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Occupy Movement Attempts to Shut Down Ports

 

Today is a big day for the Occupy movement, as it attempts to reproduce the “success” of Occupy Oakland at shutting down the Port of Oakland in November.  This time they’re trying to shut down almost every major port on the West Coast, including another run at Oakland, as CNN reports:

Protesters affiliated with the nationwide “Occupy” movement hope to shut down West Coast ports from San Diego to Alaska on Monday in an effort to “disrupt the economic machine that benefits the wealthiest individuals and corporations,” according to organizers.

Ports in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia and Anchorage, Alaska, are targets of the effort, according to the Occupy the Ports website.

Protesters are also planning to demonstrate at the port in Houston, while Salt Lake City demonstrators are also organizing to disrupt operations of a Walmart distribution facility.

Efforts are scheduled to begin at 5:30 a.m. PT, with a march to the Port of Oakland.

What about all the working people who depend on those ports for their livelihood, not to mention all the other industries connected to the ports, and the sea of consumers awaiting the goods that should be passing between ship and shore?  This dopey “action” is one of the best illustrations of the dangerous ignorance and selfishness at the core of the Occupy movement, as well as their rather tenuous grasp of the concept of “free speech,” which they interpret as the right to force other people to listen to them.

Here’s how the Occupy masterminds justify their port shutdown scheme:

“We are occupying the ports as part of a day of action, boycott and march for full legalization and good jobs for all to draw attention to and protest the criminal system of concentrated wealth that depends on local and global exploitation of working people, and the denial of workers’ rights to organize for decent pay, working conditions and benefits, in disregard for the environment and the health and safety of surrounding communities,” organizers said on their website.

To the extent that load of twaddle means anything at all, it’s a neat expression of the totalitarian mindset.  The targeted corporations have broken no laws, but the Occupy politburo has decided they’re “criminals,” and has assigned itself the power to punish them.  Due process is for wussies!

These vigilantes of commerce are apparently unsatisfied with the environmental results obtained by our staggeringly huge, unbelievably powerful, job-killing eco-bureaucracy, so they want to centralize power even more, over-riding the last shreds of economic liberty for those who oppose their agenda.

It’s also interesting to note how thoroughly every branch of the “progressive” movement is stuck in the past.  It’s always the 1920s for them, granting progressives a blank slate in which their disastrous ideas have never been tried and failed, while robber barons and their army of paid stick-wielding thugs rule a landscape of smokestacks and sweat shops.  It would be nice to hear a “progressive” defend his ideas without pretending the Twentieth Century never happened.

Back here in the real world, there are some folks who have been vigorously exercising “workers’ rights to organize for decent pay” since before the average Occupy foot soldier was born, and they’re not too thrilled by the idea of shutting down the West Coast shipping industry, since that’s where they earn their decent pay.  Big Labor has been generally supportive of the Occupy movement, to the point of making a serious effort to co-opt it… but now that they’re the ones being co-opted, their patience is running thin.  The Seattle Times captures a snapshot of the conflict:

“We’re hoping that the longshoremen won’t cross [our] picket line,” said Chris Eaton, an Occupy Seattle organizer. He said individual workers have “given us kind of the thumbs up.”

But union leaders have given them an emphatic thumbs down.

“Support is one thing, organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another and one that is destructive to our democratic process,” wrote Robert McEllrath, the president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

Locally, King County Labor Council Executive Secretary David Freiboth said ILWU Local 19 asked the labor council not to participate at the Port of Seattle.

“We’re not supporting the shutdown, and we’re not participating in it,” he said.

Depending on how vigorous that “non-participation” turns out to be, the Occupiers could be in for a rough day.  Port of Seattle authorities, at least, sound confident that the Occupiers no longer have the manpower to actually shut them down.

They’re down to the hard-core crazies at the Occupy protests, leading to some unintentionally humorous internal struggles, as the Seattle Times mentions in passing:

On Thursday afternoon at the Occupy Seattle encampment on the Seattle Central Community College campus, about 10 protesters were spray-painting signs to prepare for the demonstration. “Truth over authority,” read one. Another: “You hold all the power in your hand.”

But their specific goals were varied.

One woman said she is focusing her Port protest on “food justice” and corporations that are profiting as grain gets more expensive. Another man said he is fighting for changing the movement’s name to “Decolonize Seattle,” saying “Occupy Seattle” is offensive.

The “food justice” lady is an interesting demonstration of that dangerous Occupier ignorance and arrogance.  Grain has indeed been getting more expensive, but it has little to do with greedy American “One Percent” fat cats and their insatiable hunger for profit.  It’s largely due to three factors: the growth of China, rising energy costs, and the biofuel industry.  As a November article at Seeking Alpha explains:

In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization. Since then, the slow and steady march of the Chinese economy has turbo-charged the price of grain.

Global demand for crude oil has increased by 1% over the past quarter alone. Yet at the same time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported earlier this month that China’s oil consumption during the same period increased by 4.6% to 10.24 million barrels per day.

The contrast between the demand for oil in fast-growing China and demand in the rest of world is obvious. But why is this important for grains? Well, it turns out that as prices for crude oil increase, demand for biofuels such as ethanol and fuels made from other grains also increases.

And therein lays the logic of another profitable vertex – as China’s thirst for fuel increases, so too does the price of both grain and oil.

Also, the weak U.S. dollar is driving commodity prices up, and weak dollars are a deliberate policy of the Obama Administration, which wanted to spur greater foreign purchases of American goods by making the dollar cheaper. 

But an invincibly ignorant and arrogant Occupier wouldn’t know any of those things, and probably wouldn’t care if the truth was convincingly demonstrated to them.  The interconnectedness of economic elements is one of the concepts they most aggressively refuse to grasp – how can their noble desire to quash planet-destroying fossil fuels be making food more expensive and causing Africans to starve?  How can their crusade for “income equality” be making the lives of low-income people harder?  To the extent they accept such realities at all, they share the horribly mistaken belief of all collectivists that political power is an adequate, or even superior, substitute for economic influence.

Three things the Occupiers eagerly support – suppressed oil drilling, biofuels, and Obama – are big factors in elevated food costs, and the corresponding levels of hunger in the Third World they claim to care about so deeply.  And how many of these courageous “activists” want to die trying to shut down the ports of Beijing?

 

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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