Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Economics of Protesting

For any University students enrolled in Finance courses this semester, I have an idea for a term paper; the Economics of Protesting. Net benefits to the people doing the protesting, the commercial printing of signs and other infrastructure, marketing costs, giving out free food on a hockey fan migratory path on game day, and so on and so forth. I understand that some protest movements get free advertising from the media, but surely there is a financial structure behind this industry. Protesting is an industry with a structure that needs to be further deconstructed, if not infiltrated. I support the right to peaceful non-violent protests that do not block traffic; but once it veers into the domain of criminal activity, I draw a line.

In Vancouver the Anti-Poverty Commission is the primary vehicle for protest movements, and the same people often double as Anti-Globalization activists. If a protest is only as significant as the total number of people attending, these are the people at the core of that social network. If they can lure normal people into attendance via radio advertising and free food, all the better. I do have some life experience from my childhood with the Anti-Fur lobby. These people have been around for a while. Today its modern incarnation is PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. My grandfather was a hunter/trapper who owned a tourist camp and took tourists hunting and fishing. My father worked for a time as an auctioneer in the fur business. As a child, many of our family vacations were to fur conventions and among my fondest memories. If you think PETA is crazy in 2010, they were just as nuts in 1984; there are just more cameras around now. We used to call them "the Anties'. I may co-write a book about it some day with my father.

1 comment:

  1. You are right Iceman, protesting has become an industry. PETA activists not only get a remuneration, they also get to go all over the world.
    Ah... so there was food served at the protest in Vancouver eh?! That must have brought in at least 100 hobos to join the march. I have seen panhandlers aplenty in Vancouver, especially in your downtown core.
    What an excellent idea to lure the guys with food. Geez!!