakland has said that Occupy Oakland is disrespecting the city at this point. It's become a joke, and a sad one when there's a murder right in front of City Hall. Is there ever going to be some serious leadership in Oakland to deal with this? I keep seeing the Recall Quan posters going up everywhere, and at this rate I think it's going to happen.