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Staff Editorial October 18, 2011 //  by  // 25 Comments

The Occupy movement has lost its focus

When the Occupy movement started out, it was focused on banks and Wall Street executives. It has now morphed into a class-focused movement that characterizes anyone who is not in the “99 percent” as someone who has exploited the system.

This is far from the truth. It is safe to say that the majority of the people who comprise the one percent worked hard to gain their wealth.

Although certain unfair policies may have made it easier for some of these people to accumulate their wealth, they were not the ones who created those policies.

The “99 percent” may look good on a poster, but it loses its appeal when you remove it from that piece of paper.

And while it may sound ridiculous to most people to defend the one percent, since “99 percent” sounds so inclusive, the majority of the one percent are far from jet-setting multi-millionaires. According to the IRS, someone qualifies for the top 1 percent if they make $380,354 a year.

People who are on the low end of the top 1 percent are top-ranking lawyers, engineers, doctors and small business owners.

While they make a lot of money, they are not the corporate fat-cats most people in the Occupy movement assume them to be. There is a big difference between someone who make $380,354 a year and someone who makes several millions of dollars a year. People in the Occupy movement need to internalize this distinction.

The Occupy movement has the potential to make serious change, but only if it stops alienating people who worked hard for their money. The movement would like to tell all people who are wealthy that they should be ashamed of their money, money that they undoubtedly worked very hard to accumulate.

Under the “99 percent” banner, the Occupy movement has lost its focus. They should stop attacking anyone who is in the 1 percent and start attacking the bankers, Wall Street executives and politicians who are responsible for the income disparity.

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  • Ximena

    If it's the Cougar Editorial Board's opinion then don't say "It is safe to say." Having an opinion is great. Having facts to back up your opinion makes it more credible. Try doing that next time.

  • dan

    this is the worst kind of drivel masquerading as journalism. 'it is safe to say'? they 'undoubtedly worked hard'? what a bunch of crap. do you honestly believe that some hedge fund manager works harder than someone who cleans office buildings? or picks up trash? or works on an oil rig? and if the latter people do in fact work harder, how then do you explain the difference? scratch below the surface instead of rehashing reagan-era 'truisms' that are incorrect and based on ideology and not reality.

    • Mike

      While I agree that this article lacks substance the point is correct. Until you work in corporate America, Dan, you won't appreciate the stress level that comes along with it. The nice thing about a free market is you arrive at a true market value of work. Quit complaining simply because you are jealous – if you were smart enough you would get a job that pays like this!

      • asd

        It's not a free market. Don't lie to people, they hate that.

        Nice to see the useless eaters are still braying the Corporatist party line. Thanks for your input!

  • Brandon

    There's also a big difference between someone who makes $380,354 and the average personal income of $39,945. http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm. for a bachelors' degree holder its 50k. One of the great things about this country is that you can work hard and make 380k, but it's not ok that people in this position have so much influence to bend government in their favor-from local to national levels.

    • Aviana

      Because engineers and small business owners who lived life the smart way and have high personal wealth definitely sit there and plot how to bend the government to their favor. Why don't you actually go sit in at a local board meeting or something, so you can find out how the government really operates. It may surprise you to find out that politicians actually ignore what the wealthy want. And yes, I actually have participated in my school district's board, so I can tell you this firsthand.

      • Yoyo

        Some, not all. The idealists among us would prefer that money never had an influence on government and laws. It's when things get more blatant that people get riled up. Once matters get to the point where $1.3 billion dollars were spent on lobbying during the passage of the Frank-Dodd act, so that derivatives provisions could get watered down, for instance, then it's different and dangerous.

  • Robert

    What did they do, let our Mini Glenn Beck retard write this week's staff editorial?

    Sobering facts for you:
    400 people in the US control a startling 40% of the wealth.
    The bottom 50% of the US, that's 158 MILLION people, control LESS THAN 7% OF THE WEALTH.

    The top 1% are, indeed, composed of people who have exploited and enslaved, nothing more and nothing less.

    • joshuaism

      This graph shows wealth distribution for the US population vs. what Americans think is the distribution vs. what they think is ideal. No one agrees that the current distribution is ideal (except maybe the top 1%). Everyone should be protesting this. http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/archive/20

      • Bauer Alum

        Ok, so here is your forum… What would you do to correct the facts in the graph you linked? Please, state a proposal that can be debated! I walked down from my office to observe the "Occupy Houston" protests (on the big first day) and all I saw were complaints without solutions. Ok, fine, the people are unhappy, everyone acknowledges that, so how do we make you happy? But all I overheard walking away from the protest from the business people in their Brooks Bros. shirts, was "So what do they want?" And their walking partner would respond, "they want your money without working for it."

        Please, put forth a proposal that consists of more than "its not fair, and I'm unhappy." You (the collective "Occupy" movement) have the ears of many of the powers (or near powers) that be, please put forth a proposal to discuss. Otherwise, the Occupy movement is going to be dismissed as a pestilent child that has nothing to offer.

    • http://twitter.com/surruhwater @surruhwater

      Seconding this. I have never gotten the slightest sense from the Occupy movement that wealth is inherently bad–I'm sure we would all love to be able to abundantly provide for our children and take care of ourselves based on the fruits of our labor. The issue we take is that the distribution of wealth often has nothing to do with individual talent and initiative.

      • asd

        They print money and pass it around amongst themselves. The catch is that doing so devalues the dollar, so part of the paradigm is ensuring an artificial scarcity of dollars among the people who do actual work.

        A truly competitive society would not work like this, or would at the very least mitigate these structural inequities in a way that doesn't result in a GINI coefficient appropriate to a third-world banana republic.

  • Robert

    What did they do, let our Mini Glenn Beck retard write this week's staff editorial?

    Sobering facts for you:
    400 people in the US control a startling 40% of the wealth.
    The bottom 50% of the US, that's 158 MILLION people, control LESS THAN 7% OF THE WEALTH.

    The top 1% are, indeed, composed of people who have exploited and enslaved, nothing more and nothing less.

  • Michael

    The whole premise of this piece is wrong anyway, since you have to measure the 1% by wealth, and not by income. Here's a good article on the subject, as opposed to this one:

    "According to the IRS estimates based on estate taxes, there were about 2.2 million people, or about 1% of the adult population, whose net worth was $1.5 million or more in 2004. Net worth is a measure of wealth that takes a person’s total assets (home, real estate, stock, bonds, businesses, retirement savings, etc.) and subtracts all debts (mortgages, credit card, etc.). This top 1% owned almost $3.3 trillion in stocks, or more than half of the $6 trillion in stock owned by households that year. This means that the top 1% controlled the big corporations that dominate the economy." http://www.fightbacknews.org/2011/10/16/who-are-o

  • Rufus Jones

    When its fake, its fake. You ought to see the stories coming out of NYC. They are stealing each other blind in the Occupy Movement. $5,000 laptops, money by the bagfull is going missing,
    No to mention, the smallness of the movement is most obvious. Most of the time, reporters outnumber the protesters themselves. Journalists are advising the "more equal than other" occupiers because they don't know what they are doing.
    One question? If these people are so much against capitalism, why do they have multi-thousand dollar laptops, and money sitting around?
    Just like in Animal Farm; all occupiers are equal, but some occupiers are more equal than others.

  • LJS

    First of all, you can't account for nor consolidate the ideas and opinions of everyone in a movement.
    I occupy because I don't like that corporations are considered people. I don't like that companies that have screwed up can get bailed out, but hard working Americans can lose all they have due to forces outside of their control. I don't like that social programs are being chipped away at because of unbalanced budgets. I don't like that our country is no longer about "no taxation with out representation", it's no taxation if you can cozy up to legislatures and get out of it. I don't like that company's are able to cheat their workers out of pention.
    Wealth is not a reflection of hard work. Many are simply born into wealth. They're not the bad guys, we understand that. We also understand that they shouldn't be rewarded by tax breaks/cut when we're expected to pick up the slack.

  • JDubb
  • JDubb
  • JDubb
  • Brandon

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/10/19/what-pe
    Cool deally, u can type in any income and see what percentile of the country that puts you in based on salary.
    And according to this, the top 1% make $506k/yr. That's salary only, not investments.

  • Brandon

    i'm sorry i didn't clarify: $506k/yr isn't the average 1 percenter, it's the poorest 1 percenter.

  • ITry

    My generation has been lost to the "I deserve equal without equal effort" movement, I'm tired of fighting it. You can only put your claims of "unfairness" on the backs of the hardest working before they will shrug you off and when they do you will be lost because you do not know how to take care of yourself. Good luck when that day comes.

    —From a future 1%

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