Occupy the Agenda
The Occupy protests might have died in infancy if a senior police official had not pepper-sprayed young women on video. Harsh police measures in other cities, including a clash in
Just in the last few days, Bloomberg — who in other respects has been an excellent mayor — rescued the movement from one of its biggest conundrums. It was stuck in a squalid encampment in
I watched in downtown
Yet in a larger sense, the furor over the eviction of protesters in
The high ground that the protesters seized is not an archipelago of parks in
A reporter for Politico found that use of the words “income inequality” quintupled in a news database after the Occupy protests began. That’s a significant achievement, for this is an issue that goes to our country’s values and our opportunities for growth — and yet we in the news business have rarely given it the attention it deserves.
The statistic that takes my breath away is this: The top 1 percent of Americans possess a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.
A new study by Michael I. Norton of
In fact, the richest 20 percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of the country’s wealth. And the poorest 20 percent own one-tenth of 1 percent.
It would be easier to accept this gulf between the haves and the have-nots if it could be spanned by intelligence and hard work. Sometimes it can. But over all, such upward mobility in the
Research by the Economic Mobility Project, which explores accessibility to the American dream, suggests that the
The Occupy movement is also right that one of the drivers of inequality (among many) is the money game in politics. Michael Spence, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who shares a concern about rising inequality, told me that we’ve seen “an evolution from one propertied man, one vote; to one man, one vote; to one person, one vote; trending to one dollar, one vote.”
James M. Stone, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said in a recent speech that many members of Congress knew that banks needed to be more tightly regulated, perhaps broken into smaller pieces.
“So why was this not done?” he asked. “One obvious piece of the answer is that both political parties rely heavily on campaign contributions from the financial sector.”
The solution to these inequities and injustices is not so much setting up tents at bits of real estate here or there, but a relentless focus on the costs of inequality. So as we move into an election year, I’m hoping that the movement will continue to morph into: Occupy the Agenda.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs