Socialism for the rich?
Regarding David Bolling’s fine feature on the Occupy Wall Street protest coming to Sonoma (Index-Tribune, Oct. 18), I’d like to clarify what I believe to be a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of the “1 percenters” and the “99 percenters.”
Bolling’s report refers to “the popular assertion that 1 percent of Americans own 99 percent of the wealth.”
He then cites UC Santa Cruz Professor William Domhoff’s statistic asserting 1 percent actually own 43 percent of the wealth. This is true.
However, my understanding of the Occupy Wall Street group’s message is simply that the 1 percent have a highly disproportionate amount of wealth (which 43 percent would validate), not that the 1 percent own 99 percent of the wealth. The “99 percent” moniker refers to the vast majority of Americans who have little or no financial clout.
Nobel Laureate and Columbia University Economics Professor Joseph Stiglitz recently stated that the wealthiest 1 percent enjoyed a 30 percent increase in wealth over the last 25 years (up from 33 percent to 43 percent of total wealth). During this same time, median income has declined for the first time ever, as has the real wage of the average American worker.
Furthermore, the income of the top 1 percent has risen from 9 percent of total income to 24 percent during this same period.
Those are alarming, significant increases in such a short time. That’s why average Americans are mad.
So, if trickle down economics, born 30 years ago, was valid, we would see exactly the opposite of these numbers. The wealth is not trickling down, it’s being sucked up – by predatory banking and consolidation of wealth through financial chicanery of profound degrees. Prudence and loyalty to the American public is sadly lacking, both from our financial leaders and from our elected politicians.
Occupy Wall Streeters don’t hate America and aren’t socialists. If socialists believe in wealth redistribution (as taxation is often claimed to be), then I would assert that Wall Street and the super-rich are socialists: they redistributed a massive amount of wealth over the last 30 years. How? By privatizing profit and making public their losses in the form of taxpayer funded bail-outs.
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Howard McFarland, a 13-year Sonoma Valley resident, is an apolitical political observer, a proud parent and former paratrooper who loves old books and enjoys a stiff rye Manhattan.