The Occupy Wall Street movement was originally set into motion as a protest against corporate greed, lobbyist influence and government mismanagement of tax payer dollars. But the movement soon revealed a deeper message with the help of “We are the 99 Percent,” a visual-based campaign that gave America’s middle class a platform for sharing their personal journey’s through the Great Recession. Student loan debts, lack of health insurance and struggling to pay the bills with consistent cutoffs and interest increases were the top five reasons for economic hardship.
For the record, 99 percent doesn’t completely reflect the middle class plight because it also includes those making $350,000 and less annually which is something of a dream to the average American. Here are a few numbers that fan the culture war flame:
- 90 percent, or the percent of Americans who earn less than $100,000 a year
- $44,410 — the national mean salary for all U.S. occupations in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- $10,700 — average credit card debt of U.S. household with one credit card combined with 14.97 national interest rate
- $689.5 billion — number of national unfunded pension liabilities due to Wall Street volatility
- $418 billion — unpaid government retiree health care obligations
- $174,000 — Congress salaries
- 11.4 million — average earnings of a fortune 500 CEO
A recent USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found that at a time when most employees are struggling to remember their last raise CEO’s saw a 27 percent pay jump nationally. Professor William Lazonick of the University of Massachusetts said much of this increase was due to “cost-cutting and layoffs, not from the creation of businesses and growth.”
President Barack Obama has called for a new minimum tax called the “Buffett Rule” for American households that make more than $1 million annually. But for the 90 percent of Americans earning less than 100,000 a year the number is still a bit outrageous. In a recent “Hardball” interview with Chris Matthews, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore criticized Washington’s lack of judgment of the middle class plight and building culture war between the haves and have nots. “What you’re calling the left position is actually the center,” he said.
As the Occupy Wall Street protesters rally for the third week, a slew of new supporters join ranks across the map. In New York, many labor unions have endorsed the movement and plan to stand with the protesters. “It’s really simple,” said Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley. “These young people are speaking for the vast majority of Americans who are frustrated by the bankers and brokers who have profited on the backs of hard-working people.”
In just three weeks, the Occupy Wall Street movement has become a beacon for countless disaffected Americans at a point when the majority of “U.S. adults say the country is on the wrong track.” (via @CNN)
How will you respond?