Money Mic: Why I’m Protesting Wall Street

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People have a lot of opinions about money and the economy.

In our “Money Mic” series, we hand over the podium to someone with a strong opinion on a financial topic. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.

Today, Carey Tan, an active member of the Occupy Wall Street protest, shares why she’s been spending her nights and weekends in New York City’s Zuccotti Park. 

Some people seem downright perplexed about why I have devoted so much of my time in the last week to the Occupy Wall Street movement. (Learn more about the protests here.)

After all, I’m young, I’ve been blessed with a great job that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, I have health care, and I’m at a point now where I’m able to pay off my bills and enjoy a relatively good standard of living.

What could I possibly have to gain from participation in this movement?

My Reasons for Being There

I believe we all have something to gain from occupying Wall Street. I’m there because the current distribution of wealth and power in our country is unhealthy, unjust and inefficient, and I believe we need to address it now, before our democracy disintegrates to a point beyond repair.

I realize that to a few people this makes me sound like Chicken Little, so let’s look at the facts:

  • According to a study released by the Economic Policy Institute earlier this year, “The wealthiest 1% of U.S. households had net worth that was 225 times greater than the median or typical household’s net worth in 2009. This is the highest ratio on record.”
  • Growing wealth inequality doesn’t just fall along class lines, it falls along racial lines as well. According to Pew Research Center’s analysis of government data, the median net worth of white households in 2009 was $113,149. For Hispanic households that figure was $6,325, and for blacks it was $5,677. ”These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago,” the report states.
  • In 2010, average CEO compensation was 343 times that of the average worker. 25 of the top 100 highest-paid CEOs took home more money than their company paid in 2010 federal corporate income taxes. These kinds of statistics are, of course, embarrassing for corporations, so they are currently lobbying hard so as not to have to disclose them.
  • Census figures report that approximately 1 in 6 Americans is currently living in poverty. In New York, it’s 1 in 5. Additionally, the poverty rate in the U.S. has reached a 17-year high.
  •  According to the most recent monthly jobs report, the average length of unemployment is at its longest since the government started tracking the information in 1948. Moreover, the unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has risen to 11.7%, while the rates for blacks and Hispanics are at 16% and 11.3%, respectively.
  • This July, the percentage of young people who were unemployed was 51.2%, the highest such figure since the government began collecting that data in 1948. Only 19% of the college students who graduated in 2009 had accepted job offers before they finished school. Compare that with the 51% of the class of 2007, and you can start to understand why there are so many young 20-somethings currently occupying Zuccotti Park.

I could bore you all day with statistics, but hopefully this paints a picture of how most Americans are suffering right now.

How the State of Our Union Affects You

Chances are, these stats will upset you on a moral level—and they should. But let’s be clear: This is not just about morals. There are also practical matters to consider.

Worker productivity suffers when you have to struggle to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table for your family, while juggling multiple jobs/and or large and unexpected medical bills. When millions of American workers are facing those very situations, we have an productivity problem on a national scale, and our economy suffers.

The economy also takes a huge hit when millions of people no longer have extra money to spend on non-essential goods and services. This is a problem we are currently facing, and if you’ve owned or managed a business in the last few years, then you’ve probably experienced the negative effects yourself.

The End of the American Dream?

Perhaps most disturbingly, economic stratification is threatening to make the American Dream a thing of the past. As wealth and power become more and more concentrated and the middle class vanishes, it is becoming increasingly hard for the average person to improve his or her lot in life.

Or, as a comprehensive study by the Economic Mobility Project put it, “For most of our history, Americans have experienced rapid economic growth and therefore upward absolute mobility. Over the last generation, however, economic growth has slowed without evidence of an offsetting increase in relative mobility.”

“In fact,” the study observes, “the best available evidence suggests that the U.S. stands out as having less, not more, intergenerational relative mobility than Canada and several European countries.” So maybe we should be calling it the Canadian Dream instead?

Economic inequality affects the shaping of our nation’s laws, as well. We all know that political influence follows money in our country, and this has been particularly true since last year’s Citizens United ruling, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence candidate elections. As our politicians become increasingly focused on the agendas of their wealthiest donors, your personal say in the direction of our country is diminishing.

What Protesting Taught Me That College Didn’t

I have personal reasons to support Occupy Wall Street, too. Each time I’m down in Zuccotti Park, I meet fascinating people from different walks of life and learn from them. Whereas in college I could barely stay awake through economics lab, now I find myself having intense discussions with economics professors about the Fed’s approach to inflation and the tradeoffs to consumers. And I’m actually enjoying it.

I know that the popular perception is that we Occupiers are a homogenous bunch: white, hippie, trust-fund college kids who can’t resist a drum circle. But I’m here to tell you that’s not an accurate portrayal. don’t fit any of those descriptions, for example, and my fellow protesters also come from many backgrounds and perspectives.

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Of course I’ve been booed by bankers, but I’ve befriended them, too. Just the other day, a gruff, sharply dressed banker from a nearby office came by to gripe that, “None of these people know what the hell they’re talking about.” With my encouragement, he ended up sticking around for several hours, educating groups of protesters about where the real problems on Wall Street lie and how those should be addressed.

Where I Hope All of This Will Lead Us

Which brings me to this: While personal development would be motivation enough for me, I also want to see concrete political and economic changes arise from this movement. That’s why I started the #ConcreteIdeas Twitter campaign, to encourage people to put their ideas up for discussion in a public forum. So far, here’s some of what they’ve proposed:

  • Limiting corporate influence on politics through campaign finance reform, the elimination of corporate personhood (through constitutional amendment, thus undoing the Citizens United decision), and restrictions on the revolving door between government regulators and the corporations they’re supposed to regulate.
  • Breaking up “too big to fail” institutions and bringing back the Glass-Steagall separation between investment banks, commercial banks and insurance companies.
  • Curbing or outlawing the risky financial practices and instruments that led to the 2008 crash, such as short selling and credit default swaps.
  • Closing tax loopholes and shelters. Through creative accounting practices, many corporations end up paying little to no federal income taxes, and very wealthy individuals are able to avoid paying taxes on much of their income as well. Closing these loopholes and shelters would help ensure that the people who are most able to afford paying taxes are paying their fair share and contributing to the common economic good.
  • Improving our public education system. Ideas for this include abandoning Obama’s Race to the Top, paying teachers more and giving them better training, hiring more teachers and building more schools in order to decrease class sizes, providing every child with free preschooling, and generally spending a bigger percentage of our national budget on public education.

How You Can Help

This is by no means an exhaustive list; just as there are many problems we as a country currently face, there are also many solutions. I think that the vast majority of these goals are achievable if we can get our fellow protesters and supporters to participate.

And that leads me to my last hope for the movement: If there’s one thing I want to get across, it’s that we have to hold up our end of the democratic bargain. We have to vote in every single election—not just the presidential ones—and we have to hound our representatives in between so they know what we want, that we’re paying attention and that we’re ready to create change.

I’m hopeful that we can turn this ship around and build the kind of society that all of us would want to live in, regardless of what cards we were dealt in life.

Carey Tan is 26 and works at a mid-sized non-profit in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @OccupyIdeas. 

Photo Credit: Marty Ingber

  • GUEST

    Kudos to Carey for being involved in democracy. I am well off and tend to think these bank issues don’t effect me, but really that is very naive of me. We are all tied together in our national economy. And the banking industry has changed slowly over time (and behind closed doors) – so we stop noticing how much service has declined, fees have grown, all the while the profits reach historical highs. The Govt. should not let the banks set the rules and control the economy when they dictate their own profit. Sadly the govt. has given the banks too much power. “Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.” – James A. Garfield, Late President of the United States

    • Guest

      The government should not control the banks, the people should! If you don’t like how your bank is operating, get your money out and go down the street to one you do like. Capitalism works if allowed to have a free market.

      • http://twitter.com/OccupyIdeas #OccupyIdeas

        The Move Your Money Project has been encouraging consumers to do exactly what you suggest: Move our money out of big banks and into community banks and credit unions that will use the funds more responsibly. I encourage you to explore the website for more information: http://moveyourmoneyproject.org.

  • guest

    Well at least you have some concrete goals outlined. 

  • Guest

    So glad to hear that the Commnunists and Nazis are with you on this!

    Though you have some excellent points and there are things that are wrong and should be fixed with our country … get your head out of the sand and realize you’re being used with regard to teh Occupy movement! This is not a student-led protest, it is a world-wide coordinated Marxist revolotion. Wake up and get out while you can!

    • sillyrabbittrix

      Haha! This comment is funny, but I’ll bite. Please cite concrete examples of how this is a Communist, Marxist or Nazi movement. 

      I would personally call it a democracy movement – because it is of, by and for the people!

      • Guest2

        While I don’t consider it a Nazi movement per se, here are some examples that you requested. Quotes:

        Israel Today recently reported that there were anti-Semitic comments made by OWS protesters around the nation:”In Los Angeles, protester Patricia McAllister, who identified herself as an employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District (we can only hope she is not an educator), had this to say:”I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, which is not run by the federal government . . . they need to be run out of this country.”On the American Nazi Party website, leader Rocky Suhayda voiced support for ‘Occupy Wall St.’ and asked, “Who hold the wealth and power in this country? The Judeo-Capitalists. Who is therefore the #1 enemy who makes this filth happen? The Judeo-Capitalists.”One of [the] people reportedly responsible for organizing the ‘Occupy Wall St.’ protests, Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn, has a history of perpetuating conspiracy theories that say the Jews control America’s foreign policies.”Read more on Newsmax.com: Occupy Wall Street’s Anti-Semitism Condemned Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama’s Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

        • sillyrabbittrix

          Curious: what are your thoughts on the Tea Party protests? Does it mean that the Tea Party movement is racist because a couple of guys in the protests had racist signs? Or does that just mean that in every crowd, you’ll get a couple fringe individuals but those individuals do not necessarily represent the majority, nor the goals of the movement, nor the ideas behind the movement?

          Again, total lack of logic here. 

      • Guest

        How about the Communist Party USA website? Good enough for ya??? http://www.cpusa.org

        • sillyrabbittrix

          Not much logic going on upstairs, is there? Just because the communist party endorses the goals of the 99% does not mean that the 99% endorses the communist party. There are literally hundreds of organizations that support the 99% movement, and 99% of them are not communist affiliated. 

          Thanks for trying though.

          • Guest

            Nice put-down. Care to have a grown-up conversation? I’m not saying that OWS is communist, but really, if I was involved in something that was enthusiastically supported by communists, marxists and nazi’s … I would be very, very concerned with what I was doing. One of the Marxist parts, by the way, is the request for universal health care. 

          • Deannecl

            A very good way to encourage dialogue.  To insult at the start.  

  • Guest

    If she’s so busy protesting how did she have time to write this?

    • http://twitter.com/OccupyIdeas #OccupyIdeas

      The Occupy Wall Street movement is not just about a group of people occupying Zuccotti Park. It is also about sparking and engaging in these kinds of conversations in order to collectively find a way for our country to move forward. I consider these discussions to be an integral part of my participation in the movement and in the wider democratic process.

      • Guest

        Discussion is fine. Revolution and violence is not.

  • Labuild

    It’s a socialist movement.  Our decline has been because of government creating such a dependency and rewarding laziness.  People are having a hard time getting ahead because of  “Big Government” regulations and taxation.  Capitalism has it’s faults as does everything, but if government would get out of the way and let free enterprise roll it is better than the alternative.  Most of these people protesting are brainwashed young people to spoiled to understand.  Our nation is broke and upside down due to the freebie programs, The PC bull…and letting everyone come and have more rights than our own citizens. This only encourages more dependence.  A plan by design.  Wake up America and get you history books out and read them again. (before they rewrite them to be more PC)

  • fauwl

    This is my problem with the Occupy movement and all of the people who are so upset about the loss of the “American Dream”.  Exactly what this country needs is to lose the American Dream.  Not everyone will able to afford to own a home, not everyone will able to afford to pay cash for college and yes, some people will make much money than others.  We live in a (relatively) free economy.  If you think that everyone deserves these things, then you should seriously think about relocating.  The American Dream is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place!  Now we have too many houses and too much debt.  America doesn’t need a dream.  America needs a wake up call.

    • http://twitter.com/OccupyIdeas #OccupyIdeas

      I think you are confused about what the American Dream refers to. It is not about equality of success, it is about equality of opportunity.

      • GuestOfGuests

        Are you saying there’s a lack of opportunity in the US? Just wondering cause that’s what I read from your reply – you’d like more opportunity. I just don’t think you realize the lack of depth in your statement.

        That, and, well – I HATE people who say such stuff.

      • Guest2

        Tooooooo many people simply IGNORE the opportunity when it is so much easier to live on government assistance programs. Talk to some of the employees who run those programs, they see it. Opportunity is there but many refuse to take the chance at working when free money is given to them in the form of food stamps, housing, etc.

        Meanwhile there are those of us who are willing to work 70+ hours a week to make sure our bills are paid and we don’t have to tap that resource.

  • momham33

    Carey should read this article. http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/our-idiot-brother-the-tea-party%e2%80%99s-relationship-to-occupy-wall-street/  It speaks volumes. This movement while altruistic to many is misguided. They should be protesting the government bailouts. They should be angry that their college professors misled them. Bring back personal responsibility and quit blaming everyone else. One of the quoted economists in the above article is Peter Schiff. He predicted the housing crisis many years ago. His utube videos are enlightening and educational. Tune in to reason not whining.

    • Guest

      Very well put!

  • Paul D. Hill

    The President is creating division among the American people rather than doing what is necessary to encourage jobs and uplifting everyone.  His party will not allow him to reduce taxes on business and individuals that has worked many time in the past to create jobs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kim.talbottflores Kim Talbott-Flores

      We have reduced taxes, and I am dying of thirst waiting for it to trickle down.  Extended the Bush TAX CUTS, and still not enough.  How about everyone working gives 10% of their salary BACK to their employers and wait for it to trickle back to them?

  • http://twitter.com/torylynne Tory Lynne

    Love this!

  • Anonymous

    We live in a representative republic NOT a democracy. You need to call your representative to make a change. Call for change with the government officials that pushed for this to happen.  Communism or socialism is not the solution. Look at Greece and Italy. Broke and asking for more money.

  • eyeswideopen

    While I completely agree that Greed is bad, I think it is shortsighted to think of big corporations as the bad guy.  Afterall, who owns the corporations – we do if we invest in a 401K program.  Also, how many of us are employed because a bank gave us a small-business loan to get started or gave generously to our non-profit cause.  Just some things to think about as we dialog.

  • Lia

    awesome post! I wish there were more like this from people at the protest!

  • I know better

    Why don’t we “meet” some people who work AND take responsibility for their lives instead of demanding a handout or pooping on police cars?  I believe those people are called “53%ers”: http://the53.tumblr.com/

  • Nichole M. Flores Henry

    This is a fantastic and well-articulated exposition of some of the reasons why this movement is so compelling.  In my limited assessment, financial education (as provided by various organizations including LearnVest) is a necessary component in mobilizing the people to turn this ship around.  I will enthusiastically share this article with my students and associates (I am a graduate student and teaching fellow) who have questions on the matter. 

    • Guest2

      Nichole, be SURE you share the opposing viewpoint if you share this in a college classroom. NO college classroom should pontificate on only one side of a story. That is bias in the worst form. Afer all, you claim to have a limited assessment so PLEASE do sufficient research on BOTH sides before spouting only one theory.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4IQLZNU3T3RCKBQFJOUYNG34PQ Tina

    Ms. Tan, do you really want the government taking your hard earned wages and giving it equally to those who don’t work as hard as you?  I find it appauling that any American would want equal distribution of wealth in this country.  Our forefathers whose blood and sweat went into making this the best country possible are turning in their graves!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/kim.talbottflores Kim Talbott-Flores

      Our country has always, up to now, been about the majority helping the minority.  It has not been about whoever has the most marbles wins.  I was taught it was our duty to assist each other.  Americans help Americans.  Please to always remember “There but for the Grace of God goes I”. 

      • Kelly

        Helping others should not be forced from the top.  It should come from the heart.  Capitalism enables healthy growth and incents people to work harder.  Forcing weath distribution does the opposite, people will be lazy and expect entitlements (wow, sounds like a lot of people already).  Do you really want to increase the number of lazy people in this country?

  • Anonymous

    I enjoy reading these Money Mic series because both sides of the issue are represented ina  well-articulated way. Will you be featuring an article representing the other side of this issue like you have done for past Money Mic series?

    • Anonymous

      I am still waiting on a reply from the staff to get an article written for the other side of the issue like we have seen for other Money Mic articles. It’s been over 2 weeks … still no feature. It’s beginning to seem quite biased.

  • Cotacrome

    Wealth is earned…..not distributed.

    • Lecoppola

      Agreed.

    • guest

      Yes, just like Paris Hilton!

      • Getajob

        Cause that’s a common example of a wealthy person.

    • Robin

      Most of Wall street wealth was not earned, it was gotten by stealing and misleading practices. It was many Ponzi schemes.   I suppose you thing Madoff earned his wealth too?

  • Getajob

    Sounds like kids wishing to spend their parents’ paychecks on candy. Spoiled kids.

  • Nancy R.

    These protestors are not arguing for re-distribution or hand-outs, as far as I hear. I think this is simply an issue of disparity, and not of wealth, but of influence that they are protesting. 

    I am amazed how people don’t feel that corporations hold too much power in this country. They own the lobbyists, the regulatory agencies, the politicians, our retirement accounts, etc., which means they get whatever they want – to dirty our streams, pollute on our public lands, lose our investments, get bailouts, to literally put sh** in our food. Our willingness to not regulate and let them do whatever they want costs us so much. It’s not easy math, but I think it’s obvious: what they do to make money costs us a lot. I want some accountability. Don’t make $300 million a year when you got that way by screwing over other people. 

    And yeah, it sucks that the companies that make the most money are the most irresponsible. Just because you think their stock is good for your 401k doesn’t mean you should support them. How short-sighted are we? I hope OWS changes that, at least a little.

  • Kao1944

    A lot of these problems have risen from the government interfering and regulating corporation’s income (i.e. lowering the amount businesses can charge when using a credit card).  Though these sound like good ideas in the short term, you can’t begin to understand how regulating corporations further will create bigger problems. This is a free, capitalisic economy.  These “solutions” will destroy that and in turn, kill the American Dream that everyone hopes for. 
    Also, Carey, how can you take off days at a time to protest?  If you’re so lucky to have a job, shouldn’t you be there?

    • guest

      Wow, you really didn’t read the article, did you?

  • Guest

    I don’t understand why personal responsibility is so challenging. When I looked at the Concrete Ideas page, the ideas were so uneducated it made my head spin. People seeking a cap on credit card interest rates, a forgiving of student loans, an end to all lobbying? You must be joking. TRIPLE the american jobs act? yes, lets add a trillion dollars to our debt while creating minimal jobs. It’s not a dialogue, it’s a feeding-frenzy for the economically illiterate. There is a difference between the merely wrong and the valuable wrong, and I find most of those comments to not even catalyze intelligent debate. Of course, the government is currently no model of success, but don’t spend what you don’t have and be realistic about your own abilities and future.

  • Molly

    It is appalling to me that so many of the people commenting assume that the protesters are lazy people who don’t want to work and just be given handouts.  There is a cycle of economic downfall for the average person in this country which perpetuates scarcity.  When you look at how many super wealthy individuals do not pay an equal percentage of their income in taxes because of all of their shelters and loopholes I have to wonder who the really lazy people are.  People are graduating colleges and not able to get jobs.  Those are not lazy people who want handouts.  They want to work.  People are being laid off and remaining unemployed for YEARS.  Those are not lazy people who want handouts.  They want to work.

    It really surprises me how ignorant some of these people commenting are.  I love the Occupy Wall Street movement and I think this article is excellent.  I will share it with friends.

    • Guest 2

      I work for a college. I was in a meeting yesterday with two individuals representing our county’s drug court and child support system. THEY see a perpetual spiral of handouts being distributed to people within their system, stymying any desire for the majority of them to get “off the federal handouts”. They are now seeing 4th generation families where the youngest has NEVER seen an adult leave the house for a job. Why should they when they receive more in food stamps per month than most of us pay out of our pocket? Why should they when their housing is subsidized, if not free? Why should they…

      I also work hand in hand with the job service next door to my college. I/We see many people passing up job opportunities because their unemployment and government checks bring in more than the job would pay. I attend a local business HR meeting of managers and owners and they advertise for jobs but do not get community interest because the “assistance programs” allow potential employees to stay at home for the same amount of pay. Yes, they are remaining unemployed for YEARS, but MANY are doing so by CHOICE. I showed one friend a job advertisment and she told me, “I’m not working for THAT!” Oh, yes, she’s on unemployment. Meanwhile, I picked up a 3rd job at minimum wage…

      I personally watched a new company come in and advertise for jobs, getting only four applicants, and only one of them could pass the drug and/or background check. Not everyone wants to work, and not all comments are ignorant.

      I look forward to seeing someone print an opposing view of this article.

      • Robin

        The two individulas job in the courts system would of course expose them to the type of people they describe.  They are dealing with 1 in 6 Americans who are living in poverty but it is unfair to paint the other 6 Americans by the same brush.   If you were a prison guard, would you assume that all Americans liked to go to jail because that is what you see day after day?  

        • Guest2

          Robin, you missed the point entirely. The two individuals are only ONE example of the several scenarios I described. These two individuals are also the ADVOCATES for these people. They are trying to help them but these folks are not following through with the court orders to comply or with the recommendations and help that is offered to get them out of the system. And these are just two of many. I work with the reservation here as well, and the scenario is the same. Do not think that I am naive in my assessment.

          • Robin

            No, you are missing the point.   Those two advocates work the population I mentioned in the previous post.  Lots of people are in poverty because the education of literacy in this  country is horrid.  If you can barely read, how to you read directions, fill out an application etc…  80% of the prison population can’t read,,do you really think they have the same opportunity everyone else does to get a job that pays a living wage?  Don’t believe me? check this out.
            http://www.childrenofthecode.org/Tour/c1/socialdanger.htm

  • Daniegirl

    Where in this article did she say she wanted equal distribution of wealth or socialism? Please quote what she said that makes you think this. I think the point she is trying to make, and the OWS protestors are trying to make, is that everyone, as much as possible, should have a fair opportunity at upward mobility and that upward mobility comes from education and hard work. These days their is much in this country that is making that upward mobility less and less possible because the peoples needs are not being met or are being pushed aside in favor of those with more influence. This is what needs to be addressed.

    The influence of big money on government to the point that the government no longer works for the majority of the people must be stopped. Don’t believe that is happening? Try researching a group called ALEC where corporations write the laws and then pay to have the legislatures (probably from your state) attend conferences were they present these laws to them (after having given many of them campaign contributions).

    http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

    ALEC is corruption.

    She wants to stop the conflicts of interests in government that stop the
    people from having a fair chance at being being represented.

    She also said she wants to close loopholes for the rich so they are paying an equal percentage as we are. How is paying the same percentages of taxes redistributing wealth?

    As for stopping the practices that lead to the crash. How would anyone not want that (besides the people that benefited
     from both what happened before the crash and what happened after it?

    And she wants a better education system?? OH NO! Who would possibly want that (besides every child in this country).

    If you don’t believe there is corruption and there are some banks are getting away with robbery then research the fed, which recently gave 16 trillion dollars in secret loans out to the banks. 16 trillion dollars in secret loans!

    http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9e2a4ea8-6e73-4be2-a753-62060dcbb3c3

    Please educated yourselves as to what is going on. Just watching the news won’t do it.

  • guest

    I missed it.  Where in this article does it say that she learned more in Zuccoti Park than in College??? 

  • Robin

    If anyone has watched the documentary “Inside Job” you would realize that the US had laws in place to protect the situation we are all in now.  They were put in place after the great Depression,  However one by one the corporate lobbiers and  congress stripped them away one by one over the 80′ s and 90′s.   They argued for free enterpise and capitalism etc..As you can see, greed and corruption ruins the free market.   With all the takeovers and “too big to fail banks” we end up with few. if any chioces for new business to compete.  They just get bought out. 

  • http://twitter.com/cegalphl Ceci

    Very interesting! Only issue I see, America is a republic not a democracy. http://thisnation.com/question/011.html

  • Anonymous

    What is the demand?  Nothing
    short of DEMOCRACY.

    What is the action? 
    Building a society that values each human being through an exemplar
    community that puts a premium on DEMOCRACY.

    What is the Problem?  The
    crony capitalism of Wall Street is corrupting the democracy of the United
    States of America. 

    The demand is reasonable. 
    The complaint is valid, and the methodology is peaceful.  outlierideas.com

    • Guest

      Once again, we are not a DEMOCRACY, we are a REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC! If you’re wanting democracy, you’ll need to move elsewhere. (How’s that working out for Egypt??)Indeed, ditch crony capitalism. No one wants that. Practice free-market capitalism. It works.Peaceful? hmm. We’ll see. It oesn’t look peaceful in Greece …

      • http://twitter.com/hendrey hendrey

        You need to take a marketing class. Seriously. 

  • Abolitho

    Puhleeze!!!!   Everybody has to work their asses off in  this life, rich and poor alike.   I call this movement class envy, and ignorant.  We can thank a democratic congress and both Bush and Obama for the current state of affairs.  And, by the way, the ‘poor’ in this country don’t have it that bad.  They have entitlements aplenty.  It’s the middle class who are crunched the most….

    • guest

      Bush made the mess not Obama, he inherited the mess.  The last good years where poverty was at an all time low was when Bill Clinton was in office. Once Bush was gone, it all went down hill with the Wall Street bailout as the grand finale.  

    • Nancy R.

      “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity,
      nothing exceeds the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by
      the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” (Herman Melville)

      The poor don’t have it bad? I work with them in Georgia, and that’s exactly how I would categorize it. Affordable housing? Rare. Living wage jobs? Non-existent. Public education? Pathetic. I guess you object to Medicaid and Social Security, which would be the only “entitlement” programs that really exist. And, if so, what do you think we should do to help the disabled? Nothing? I’m interested to hear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Ellen-Dias/100000119000824 Mary Ellen Dias

    Abolitho – apparently you are out of touch.  This movement is the result of people trying to get food on their table with substandard jobs, people who have lost thier homes and have no place to live, generally the result of corruption from the top.  Tell me what entitlements the poor have “aplenty.”  Tell me the hundreds of people who wait in line for many hours to apply for a job with a company that may have 3 openings is a joke.  People are squatting in foreclosed houses now, at lease 1/4th (I have heard as much as 1/2) of our children go to bed hungry.  You say entitlements aplenty? It isn’t an idiological joke as you like to think it is.  It is real and it is horrible.  The people still in the middle class are not the ones who are suffering.  It is the middle class who have slipped into poverty with no help in sight.  And that number is increasing daily.  Thus the Occupy Wall Street movement is born.

    • Guest

      It is not! It’s well-off, white college students having fun being hippies!!

    • Guest

      The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

      • Moon11

        How dare they have a color television and a microwave! The nerve of the “poor” to have such luxuries.

        • http://twitter.com/hendrey hendrey

          I agree! They are responsible for all the ills in America. For God’s sake, a microwave costs at least $40 and a color TV on Craigslist is *at least* twenty bucks, not to mention a stereo. That’s at least a day’s work at the minimum wage. Why, if they sold all their luxury items, they could probably make two- or three-thousand dollars. Heck, they could pay for two whole months of family health insurance with all that dough. I can hardly imagine that they have anything in the world to complain about!

      • Measiwitch

        Many public housing and section 8-welcoming apartments include those conveniences – especially microwaves and air conditioning.  In 1970, many of the objects you list didn’t exist at all.  In the United States, a car is not a luxury – it’s a requirement to find a job (because public works projects such as public transportation are voted down consistently – in Europe, the train system is extensive and cars are not as needed).  A color TV is standard – when is the last time you bought a black and white set (when was one even SOLD?)  A VCR is an outdated form of media equipment.  DVDs are soon approaching that.  Microwaves are now over 30 years old and becoming standard fare.  

        Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and “other cities throughout Europe” are many hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years old.  They were built  crowded.  They are also places where people are taxed much higher and supported better than in the United States when unemployed.

  • cfa

    First of all, this nation is not a democracy, it is a republic. Democracies fail because of the authoritarian structure that develops putting a few in power, and subjugating the remainder and feeding off of them. A republic thrives because the people, as a whole, decide who governs us and how they govern us, changing that governing body and structure when it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, not enough Americans care enough to get involved in deciding who will be elected to uphold the responsibilities of our constitution.

    Secondly, this protest is of a narrow vision that doesn’t accomplish anything more than the distraction certain political factions want it to be. Camping out on Wall Street will not create jobs, and it won’t encourage any lawmakers to do so. You rail about the few who have much, but you fail to study the historical accomplishments of America. In the last 150 years, this country has steadily produced numerous millionaires, and in their lifetimes, most Americans will have accumulated a million or more dollars in their lifetimes.  Educational opportunities are more widely available because of increased wealth across the board in this nation; and although America has its share of poverty, America’s poor are quite wealthy from a global standpoint. Wealth cannot be legislated, and stealing it from some to give to others is absolutely wrong.

    The development of wealth is a growth process. This nation grew wealthy over a long period of time, and through the hard work of many visionaries, investors, and workers. Personal wealth develops the same way. Wealth is earned, not given. You can’t take money from the wealthy and give it to the poor expecting them to use that money wisely without instruction. They will spend it and be poor again. The wealthy don’t spend themselves into debt to accumulate “things”. That is a habit of the poor, who will never have wealth because they want to many “things.” Wealth involves vision, strategy, and hard work. This goes for nations, corporations, and individuals. No one who has planned, worked hard, and accomplished anything should have it taken away from them and given to someone else for any reason.

    Don’t tell me about “opportunities” and “ceilings” that some can’t break through because they lack money or education or the right “color.” There are too many examples of many fine Americans who developed a plan, put their nose to the grindstone and actually worked to get where they are and what they have. Nobody handed it to them!

  • mark camire

    The distribution of wealth should not be equal, those who work in some jobs get paid more.  I am sorry that some people could not afford, or choose not to live a life that allows them to become CEOs.  Really wealth should not be distributed, those who make a lot of money if they choose can help those in need out, but it is not the goverment jobs to tell them where to spend the money that they either got lucky to get a well paying job, which is doubtful.  More likely worked hard learned how to play the game to get to the top of their industry.  I do not have health insurence and I live paycheck to paycheck, and if you asked me 5 years ago and told me my household income would be around 80,000 dollars I would think my life would be set.  You know what it is not, could I use gov’t hand outs and money given to me to make my life easier sure.  Before I was married I worked and made less then 25000 a year, but you know what, I did not ask for welfare or food stamps or anything else that was there for me, you know why, I lived inside my means, Managed to get a condo no money down and rent one of the rooms.  And made the ends meet.  Yes I was in the restaraunt industry so some of my meals woere cheap or free which helps.  But I made ends meet.  You can say democracy does not work, nor does a represenitive democracy in which we are suppose to live in.  But you konw what socialism does not work either.  I get tired of people saying there are no jobs.  there may not be a lot of careers out there but there are jobs.  all of you with good jobs give your money away if you want to, to charities or things you belivieve in and if there are enough of you then some of thies problems mayb solved.  But do not protest to me that the gov’t needs to distrubute anyone’s wealth

    • http://twitter.com/hendrey hendrey

      You’re confused. Nobody wants socialism. The issue is that large corporations want to privatize profits but publicize losses. Then people like you, who say they hate handouts and whining, don’t have any problem when the hand begging for free money is attached to a corporation. How can you be *so* opposed to a poor parent requesting food stamps, but have absolutely no problem when a company with billions of dollars in assets asks you (yes, YOU!) to cover their fair portion of taxes for them? Oh my goodness, it’s so messed up!

  • Mirantesara

    The CEO makes the money-he spend the money-on new cars-so car makers, salesman-
    all the way down to the car wash-make money.  If you want to be a CEO-go back to
    school

    • sillyrabbittrix

      This comment totally lacks a reality check. Sure it sounds good to just tell someone to “go back to school” and POOF! youcanbecomeaCEOtoo! but that ignores some serious realities. What if someone can’t afford to go back to school? Then what? 
      It also ignores the fact that our capitalist system is set up to ensure that not everyone makes a lot of money, and there is no possible way that everyone can be a CEO. Our so-called “free market” system REQUIRES that someone work at McDonalds, that someone holds a career as a janitor, that someone works in the warehouse. It is NOT logical to tell people that they could be a CEO or make a lot of money “if they only wanted to”. It is simply NOT possible!! Plus, you’re ignoring all the people who are not able to contribute to the labor force – the physically unable, the mentally unable, the emotionally/psychologically unable. Reality check, hello!Let’s stop idealizing this theory that people could have a job, could be rich, if they only WANTED to. It is not the way our system works, and it would not function competitively in this world if that were true.

      • Stepmtn

        Face it, not everyone is cut out to be a CEO. It is not possible without socialism to take care of everyone; in order to do this you have to take from others which goes against what America is all about FREEDOM, by taking from others to give to others you loose liberty, freedom and right to property, these things are what America is all about. If you do not like freedom and what it stands for then you always have the option to move to greener pastures (Good luck with that). As far as helping others it should start with family helping family then faith helping their parishioners, charities then limited government programs; imagine that.

  • La

    I agree that there are many changes needed in society, but  blaming things on the rich doesn’t help anything.  I know a CEO who makes (on average) $10M per year.  But he  works 12 hour days, answers emails at 3am, and misses a lot of activities with his kids.  When starting his company, he also leveraged everything (the company, his home, his assets) over & over again to try and build the company.  To me, he deserves every penny he has.  He earned it and is the hardest working person I know.

    The OWS author is correct about 1 thing…if we don’t address it now, we will get to a point that is beyond repair.  BUT it is not the wealthy.  It is society in general.  Everybody wants handouts–and nobody wants to work for it.   More money, free healthcare, free education.  Who is going to pay for all this?  We already have completely unsustainable entitlement programs, and current generations are expectjng more for less.

     Before continually attacking the rich, how about making government cut the pork, closing loopholes, and stop spending money like drunken sailors who ultimately are just trying to get reelected. 

    • Cipollanera

      I don’t consider it an “attack”  to expect the very wealthy to participate in the recovery of our (their) country.  Because of tax loopholes, tax shelters and government cutbacks they have developed a sense of entitlement and belief that their tail wags our dog. 

      The CEO you speak of sounds like a workaholic without priorities. 

    • http://twitter.com/hendrey hendrey

      Hmmm, I know dozens of people who work a lot more than 12-hour days, work the night shift, work multiple jobs, go without real necessities, miss out on their kids’ milestones, and perform back-breaking work. But they’re not getting rich of it.

      They do it because they love their kids and they don’t want to be homeless or hungry. They don’t get paid vacation. They don’t get paid health insurance. They get zero dental care benefits. They don’t get a retirement fund. They do it and somebody else gets rich of them. If the guy you know deserves every penny just for working hard, these people I know ought to be earning millions. But they aren’t, of course. 

      This is the thing with the conservative rich (progressive rich people, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don’t think or behave this way). They think that just because they start something or they work hard (and also even if they don’t), that they are entitled to “every penny,” as you put it. They literally don’t think that all the other people who help them get where they are, by also doing incredibly dedicated and hard work, are entitled to a freakin’ dime. They are the living, breathing definition of greed.

      They say indefensible, delusional stuff like “I did it all on my own,” and they’ll actually go through life believing it–unable to understand that they did *nothing* on their own, and that they were helped by all sorts of things–from a train system (built by public funds) that transported them to their first office on the other side of the city, to an employee work force (that *also* skipped their kids’ soccer games, but for much less compensation, just to make the boss’s company more successful).

      And even after they become wealthier than anyone could ever *need* to be, they will still claw and scratch to get more freebies at the expense of their poorer, tax-paying, fellow citizens. Face it; when conservatives say they are opposed to handouts, they only mean handouts to the poor. They are 100% okay with endless, unlimited, undeserved, and unproductive handouts to the wealthy.

  • Anonymous

    I was down at OWS the day they were threatening to throw them out, ready to be arrested along with the kids who are living there.  I have a job, I have a mortgage, I have kids, basically I am one of the luckier members of the 99% but I cannot pretend that those living down in the park aren’t doing it for me, and my kids.  Change will not come easily and nothing will be given by those who have so much.  Change will only come when it is more comfortable for them to allow change than to not allow change.  Some discomfort is a necessary part of this process just as there is no birth without the strain of labor.

  • Kmacdoula

    OWS is protesting the wrong demographic.

    As usual the progressive Liberal’s have got it
    wrong. The so-called EPI “study” would have us believe we are now out of a recession… Does anyone feel like we are out of a recession? 

    The OWS are currently ranting and raving about bankers, investors, CEO’s, etc.,  Most of these Wall Street workers people are paid on the profitability of said corporations they run or are a part of. They in
    essence get paid on the value of their work, not the volume or lack there
    of like most of the unions thugs and Democratic politicians and
    liberal idealists and the Hollywood crowd that now join their ranks. Yes, there is a “Problem” with Wall Street, But it didn’t START on Wall Street, it started on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that’s where they should be protesting!

    The problem with the government educated mob that is OWS cannot be summed up in a few words, because they themselves, are a mob with a mob mentality not a singular view point.
    They want their “COLLEGE PAID FOR”, “THEIR MORTGAGE PAID FOR”, “POT LEGALIZED”, you name it, there’s a sign for it… Give me a break!     KUMBYAH!

    Their
    anti-American progressive behavior is too deeply rooted. It
    has been hammered into them by a corrupted education system since
    the formation of the Dept.of Education has been drummed into their heads, they don’t think for themselves any longer, and are perfectly fine with the government thinking and doing for them. THAT MY FRIENDS IS NOT DEMOCRACY~ THAT IS SOCIALISM!

    In your stat’s did you forget to mention that the bottom 50% of people pay NO INCOME TAX? WAIT, I must have missed that? THAT’S NOT FAIR, is it? But what IS fair is to work hard, not live beyond your means, pay your way, and help your brother when you can. I pay my taxes, I don’t however, want to pay for yours too..

    Never forget~America is a Republic where WE choose who represents us. If they are NOT doing a good job, it’s our right and DUTY to vote them out.

    The problem ISN’T Wall Street my friends, It’s in Washington,DC. Real action and real change needs to start there, so the housing market plight never happens again, the banking scandal doesn’t repeat itself, etc… But it all went on UNDER THE 2008 CONGRESS and THE PRESIDENT’S WATCH. Let’s not be ignorant…

    • floridagal

      Amen!!  ”I pay my taxes, I dont want to pay yours too”  I can’t AFFORD to pay yours too!  I work hard, pay my bills and save every dollar that is left over (because I know I’m going to be responsible for my own future–Sorry no pension for me!)  It seems often overlooked-what is “fair share” as everyone keeps saying.  Yes those extremely fortunate people should probably pay a little more, but what about all the people paying Zero?  What is “fair” about  that?

  • Anonymous

    Its great to see so many people from all walks of life that are taking to the street to let the powers that be know how they feel. This is how it should be; verbal and active push back to our government.
    I hope to see more unity and realization that we are connected to each other and we affect each and every person around us directly and indirectly.
    To show that we can bring mutual responsibility to one another and ‘ do unto others’ in an active concrete way.

  • Ma160

    The numbers of racial income is so wide because:
    1.  There have many more hispanic & black legals and illegals coming to the US than whites over the past decade. I live in South Florida and the number of Haitians that came here after their last disaster was phenominal! So stop those twisted calculations please!

    • Amma209

      Unfortunately there’s a lot more to it than that.  

    • Kmacdoula

      Yes, let’s go down THAT road. Our illustrious President decides to BYPASS OUR ELECTED CONGRESS (WHO HAVE ALREADY SHOT DOWN THE BILL) and passes the “DREAM ACT”…letting ILLEGAL ALIENS STAY in our country.

      Take a GOOD HARD look at this people…. We have people that are “claiming” down on Wall St. that they have NO JOBS, yet their president has just OPENED WIDE the doors for the SOUTHERN BORDER and said.. “Y’ALL COME”.. WHY, YOU ASK? Because they are the ONLY ONES THAT WILL VOTE FOR HIM IN 2012.

      Barry is running scared, and he should be… SI Senor…ADIOS!

  • Anonymous

    I would like to know how many people that are OWS have voted in the last 8 years?  That is where the change will occure.  We can tax the corporations all  you want and you know what the flood out of this country of jobs and money and advancements.  I am sorry that so many people are unemployeed but you know what there are jobs out there maybe not 100,000 dollar a year jobs, but jobs you do not want to do.  Do lobbiest need to get out of DC for sure.  But the only way that happens is for everyone to sacrifices all there pull out all thier congressman and senators and vote part of the 99% into office that will not cater to the big companies and I think they should be bringing back personall responsibility for living within your means not buying houses you can not afford and then complain that the banks loaned you too much money or some guy trying to make more mony on comission that tells you you can afford a house you can not.  I bought a house 4 years ago and was preappoved by the first bank for a loan I could afford.  The next bank said that I could get approved for $50000 more.  You know what we could not afford that amount of money in a mortgage.  You know what happened we bought a house that we could afford not one that some guy at a bnak told me we could afford.  And we stll can still pay or morgtage why because we did the research and figured out our own finacincies and know what we could afford.  So get a job or two even it pays less then the last one you had and even if it is not your career choice.  And live within your means

  • Daniegirl

     From what I have read part of the reason that OWS is taking place is because they no longer believe that their vote counts. AND THEY DID VOTE. Many voted for “change” in 2008 but were surprised to find Obama a conservative. And I don’t mean crazy right wing conservative as the word has come to mean lately. I mean someone who conserves the status quo, which is currently screwing most of us over.

    And really?? The unemployment numbers are at an all time high because we have more Hispanics and black illegals here?!?! Good lord educate yourself. There are more deportations under Obama than their have ever been before AND the dream act didn’t pass AND there are stricter laws than ever to become an illegal citizen. Talk about scapegoating.

    And saying OWS is the “usual progressive liberals”. DO SOME RESEARCH!

    Where do many of you get your news and information from? The main stream media??

    Wake up! Poverty is spreading and there is a reason it’s spreading. You just keep denying it. Sooner or later unless we do something you won’t be able to deny it anymore. Maybe it will be when the house next to you is boarded up…or maybe it will be your house that is boarded up…

    And unless you send your kid to private school their class size has increased dramatically. Ask your kids teacher how many more kids are in that classroom.

    Look around at the boarded up shops in your area. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20111025/NEWS0107/110250392/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/us/suburban-poverty-surge-challenges-communities.html?_r=1

  • Daniegirl

    It’s kinda weird that I keep reading
    comments here that state it’s wrong, or even robbery, for people to take
    money from the rich to give to the poor (which isn’t even what OWS is saying AT ALL) however these same commenters seem perfectly fine with wealthy
    taking money from the poor in regards to their labor while at the same
    time not paying them a living wage, or offering affordable healthcare. And this is all while the some of these wealthy are making record breaking profits.
    Are we really so programmed that we can’t see how that’s Ef’ed up in
    some way? Is this really the America we want for ourselves and our children?
     

  • Breck

    You can try to sugarcoat this OWS bunch but America needs to know that they are mostly Communist inspired and want to strip us of our freedoms.  Most of America is against what these deadbeats stand for and I resent the fact that Learn Vest is even giving them a podium.  How about letting true hard-working people who believe in the Constitution and the freedoms that we have been so very blessed to experience write an article.  I’m tired of our country being demonized by the left.  Please spare us anymore of this type of rhetoric.