Occupation of Corruption

Posted on October 19, 2011

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photo credit GunGirlNewYork

One month ago today, “Liberty Square” was founded in Lower Manhattan. Two thousand protesters from all walks of life marched into Zuccotti Park, kicking off a protest against corruption in the corporate world, the unchecked power of Wall Street, and the massive bank bailouts. Now, only one month later, 82 countries and over 1,500 protests around the world have taken up the same frustration felt by millions.

The Wall Street collapse in 2008 left millions without jobs, and some without homes. Bank foreclosures, unnaturally large bonuses, the ever growing gap between the upper class and the dissolving middle class, all coupled with the control corporations have over Washington D.C. even in today’s modern world: all of this has compelled thousands of protesters to raise their voice in anger. Bernie Sanders put it eloquently when he spoke about the necessity of coming together, “we desperately need a coming together of working people to stand up to Wall Street. We need to rebuild the middle-class in this country and you guys can’t have it all.”

However, while there are thousands, if not millions who seem quick to blame corporate greed and Wall Street, many disagree that banks are to blame. Many, such as Mitt Romney, look at the movement as “class warfare.”  Erick Erickson created a counter movement called “We are the 53%” due to the 47% of American entities that don’t pay income tax” (this 47% includes the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, GE, and Citigroup).   Some even attribute the stagnancy of the economy to Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. All in all, a general consensus of the opposition seems to be that the Occupy Wall Street protests are “whiny,” liberal, and lazy.

First of all, I’d like to plug the numbers. Everyone, in some point in time, has heard the staggering numbers facing the division of income, and the greed of the top 1%. Many have thought nothing of it, but I’d like to address them one more time. So, let’s review:

 

  • .       The top 1% of Americans own 83% of the nation in stocks.
  • .       In 1950, the income disparity between CEOs and their employees was 50 to 1. Now, it’s somewhere in between 300-500 to 1.
  • .       The bottom 40% of Americans own 1% of the nation. (The middle class, about 20% own 6% of the nation.)
  • .       The top 10% of Americans own 50% of the nation’s income.
  • .       32% of all manufacturing jobs in America were outsourced between 2001-2009.

 

As the middle class slowly disappears, and the income disparity reaches 500-1, one should seriously consider whether or not Mr. Romney is correct in saying that the Occupy Wall Street protests equate to class warfare. Karanja Gacuca, former Wall Street analyst turned OWS organizer, expressed the desires of the protesters, deemed class warriors by Romney. Gacuca proclaimed they are “concerned about the egregious Wall Street bonuses — particularly after the industry accepted a tax-payer bailout and the middle class continues to be squeezed”

He went on to say “I believe it’s time for a fairer system that provides health care, education, and opportunity for all, and rejects corporate influence over government.”

So, with income disparity and unemployment at record highs, does this protest truly stand for class warfare?

The Occupy Wall Street protesters come from every walk of life, and every political spectrum, from liberals to libertarians, young and old, from war veterans to corporate executives. President Obama commented on the protests, stating “I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country … and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place.”

The Occupy Wall Street protests represent a growing frustration felt throughout the entire country over the past decade. A left wing backlash to the far right ideals of the Tea Party could be developing before our own eyes. The concentrated anger of millions of Americans against Wall Street, who wrecked the economy three years ago, with no responsibility held against them, has been a long time coming. No single indictment or conviction has been conducted against those who tanked the entire country’s economy in 2008.

And yet, will all of these staggering statistics, the political sanity, and diversity, the Occupy Wall Street protests are still viewed as anarchistic, liberal, whiny, and disorganized college students with too much time on their hands and too much entitlement. On Bill Maher’s HBO prime time show Real Time, author P.J. O’Rourke, in response to Floridian Alan Grayson’s defense of the OWS protest: “Get the man a bongo drum! They’ve found their spokesman!”

Alan Grayson offered a rebuttal by saying “listen, if I am a spokesperson for all the people who think we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who cannot see a doctor when they’re sick, that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, okay. I’ll be that spokesman.”

Reported by Ian Siepker

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