Saturday, October 15, 2011

You ARE the 1%

The Occupy Wall Street movement has been focusing on the level and growth of inequality in the US with their "We are the 99%" motto. In reality, they are the 1%, and not just because so many of the protestors are college students that come from priviledged backgrounds. They are the 1% because they live in a nation of great wealth, and that great wealth is largely the result of the corporations, banks, and economic system that they are protesting. Even those in poverty in the US are likely to have cell phones, color TVs, and computers -- luxuries that most of the world do not enjoy. We are a country of haves and have-mores instead of a country of haves and have-nots.

The protestors complain that corporations are unfairly shipping jobs overseas. Of course, providing jobs in developing countries helps the poorest people in the world and reduces global income inequality. Apparently, the 1% are supposed to help the poor, but not the really poor. The protestors really only care about their own well-being, just like the 1%.

The protestors complain that the 1% doesn't pay enough in taxes even though their share of the tax burden is even higher than their share of income. The protestors want that money to be redistributed to themselves to reduce inequality. They are just as selfish as the 1% that they rail against, perhaps just not as good at it.

The protestors want bankers to be held accountable for their part in the financial crisis. Do they want to prosecute people who didn't pay back the amounts that they borrowed? Do they want to prosecute people who lied on their mortgage applications? While I too want anyone who acted illegally to be punished, I am not sure the protestors will get the results that they desire.

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