Osocio NL

Why I don’t like “I Don’t Pay”

Posted by Tom Megginson | 6-04-2012 18:09 | Category: Activism

Today I am writing about an action that made me really angry.


According to Adbusters:

“Last week, occupiers in New York City chained open subway entrances and posted official looking notices inviting the public to ride for free. Their innovative action caused an immediate sensation in the Occupy movement suggesting that similar jams will be carried out worldwide in May.”

The “I Don’t Pay” movement, started in Greece, to protest the mismanagement of public funds by governments who they say do not “care” for their citizens. They show their anger by shutting down the revenue streams of public transit systems and letting everyone ride for “free”:

To give full disclosure, I have done a fair share of transit advertising, including campaigns against fare evasion. But apart from professional interest, I am personally affronted by what these actions really do.

Public transit is essential for the sustainability of large cities. It is also depended upon by people who cannot afford or access other forms of urban transportation. People depend on public transit to get to work, to go shopping, to access healthcare, and simply to have a normal social life. Who are these dependent riders? They are “the 99%”.

I understand that the Occupy movement is attempting to state that public transit should be free of charge. As a transit rider and advocate, I’d love that too.

But I also know that even with paid fares, public transit systems struggle to make ends meet. They fight for public funding with every other priority, and provide services at a net loss. Systems are constantly having to reduce service because of economic downturns.

Could city governments decide free transit is their #1 priority, and make it happen? Of course they could, at the expense of other services such as waste removal, street maintenance, public health and other services that equally struggle for funds. And in a democracy, citizens would have to vote in a city council willing to make such a bold move. Short of this ideal transit world, however, systems will continue to depend on user fees in the form of fares to remain functional.

So who does Adbusters, Occupy and I Don’t Pay hurt by sabotaging fare collection on a large scale? Riders. Because if the system loses a big chunk of money, it will not be rescued by an increased tax on the 1% of affluent people. It will instead result in further cuts to public services, the very services that the other 99% depend on for their everyday lives. Meanwhile, the affluent will continue to ignore transit and drive to work.

I cannot understand how this action is supposed to anyone. It can only hurt the very people who need transit most. And that sucks.


Adbusters blog


Comments about Why I don't like

It’s anarchy masquerading as “activism”.

Posted by Me | 6-04-2012 19:37

Comments about Why I don't like

I have a lot of sympathy for protest movements in non-democratic countries, or for protest movements protecting minority rights in democratic countries, but protest movements that claim to speak for the majority in democratic countries are BS - the 99% control 99% of the votes, so they’re the ones who chose the status quo. Protesting is just an attempt to dodge responsibility for their own actions (or inaction) at the voting booth. That applies to both Tea Party and OWS, as well as these people.

Posted by David Megginson | 6-04-2012 20:03

Comments about Why I don't like

I think this is what is meant by the saying “stabbing elephant shadows”. Unfortunately many people lash out without really thinking, while others simply like a free ride, not unlike Goldman Sachs who started this whole thing in the first place.

Posted by Peter Drinnan | 7-04-2012 16:42

Comments about Why I don't like

I’ve never heard that saying before, Peter, but I love it!

Posted by Tom Megginson | 7-04-2012 16:45

My comment


Your comment will not be visible until a moderator approves it.

Some rights reserved 2005-2013 Osocio/Houtlust.
Disclaimer. Terms of use. Privacy statement.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Support us

Do you like our blog? Support us with a donation.
We're non-commercial. We all make Osocio pro bono in our spare time and we can use some support.

image of a graduation cap

Recent in Academy

Branding a time-bound campaign, Forest & Bird did it.

It’s not new but it is not often used: branding for a time-bound campaign. The kind of branding used for temporary purpose. Forest & Bird did it recently for their Love Nature: Vote 2014 campaign. New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation wanted nature back on the political agenda. The future…
Read more

Can fundraising marketers recreate the #icebucketchallenge?

Yesterday, it finally happened. Somebody challenged me to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. If your internet connection has been broken all summer, it’s this year’s big meme. You can read about it here. To be honest, I felt that the movement had passed its high-water mark when I saw…
Read more

About Osocio

Osocio is dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.
Read more

(the about page is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese 汉语/漢語, Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano, Nihongo 日本語, Ivrit עברית, Filipino, Polski, Português, Russian Русский язык, Slovenčina, Suomi, Svenska and Türkçe)