What are you protesting? / What’s the Issue?
Most people who support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement call for reforming Wall Street and removing special interest influence from government. People are dissatisfied with how our country is being run and want fundamental, lasting change.
Specifically, the Occupy Movement is focused on raising awareness about the depth and breadth of the problems we face.
Our country has great economic disparity which has been increasing steadily for the last 40 years. The wealthiest 1% have been getting wealthier, while the average hourly wage in America has remained flat since the mid-sixties.
While the economy has grown, the working class and the middle class haven’t seen the fruits of this growth. Workers’ wages as a percentage of the economy are now at an all-time low. This was true in good times, and is even more obvious in bad times.
While this has been going on, corporate profits have spiked and are at an all-time high. So while many are struggling to put food on their tables, find work, or keep a roof over their heads, corporations are making more money than ever. The so-called “job-creators” are making more money than they ever have, but they are not using it to grow the economy and put more people to work.
The above factors paint a pretty bleak picture of the treatment of the average American by the most powerful. The U.S. ranks 93rd in the world in income equality measured by household. Countries ahead of us include China, Russia, India, and even Iran. These figures were compiled by the CIA.
Wealth inequality leads to political inequality. Incredible wealth in the hands of a few means those few have extraordinary influence over our democracy. Big corporate donors get the ear of our congresspeople while the regular citizens are ignored, unless they support what the corporations already want.
During this crisis, Washington continuously threatens to cut vital social programs and the wealthiest in this nation enjoy the lowest tax rate they’ve had since before 1945.
• Don’t the Rich pay most of the taxes? Why should they pay even more?
• What is “the 53%”?
Some critics of the Occupy movement have countered the “99%” number with “53%,” which refers to the percentage of Americans who pay income tax. This is a true: 47% of American taxpayers are poor enough that after exemptions and deductions, their income tax contributions into the collective kitty are paid back to them.When “I am the 53%” is used as a taunt, the intended implication is that “half of Americans don’t pay taxes”–and that is simply not true.
• Do the poor really pay no taxes?
A Stalled Economy
These days the banks that American taxpayers were tasked with bailing out are doing just fine, but are far from returning the favor. We were told we needed to bail the banks out so they could loan money to American businesses and keep the economy healthy. But they haven’t done that.
Instead banks have been buying treasury bonds and collecting money from the Federal Reserve Bank, who during the bailout started to pay them interest on the money they weren’t even lending. Because of this, in the first six months of 2011, the banks made $58 billion in profits. They still aren’t giving entrepreneurs loans to start businesses or small-business owners money to stay afloat and keep workers employed in a rough economy.