Occupy Pittsburgh – Yurting for Winter

The economic miscreants at Occupy Pittsburgh are trying to settle in for the long haul over winter, assuming they don’t meet the same fate as the original occupiers in NYC. They apparently have realized that tents just won’t cut it for the long haul. Winter is going to hurt if they can’t have some heat to sleep with. To avoid the hurt, they’re going to yurt.

Yes, yurt. What is a yurt, you ask? According to a website linked by Occupy Pittsburgh, a yurt is “a circular portable shelter used by Central Asian nomads for over 2000 years, recently adapted for Western use.” Our local occupiers are asking for assistance building what they’re calling “hexayurts”. The occupiers want them because they are “wind proof, water proof, and safe for a heater installation.” They are also looking for “creative floor ideas.” Somebody evidently suggested that wooden pallets would be good, except that if they used pallets with spaces – i.e. most such items – “We may help the rats make a nest for winter.” Glad they’re worried about that. Plague and other rat-borne diseases can be a real bitch, particularly if you only have a tent and not a yurt to convalesce in. So then, what do our occupiers need to construct their yurts?

Before we get into materials, let’s take a look at the occupiers’ principles. The Occupy Pittsburgh General Assembly adopted the original Occupy Wall Street statement of purpose on October 12, 2011, no doubt with very fervent “up twinkles”. Here’s some of the things they stand against:

  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity…
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence…
  • They have spent millions of dollars…[to] look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance…
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil…
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine…
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction…

You get the drift. I excerpted the above because they speak to hypocrisy of the occupiers, for, what does it take to build a yurt?

The first material they link on their page is “JVCC 762-BD Bi-Directional Filament Strapping Tape” (suggested for pre-order, about $21 a roll); heavy-duty polypropylene reinforced with fiberglass threads. Each yurt will require a minimum of 1-to-1 1/2 rolls of 4-inch wide tape. For the structure, they list 4×8-foot “Tuff-R” insulation boards; I’m assuming ones that are 1-inch or more thick. They then suggest “Go to home depot [sic]…and find the materials.”

So, off to Home Depot we go. According to the company’s annual report for their fiscal year ended January 30, 2011 the home improvement store king yanked nearly $68 billion out of the pockets of their customers, and showed a net profit when all was said and done of $3.338 billion – after they paid $1.935 billion in taxes to our government. Oh, and between their 2,248 stores, they also employ 321,000 people – around 142 jobs per store.

I’m a regular shopper at Home Depot; fact of life of being a homeowner. (Full disclosure: I actually pay my mortgage, and I actually read all the documents before I signed on the dotted line so I knew exactly what I was getting into.) Funny, it seems like every time I go there – at least once a week – they’re looking for new employees. Occupiers, take note: when you go to get your yurt materials, how about applying for a job?

Let’s say this week on my trip to HD, I’m going to buy materials so I can build the yurt of my heart’s content in my back yard, just in case I ever have to occupy somewhere. If I didn’t pre-order my tape as Occupy Pittsburgh suggested, I’ll probably find that the right tape at HD will be made by 3M. For 2010, 3M had revenues of $26.6 billion and a profit of almost $4.1 billion – after paying $1.59 billion in taxes.True, they employ 32,955 people in the United States – and 80,057 world-wide – but really, how can Occupy Pittsburgh justify helping this company gain revenue and make profits? Who really is 3M? Let’s look at their Board of Directors!

How about Edward M. Liddy? Mr. Liddy is a former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Allstate, an insurance company! The last year he was with Allstate (2008), the company lost money, but when you total up the preceding four years, they still came out almost $12.9 billion in the black. There’s more to Mr. Liddy though! He’s also on the board of Abbott Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company! In 2010, Abbott profited to the tune of $4.63 billion. And, to hit on the occupiers concerns about weapons manufacturers, he also sits on the board of Boeing! Boeing, maker of warplanes and weapons large and small, made 2010 profits of $3.3 billion on revenues of $64.3 billion – and they have the audacity to try and open a factory in a right-to-work state! The real kicker for Liddy’s credentials? He was appointed to be the interim CEO of AIG to oversee the bailout and dismantling of the company. A real OWS hero!!!

Mr. Liddy is a great example, but what of W. James Farrell? He sits on Abbott’s board with Liddy! He’s also connected to Allstate! Robert S. Morrison sits on the board of Aon, another insurance company. Vance D. Coffman sits on the board of Amgen (biotechnology/pharmaceuticals, 2010 income $4.627 billion), and is the retired (2005) Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, another large defense contractor (2005 profit: $1.825 billion). Michael E. Eskew, retired Chairman/CEO of United Parcel Service, is a board member for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Company (2010 profits: $5.07 billion).

Gosh! If I’m an occupier and want to be intellectually honest (doubtful!) there’s simply no way I can buy that 3M tape. I can’t just keep lining the pockets of those evil, corporate types! Ok, the tape is out, but what of the aforementioned “Tuff-R” insulation boards I’d use for my yurt’s structure?

It turns out that “Tuff-R” is a name-brand of Dow Building Solutions, a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company! In 2010, Dow pulled in $53.67 billion in revenues and turned a profit of $2.3 billion. They also paid $481 million in taxes. Worldwide, Dow employs 45,905 people. They paid those people a total of $5.711 billion in wages and $1.653 billion in benefits; $7.364 billion in total. That works out to an average of $148,767.67 per employee. I think they probably pay fairly. In benefits alone, they are paying $36,009 per employee – I bet they have pretty good health coverage and educational reimbursement for that kind of amount.

Now, Dow Chemical is a favorite target of environmentalists – just Google it. If that isn’t enough to dissuade a faithful occupier from buying Tuff-R panels for yurt construction, we could do the whole Board of Directors exercise again. I’m not going to go through all the details, but Dow’s directors are connected to Hess Corporation (oil, energy), H.J. Heinz (big food), Marathon Oil (oil, energy), Boeing (defense), Aetna (health insurance), Unilever (food & personal care products), and others.

No occupier who actually believes in the movement’s principles could build and live in a yurt constructed with the materials specified. Unless of course, they’re perfectly comfortable with the rank hypocrisy of continuing to enable the very corporate, capitalist system they so despise. Given the voluntary squalor they have chosen to live in they’re okay with rank smells…maybe it’s a sign of consistency after all!

In closing, let me make something abundantly clear. I am in no way disparaging or “calling out” the companies and individuals listed here. I love capitalism. The individuals listed are all hard working men and women of very high achievement and ability. Each and every one of them is solely entitled to all their own wealth and I reject the notion that anyone has a claim to their riches. I am glad that each and every one of the companies used as examples has been able to employ people, create and deliver high-quality products to customers – and accumulate as much profit as possible. Their profits would be higher were it not for the confiscatory taxation imposed by our government, as well as the crushing burden of regulatory compliance. I hope they all make greater profits each and every year. I hope all the executives and board members make the largest wages they can. I hope all these companies grow, and grow, and grow – and therefore employ more, enriching more.

You want to live in a yurt? Fine. Go do it. I’ll enjoy my mega-builder constructed house, with my global-megacorp produced roof shingles to keep me dry and furnace to keep me warm. When you break it down though, your yurt is every bit as corporate.

Now occupiers, please return to your alternate reality and the delusion that you are in the right.

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