published Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Occupy Wall Street's cause

The Occupy Wall Street protest hasn't yet coalesced into a cohesive national awakening or movement yet. But as more Americans begin to understand its mission and logic, it may yet achieve status as a sort of counter-movement to the anti-government, anti-tax-equity tea party.

And well it should. Occupy Wall Street's grievances against the nation's financial power structure, and the political influence it exploits to keep a wildly disproportional share of America's economic wealth in the hands of a relatively tiny financial elite, merits a major overhaul. Because without a fairer financial system and a more equitable tax structure, the nation's vast middle class -- which is say all American wage-and-salaried earners up to the top 1 percent of the income spectrum -- will continue getting shafted. And the economy and job market, absent the driving force of consumer spending, will continue to weaken apace.

To better understand the nation's wealth-and-income gaps that spark the protesters' concerns, consider just three groups. The bottom 90 percent of American earners have an average income of just over $32,000 and control just 26.9 percent of the nation's wealth. The top 10-to-1 percent of earners have an average income of nearly $165,000 and control 38.5 percent of the nation's wealth. The top 1 percent alone have an average income of over $1.1 million, and control 34.6 percent of the nation's wealth.

Averages, of course, are somewhat distorting. If you earn around $67,000 a year, you're in the top 25 percent of earners. You get in the top 10 percent with an income of more than $113,000.

But the super wealth is found in the top 0.01 percent, where average annual incomes are over $27 million. It's this group of mega-millionaires and billionaires that includes the top 400 families which have more income than fully half of this nation's earners.

A bit more broadly, it's the huge wealth and income of the top 1 percent that accumulates exponentially on investment income pegged at the low 15 percent rate on dividends. This low rate, well below the 25-to-30 percent income tax rates paid by most taxpayers, just keeps widening the nation's income and wealth gaps. These gaps in the United States are now the worse among all industrial nations. Small wonder the richest 1 percent has captured more than half of the nation's income growth since 1993.

Occupy Wall Street protesters -- and their growing league of cohorts in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and other cities -- are reasonably protesting the TARP bailout and tax privileges accorded the banking and investment industries, and the surreal government policies that foster and perpetuate America's alarmingly destructive income-and-wealth inequalities.

The evidence lies all around us. Teachers, firemen, policeman and job holders in all fields have been laid off in large numbers around the country, and left to struggle with home foreclosures, joblessness, lack of health care insurance and gross insecurity. Meanwhile, investment and banking barons have made out like bandits before and since the financial implosion of 2008-09. The incomes of the top 1 percent have soared, while income for the rest of Americans in inflation-adjusted dollars has declined.

Ironically, Republican political leaders and their Republican cable faux news station, which promoted the tea party and its tough-talking, gun-carrying sidekicks at its early rallies, have lambasted the mild-mannered Occupy Wall Street protesters for their so-called "class warfare."

Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republicans' House Majority Leader, said he was "increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and other cities across the country." Never mind, of course, the sign-carrying protesters weren't "mobs," and they were quickly confined by New York City's police to an off-Wall Street site.

There is class conflict here, but it's not the protesters imposing the war and doing the damage. It's the politicians on both sides, but predominantly Republicans, who have become the indentured puppets of their super-rich campaign donors, and who are inflicting the economic damage on Americans.

They do their corporate bidding, as well, allowing corporations, which now hold record profits and are not investing in jobs in America, to stash both their cash and their jobs off-shore. That is further hollowing out the American middle class and the prospects for our children.

The protesters' next step should be Occupy Congress. Things won't change until their voices are heard there.

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conservative said...

What a surprise!, another Marxist, Socialist diatribe. Let's see if we can stir up envy and covetousness in the "have nots" today. Let's point out that there are rich and well- off people out there, an oldie but goodie and a very successful tactic. Then will move on to "banking barons" , corporations wth their "record profits" and finish up with Republican bashing.

October 13, 2011 at 9:09 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Well written and spot on! Con calls everything socialism and marxism. Con, how do you manage in a world so socialistic? Calling out the truth is not envy. Sorry Con, your false flag doesn't work on the educated.

October 13, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

"Let's see if we can stir up envy and covetousness in the 'have nots' today. Let's point out that there are rich and well-off people out there, an oldie but goodie and a very successful tactic." - conservative

Yes, if it weren't for articles like these, stirring up the envy, I wouldn't even be aware that that there are "rich and well-off people" out there to envy. So I guess this editor succeeded in stirring up that ol' envy stew in the minds of us "have-nots." Yes indeedy, I'm so full of envy right now I can't see straight!

It's funny how people like conservative always, always, always make the claim that we liberals hate the rich so much because, deep down, we really envy them. Of course, that is BS. The reality is that it is the right wing dorks like him who defend the rich all the time who are eaten up with envy. They always follow up their argument with the claim that if people worked as hard as those industrious all-American paragons of virtue do, maybe one day we can BE those rich one-percenters. That too is pure BS.

Sure, everybody wants to be comfortable and live a good, well rounded life, and of course it takes money to do that. But the amount of money that the super-rich have is insanely disproportionate to the needs and wants of any normal person. No matter which way you look at it the income disparity in this country is off-the-charts crazy and out of balance. I don't care which economic philosophy you believe in, we cannot be a strong, healthy nation without a strong and healthy middle class. It serves the best interests of no one, not even the super rich, after all is said and done, for the income disparity to remain this wide.

You conservatives feel free to play the envy card against us liberals and "have-nots" all you want, but we all know it is you who are eaten up with the envy. My god, your obsequious boot-licking and a@#-kissing and your constant defense of the poor maligned rich folk is so over-the-top its disgusting.

October 13, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
conservative said...

Hate often blinds. Taxing the " rich" is not going to increase the salary of of the bottom 90% of wage earners who average $32,000 per year. Hate can easily drive up your blood pressure instead. Remember "free" health care hasn't kicked in yet.

October 13, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.
timbo said...

Rickaroo..... A lot of us started with nothing, built a company, and created jobs. We put up our houses and spent our savings to crawl out on a skinny little limb. Without people who take risks, you and the rest of these socialists would have to go to Greece to get a free ride instead of having a job in the U.S. It is no wonder that you think a 2nd rate, part-time, lawyer/community organizer is such a good president. He hasn't done anything or run anything either.

If you want to start a company and give all your earnings to your employees and the government, you are free to do so. I worked hard, created something, and take care of my employees. It is not up to you or your little friends how much money I make. I am not one bit ashamed sitting at my desk, at work, on my 14th hour today while my employees are at home watching sitcoms. They didn't take a chance, invest their savings, or work 14 hours a day. So to hell with you and the rest of you complainers.

As far as the protests by the anti-Wall Street crowd, they are a bad copy of what the Tea Party did and will fizzle as soon as a new show comes out on Nickelodeon.

October 13, 2011 at 9:34 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Timbo, no one begrudges you your efforts in creating your wealth or starting a business, including Rickaroo and his "little friends". As for your comment that "They didn't take a chance, invest their savings, or work 14 hours a day.", please note that not everyone can create a business but many people work long hours, invest their savings in 401K's, IRA's, homes, etc. They, like yourself, take risks and only ask for a fair playing field.

The "little friends" that you disparage are creating jobs by consumption. I'm sure as a businessman you understand this concept. Your business is only as good as the ability of consumers to purchase your products or services.

As for your contempt of the efforts of citizens to stop or bring attention to the abuses of Wall Street, I can only say that apparently you choose to ignore the past history of those abuses which have brought this country to its knees on several occasions.

October 14, 2011 at 7:46 a.m.
conservative said...

"The protesters' next step should be Occupy Congress. Things won't change until their voices are heard there". There was a vastly greater protest by the American people in the mid-term elections. The Demoncrats lost 6 seats in the Senate, over 60 house seats,6 governerships and over 680 seats in state legislatures. Obamination himself stated in an interview that the elections would be a referendum on his policies. American voices were heard in round 1, round 2 is next.

October 14, 2011 at 9:21 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

CNN poll shows 70% with the OWS / 30% with the tea party. Wake up! Chattanooga may live in a bubble, but the nation is speaking loud and clear. The more arrests, the louder it will be.

October 14, 2011 at 1:22 p.m.
jimfromthebay said...

round 2 may well be the noise of voter's remorse for their DO NOTHING BUT OBSTRUCT '10 choices.

October 24, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.
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