The Occupy Auckland protest group in Aotea Square, according to its Facebook page, "challenges unequal wealth and power distribution", and has been for a while now. So how are they doing?
I can't think of two more conspicuous examples of unequal wealth and power distribution than the Prime Minister and his new BFF (Best Fawning Friend) John Banks and, last time I looked, they both seemed pretty chipper. So maybe the movement isn't achieving an awful lot.
I don't know why they call it an Occupy movement. The only thing they are occupying is their days, which are taken up with sitting around. It would more accurately be called a Take Up a Bit of Space and Not Really Get in Anyone's Way movement.
The protesters are mainly middle class - you can tell by counting their piercings - and are almost exclusively rather dim, which you can tell by listening to what they say, which is next to nothing.
It has plenty of support, with about 5000 likes on that Facebook page. (It in turn likes many pages, including Campbell Live, the Wine Cellar and Billy T James.) But support doesn't translate into results unless you have an aim. Occupy Wall St was an almost exciting idea when it first occurred. Blocking activity on the real street of commercial shame had something going for it. As a metaphor, it was eloquent, almost poetic. But the trouble with spontaneous protests is that they tend not to be well organised. Even those New York pioneers didn't achieve much more than making a few people late for their buses.
The most notable thing about Occupy protests around the world is the herd-like mentality of those taking part. As anarchists go, they are easily led. From the way the movement grew ("Oh, look a bunch of people getting together somewhere and staying there. Let's do that.") to what they do when they get there (bugger all) this has to be one of highest profile yet least effective protest movements ever.
It's impossible to disagree with the observation that for 99 per cent of the world's people to have 1 per cent of the world's wealth is Not A Good Thing. But we have known this for a long time.
If you want to inspire me to action, you will have to do a little more than tell me what I already know. You will have to give me a few options for doing something about it, preferably ones with more effect than going somewhere and sitting down.
End apartheid. Bring the troops home. Ban the bomb. These are calls to action, not opinions. The Occupy protesters' message boils down to "something should be done about it". There is no weaker phrase in the English language.
As annoying as the misguided doings of the Occupiers are, at least we live in a country where they have the freedom to do it - and the legal backing to continue doing it. Unfortunately, this also means that operators like Chrisco has the freedom to do what it does.
Chrisco has been proudly profiting from the underclass - or "making it easy to enjoy a magical Christmas" - since 1977. For those who don't read their junk mail, the company works by encouraging members of the underclass to contribute a weekly amount which, at the end of the year, entitles them to a Christmas stocking containing a selection of gaudy crud. They'd be better putting $5 a week under the mattress.
But you can't accuse Chrisco of lacking entertainment value. Just last month, it was in the news over a controversial offering. As a deadpan report in the Herald on Sunday described it: "Customers can choose between muskets, pistols, revolvers and a giant 1.5L rifle, made from glass and filled with rum, tequila or vodka. The products cost between $75 and $300 and will arrive in time for Christmas Day."
Nothing says Christmas quite like a replica firearm full of piss.
Now the company has been done for stinging its victims with unlawful cancellation fees when the latter find out they need to spend their money on food rather than a Glock full of cognac.
A Chrisco mouthpiece said the company had been "working with" - corporate speak for "trying to wriggle out from under" - the Commerce Commission for three years on the issue. That's your money being tied up while Chrisco tries to justify its practices.
With its target market of gullible and impoverished people, Chrisco has been compared to the instant-finance loan sharks who also afflict the underclass. But loan sharks let people decide what they will spend their money on. Chrisco locks them into "hamper" deals with a small selection of banal options.
On their website, the company calls what it does "magic". I agree. Getting poor people to pay more than they need to for something not worth having in the first place is a pretty neat trick.
MISSING MICHAEL LAWS YET?