A hint of sanity at Occupy Houston

Yesterday was Occupy Houston’s first big march. Of course, I wonder why they chose Thursday morning, when potential supporters were at work. But whatever. So while I missed the march from Market Square to Chase Bank, I was able to meet up with the protest at City Hall. Admittedly, protesting City Hall doesn’t seem to make much sense. Local government isn’t really the problem here. However, City Hall does have a big grassy field in front of it, which does have a history of letting people sleep there. So it makes sense from that perspective.

So anyways, Dean and I took in the sights and signs. Dishearteningly, the first thing I saw was a group of protesters holding Ron Paul 2012 and End the Fed signs.

As Dean and I walked around, the crazy continued to stand out from the crowd. For example, there was the woman with the anti-contrails t-shirt. Because airplanes are spraying chemicals, rather than condensation.

And what's the deal with government conspiracy airline food?

This walking (sitting) cliche was one among many. Of course, the best was the Ayn Rand guy. Imagine to yourself, but for a brief moment, what your average Ayn Rand believer looks like. (Alan Greenspan doesn’t count.) Because he was there!

No one was listening to this guy self-wank it

It does seem someone contradictory for this true Ubermench to be espousing utter and complete selfishness and self-interest among a crowd condemning corporate greed, but maybe that’s the point? Maybe he was trying to convert people? Alas, I didn’t ask. #worldsworstjournalist

Indeed, the Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, anti-federal government pro-annoying theme wouldn’t be complete without a bunch of Alan Moore fans.

I mean, I liked that movie, too. But I'm not going to shave my head and makeout with Mila Kunis

And if I knew wearing my League of Extraordinary Gentlemen shirt would make a difference, I would have bought one.

Amongst the crazy crowds, however, were the signs. Which were all lying in front of City Hall. I assume that after the march through downtown, people put all their signs in front of City Hall because they’re too tired to carry them or for aesthetic purposes or something.

However, it was these signs that had the most cohesive message. Most related to government putting interests of the top 1% ahead of he other 99%. Some were about student debt. Others were about unemployment. A few were about tax rates and sources of the national debt. But the overall sense was one of, well, sanity at least.

For people who are confused about the purpose of the protests, this sums it up pretty well

This was my favorite:

I guess the job isn't copy editor

I tried to provide my own little contribution by fixing the sign.

Were, not was. It takes the subjunctive.

Anyways, the point was clearer at this expression of Occupy Houston. People are mad that the wealthy have undue influence in government and policy. People think that hard work and education should mean a well paying job. This shouldn’t be controversial. This should just be.

I’m just not sure why we’re protesting it in front of City Hall.

But when I think about it, City Hall is a good place to have a protest about government and societal priorities. Just look at it.

Beautiful building

Houston City Hall is constructed of impressive stone work and beautiful carvings that usher back to great moments of history, commanding respect and communicating dignity. We should be willing to spend money on government structures and programs that work. And City Hall works great at serving as a seat of power, at least symbolically. I’ve yet to work inside. Unfortunately, it is covered in dirt and schmutz. Too bad we can’t pay people to keep it clean.

Anyways, some people actually slept in front of City Hall overnight. We’ll see how long this lasts, and how long I have to walk down to City Hall to take my lunch.

But I would prefer that we make the necessary policy changes sooner rather than later.

Also, forgive student debt and consumer debt in a one time Jubilee Year? (Funny note: That was my Torah portion at my bar mitzvah.)

14 responses to “A hint of sanity at Occupy Houston

  1. Was the Ayn Rand guy like reading aloud to himself? Because that would have been awesome.

    Maybe he’s of te “know your enemies” philosophy.

  2. You can tell from looking at it (and confirm on Wikipedia) that Houston’s City Hall was built in the New Deal era. I’d love to see a major public works job program, including a Works Progress Administration-esque artists’ program, for the modern era.

    Also, if you compare the City Hall in Houston and Vancouver, British Columbia, City Hall and you can ponder if the same architect may have gotten paid twice to design the same building.

  3. In NYC the events have been thoroughly infiltrated by a trust fund parade that is masquarading as something other than an only-slightly-dispossessed gentry. My peers at Princeton spend their weekends “slumming” in political action, then return to the countryside to their Masters of the Universe training, and the irony is lost. Is the same thing happening in Houston with students from Rice University?

    • The only rice person I’ve seen there was me. But being in the top 10% doesn’t leave one out of the 99%. There is still 9% left. Plus, one can support the message and goals of the movement no matter the economic class. Further, one could argue that grads from elite universities have grand issues to address. We worked hard, played by the rules, spent hundreds of thousands off dollars on education with the expectation and general promise of a job to match the effort put in. We are ready to cash the promise that our hard work would pay off, and finding the bank empty.
      Good for the folks at Princeton. More students should be there.

  4. Evan7257, as your last comment smacks of a sort of updated, classist take on the White Man’s Burden, you’re likely to be disappointed with the makeup of Occupy Seattle – a decidedly underclass affair where authentic outrage was present. The 9% you describe have watched as the 90% below have been systematically denied basic social services: no healthcare, no clean and reliable public transit, soda machines in inner city schools, unimpressive public fountains, and have only provided them with the military as a means of escape.

    Take a note from the Swedish: import more of our ideas and decency, less of our home assembly furniture.

    • Public fountains? Soda machines? Huh?
      Anyways, the grievances you list are the same as college grads. No healthcare, poor job opportunities, concerns about affording education for future potential children of our own. The problems face all of us. We watch decline with the same grimace.
      But to complain about issues like fountains and mass transit is to complain about structures almost inherent in US cities. General sprawl and car culture make mass transit very difficult.
      Furthermore, Sweden has cultural and ethnic homogeny, population about that of north Carolina, a parliamentary government, and completely different tax structure. To ask the US to be more like Sweden is to ask an elephant to be more like a hummingbird. We are large and complex, with competing interests. This competition should make the republic work, as Madison established in Federalist X. But it is not working. The needs of the 99% are losing to the wants of the 1%. And the 9% is part of that 99%

  5. Evan, thanks for the thoughtful reply, though I still find it at least aesthetically displeasing to see students, who are attending universities that function at America’s status engines, develop poverty conscience on Saturday morning. You seem to like statistics, and figuring that there are 20 million plus college students in America, and only 30,000 of those are in the top three schools in America, and one of those is Princeton, simply attending Princeton puts you in the top 0.15% of college students. I think in some degree (no pun intended) that automatically disqualifies you from casual political/economic discontent. However, if someone updates “tune in, turn out, and drop out” for today’s college student (maybe to include owning an iPhone or something) and former Masters of the Universe take it seriously, I will buy into their beliefs. Otherwise it still smacks of sham to me.
    As for Sweden, the government monopoly on alcohol sales is all that the few Swedish students I know can seem to talk about. They are constantly blitzed; though they are all rather wealthy, even by Scandinavian standards, and can afford the alcohol tax or whatever they have over there. Still, though, a Friday night with them is a constant stream of complaints about America’s lack of social services – none of which they personally will ever require.

  6. Occupy Wall Street and its satellites embody everything I love most – standing up for your beliefs and pooping in public. I hope the movement goes on and on!


  7. “Better to shit in public than turn the economy into shit.”

    Initially, I was drawn to this discussion for the coverage on Occupy in various cities. Admittedly, I stayed for the poop references.

    As a former analyst at a large investment bank in London, now stationed in San Francisco in the private equity sector, I find these protests to be a bit amusing. Granted, the voice of the 99% is lost in the political process, which is just something that has to be accepted in this moment given the way that the American process works. But isn’t it the same 99% who patronizes suburban outlets like Wal-Mart, Target, and Olive Garden, The result of which is a funnel of money into large corporations, thus concentrating power into few hands? I’m not trying to over-simplify the problem, but it seems as if the greatest effect that one could have is it raise awareness of buying from small business, not the already trumpeted call for banking regulation and loosely organized “rather have a job” chants.

    Take for instance the dearth of locally owned movie stores due to the likes of Netflix, Tube8, RedTube, Spankwire, xvideos, xhampster, wifeslikeitbig, dudwheresmydildo, suspersmashbrothers, plugnplay, hotbutteredmustache … But I digress.

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