“Occupy Wall Street” protesters in New York City
On September 17, 2011, a group of protesters launched Occupy Wall Street, in New York City’s financial district. Speaking out against greed and corruption, the OWS activists are focusing on inequalities of wealth distribution in America. Claiming the economic system is rewarding the already wealthy at the expense of virtually everyone else, they emphasize a populist idea that “the 99%” are being exploited by “the 1%” who own most national wealth.
The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency that provides economic data to Congress, released a study of national income distribution between 1979 and 2007 that confirms the rich really have been getting richer. While not offering reasons for growing income disparity, the CBO report details that those with the highest incomes have seen their incomes nearly triple over the period; at the same time, the middle 60 percent of Americans experienced only modest increases in income.
Similar “Occupy” protests have sprung up in cities and communities nationwide, but the participation is estimated at only about 100,000 people overall. The OWS Web site describes the protest as a “leaderless resistance movement” that represents “many … political persuasions.” According to one early survey of the movement, the majority of the protesters are left-wing ideologically, as evidenced by their opposition to free-market capitalism and embrace of radical redistribution of wealth. The vast majority favor engaging in civil disobedience to achieve their goals. But the movement has not put forth specific demands, and many of the protesters are engaged in grass-roots democracy within their ranks.
Some historians have pointed out that, like Occupy Wall Street, other movements protesting against the concentration of wealth have arisen in American history. Coxey’s Army in 1894 and the Bonus Army in 1932 were spurred on by persistent unemployment.
Image credit: Anthony Behar/Sipa Press/ocwsipatb.017/1110112219
- The Geography of Occupying Wall Street (And Everywhere Else)
A New York Times blogger who analyzes politics, polling, and public affairs has studied the extent of the “Occupy” protests around the United States.
(Source: New York Times, October 17, 2011)
- Polling the Occupy Wall Street Crowd
Opinion piece that focuses on the findings of an early sampling of opinion among the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2011)
- Web site of the OWS Movement
The decentralized movement’s Web site includes a link to “We Are the 99%”—handwritten testimonies of Americans struggling financially.
(Source: occupywallstreet.org; accessed October 31, 2011)
- Occupy Wall Street (OWS)
This encyclopedia article covers the basics of the ongoing protest events in New York and elsewhere.
(Source: wikipedia.com; accessed October 31, 2011)
- CBO: Top 1% Getting Exponentially Richer
Discusses the recent report of the Congressional Budget Office on increasing income inequality in the United States from 1979 to 2007.
(Source: CBS News, October 25, 2011)
- “Occupy” Movement Has Precedents in American History
This article compares the current “Occupy” movement to other movements in U.S. history that have arisen during times of great economic hardship; includes brief videos of “Occupy” protests in Knoxville, Tennessee, and other cities.
(Source: Des Moines Register, October 13, 2011)