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 5:18PM

No one likes the government, and few trust it????? These protesters are in favor of policies that require MORE government to interfere and mandate. Like free healthcare (who is going to administer it - who will be on the "Death Board" and decides what to pay and what not to; the overseers will need full acceess to your medical records etc). Who will handle this "Redistribution?"


BTW, the protesters are also upset with the homeless people eating their hard earned donated foods, have a board that oversees gift card disputes, and is regulating when drummers play. One voice? Very Lord Of The flies.

Oct 31, 2011 5:05PM

Is this writer NUTS? How does citing a survey Americans believe U.S. wealth distribution is unfair say that they are in favor of wealth redistribution?

Oct 31, 2011 5:04PM
All would work out if our representative did not operate under the concept of disregarding the majority in favor of whomever will augment their income as well as their completely superfluous personal moral imperatives......................which is why Perry's views on immigration, and of course his insistence that he and all representatives are elected as short term potentates instead of someone who gets royally paid to do as he is told by those who elect and pay him, make him unelectable for me!
Oct 31, 2011 5:03PM

Franklin Roosevelt: Quote.....The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. THAT, in its essence, IS fascism --- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.....The Growing Concentration of Economic Power. Statistics of the bureau of Internal Revenue reveal the following amazing figures for 1935: "Ownership of corporate assets: Of all corporations reporting from every part of the nation, one-tenth of 1 percent of them owned 52 percent of the assets of all of them."....End Quote


 The government has known about this problem for a LONG time, do you really think they want things to change???

Oct 31, 2011 5:01PM
4 reasons they are right, 1,000 reasons they are wrong.  Easy math, screw the OWS lazya$$es...
Oct 31, 2011 5:00PM
This article though like inaccurate to a large degree,  says something about the USA.
I'm no longer sure it is worth saving,
When a  half of the people favor wealth redistribution that definitekly says the country isn't worth saving.
There seems to be little doubt why business and the rich are leaving more  quickly every day..
It amazes me that the handouters believe that business and the rich will just stay here and pay more in taxes every day..
Oh well,, I  have options on an industrial site out side the USA, I suppose there is no use waiting and hoping Obama won't be reelected.
Those of you, that still believe you are only entitled to what you earn.
I wish you well and suggest you put all of your money into gold, they can't tax it until it's sold .
Maybe you can muddle thorugh till the handouters implode the economy.

Oct 31, 2011 5:00PM
"In just a few paragraphs, the CBO showed definitively that the rich are getting richer at the expense of everyone else."

Well, no.  The CBO showed that certain people are getting richer, which doesn't necessarily mean that it's happening at someone else's expense.

In a market economy, certain economic activities will increase in value, and certain will not.  There's a reason the leather whip industry isn't a pillar of the economy and is far smaller than it used to be:  no one really needs them.  Of course, if a leather whip manufacturer has a friend in Congress, it's a safe bet that whip manufacturing will be subsidized.

What the OWS crowd gets criminally wrong is that they think that the current Fed-run economic system creates wealth, and that certain people are getting robbed in the process.  The reality is that the Fed's system of turning on the printing presses to provide "liquidity" or "quantitative easing" is NOT wealth creation.  It's true that Wall St. and bankers are benefitting disproportionately from this system, but they're sadly mistaken that taxing those top wealth-holders and distributing the money to the poor in exchange for nothing is going to fix the fundamental problem.  OWS still thinks it can maintain a cheap-money, cheap-credit system that rewards the finance industry for doing nothing and then it can skim the money through taxation or regulation to pay disproportionate salaries and/or benefits to the low-income classes for low-value labor, or, similarly, doing nothing.  That's just subsidizing and inflating labor values at both end of the income scale without actual wealth creation.  No wonder the middle class is so pissed.  But you can't make up a middle class out of nowhere by suddenly declaring work that was worth $5.50 an hour one day to be worth $10 an hour the next day.

End the Fed and move us to a hard money standard and you end the inflationary machine.  You stop the system that allows the bankers to bloat on cheap money and you stop stealing from the working man by killing the value of his money.  But OWS is sadly mistaken if they think that they can create a system where you can tax the software developers to subsidize burger flippers.
Oct 31, 2011 4:52PM
is there really a problem here or are we all going nuts for nothing, must be globel warming,,, or i need a cup of tea or maybe when i see a perry -   winkle
Oct 31, 2011 4:49PM
I've noticed that most of the folks that have jobs are siding w/ the opposition of the OWS movement. There will be a day when they too will join OWS when they lose their jobs. What a lot of people seem to forget is that America was founded on demonstration. America is a WORK IN PROGRESS and should never be thought of as something that has completed it's task. Capitalism doesn't really work, just look at where we are today in our world. If capitalism did work we wouldn't have whole countries on the verge of collapse like we do now. Socialism doesn't work either but maybe a blend of the two would. Democrats and Republicans are both two sides of the same coin and after decades  of hearing the same rhetoric over and over again one would think that they would have finally got something right by now. I think it's interesting to note that no politician has to take a test for competency to win office,  they only need your vote. Politicians don't have to take drug test either ( and I suspect that the way some of them think they must be on drugs). As for the 1% in this country it's a no brainer JUST  USE YOUR VOTE because 99% is our trump card.
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 4:44PM

OK, two questions;

1. What's the end game for the OWS group? A check from Bill Gates, the Government, who?

2. If we outlaw corporate political contributions will that include Labor Unions?

Oct 31, 2011 4:43PM
the world has changed for the better with advanced technology, and at the same time our population has risen to 7 billion as in trumpmoney,,,,, except this is about people , technology has also taken away many jobs,,, and they did not have to worry about how people would earn a living, i think people in charge and there buddies,, big business share the blame for not creating jobs ,and lets not forget about the greed involved here, bernie and how many others are still out there, many of the same politicians in office today were also there when all of this technology took off,,, get it,,,,,,,,,you dont have to worry about the 1percent if the politicians were doing there jobs
Oct 31, 2011 4:43PM

what rock do you guys hide under.were not jealous of the rich,we dont envy them,were not lazy all we want is a fair standard of living and government that represents all the people not just those that can cough up the biggest bribes.fox news must be going around the clock spreading the were lazy,envous,and jealous lie.come on people think for yourselves please


You're the one that should think for himself.

Oct 31, 2011 4:41PM
what rock do you guys hide under.were not jealous of the rich,we dont envy them,were not lazy all we want is a fair standard of living and government that represents all the people not just those that can cough up the biggest bribes.fox news must be going around the clock spreading the were lazy,envous,and jealous lie.come on people think for yourselves please
Oct 31, 2011 4:40PM

The best alternative to the oligarchy (rule by wealth) is not socialism or communism. It is true “Capitalism”. However, there is a vast difference between socialism and social policies. The provision of social programs and policies and the increase of progressive taxes are only two ways, other than increased jobs and wages, of equalizing the ownership of the natural resources and manpower extracted from the country by the wealthy and corporate interests. While the wealthiest 1% advocate for less governmental business and economic regulations they don’t want to allow for the removal of the protectionary regulations that protect them from competition. True Capitalism does not include protective business regulations and laws such as patent laws, trademarks, tariffs, proprietary rights and bailouts. These are the real impediments to small business competition with large business and corporations. New ventures are either not allowed or do not stand a chance to compete. You can't very well call the current business structure free market Capitalism while competition is stifled. Our country has become an Oligarchy.

Oct 31, 2011 4:35PM
Money is a unit of power.  When you have the most money you get the loudest voice.  That's capitalism.  Don't like it?  Sorry.  Try Cuba.
Oct 31, 2011 4:34PM
the constitution  1st amendment give people the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government. where does it say the people need a permit to protest. why donn't the attorney general of the U.S. bring this up to those cities  taking away this right .
Oct 31, 2011 4:32PM

"most Americans would echo those protesters who argue the current distribution of wealth is unfair"


Unbelievable! I would never have believed our country would reach this point and am really becoming discouraged with the direction of our country.  By no means am I "well to do".  I've worked my entire life and still do, saving a little bit from each paycheck so that I can enjoy retirement when it's time.  I feel like I'm part of an ever increasingly smaller group that isn't JEALOUS of everyone earning $1 more than myself!

Oct 31, 2011 4:32PM

FL Acct


So by your definition, collateral is NOT collateral unless the value of the property goes UP.  You & the bank agree, no surprise... and BTW, I'm current on my mortgage despite the fact that the 200K condo I bought in 2007 is now valued at 135K.  Hence my 780 credit score... I'm playing fair, the bank isn't.

Oct 31, 2011 4:29PM
It all started with Ronald Reagan's attack on the new deal.  Prior to Reagan, Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford all accepted the premise of the New Deal, i.e. a government guaranteed safety net, government regulation of markets, particularly financial markets, and labor rights.  Reagan saw otherwise and his first act was to reduce the marginal tax rates at the top, second, attack the unions (PATCO), and undermine the SEC and EPA by appointing do nothing Cabinet Secretaries.  George W Bush attempted the "coup de gras" but failed to privatize social security.  Nevertheless, the wealth and income divide has continued to grow to the point where we rival Mexico.  Why would anyone vote for a Republican???
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
262 rated 2
480 rated 3
651 rated 4
649 rated 5
629 rated 6
616 rated 7
496 rated 8
346 rated 9
111 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



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.