Occupy Wall Street, the 99%, and All That
The Occupy Wall Street movement does not lack a unified message. What they're saying is perfectly clear to me. (See also: Peak Debt and Income)
To understand Occupy Wall Street, start with the people who say "We are the 99 percent." (That link goes to a site with statements from people who aren't in the top 1% of wealth and income. Pretty much by definition, that's just about everybody.)
To understand the 99%, begin with recognizing that their incomes have been stagnant for 40 years — a period during which the income of the top 1% has soared. Also, recognize the reason this happened — the reason things changed from prior decades during which the middle class got their full share of economic growth — is a long list of changes to laws, regulations, common practices, policies, and procedures.
What the 99% want is economic justice. But they don't have a single "demand," because there's no single thing that produced this result. (See above: long list of changes.) Instead, they see a long list of things that are wrong:
- An unfair foreclosure process
- Government bailouts of big business (with the money ending up in the hands of the same executives that put the company at risk in the first place)
- Unrelenting efforts to strip workers of the rights to organize and to have a safe workplace
- A system of higher education that saddles students with a decade of debt
- A healthcare system that bankrupts people without insurance — and denies insurance to anyone who's sick
That's what the Occupy Wall Street movement is trying to fix — a political and economic system where the extremely wealthy (and the corporations they own) buy laws and regulations to ensure that future economic growth (like the economic growth of the past 40 years) continues to flow into the hands of the 1%.
All of my posts are aimed at helping people live large on a small budget. Some are about tactics (how to spend less, how to get more for what you spend), some are about strategy (how to design your life for living large), and some are about understanding the economy (to help you do your own strategic and tactical thinking). I'd like to think this post fits into that third category.