The media last week made headline news of the removal of Occupy protesters from Auckland’s Aotea Square. The TV images of mega phoned protesters being manhandled by police were ghostly reminiscent of the demonstrations by tens of thousands of New Zealanders who mobilised weekly against the Vietnam War and nuclear tests in the 1970s and  the Bastion Point eviction . And of course the  anti-tour demonstrations in 1981.

On radio as the removal unfolded the insulting comments made by overactive and overpaid talk-back hosts Paul Holmes and Larry Williams about Auckland’s Occupy protestors showed only that they were more concerned about their ratings. Right wing flappers. At least Christchurch broadcaster/poet Gary McCormack brought a more balanced view by drawing attention to the fact that the Occupy movement is about more than the browning of the grass where dissidents have put up their tents.

The issues of economic inequality raised by the Occupy movement will not just go away. Those who made the 2011 NBR Rich List earned $7billion more than in 2010. The rich get richer the poor are getting more and more pissed off.

Now musicians worldwide are climbing on the Occupy bandwagon. Among a plethora of websites is www.occupymusicians.com which has seen thousands of musicians including Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, David Crosby and Neil Finn sign up for the cause. These more established musicians are walking shoulder to shoulder in cyberspace with young alt, metal and folk musicians claiming the moral high ground for the 99%.

It's an uneasy alliance to look in on.'Occupy' as a vehicle of protest for successful mainstream musicians has some problems. Many high profile musicians are multi millionaires who have made their money from peddling homogenised pop to the poor. But some how we have been immune to this paradox. Musicians standing up for the rights of the disenfranchised is not a new phenomenon – Geldof, Bono and  Springsteen have all somehow managed to espouse ideologies of social concern while being involved in major label deals. Even American Idol, the new face of corporate music, donates to the starving in Africa.

Altruism now has many (confusing)  faces.Will the real good guys" please stand up, please stand up"??

We are long way now from the elegance of living simply and natural austerity – principles that were practised by our first politicised musicians.

Troubadour Woody Guthrie who made his name writing songs of protest in the American dustbowl of the 1930s famously had a hand written sign on his guitar proclaiming “This Guitar Kills Fascists”. Guthrie was squarely part of the 99%, not in it for the money. Alongside one of his songs in a songbook he once wrote:

"This song is copyrighted in the USA under Seal of Copyright #154085. Anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, ‘cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

It’s a long way too from the dust bowl to the gross Super bowl performance by Madonna this week.

The message vs money dilemma must be top of mind for soul singer/rapper Oloe Blacc ( …or is it?) who is on yet another New Zealand tour this week on the back of his smash single I Need a Dollar. (“...a dollar is what I need.  Hey hey.”).  On the plus side Blacc has a history of donating royalties to causes such as AIDS awareness. But irony abounds in a lyric about unemployment and the current recession occupying the Top 20 charts worldwide and generating thousands of dollars in royalties for him and his record company. Hey, hey... Buddy, can you spare a dime?