Occupy Wall Street: The Right Focus

Occupy Wall Street protesters are wise to focus on unequal income distribution-such as the outsize gains reaped by financial-industry companies. Pro or con?

Read the debate by guest columnists John Schmitt and Tim Cavanaugh and watch the video with Bloomberg.com’s Suzanne Woolley

Pro: A Growing Disparity

Economic inequality has been growing steadily for three decades. According to the most definitive data, assembled by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, the top 1 percent received 10 percent of all U.S. income in 1979. By 2007, just before the Great Recession, that share had risen to 23 percent.

What most Americans don’t know, however, is that before the late 1970s, inequality had been falling for five decades. The Golden Age of capitalism—the 30 years from the end of World War II through the mid-1970s, when gross domestic product, wages, and incomes grew faster than at any comparable period in American history—was marked not by financial excesses and widening inequality, but by equalizing growth and broadly shared prosperity.

Of course, not every Occupy Wall Street protester has reviewed the hard data. But the thread running through the range of grievances voiced at occupations around the country is anger over high and rising inequality.

Few measures would help the long-term health of the economy more than reducing the economic and political clout of Wall Street. The financial sector exists to connect savers with investors and to do so at the lowest feasible cost and risk. In a sensible world, we would view the financial sector as nothing more than a transactions cost to be minimized along the way to producing the goods and services that the economy is really about.

For all the counter-culture on display, Occupy Wall Street is pushing us exactly in this sensible direction.

Con: An Unrealistic Goal

Here’s the difference between opposing the outsize gains reaped by financial-industry companies and demanding an end to “unequal income distribution.” The former is justified anger at a specific abuse of taxpayers by politically connected financiers. The latter is a fool’s errand.

No society has come close to making wealth distribution equal. The great egalitarian experiments of the 20th century proved this, as attentive readers have known since the 1957 publication of Yugoslav dissident Milovan Đilas’ The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System, which revealed shocking disparities in quality of life in the “workers’ paradises” of Eastern Europe. China gave the world a horrific double-shot of rural poverty and (relative) urban wealth; it is only since the country joined global trading markets that it has seen provincial poverty decline.

At the same time, income inequality in China has grown, as it does in every rising economy. Growing wealth disparities are in fact a sign that overall prosperity is increasing in a competitive marketplace. The economist Gary Becker recently described how this works: “It would be hard to motivate the vast majority of individuals to exert much effort, including creative effort, if everyone had the same earnings, status, prestige, and other types of rewards. Fewer individuals would engage in the hard work involved in finishing high school and going on to college if they did not expect their additional education to bring higher incomes, better health, more prestige, and better opportunities to marry.”

Creating general equality of opportunity is among the greatest U.S. achievements. But creating equality of outcomes has caused misery everywhere it has been tried.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg Businessweek, Businessweek.com, or Bloomberg LP.

Reader Comments

Stephen WEber

Equality of income is not in the cards for centuries.

But the key problem is that the lowest class still has to work for survival, food, shelter, medical attention.

If the 1% wants to hold onto their large share of all the commodities, land, and entertainment resources, all they have to do is provide a minimum amount of food, housing, and medical to everyone of the less "driven" crowd of Americans, the 99%.

It is obvious that people would still work for ipods and tv and cars and so on. But the removal of fear really would be enough to calm the masses.

Stephen Weber

littleBiggyGirl

on day #35, what three words best describe the #OWS movement?
http://littlebiggy.org/4660547

4thVoice

It's not about the money. It's about how the money is obtained and how it is used. Just like it's not about the gun.

Fair pay for fair labor.

Your a Dumbass

"If the 1% wants to hold onto their large share of all the commodities, land, and entertainment resources, all they have to do is provide a minimum amount of food, housing, and medical to everyone of the less 'driven' crowd of Americans, the 99%."

-Spoken like a true socialist

Farmer Joe

How about we have equal protection under the law? Felony fraud is felony fraud. I can't believe these institutions get fined a fraction of the fraud. If I knew these were the rules that you can get away with this stuff, I would have been doing it myself. But the law says no, and I don't but they do?

shampoovta

Whatever, but I can hear the construction of the gallows in every conversation at work. Left or right. Be aware, keep your head on a swivel.

anon7247

You can never have income equality just as you can never eliminate poverty. But to dismantle an entire supportive class (middle class) by downsizing, offshoring, financial manipulation, and obscene lobbying to pull out the safety checks has ramifications for a long time for everyone. Any society must protect its middle class. What we have seen with the lifting of regulations that kept reins on the wild speculation, unethical activity (legal or not), and outright political machinations through cronyism and bribery is the best way to turn the greed on full blast and stifle everyone in the path. The 1% wealth is relative just like poverty is relative; and the barometer for both is the middle class. Keep the greed in check and keep the middle class robust. Separate corporate and state just like church and state. It's much safer for everyone.

Greta

Yes, the problem is that more people are not able to even reach a subsistence level and are in massive amounts of debt. Since we all share this planet, it would be ill-advised for the 1% to aid in creating a very uncomfortable world for a growing majority of people. People are fearful now, and if their fears are further realized, they will move past that fear and any motivation to cooperate with a broken system. Then in all likelihood a real and messy revolution would result, once they have absolutely nothing to lose.

Jeff Bohan

How about if a CEO only makes 100 times more than an average employee rather than 350, that would be a step in the right direction, huh? Not too outlandish, I believe.

John

How does this new list of grievences not make sense?

https://sites.google.com/site/the99percentdeclaration/

really

The problem is that people aren't inspired to work harder, finish high school, and go to college like they used to be. If you go to college these days you have to pay for it, and that usually means loans (unless you're extremely talented or wealthy). Once you graduate and get a good-paying job, you're in the same boat as someone who didn't go to school when you factor in debt. Also those jobs are disappearing and the tradesmen are increasingly in demand. Bottom line, the system is broken. I don't think anyone has the solution, but the fact of the matter is that the system has manifested into a situation where even getting a house, let alone becoming wealthy, is next to impossible because that 1% of the population is making it more and more difficult.

Kristian Rickert

Tim Cavanaugh makes no sense. His argument is 101 logic fallacy of a strawman argument.

OWS is not saying they want Communism. They're arguing about the major disparity of wealth that's gotten out of control. Government has become socialist with corporations through welfare, tax breaks, and bailouts but never once doing anything for the welfare of the people they govern.

His argument tries to say that the protesters want equal distribution of wealth--which is simply not true.

The French revolution had success, but it was a bloody mess. So if he's going to argue history, he shouldn't ignore that one.

Dave

This argument misses the boat entirely. To start with, it's a pro/con arguing the same thing. The author obviously doesn't understand the point of OWS. The wealthiest have abused their influence, and everyone else suffers. They bend the rules in their favor and the rest of us pay the price. Most people want to work in a fair world and have a chance at earning a fair living. They don't wish all income to be equal.

Kris

Come on, John Schmitt, whoever you are. What a narrow-minded polarized article. Most Americans believe we should have an economically stratified system, but with some reasonable type of balance. Plot the opportunity for mobility between the economic tiers vs. time, and I think you will understand the modern frustrations.

Martin

Thank you for the thoughtful report based on your in-person experience. I am not a protestor but a CPA up here in Connecticut. I have been surprised--at both my friends on the right and left and with my clients--by how most people support this movement. I think the dialogue is healthy. I see first hand the decimation of the middle class as I handle people's finances and taxes. From Enron faking power shortages to hedge funds manipulating oil prices, there are so many real issues that affected people. The bottom line is income and opportunity have been shrinking but costs have been rising more than the official inflation rate. Food, fuel, college, and medical have grown 10% a year or more and people have been going backwards. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, greed has become even worse in bad times. Many companies where employees took pay cuts never got them back while CEOs took huge bonuses or bought yachts.

Fred

Nobody gives a damn what the corporate criminals and traitors or the mainstream media or the pet politicians the corporations own think about the growing rebellion. Shove it. The rebellion is growing and revolution is inevitable.

suzanne

Yes. Less income inequality certainly makes for a better economy. People who buy stuff are the real 'job creators,' though the right wing will never admit it. Henry Ford knew it and paid above average wage so his workers could also be his customers.

Less income inequality also makes for a much happier and more stable society (check out the statistics on Denmark). People are unhappy when there is gross inequality. I'm not just talking about people going hungry. I'm talking about people who do okay, but because they chose a more noble profession than banking, let's say, they are made to feel they are of lesser status or importance just because they earn so much less money. The value of their work to society could be much more than that of a banker, but it is simply not reflected because the financial system is completely corrupt and rigged via government (which not only bails them out with our money but lends them money at 0% to lend back to us all at 5% to 30%) to feed these shamefully greedy people and pay their massive salaries and bonuses.

Brandon

How about don't spread my weath, spread my work ethic. I don't have any problem helping people that need it, but the lazy people who sit there and collect wellfare checks and have no intention of trying can kiss my ass. People that make the money in the top 1% earned it. Get over it. My favorite part about these protests are the celebrities showing up and supporting it. Hmm, aren't they part of that 1%? Yet people are all excited about them showing up. The only thing that is driving these protests is greed, so the people at these protests are no better than the people that they are trying to blame. If you want money, go work for it. Don't expect it to be handed to you. People these days make me sick. You want everything handed to you like your rich parents did when you were little because you're spoiled as hell.

John Sellers

About the increasing difference between rich and poor. What people don't realize is that the conservative fixed rate loans are so regressive that it has been instrumental in moving the balance of wealth from the middle class to the banks. The math is simple. The middle class gets the equity of a home and the banks get interest profit equivalent to 2 or 3 homes.

Like the boiling lobster, things have heated up over the years, and now the default behavior favors the banks. Consider the following alternative financial crisis solution. Get a perspective on this lack of balance between the rich and the poorer.

http://sellers.com/CrisisSolution.pdf

NurseOccupierNTexas

Wow, Martin, well said. Most of these posts are right on point. I have a car, stable job, bills. I was inspired to protest with the Occupy movement because this isn't about wanting a paycheck or income equality; this about getting jobs back into America and having a decent paycheck for decent labor. When was the last time you heard someone say: "I'm just glad that you only have to work, so I can stay home with the kids"? These days it takes two full time incomes to raise a family. It's sad.

joeblow

In the mid-1800s, 60% of America worked in agriculture. Today less than 10% of America works in both agriculture and manufacturing combined. One could say that is because of jobs going "overseas," but the fact is that within the U.S. borders, food production and manufacturing production continues to rise, even over the past few (troubled) years. The reason for this reduction in labor force, while production rises, is simply: technology. Technology will continue to replace labor in the new prime-job-sector (the service industry) along with agriculture and manufacturing. This is a good thing. For why should a human being spend their life doing the rote tasks that a machine can do safer and faster? The problem is that machines don't need money for food, shelter, etc. No matter how you look at the big picture, technology will continue to make "work" irrelevant as more and more of those functions move toward sophisticated (and unimaginable) technological innovations. Thus leaving humans to deal with the quandary of getting their hands on "money," which actually is the only tool that basically guarantees the right to access for a small minority. All humans deserve respect and a decent quality of life. Nobody deserves extreme opulence in a world where 35,000 children die every day due to malnutrition. We are one planet and the negative consequences of arrogance and blindness will increase until we grow up and do what we were supposed to learn in the sandbox: "Share."

Cindy Brown

Why is it so tough for the WS crooks to realize that they are being short sighted?
People eventually get pissed off when they are robbed. Have they never heard of the Russian Revolution? Right now we're having polite little "demonstrations."
If unemployment continues, Arab Spring is going to look like a Maypole dance compared to what U.S. crooks can expect.

Rick

"Fewer individuals would engage in the hard work involved in finishing high school and going on to college if they did not expect their additional education to bring higher incomes, better health, more prestige, and better opportunities to marry."

Read this over and over. And over. Ok. Now, if you have a college degree, let's say as a middle school teacher, and you expect higher income (than without) and you expect better health (than without) and prestige, but they are laying off teachers because they can spend money on wars but not education. Duh. Pro wins--con fails. This guy writes for "reason.com"?

James Hovland

Message to Wall Street: Invest in America.

Trashing our economy will not drive us to rebelling against our left-wing government. If you want the people to support capitalism, it has to actually work.

So, here's the problem: Oil is a bad investment. Betting on oil causes the price to rise, which damages our economy. That cuts into everyone's profits and drives our trade deficit up. Please refrain from such counterproductive trades; it's just bad business. If you want to make a fortune on oil, let America just keep sitting on it and we'll drill here when the rest is gone.

Gold is another bad investment. Divesting from our economy and devaluing the dollar is a bad thing. Please don't do that.

It's time to get the money flowing again.

Capitalism has a rather significant challenge on its hands. Communist China is projected to lead this century. Shall I repeat that? Communist China...

Step up to the plate.

America is the best option for showing the world what a capitalist nation can do. The question is: Is Wall Street more interested in supporting capitalism? Or controlling American politics?

Who says the revolution won't be televised? Wouldn't be much of a revolution if it wasn't. The people are, as predicted, "taking to the streets," but our revolution is not aimed at overthrowing our left-wing government; we've got bigger fish to fry.

It's time to get the fear and pessimism out of the financial news. Positive emotions will produce positive results.

You know how this works: "Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."--Edward Bernays

This is a new era. Occupy Wall Street is just the beginning. This is democracy rising, and our leaders, including the media, have a choice to make. Follow or fall.

America is going to boom, isn't it?

Barbara Duck

I call it the Attack of the Killer Algorithms and it affects us too. It's about marketing and bad and deceptive math that denies. I have part one and part two. Good media from NYU professor Siefe who wrote the book Proofiness, the Dark Side of Mathematical Deception and a nice video on how algorithms affect our lives.
http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/10/occupying-wall-streetits-all-about.html

Part two, algorithms and code for profits beyond normal use:
http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/10/disturbing-news-for-consumers-with.html

Jess Getinby

I am gratified to see that the most illiterate, nonsensical comments are from the posters with erudite comments like "don't spread my weath." Intelligent individuals can see the problem. But now what do we do? The plutocrats are on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.

Sterling Headset

Fleabaggers have rights too.

Dana

The number one rule of economics is this: If you can't beat them, join them.

Secondly, there is absolutely no way to regulate the income of the self-employed, let alone force them to "share," and if there was there would be no incentive to make that money in the first place.

It's all about survival and determination.

Sirius

Methinks the right has a big choice to make, pretty soon.

Either they start making some moderate adjustments to the economic system that quells the fear and anger of the 99% (like, say, accepting Obama's job plan as a token of good faith, even if they don't agree with it), or the power to dictate the changes will be turned over to those who have little to lose and really don't care what they break along the way.

Like it or not, whether you are pro or con, the jig is up. The Tea Party is already a parody of itself and it has awoken a political revival they probably wish would have remained dormant and ignorant...and consuming.

DeeDee

The aberrant notion that is a recreation of reality by arguments such as that 1% of the population is ordained by the gods to develop and maintain the necessary status quo is absurd and cannot be further from the truth. These are the same arguments used to develop and maintain slavery in America. Today, global slavery and poverty are accepted as norms in order for some to experience instant gratification and extravagance for its own sake without thought for others. This thinking falls under deadened sensibilities, not economics.

Judy

The issue is that many of the folks on Wall Street got rich from ill-gotten gains. Many contributed to the demise of world economies and instead of being held accountable, they are getting bailouts and pulling in huge bonuses. Mr. Cavanaugh has obfuscated the issue by trying to make it an issue about socialism vs. capitalism. It is about greed vs. accountability.

Old&Worried

With all due respect, Mr.Cavanaugh,it has less to do with income disparity among the population, but more to do with opportunity. Without an opportunity to succeed, we have nothing. Literally nothing. You seem to be intelligent, so I doubt you need a lesson in how big money and monopolies hinder individual aspiration to wealth. Sure, once in awhile it happens, but the playing field is stacked and those 1 percenter's weigh heavy on the rest of us.

Reality seeker

The root cause for this movement? I have heard wanting others to pay for young adults' student loans, frustration with income differences in our country, basically economic angst on parade. The antidote for any problem is action. The problem is: How is asking for a handout going to produce anything someone wants to pay for?

I want you to help me pay for my ______. It is only fair that you help me pay for my _________. Whether you are a banker or a protester, this is not right.

Make yourself marketable and you will be rewarded.

By the way, II defend your right to protest...just do not agree with your message.

Scam

It's amazing to see nearly every argument I have for wealth equality all in one place, and I am referring to the responses not the article.

The one that I haven't seen is a mention of the protectionism in place that exaggerates the value of originality and intellectual property--Beckham is worth how much? These laws have created an economy of periodic monopolies--is that what capitalism is?

The wealthy do not create jobs; growth is created by demand not supply. Without the spending power of the 99%, there is nothing.

Technology is making the economy wealthier, but only the filthy rich are noticing the benefits. The working class has disappeared, not long now for the middle class. It's a house of cards with no foundation--fix it now while it can be done without bloodshed.

One last thing: Americans have learned nothing from the potato famine. The British public of the time had a more valid excuse for saying they had no control over what happened then...what excuse do you have? Don't listen to aristocracy--they have their own interest at the forefront; that's where the balance is required.


tim

Lest we forget that this is Bloomberg Businessweek, the plutonomists playbill. The fact is that the majority of the 1% has broken the law to get there and then bought new laws to protect their ill gotten wealth. Who are these 1%? Does Bloomberg have the balls to publish a demographic? Why is it that protesters in every other country who are backed by this mysterious 1% at the cost of the American taxpayer have access to missile launchers, .50 caliber machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades while we Americans are adamantly denied access to any such weapon? Why is there an extortion figure attached to every government service? Why are there 100,000 homeless in a city like Los Angeles? Republicans will tell you that it's because the weather is more forgiving here and besides they're actually professional recyclers.

Cary

Monopolies, propaganda, and apathy are the weaknesses of the capitalistic/democratic system. If the Occupy Wall Street movement could articulate this, it could go a long way toward a positive change. However, the institutions of economics, politics, and media that have been so empowered by the general population's apathy over the years may be able to squelch this effort.

Anonymous

Quote 1: "No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution."--Niccolo Machiavelli

Quote 2: "Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions."--Niccolo Machiavelli

Quote from this article which bears that out: "If the 1% wants to hold onto their large share of all the commodities, land, and entertainment resources, all they have to do is provide a minimum amount of food, housing, and medical to everyone of the less 'driven' crowd of Americans, the 99%."

I say: The strategy of 1% has been to gain total control of the world's economy and subjugate the wealth of 99%. To execute milestones of domination over time and to conceal those milestones from the 99% until they absolutely must be revealed.

To mire the 99% in sheer desperation. So that a pittance of relief feels like capitulation. It is good to remember that to a starving dog any morsel seems like a feast. We should not settle for anything less than a reestablishment of permanent economic equality. With the appropriate checks and balances.

And we must not stop using our sheer numbers and power to dissent until that has been achieved.

Mack

Blah blah blah this or that, pros or cons. We are going to the banks, public utilities. We are going to stay on your corporate asses. When you fall, you will pay back the treasury with your money. We don't want your historical track records. This is our history, not yours. [Forget] your view of egalitarianism and socialism...socialim is already being used for the corporations. You liars will pay for your misinformation.

Manish Srivastava

We are amidst several changes --demographic changes leading to shifts in needs and expectations, technology driving hyper automation and hyper connectivity, global financial interdependence leading to volatility, and of course the rising concerns around sustainability. To cope with such a complex and interconnected environment, we will need to rethink a few things.

1. Governance Model - Need for more inclusive governance models through decentralization of power. Decision making needs to be moved closer to the people. Also need to look at multi-party democracies to accommodate more diverse views.
2. Economic Model - A free market model where creativity and innovation is encouraged but there should be limits to accumulation of wealth by individuals and organizations. There were some debates on limiting salaries of the CEOs, but that seems to have fizzled out.
3. Education Model - As traditional jobs will continue to be eliminated through hyper automation, we need to rethink the education and learning system given the new economy will be increasingly knowledge- and creativity-based.

Also at a more philosophical level, we need to rethink our definition of success. Here is a simple experiment to determine how we define success today: Ask people to name the most wealthy people in the world and then ask them to name the last year Nobel laureates. I am not saying these are the only dimensions to define success. But clearly in a world limited by resources and inequality beyond a point leads to discontentment\lawlessness--we certainly need to rethink the few assumptions on which the current system is built.

Josh

Brandon,

So what do you say to someone like me who has a masters degree, graduated top of their class, a strong work ethic but refuses to kiss the ass of spoiled rich kids who inherited their dad's company and now just want people working for them who will kiss their ass rather then contribute to their company. Are you saying that all people who are in that 1% truly worked for it? Are you saying that because they are in that 1% they are somehow a superior human to those who are not? It seems like people in this country think the rich get rich on their own, but that just is not true. If you run a successful business then you have employees; those employees provide some service or task that is then exchanged for money. You as an owner of said business then allow the employee to keep a percentage of they money they make selling the good or service and keep the rest for overhead and profit. No employees, no money. No money, no profit. An employee can do whatever task and provide whatever service they give without a business. A business simply providers a reliable customer base for them to sell their goods both work together for the betterment of each other. Any business owner who forgets this and thinks they do all the work and that some who by their awesome will the work gets done and the people under them are irrelevant is seriously deluding themselves and needs to take a moment to think of the people who have helped elevate that person to the status they have. Kiss your ass indeed. Sir, why don't you kiss the ass of the people who got you where you are today?

wdednam

Tired old argument from the "con" side:

You can't have any sort of income redistribution because Communism hasn't worked.

Umm, there's a huge range of economic regimes between the "free market" and "communism," both of which are ideological extremes that never have and never will exist in pure form in this universe.

And tell that to Sweden who has the largest welfare state in the world as a percentage of GDP and isn't anywhere near to being in the dire straits other European economies and even the US find themselves in.


joeblow

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

We underestimate the care and willingness of the common person to contribute to society.

A monetary system will always reward shortsighted unsustainability.

The world will eventually realize that we either shift to a stewardship/sharing society or continue down the inevitable global-social-enviromental collapse created out of a profit-based reward system (monetary system).

Hopefully, we (and future generations) won't have to suffer near-extinction before we wake up and think outside our dollar-box.

Government, nor money, has ever advanced society or quality of life on Earth. Only technology and care has, and will, do that.

We have a long way to go before our mind-sets are willing to open and evolve.

Alex

Joeblow, you said that money has never advanced society or quality of life, only technology, but do you really think that this technology is for free? No, money has been the motor for science. Without money, it'd be impossible to do anything but trade a few foods. So what would you do if the internet company is asking you for chairs but you have only carrots? But right, you are in a sharing society and they will give it up for free, yeah, right. Money was meant for exchange of objects. Exchange. We should all keep that in mind. No derivatives and futures and options, just exchange. One way to transform your work into something more than carrots. So remember money is not guilty; it makes your life easier every day, but like there are killers, there are corrupt financiers. We should better teach how to manage personal finances.

joeblow

All the resources are here on earth, whether we restrict access to them through a monetary system or simply utilize them efficiently with mature stewardship, is our choice. You are asking a question from down inside the "dollar-box" mind-set. I know it is difficult to stand outside it, even for a moment, to see that money is only a psychological invention...raw natural resources exist whether or not we play monopoly on top of them. And I am talking about mature stewardship. My mom didn't count every time she did something for me. And now I don't count every time I do something for her. If we look under the scathing surface of our cultural attitudes we will find that we actually do care about each other and life, and can do helpful things without having to keep scorecards.

joeblow

Alex, I might add that it is not money that is the motor for science, but rather research and ingenuity. Money only provides access to time and resources (within a monetary system that requires money for access). Money can also restrict and "buy off and black shelve" critical scientific advancements.

Obviously within the established monetary system, money is required to operate. But money value is increased through scarcity (inherent or falsely generated). This detrimental facet of a monetary system touches/infects all sectors, including science.

So, although science occurs within a monetary system, we should not get so confused as to think that ingenuity and research would not occur outside of a monetary system. And if one looks at the bigger effects that the profit motive has on intellectual and scientific advancements globally, it is not difficult to see that our environment is collapsing due to behaviors that could easily be avoided were it not for the blind, short-sighted, and selfish interests inherent in a system that requires constant profit for its operation.

Odyssey

America, can you just have a revolution to stop the enslaving and destruction of our planet?

You live in a democracy; now put that system to the test if you want a future.

John

It is not just about income inequality; it is more about fairness. What possible justification is there for the high salaries on Wall Street and all financial institutions? What is the benefit to society or individuals that can support the argument for this level of remuneration? There is none--it is just a clever form of robbery, but at the moment it is seemingly perfectly legal. All academic work shows that the net benefit to society of Wall Street is zero. Compare this to a nurse, teacher, etc., or people who make things that are truly useful. There is no rational justification. Why do all Western governments condone this activity? It must be collusion and corruption. It is time to recognize that bankers, hedge funds managers, etc. are just con artists extracting huge sums out of the real economy while contributing little or nothing of lasting value. Do they deserve any more respect than drug barons or arms dealers? CEO salaries--more of the same.

Frumious

If Mr. Cavanaugh believes that there is "equality of opportunity" in the United States, I would suggest he has been selling candy for the Junior Chamber of Commerce for too long.

My kids were "born on third base": With smart, well-off, well connected parents, the best neighborhoods, best public schools and Ivy League colleges. Yes, they are doing very well in their 20s. You will end up working for them.

However, take a kid from an immigrant family whose parents do not speak English and possess no useful skills to pass on, who cannot afford to live in a neighborhood with good schools and high-achieving students, who cannot afford college let alone get the grades to get into one, who are stuck in a city without jobs...

You call that equality of opportunity?

You need to open your eyes.

Ric Moving

People have come to suspect that Wall Street is inhabited by a whole bunch of Madoff types who are unscrupulously fleecing the public to the bone in all kinds of very cold-hearted manners under the protection of a rigged government. The people feel that they have been financially hurt by an army of cold-hearted and unscrupulous Madoff types who just used people for their own selfish gains to become the 1% by totally ripping off people to the bone and then discarding them after these victims are no long of use to them. People don't like to be used.

Nobody likes to be ripped off to the bone and then be discarded like some trash. Nor do these victims like being unfairly labeled as some Commie pinko welfare doped lazy trash to be discarded. They will naturally complain about being victimized by the Madoff types in Wall Street. And people suspect that Madoff is not even the worst character on Wall Street, since he "only" victimized a limited number of people. Some people feel the really powerful rich people have taken over the government itself using their piles of money to rip off everybody and everything (ie, the banking system) the rich and powerful can get their hands on. The massive scale of these fleecings make Madoff look like some small time curiosity. This gigantic scale of fleecing scares the hack out of the people.


Mayme Trumble

Lying and cheating in business is accepted. Until it is again made illegal to lie, cheat and defraud, things won't change.

blessing

I as a debater myself think that it's okay to protest but do it properly with respect and responsibility and act like your own age. In economic research, you pros should realise by fighting for less tax exc., you're actually making the police get the money there disturbing the citie's natural crowded work shift and by not leaving, your hygiene worsens around stores. You're also hurting the economic cycle by running buyers away and keeping people up so they don't make as much money by loud-speaking, drumming, fighting, and hygiene avoidence--it creates havoc.

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