Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America’s Conscience is on the Streets

by MARK WEISBROT

The Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread to scores of citiesclaims to represent “the 99 percent.”  Do they?  Ninety-nine percent is perhaps too high a bar for public opinion.  But the movement does represent the vast majority – who theoretically should be an important constituency in a democracy. And on many issues, they really do represent the interests of the 99 percent.

The distribution of income is an obvious starting point, given what has happened to America over the past three decades.  Between 1979 and 2007, the richest 1 percent received three-fifths of all the income gains in the country.  Most of this went to the richest tenth of that one percent, people with an average income of $5.6 million (including capital gains).  This is outrageous.

In a country that generates more than $45,000 per person of income each year – that’s for every person, including children and babies –  there is more than enough income for everyone in America to have a comfortable life. It is really the distribution of income, and employment, that matter. This is more true than ever before, as it is now clear that we cannot continue to generate so much greenhouse gas in order to keep the consumption, income, and wealth of the one percent expanding in the manner to which they are accustomed.

Yet income distribution and employment are two economic issues that have gotten remarkably little attention as the rich have increasingly hijacked the economy, and through their soaring wealth, the political system. The OWS movement is forcing the corporate media and the politicians to recognize these most vital issues, by getting in their face and not going away.

That’s why Mayor Bloomberg of New York evicted the protestors who spearheaded this historic social movement. It had nothing to do with safety or other pretexts. This is clear because he had his thugs deliberately trash many of the protestors’ possessions, including laptops and many of the books from their library. What a disgrace this man is to a city that prides itself on its sophistication and tolerance and democratic traditions! The one percent has used violence and excessive force against protestors in other cities such as Oakland for the same reasons: they fear that democracy in the streets could lead to democracy in other arenas, such as government.

The 99 percent have no interest in our hundreds of military bases and wars across the globe, another life-and-death point of difference with the one percent that decides, and defends, our rotten and murderous foreign policy.  No wonder U.S. veterans of our ongoing wars have played a prominent role in these protests. The majority of Americans want our troops to get out of Afghanistan [PDF], which our government refuses to order. Two-thirds think the U.S. military should never have invaded Iraq, and even greater majorities have agreed that all troops should be withdrawn from that country this year. These are points of great controversy among the one percent, but not among the vast majority of Americans.

Meanwhile, the Congressional “Supercommittee” was considering cutting Social Security, an assault that has no public support, while resisting raising taxes on the one percent and cutting military spending – two of the most popular choices among the people for long-term deficit reduction.

It was a mass movement that elected President Obama, with record numbers of small contributors and volunteers. But we did not get the “change we can believe in.”  The OWS groundswell is the movement of the disenfranchised, the more than 99 percent who do not give the maximum political contribution to our corrupt political system and therefore have little or no voice. They are America’s conscience, and its greatest hope at this time.

Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: the Phony Crisis.

This article originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of  Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail