October 5, 2011

Bill Nemitz: Finally, it's a purpose both sides agree on

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Or as Harring put it, "If there were more and more people who actually took the time to find out what's going on and educate themselves on these matters, they'd realize we can ... definitely influence the way corporations and big business operate."

To be sure, these two social activists view the world through decidedly different filters.

Colby wants an end to the legal doctrine of "corporate personhood," whereby the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as recently as last year that corporations enjoy the same free-speech rights as living, breathing people.

Harring, on the other hand, thinks the answer to corporate excess isn't the long arm of government, but rather the simple law of supply and demand. A case in point: Bank of America's just-announced plan to start charging customers $5 monthly fees to use their debit cards.

"That kind of ticked me off," said Harring, who dropped his account with Bank of America years ago. Still, he added, "If the American people were to wake up and say 'no, period' to the corporations, then it's going to hurt their business and they're not going to do it."

Without a doubt, Pete the Carpenter was speaking to his tea party base when he lambasted OccupyMaine in his blog as a collection of "useful idiots." He still thinks they need to lose the "entitlement mindset" and stop beating up on capitalism.

But the more Harring talked about the protesters Tuesday, the more he found himself conceding that "we've got something here that's kinda, sorta in common."

Meaning he, just like Colby, felt tugged toward Monument Square on Saturday?

"Yes, I did," Harring replied. "Because our country as a whole is in a world of mess right now. And if we continue going down the road fighting each other over 'right' and 'left' and stuff like that, we're just going to get nowhere."

Any ideas?

Suggested Demi the Protester, "The whole point of this movement is to respect each other's political, social and religious views (and) to come together in solidarity for a common goal."

Suggested Pete the Carpenter, "We need to be able to look out there and reach out and say, 'OK, what do we have in common?' Let's focus on fixing what we can agree on and we can quibble about all the other crap later on."


Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: bnemitz@mainetoday.com


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