In cities around the globe ‘Occupy’ protests are taking place as the ‘99%’ confront the ‘1%’.
In our city the ‘Occupy Vancouver’ movement, convening today downtown, struggles for focus. Why?
Well, consider that here in Vancouver 60-70% of the population own real estate, and, rather than being economically distressed by virtue of that fact, as most would if they lived elsewhere, owners here are feeling very smug and content about somehow having missed the global-economic-crisis bullet. They are relatively rich (they believe); their RE holdings have mostly risen since they bought, and, for many, their property values have increased 100%, 200%, even 300%, making for life-changing, retirement-securing, (but as-yet-unrealized) profits. Even those who haven’t yet profited are, like the waitress with the 250K mortgage, living in optimistic anticipation of their future profits. Because real estate in Vancouver, of course, always goes up.
The majority here don’t feel as distressed as the majority do elsewhere. It’s all because of RE holdings, and the related artificial positive effects that the RE industry has applied to our local economy through our speculative mania in housing. These owners have no idea how precarious their situation is, they don’t see their gains as having been built on a speculative mania, and they don’t foresee the very large price drops that will occur when prices deflate. Many will lose all of their net-worth (and more) in the deleveraging ahead.
For now, the majority here feel relatively content, and many can’t even really imagine what there is to protest about.
So, keep that in mind while considering ‘Occupy Vancouver’.
In other cities it may be the 99% protesting the 1%.
In Vancouver it’s more like some of the 35% trying hard to articulate something vaguely wrong and difficult to pinpoint about the state of affairs, while 65% watch from the middle distance, feeling comfortable. There are many things about local and global economic developments to be concerned about: but these concerns are unlikely to gain traction in Vancouver, at this time.
Vancouver always seems to live by its own schedule, and holding an ‘Occupy Vancouver’ event today is asynchronous. Follow up events in 2013 or 2014 will, we suspect, make a lot more sense to the majority of locals.