published Monday, November 28th, 2011

The Occupiers' achievement

Whether the Occupy Wall Street movement and its local offshoots have been helped or hurt by the wrong-headed, needlessly brutal police tactics deployed against the occupiers by mayors and elite university executives across the country depends on your perspective. Americans who understand what the movement represents likely would give it credit for illuminating the enormous income inequality that mars the soul of the nation and wrecks our notions of equity, prosperity and a supposedly classless and upwardly mobile society.

As the protesters have emphasized, their initiative is to advance economic justice for "the other 99 percent" of Americans -- not just the top echelon of the top 1 percent of Americans whose fortunes Congress -- mainly Republicans -- so assiduously protects and nurtures.

The actual figures reflecting unfair economic treatment are not hard to come by. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute reports that the top 1 percent of Americans now possess greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent. That makes America more divided by a financial aristocracy than any of the European nations that were once know for such class divisions. The income of the top 1 percent, another study shows, grew 10 times faster in the 2002-2007 period than the income of the bottom 90 percent.

It's not really the top 1 percent that does so well. Though most of the people in this super-wealthy category make more than $1 million annually, it's the top tenth of the top 1 percent -- the megamillionaires and billionaires -- that has accrued truly enormous wealth under the Republican-driven tax-cut policies for the wealthy of the last few decades.

This ultra-rich slice takes fully 50 percent of the nation's capital-gains and the rich benefits of the Bush tax-cuts on those gains. Thus its effective tax on income is far lower, as a percentage, than that most any secretary or working class American would pay.

Other figures suggest the larger-picture of our top-heavy income disparities. The top 20 percent of Americans own more than 85 percent of the nation's wealth, while the poorest 20 percent own just one-tenth of 1 percent.

And the ultra rich, under unfairly advantageous tax policies, are getting richer faster than ever. From 1992 to 2007, the incomes of the top 400 ultra-wealthy earners saw their incomes increase by nearly 400 percent, while their average tax rate fell by 37 percent. The incomes of the bottom 90 percent of American households, of course, either barely stayed even with inflation in that period, or fell on an inflation-adjusted basis.

If ordinary Americans were making fair economic progress, and enjoying regular wage and benefit increases, the divide between middle class and ultra-wealthy wouldn't be such an issue. But that's not the case. Too many ceo's are make multi-million-dollar salaries and bonuses mainly by freezing wages, cutting employees and whacking benefits.

Income inequality is at its highest level since 1928. And Republicans want to worsen it by cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and other vital social programs while extending unsustainable tax cuts for the super-rich. None of this makes sense, or is just.

That's why the scene at the University of California-Davis, where campus police Lt. John Pike casually doused a line of peacefully sitting Occupy protesters with a sickening bomb of pepper-spray about their heads and faces, has become a potent Internet symbol for the occupation movement. At its essence is the contrast of government lackeys acting to protect the interests of America's corporate and financial zillionaires over those of citizens urging reform of this nation's crippling income disparities, and the broad social injustice that flows from it.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has served to illuminate the nation's economic inequalities. It's occupation tactics may be running out of steam, but the message has been heard. The movement's challenge now is to find a more sustainable way to rally Americans around this common cause.

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sandyonsignal said...

The economic disparity is so great in our country that most of Africa, Asia, Europe, India, Libya have it better than us. We are on par with the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Rwanda for income equality. See the Atlantic.

Obama's proposal "the Buffet Rule' would narrow this gap and bring more income fairness to our country. This is a shameful thing. The middle class is going away, thanks to 30 years of Republican economic scams. Trickle down doesn't work. Tax the rich. Their greed knows no bounds.

November 28, 2011 at 7:26 a.m.
conservative said...

Well Silly, you left no doubt that you are a victum of Marxist thinking. Those poor people over there dying of starvation, disease, living on the ground, with no health care and no hope would surely disagree with you about being better off than Americans.

You may have been out of the country when even the NY Times, Puffington Post, Useless Today, and the Washington Post to name a few, ran stories revealing that 47% of American households pay NO federal income taxes. The rich carry the largest burden of income taxes in America. If you Google "who pays taxes in America" you will find you have been used and exploited. Now don't get angry with the messenger, get angry instead with those who have exploited you.

November 28, 2011 at 9:08 a.m.

Same old boring saw SandyOS? Marxism didn't make this country great, God, family, common sense, freedom, and hard work made this country great. Creeping marxism is why the middle class is disappearing not capitalism.

November 28, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
librul said...

Hey Conservathug - when you have no job or you scrape by on minimum wage, you pay little or no taxes. It is the corporations and mega-rich capitalist elites who employ tax lawyers and CPAs to ferret out loopholes so they can avoid taxes who are the REAL problem, but you're too ignorant to see that - heck you may be one of them. Those "job creators" who have taken food from the mouths of millions in this country by eliminating their jobs will one day be eaten by them. Justice will come! And Bon Appetit to them!!!!!

November 28, 2011 at 11:14 a.m.
lumpy said...

"The Occupiers'achievement" You mean the feces, filth and crimes left in their wake? What a load, literally.

Sandy and librul you truly are "useful idiots". Just stooges.

Morons. The poorest in this country have cell phones and ipads.

The OWS "movement" was composed of lazy, envious and greedy people who want what others have worked hard for. It figures that Obama said that they're the reason he got into politics.

Disgusting. I'm not sure I'll support Gingrich, but his statement that the OWS horde should get a job after they take a bath is right on the mark. What you lefties need to do is get the f@@k out of the and stop tryng to interfere in everyone's lives.

November 28, 2011 at 11:49 a.m.
conservative said...

Lieberal---

You are being used and exploited. Don't get angry with the messenger, get angry with those who have used and exploited you.

November 28, 2011 at noon
Rickaroo said...

Con-man just can't stop reapeating that figure - 47%. He's so fixated on it, he repeats it over and over again, in almost every comment he makes. It's stuck on his brain like a wart on a witch's nose. I think he would mention it even if the discussion was grandma's recipe for oatmeal cookies.

In 1980 the average compensation of the CEOs of American companies was 40 times that of the average worker. Today it is over 500 times. If workers' wages had kept pace with the CEOs, the average wage today would be $200,000 a year. And don't tell me that CEOs are so smart or they work so hard that they deserve such ridiculously large compensation. Many CEOs get bonuses in the millions even when they perform poorly and are let go.

The income disparity in this country is utterly insane. Nothing will improve economically until it is brought back into balance.

November 28, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.

"The income of the top 1 percent, another study shows, grew 10 times faster in the 2002-2007 period than the income of the bottom 90 percent". "And the ultra rich, under unfairly advantageous tax policies, are getting richer faster than ever. From 1992 to 2007, the incomes of the top 400 ultra-wealthy earners saw their incomes increase by nearly 400 percent, while their average tax rate fell by 37 percent. The incomes of the bottom 90 percent of American households, of course, either barely stayed even with inflation in that period, or fell on an inflation-adjusted basis". WAKE UP Republican Automatons!!!!!!!! It's this simple we all know it will it take the downfall of a nation before you all get your heads out of your arses?? Not 1 single member of the 1% even reads this paper! Why then is Chattanooga a brothel for the Republican party? I'm not sure what scares me more. The fact that most of Chattanooga's populace are so devoutly ignorant of the Republicans obvious bias or the fact that this country is failing because of clearly obvious decisions made by Republicans!!! Is it the guilt for having caused our current state of affairs or is it just plain stupidity???????

November 28, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.
conservative said...

Reekaroo----

You are being used and exploited. Don't get angry with the messenger, get angry with those who have used and exploited you.

November 28, 2011 at 12:54 p.m.
timbo said...

Harry, it seems that you must be smoking the same thing some of these Occupiers are smoking. The only movement this bunch looks like is a bowel movement. If the media didn't hype these losers, we wouldn't even give them a second thought.

I don't know what "percent" I am in, but it isn't the same percent as these fools.

November 28, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
EaTn said...

When all the smoke and bull settles and the TP and OWS find they share a significant amount in common, then the Wall Street and Washington gang will mess in their pants because they know the party's over.

November 28, 2011 at 2:35 p.m.

@timbo-

Your in the 99% genius! Thats why this country is so f'd up. And what does looks have to do with rights or equality. Are you suggesting that appearance should be the determining factor in all issues addressed in protests? I'm sure every minority in the nation would love to take a shot at answering that one for you. Does the color,age,religion,sex,sexual orientation etc.. define any american's rights. Last but not least but far. Smoking the same thing as they are. Really? Timbo i laugh at you and your poor attempts to justify the half-assed reasoning that obviously permeates your everyday life. The fact that you and I are given the freedom to voice ourselves in an open forum with the convenient security of a random profile name is 100% the same as what the Occupy protest is doing. The only difference is they have the courage and belief that this once great Nation can be so again! You can only hope to one day have the backbone to stand up for yourself regardless of Closed minded ridicule!!!!!

November 28, 2011 at 4:12 p.m.

Why are you harping about the income of the 1% rising? That sounds like envy to me. They must be doing something right. Why don't you find out what it is and emulate them instead of trying to make them out to be bad guys by making the FALSE statement that they have some sort of tax advantages that you couldn't get if you were doing the same thing. They pay more taxes than the losers who are trying to stir up this class war in order to accomplish their anti-capitalist goals. That means they contribute more to society than the whiners of OWS. The OWS movement is being pushed by people who hate freedom, individuality and capitalism and want a free ride.

Get off your lazy butt, study something that you can use to make money instead of spending your time on theater arts or the techniques of the impressionist masters. You will have plenty of time to waste on that stuff when you make it into the 1%. Get to work. Playing the class warfare/envy game won't get you anywhere. Oh and the OWS movement doesn't represent the 99%. A more accurate number would be 5%. The whole thing is just misdirection to relieve the pressure the Tea Party is putting on progressive politicians. They are feeling the heat and are regaining their fear of the american people. They see 2012 coming and know they won't survive the election with their seats intact if they can't keep the illegal votes and find new ways to commit voter fraud.

November 29, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
fairmon said...

sandyonsignal....

Tax the wealthy all you want, say 55% of all over $250,000 which will not even show up when looking at a 1.7 trillion dollar annual deficit. The question is how will taxing some more help those with low incomes earn more?

What are your fine members of congress and the administration doing to enable U.S. companies that make things to compete on a golbal basis so they need/hire more people and are able to provide decent pay and benefits and meet their obligation to stock holders that provided the money to build the business?

November 29, 2011 at 8:39 p.m.
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