Every now and then, something from the Occupy movement drifts onto my Facebook.
Usually it’s stuff like this:
And they’re often put forward by friends who I know for a fact are non-rich, left leaning, well meaning people.
And that tells me why the Occupy movement is not succeeding.
Because people don’t understand things clearly. They don’t understand the concept behind the Occupy movement, and that complete incomprehension is going to be the biggest hurdle for the Occupy protestors to overcome.
People just don’t get it.
Take the above sign. Does it make sense to you? Then you, too, fall into the category of people who don’t understand what Occupy is all about.
Let’s think about this for a moment:
The expression “I am the 99%” refers to the distribution of wealth in America. In the U.S, 1% of the population controls (depending on how you crunch the numbers) up to 40% of the wealth. 20% of Americans control 85% of the wealth.
So if you live in the U.S., and you make (individually, before taxes) less than $400,000, YOU ARE IN THE 99%.
Now do you see why the above sign is ridiculous? This person had to work FULL TIME to get through college. Despite having scholarships, he/she doesn’t have enough money to eat out even once a month. Unless he or she considers 400,000 a year to be “barely above minimum wage” and just happens to be an insane cheapskate, he or she is DEFINITELY in the 99%.
“But Carol”, people might argue, “maybe he or she is purposely twisting the slogan, indicating that 99% of people are lazy layabouts who want everything handed down to them from the rich.”
But that’s simply not true.
Remember, they started out by occupying WALL STREET. Not Beverly Hills or Boca Raton.
The Occupy movement is not about the poor gathering together with their hands out.
It is about holding corporations accountable for the economic crash, and protesting the corruption that both caused and resulted from it.
It is about letting people who DO bust their butts for what they earn actually KEEP enough of it to put a roof over their heads and feed their families, instead of taking it and buying new jets for company executives.
It seems funny to me that the banks can go to the government with their hands out and get billions of dollars in the name of good business sense, but if the working poor just want to keep some of their income to feed their families, they are deemed to be lazy bums.
The idea is supposed to be that by giving corporations tax cuts and bailouts, you give the companies the leeway to hire more employees, pay higher wages, and so on.
This model doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, personally.
Seems to me that if you just let the less wealthy taxpayers keep their money, especially the really strapped ones who are struggling to make ends meet, then they’ll have more money to spend, and the companies can make money that way.
Because, trust me, if you hand money to someone who almost never has any, they’ll respond by spending it, not stockpiling it. It may be on food, or clothes for their children, or college tuition, or it may be on a car or a vacation, but they will spend it.
And isn’t that how businesses are supposed to make money? From their patrons?
Giving money directly to the businesses seems backwards to me. You see, businesses are FOR PROFIT and they’re just as likely to stockpile the money to add to their company’s value.
Or maybe they’ll give it to an executive who already has lots of money to contribute to the economy, and he’ll stockpile it instead.
Which seems to be just what happens. It turns out that there isn’t much trickle-down from corporate tax breaks.
This isn’t just an American problem. Canada seems to be the poster-boy for the utter failure of corporate tax breaks to make an actual dent in unemployment rates.
Which is why you have Occupy Vancouver, Occupy Toronto, and Occupy Halifax, despite the fact that our banking system is MUCH more secure and came out of the crash not too badly.
MOST people, if you come right out and ask them, agree that corporate fraud is bad, that employment is good, and that more money needs to flow through the economy in order to stimulate things properly.
That’s why there are conservatives, liberals, and libertarians alike joining the Occupy movement, and why the Occupy movement is not merely an American thing.
…And that’s also why people are confused.
WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE STANDING TOGETHER? CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS CAN’T AGREE, SO THEIR MESSAGE MUST BE VERY MIXED AND CONFUSING!
Or, maybe they’re all part of the 99%, agreeing on basic things like money = good, greed and fraud= bad.
Unfortunately, people can’t grasp that simple a concept, and so they point to the millions of different ideas that the disparate groups have for solving the problem.
Sure, it’s haphazard and non-cohesive. But that’s the beginning of Democracy.
Let’s band together, and figure it out together, because whatever we’re doing right now isn’t working.
And if you’re Canadian and still unsure, you can double check your position in the percentiles here.
If MacLeans gives you a number greater than 1%, YOU ARE THE 99%.
For a really detailed breakdown of the wealth in America, you can try analzying this post from XKCD.