Mr. Bernstein is, of course, right. Many in the media seem baffled by what the movement Occupy Wall Street wants.

What’s more baffling is why this isn’t obvious to everyone.

I think it is obvious to everyone, but the portrayal promulgated by many in the media is an attempt to deligitimize the movement.

The simple truth is that at least since Reagan was President, this country has become more and more like a banana republic (hence my love of the all-too-accurate neologism “Banana Republican”) in that we are subject to a steady diminution of civil liberties, social justice, and economic fairness.

Everyone knows the financial system is rigged for the wealthy. We now have a defacto aristocratic system in which a few thousand ultra-wealthy individuals enjoy all the fruits while the rest of us are steadily finding it harder to even get by.

THAT’S what Occupy Wall Street is about.

Occupy Wall St.: This is Not a Head Scratcher

by Jaren Bernstein

Last night I heard a story on NPR about the Wall St. protest that is now spreading to other cities. The gist of the story was: “what are these protests really about? What do they want?”

I’m sorry, but that’s just not a head scratcher. Do these news analysts think it’s a coincidence that they’re occupying Wall St. as opposed to Columbus Ave north of 79th?

As Andrew Sorkin put it today (after writing that the message was “at times…hard to discern”):

“…the demonstrators are seeking accountability for Wall Street and corporate America for the financial crisis and the growing economic inequality gap.”

I’m not saying everyone down there is ready to give a clear exposition of the facts of the case, but commentators can stop scratching their heads now.

I’ve been writing about these problems for decades. Sometimes they’ve gotten a little better, but mostly they’ve gotten worse. Before the downturn, the share of income held by the top 1% was 23.5%, the highest since 1928 and more than twice the 10% level of the late 1970s.

These are growth shares, as in they have to sum to 100%–when one group’s share goes up like that, everybody else’s has to shrink.

That doesn’t mean real income values can’t rise for other groups, of course (though it does imply slower relative growth, compared to the high end). But in fact, the middle class and the poor haven’t seen that either…the decade of the 2000s saw middle-incomes decline in real terms for working-age households. The recession just made those incomes fall faster.

Protest movements are often born of two interacting injustices: the lack of opportunity and the lack of accountability by the persons perceived to be blocking that opportunity.

Given the facts of the income distribution, the trends in real middle-class incomes and poverty, the failure of policy to do much to change these trends, the government bailouts of the only class that’s benefitted from the recovery so far, the absence of clear punishment/accountability for the financial and political institutions that helped inflate the debt bubble that continues to squeeze economies across the globe, and the dysfunctionality of the current political system (they’re arguing more about whether they can keep the lights on than whether they can help solve the economic problems), the more interesting question is what took so long for such protests to show up?

Update: a colleague sends me to this site which puts a face on much of the above (hat tip: HS).

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32 Responses to “Bernstein Is Right About Occupy Wall Street”

  1. “Execs at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are earning huge bonuses. Somebody needs to tell Occupy Wall Street about this.” –Rush –

  2. nyroussato hannink says:

    OWS king idiot Stephen Lendman…..Those Madison protesters sure achieved a lot didn’t they?…..all the brain-dead students, teachers, and doctors were only capable of causing millions of dollars of damage to the capitol, but nothing more…..this will end the same.

  3. man rosson says:

    It will ba a great day when I see a raw video of Goldman Saks and his ilk are beaten and shot dead in the street like Gadahfi…

  4. Occupy Wall Street Put On A Big Veterans Day Event, And It Showed That …: On Veteran’s Day, we set out to writ… –

  5. This world is F’d up man. How does Dunkin’ Donuts have no Donuts? I’m joining Occupy Wall Street. Enough of this BS.

  6. palmintant says:

    How does Adam Carolla feel about the Occupy Wall Street movement? He’s not afraid to tell you. How does Adam Carolla feel about the Occupy Wall Street movement? He’s not afraid to tell you. By John Wenzel Former “Loveline” host … Continue reading →

  7. jodenevan lem says:

    Brothers and sisters-the time of austerity is upon us. Get used to living in the streets. Get used to having nothing-no education-no jobs-no heath care-no social security-no retirement-no home-no future. When the banks and republicans take everything that’s exactly what you’ll have-nothing!

  8. The problem with the Occupy Wall Street “Movement” is that there is no coherent message. At the Occupy San Francisco rally, there were signs like DOWN WITH GENERALS!!!! If Occupy Wall Street has any chance of succeeding, it needs to alienate radicals and morons who are simply there to protest just to protest. At least the Tea Movement got politicians who have at least a shred of common sense elected into congress. Occupy Wall Street can do the same if its message is coherent.

  9. Time Magazine naming ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protestors as their ‘Person of the Year’ may explain why no one reads Time Magazine.

  10. As the Occupy Wall Street movement carries forward on behalf of the 99 percent, Slate V imagines a special-edition Lego set that captures the spirit of the movement, as well as the police response to…

    News and notes from inside and around the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the UN.

  11. Bogle: Investment should be taxed less than ‘gambling’: He can sound almost like an Occupy Wall Street protester: “Our markets have g…

  12. what a windbag he quotes “back in the 1950’s we paid the highest wages, and produced the cheapest goods” because we had the “highest capital” this is non sense, we had high manufacturing output, now our corporations have sold them overseas, he is an ignəˈrāməs.

  13. God Luv Em.. The TOPLESS GIRLS of Wall Street – Sex Sells and it’s their right to go TOPLESS apparently. huh 🙂

  14. man aleathroya says:

    I still fail to see your point.The fact that he got help is irrelevant. He still committed genocide against his own people under the guise of spreading communism.

  15. gregellows breilipsen says:

    Occupy Wall Street Stealing From The Poor to Give to Themselves!: It’s a case made for the Occupy Wall Street mo…

  16. twaneketch says:

    testytesty123 on Government Pressures Twitter to Hand Over Keys to Occupy Wall Street Protester’s Location Data Without a Warrant –

  17. Via F The Banks: Matt Taibbi speaking at an Occupy Wall Street day of action, February 29th, 2012. He wrote this for OWS, and passed it out to the crowd.  It’s an informative and urgent call to action for Americans from all walks of life.  We are happy to be the first to publish […]

  18. wilenthair says:

    NEW YORK (AP) — As spring approaches, Occupy Wall Street protesters who mostly hibernated all winter are beginning to stir with plans for renewed demonstrations six months after the movement was born….

  19. kimetosumm says:

    Twitter: We Won’t Hand Over Data on Occupy Wall Street Protester: Barely two weeks after the New York District A…

  20. depiesley says:

    Unions and Occupy Wall Street call general strike for May 1 – Amsterdam News htt…: Unions and Occupy Wall Stre…

  21. schramiche ruz says:

    “The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama’s America looks like” Thomas Sowell –

  22. Own a piece of Occupy Wall Street: The owner of Occupied Wall Street Journal, one of the first chroniclers of th…

  23. staratabal says:

    “I don’t want to occupy wall street and I don’t wanna join the tea so I’m gunna t-bag a banker and call it even” –

  24. serioleann blas says:

    An Alf movie? To hell with Occupy Wall Street, we need Occupy Hollywood. They’re the one percent who make this… –

  25. hamin tars says:

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – HSBC won a legal bid on Monday to have members of the Occupy Hong Kong movement evicted from the open-air plaza beneath the bank’s Asian bringing an end to one of the longest-running Occupy demonstrations. The Hong Kong protests, sparked by the Occupy Wall Street movement that targeted U.S. financial policies blamed for the income gap between rich and poor …

  26. Next month will mark the first full year of Occupy Wall Street, a movement inspired by the human struggle &…

  27. Another World is Under Construction – Occupy Wall Street march celebrates one year anniversary of the Occupy… htt … –

  28. At least six Occupy Wall Street protesters have been arrested near the New York Stock Exchange during a demonstration marking the movement’s one-year anniversary. Hundreds of demonstrators …

  29. My Column: Occupy Wall Street “will be an asterisk in the history books, if it gets a mention at all.” … –

  30. The People’s Bailout: Occupy Wall Street To Erase $1 Million In Debt–Maybe …: Before they became known for hu… –

  31. Danske Bank coopting Occupy imagery in their new ad campaign is pretty much the most crass thing Ive ever seen.

  32. Fyckin gun violence is the hot topic, last year it was occupy wall street, we are the 99% until Zimmerman made it t …

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