It’s hard to read a newspaper or watch a televised news program without being bombarded with quotes and sound bites vilifying the Occupy Wall Street movement. If you can get past the slurs of “dirty”, “lazy”, “Marxist” and “Socialist” you find that the overriding complaint against OWS centers on “class warfare against the rich” and “redistribution of wealth.” One pundit went so far as to say that if government redistributes the wealth of the hard working rich it takes away their incentive to create the products that make society better for everyone. He went on to say that the blame for the disparity between the rich and the “99%ers” lies with those who plunk down their $10 and $20 to buy the products that make the rich…rich.
These comments are little more than ideological nonsense that completely miss the point that OWS and the Obama administration are trying to make.
No one begrudges the rich their “richness.” In the material girl society that we live in it is what most people aspire to be…rich. The objection is to the unlevel playing field on which the game is played. The objection is that the same rules don’t apply to everyone.
If you are going to bust Joe Bag O’ Donuts for holding a dime bag of weed then why does the President of Citigroup, who fraudulently certifies inflated financial statements, get off scot free? If you are going to throw Joe Six Pack out of his home for failing to pay his mortgage then why do you bail out banks that can’t meet their obligations to depositors? And why are those failing banks allowed to spend that bailout money on employee bonuses for a job well done? Why do you cut jobs, reduce benefits, freeze wages and outlaw collective bargaining rights on the middle class but ask nothing of those who have benefited most from the hard work of that same middle class? And why are you talking about cutting entitlement programs that the middle class depends on while continuing to provide tax loopholes and subsidies to the most affluent?
Yesterday, the President gave a very populist speech that many are calling his first re-election speech of the campaign. In his remarks he addressed the inequities between the top 1% earners and the rest of the country. He called for a fair and equal playing field that allows everyone to achieve all that is within them. His rhetoric, as usual, was eloquent and inspirational. If only he had offered the specifics of how he proposes to achieve that equality. Sadly, he did not.
We understand that fame and fortune buys you the best table at the coolest new restaurant. We get it! But that is not what this is about. It’s about fairness…and a belief that the same rules should apply to everyone…no matter your station in life.
There is a song that says: “happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers.” Most of the country would disagree.