As the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads across the country and grows larger by the day, Republican politicians are getting more vociferous in their condemnations. House Majority Leader (Eric Cantor (RTP-VA) called them a mob. Herman Cain told them to get a job. Glenn Beck said they [the demonstrators] “will come into your home, drag you out into the street, and kill you.”
One by one, GOP leaders from Congressman King (R-NY) to Herman Cain, Mitt Romney to Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain to Fox and Friends have all put down the movement saying it is “frightening”, “dangerous”, “drug addicted,” “class warfare,” and “un-American.” Newt Gingrich said it is the “result of bad schools teaching dumb ideas.” None of these comments were made about the Tea Party demonstrators who spit on Democratic Congressmen last year.
Has this grass roots movement hit a nerve at the Tea House?
Congressman King (R-NY) summed up their true feelings best. King said that these demonstrations reminded him of the 1960’s where people took to the streets, the media glorified them, and they started affecting policy.
Affecting policy. That is what the Republicans and their financial backers are afraid of. They fear that if the demonstrations continue, they could affect policy in ways Republicans and their wealthy benefactors abhor.
What led up to Occupy Everywhere? (It is beyond Wall Street now)
Congressman King is right when he compares this movement to the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960’s. Occupy Everywhere stated out when a handful of demonstrators camped out in New York to protest corporate greed. They were ignored until some members (mostly big shots) in the New York Police Department decided to use pepper spray on peaceful demonstrators, and the whole world watched it.
A nerve was struck by the publicity, and soon people in every state began to say to themselves, “I agree with them.” Average Americans realized they agree that we need to get corporate money out of politics. They agree we need a fair and equitable tax system, and we need to see justice done to the people who trashed our economy and remain un-punished. Pretty soon, the movement grew, and is growing.
The underlying cause of the national misery is economic inequality
What is happening in the streets of America is about more than un-employment, it is about the underlying inequalities in our economic system. These inequalities are responsible for our high unemployment and the misery felt by millions of American families.
Robert J. Samuelson wrote an Editorial in the Washington Post in which he noted that “The context for Occupy Wall Street and proposals to tax the rich…is the broader issue of economic inequality.” He said that “economists and politicians has spoken about this for years, but when most people are doing okay, the fact that some people are doing better does not arouse much anger.”
No more. When people are not doing well, they begin to resent the rich who are doing better. “Glaring inequalities that once seemed tolerable become offensive,” Samuelson wrote. Most people are not doing well today.
The inequalities in the economy are growing. From the end of World War II to the late 1970s, the richest 10 percent of Americans accounted for about 35% of total income, including capital gains (mostly stock profits). By 2007, the richest 10% rose to 50%, the level it was in 1929 just before the Great Depression.
As the demonstrators point out, most of the gain goes to the richest 1%, whose share of the entire nation’s wealth rose from about 10% in 1980 to 24% in 2007. It is still increasing at a rapid rate.
Wealth is not the only area of economic inequality. Wage disparity is growing as well. According to an article by Robert Pear in the New York Times, since the Recession began in 2007, wages for the average American family fell 9.8% to $49,909.
In a separate study, Henry S. Farber, an economics professor at Princeton, found that people who lost jobs in the recession and later found work again made an average of 17.5 % less than they had in their old jobs.
At the same time as the average family saw their wages drop, the wages of the top 1% have skyrocketed. Average earnings of the wealthy increased 11% in the same period that family incomes dropped nearly 10%. The earnings of the super rich grew by over 200% in the same period.
This has created the greatest disparity in earnings between the middle class and the wealthy since 1929. This is why the Occupy movement is growing.
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