4 signs Occupy Wall Street is right

Recent studies show plenty of mainstream support for some of the issues that define the protest movement.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 31, 2011 11:49AM

main street logoBy Seth Fiegerman, MainStreet


The Occupy Wall Street protesters were first ignored by the media and then maligned by certain outlets, but more recently a slew of reports and surveys have come out showing the movement may be on to something after all.


As difficult as it may be to nail down exactly what the protesters stand for, much of their attention is devoted to the growing indebtedness of average households, along with the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor, and ultimately the concern that the wealthy are exerting too much control over the political process.

Post continues below.

Several new studies have offered further evidence that these two problems are getting worse and, perhaps more importantly, that a large portion of the population is concerned about these issues.


Growing income inequality. Few reports in recent memory packed quite as much of a bang in so few words as one from the Congressional Budget Office.


The report shows that between 1979 and 2007, the superrich -- people in the top 1% of wage earners -- saw their after-tax incomes nearly triple, while those in the bottom 20% saw their wages remain relatively flat during that nearly 30-year period. As if that weren't infuriating enough, the CBO's report showed that the top 20% of wage earners saw their share of the nation's overall income increase by 10 percentage points during that period, while the other 80% saw their share decline by 2 or 3 percentage points.

In just a few paragraphs, the CBO showed definitively that the rich are getting richer at the expense of everyone else.


Americans favor wealth redistribution. Given the increasing degree of income inequality, it should come as little surprise that most Americans would echo those protesters who argue the current distribution of wealth is unfair.


One recent survey from The New York Times found that two-thirds of Americans believe U.S. wealth distribution is unfair, with a whopping 86% of Democrats saying so and 67% of independents. Republicans were less likely to agree with this statement, but nearly half still feel the distribution is not fair.


That may not mean two-thirds of the country would be willing to march in the cold weather to change this fact, but it does seem to put the burden of proof on those who claim the status quo is just fine.


Even the wealthy want to pay more taxes. One might assume that those with the most to lose would be the ones to fight hardest against evening out the income disparities, but a survey from Spectrem Group suggests otherwise.


The survey found that the vast majority (68%) of people worth at least $1 million favor raising taxes on Americans who make more than $1 million. And 61% of those worth at least $5 million are in favor of doing so. In other words, even the wealthy are fine with raising taxes on the wealthy, and previous surveys have shown that most average Americans certainly are in favor of it. So that really just leaves legislators inside the Beltway as the real hurdle.


No one likes the government, and few trust it. Perhaps for this reason, there seems to be a growing disconnect between the American people and the federal government that reflects the same sense of distrust heard among the protesters.


The same CBS News/New York Times poll found that just 9% of Americans approve of the current Congress and that 89% say they don't trust government to do what's right. Likewise, 70% say Republicans in Congress are pursuing policies that favor the wealthy.


Of course, we recognize that for every survey out that there that says one thing, another says something completely different, but there is a growing wealth of evidence that the protesters have plenty of justification to be angry and, most importantly, that they are not alone.


More on MainStreet:

Oct 31, 2011 1:23PM
Then why are congressmen/women who adamantly oppose any tax increases on the rich not getting the message?  Hummm...could it be their major contributors are paying them (reelection donations) to stay the course?  Please refer to the French Revolution.  We, the 99%, will not eat cake.
Nov 2, 2011 1:50PM

I'm so sick of hearing how the rich create jobs.  Jobs are created by consumers.  No one hires someone because they have extra money in their bank account, they hire based on meeting the needs of their customers.


Give a rich man a thousand dollars and he puts in the bank, give a poor man a thousand dollars and he goes shopping.

Oct 31, 2011 1:52PM
The federal government and wall street become a lie together. You can't get the truth from either one. The country needs wall street to be honest and the federal government to stand for all the people and not just the rich. The middle class needs to be brought back into their rightful place. They have paid the way for the other two - rich & poor - through taxes. Destroying the middle will leave this country without a democracy.
Oct 31, 2011 2:27PM

Pretty simple to me.  Eliminate ALL political campaign contributions.  Now that would level the playing field and get our congressmen to vote in the interest of the citizenry, not big corporations.  How do they possibly not consider contribution dollars just legalized bribery?  That has always blown me away. 


While we're at it, how about blowing up the IRS tax code and replacing it with a flat tax and a VAT?  Of course it wouldn't apply to the lowest earners. 


Lastly, how about we spend our money on OUR citizens, not those that have come to our country recently for the grab bag of giveaways.  Just a thought.

Nov 11, 2011 11:08AM
It is sad, but the polititions will look at their 9% approval rate and somehow justify that this is not the true view of the American people.  They seem to always try to explain negativity toward them away with excuses rather than to look inward and decide that what they are doing is not in line with the will of the people.  How do we collectively convince our elected officials that they really are not smarter than we are and that it is time to listen to what we are saying?  Perhaps we need to publicly humiliate them until they submit to our will.  Of course I would be humiliated if polls were showing that only 9% of the people I was supposed to be working for thought I was doing a good job.  So somehow we need to convince them that they should be ashamed when they see things like this rather than to try to explain them away.
Nov 3, 2011 11:23AM
I do not think, that the occupy wall street protestors want to eviscerate business. They are upset, that the social security trust fund was robbed to pay for tax cuts for the rich. They are upset that the the corporations now own all 3 branches of government, They are upset that the biggest wellfare queens ( the corporations) on the planet attack the poor, while they reap huge subsidies. They are upset at the wanton rape of our planet and resources, for the benefit of an elite minority. Article one paragraph one of the constition is about separation of powers. Separation of powers is a joke, when the same people own all 3 branches of government. They are upset, that too big to fail is thier mantra of the Democrats and Republicans. Anti Trust used to be a big deal in this country. Too big to fail means, that government has not been doing it's job. I think that most protesters believe in capilatlism, but not so, when it has morphed into a predatory monster. For these and many other reasons, they are pissed and rightfully so. Bring on the occupation. It is about time.
Nov 14, 2011 2:49PM
In the history of mankind, the uber rich have always found ways to remain uber rich at the expense of every one around them......to a point. The Assyrians, Egyptians--remember Moses took their slaves away, Greeks, Romans, French (Louis XVI), the Romanovs (Nicholas and Alexandra) all became societies with great income disparities......and all are gone. Funny thing about the uber rich: they are great at corrupting any system to maintain their weath, but never can see where the tipping point is in their respective societies until it is too late. The sage from Omaha is trying to wake up his class, but he won't succeed. Too bad the uber rich don't see the Occupiers for what they are: the canaries in the coal mine.
Nov 1, 2011 12:17AM
My question is very simple - why can presidents, governors, mayors, and numerous other elected officials permitted to serve only 2 terms; however a senator, congressman or judge (not the Supreme Court - they're fine) can serve as long as they can win an election?  Why are they permitted to accept money from companies in outrageous amounts? More importantly why are they and judges among the only members of government who can maintain their positions as long as they can win elections?  Why are the majority of these so called peoples representatives accepted  by the American people as doing a good job?  The senate and congress give themselves raises and work a limited number of days, take vacations under the guise of inspection tours or fact finding missions,  when in reality they are having martinis on paid for by vested interests.  When are we all going to wake up - a congressman or senator starts out owning one home and by the time they are in office 10 or 15 years are for the most part millionaires will multiple homes and giving their children blue chip educations that few of us can afford without great sacrifice, working several jobs and  student loans that take 10 years at least to pay off?  The problem is not just wall street and taxes, its indifferent politicians who for the most part have no social or moral conscience - if they did they'd work together regardless of party for the best interests of the American people - that simply is not happening @ what point will we wake up and take the action afforded us to elect people and limit terms:  If we don't wake up soon it will be to late and personally pray that everyone will get in line to vote and show our great displeasure will the present situation. Also,  why is it every time a new candidate comes on the field they are financially destroyed with incumbents huge war chests. Someone please tell me why the citizens of this country are failing to use the most effective weapon we have our VOTE? Lets get rid of the people who are failing us, and our families, Like the man said  "Its time to make a change" but the "sit back and take it easy part" needs to be over, we need to get off our selective butts and start to make a change, a real change in the people who are failing every American every day.  Amen
Nov 14, 2011 1:48PM
I think this country is headed in the direction of India.  Small, very wealthy class, a very small middle class, and everyone else at the bottom with nothing.  The GOP answer is to continue this trend.  The people who created the chaos got money to stay in business.  Their doing great, big bonuses and salaries.  Everyone else was left holding the bag.  These same financial institutions are walking away with their money, their jobs, and millions of homes that used to belong to people they ruined. 
Nov 1, 2011 8:17PM

I keep hearing about wealth redistribution.  Wealth redistribution not only comes in the form of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, but also comes in the form of PAY WORKERS A BETTER WAGE AND NOT CHARGE EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS FOR YOUR PRODUCTS.  If workers are paid a better wage, they might be able to achieve their dreams. 



Oct 31, 2011 4:44PM

The problem is that the assumption of "trickle down" is a lie.  Now if all those richest 1% made their money by actually producing something here with American workers, then it would be possible, but most of the rich make their money by trading paper back and forth....stocks, bonds, loans, insurance, commodities, lawyers, titles, currencies .. with other rich.  No jobs, just the rich getting richer on get rich quick schemes that are more illusion than production.


We HAVE to get back to making things again and buying American-made so everyone prospers and the tax base grows.

Oct 31, 2011 2:02PM

The relationship between American Corporations and the average working class American has changed from mutualistic to parasitic. This just my opinion and why I support OWS.

Nov 14, 2011 2:43PM

I don't think many of want socialism, but we would like to see a form of capitalism that has a little more common decency and fairness.  Don't underestimate the impact the Occupy events are having.  They are addressing financial and political issues that both conservatives and liberals can agree on.   How often does that happen?

Oct 31, 2011 2:34PM

I think it is critical for the middle class to standup to the Washington politicians of all strips and tell them that they cannot solve the problems that they have created on the backs of the middle class.  I would oppose anyone who tries to cut our social security or our Medicare.  There is so much waste and corruption in government that every time we give in and let them solve problems by cutting needed social programs, we feed the beast in Washington and as a consequence, the economic welfare of the middle class continues to decline.

Nov 14, 2011 3:13PM
Thanks to the biased media and their dedication to the political status-quo, most Americans will continue to have a skewed impression of what is actually driving the movement.  Most of the movement is occupied by formerly solvent individuals who have found themselves marginalized by an increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots.  This situation is driving more and more households into an increasing margin of debt.

For every outspoken voice that is bemoaning their shift in economic status, there are many times more that were marginalized previously by a politically sanctioned demand for cheaper labor. This is especially true in the southern states, where sweatshop employment has been the standard for many decades.  Religious institutions are also partly to blame for this situation due to their unrestrained greed and refusal to condemn their biggest contributors.

If the final outcome is general unrest, or even a breakdown of civilization as we know it, the fault will belong to the elitists among us who refuse to relinquish privilege in favor of economic parity.  Name calling and pigeonholing of participants in no way leads to the development of any viable solution.  The talking heads of the media can describe participants as communist, socialists, or whatever until they are blue in the face, but it will not change the realities of life for the marginalized individuals and households.  This is a sure way, however, to destroy faith in government.  When the population loses faith in an ostensibly 'democratic' government, the only way that a government can maintain itself is to become increasingly totalitarian, further marginalizing its citizens.
Oct 31, 2011 1:53PM
I can only find part time work lower wages than I have ever earned in my life.... But hey it's my fault....LOL 
Nov 1, 2011 12:44PM

To those that would lump all business owners into same category or better that you would actually think that they do not pay their fair share of taxes for roads and infrastructure let me just give you a little education. I am a small business owner. I employee 8 people incl. myself.

I withhold Federal,state , ss ,medicare from my employess check each week.When I pay that in I make a match as an employer.  The more I pay them the more thats with held the higher the match. (getting the picture) In addition I pay Local, State and Federal tax on the profit that the company makes. In addition I pay State Local and federal tax on what I take as a salary(still not getting it). When my truck rolls I have to buy gas. I believe currently the state and fed  tax portion is around 39 cents a gallon. The more I drive the more taxes I pay. Every year I pay Business personal property tax, I pay Personal property tax. I pay real estate tax. The list goes on and on though I am sure by now you either agree or your just to stubborn to admit most business's pay their fair share of taxes. There are some that do not. There are politicians and movie stars who do no.There are some of you collecting unemployment and working for cash on the side who do not. Is the system perfect ? NO. Do we need reform?  YES. The fact is if it were not for this recession which is all of Washingtons fault for the last 20 years we would not even be having this conversation. Me paying more taxes would not result in me hiring more,investing more and in the long run I would have to downsize or go under resulting in me and my employess paying less or none of the taxes I mentioned above. To sum up yes there is a better way.But Redistribution will only work until washington has spent it all and it will leave us all(as we are now) at each other throats. Pray for wisdom in the upcoming election.Pray for our leaders. Hey if you don't pray thats an individual choice ,so be it no judgement here. But at least make an informed decision,not an emotional decision because of your current circumstances.

Nov 14, 2011 2:06PM

Dear  GodalllMight,

I support the Occupy movement, and I do agree that people need to work hard to reach success.  But what your point misses entirely, is that if the rich weren't manipulating the wealth gap, then my decent income woudl be 50% higher - or 100% higher.  So yes, I work veyr hard keeping up with the lkatest programming trends, but I am not able to earn what I am worth, because the rich are stealing the profits in the form of "bonuses" instead of sharing the productivity gains with the working class. 


So, GodalllMight,  you might be content to be on the end of the leash, to let the rich steal your profits like ants to an aphid, but the sensible, patriotic Americans are not included to let aristocrats plunder us all into peasantry.  That's the thing our Founding Fathers fought against, why are you so unpartirotic?

Nov 14, 2011 3:02PM

what happened to the UNITED states of america?

Nov 11, 2011 10:05AM
America spent way more bailing wall street out of thier over leveraged positions and sales of exploding derivatives than we spent on loans to auto companies or helping people with mortages. Don't let anyone tell you the problem was poor people buying houses they couldn't afford due to gov programs. It was wall street turning those mortgages into wall street products that were doomed to explode as soon as real estate went down and of course taking a cut at every turn. The banks were using 30x leverage meaning a drop of 5% in asset value would leave them insolvent and either we bailed them out or we would start a cascade of asset selling to solve the insolvency problem and runs on banks after their financial positions were made public.
 I know there are GOP tea party types out there who would say "let them go bankrupt" but Americans bank deposits are insured by the FDIC so the taxpayer would still have been on the hook for the losses. What we need is tough bank regulations to prevent another disaster or for the GOP to open uninsured banks where they can let the bankers do whatever they want with their money. I will be on the side of OWS until I see the GOP open those banks and put their money in them. I won't be putting my money there but I will give the tea party credit for putting their money where their mouth is for once.

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
273 rated 2
482 rated 3
661 rated 4
635 rated 5
639 rated 6
619 rated 7
489 rated 8
277 rated 9
166 rated 10

Top Picks




Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.