News / Economy

Occupy Wall Street Protests Highlight Rich-Poor Gap

Protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement hold up a sign in the center of Winter Garden Atrium in Three World Financial Center, New York, New York, December 12, 2011.
Protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement hold up a sign in the center of Winter Garden Atrium in Three World Financial Center, New York, New York, December 12, 2011.

The growing income gap between rich and poor is one of the reasons that activists from the Occupy Wall Street movement staged protests in New York, across the United States and in other nations in 2011.

Major studies leave no doubt that the income gap is growing, but there is an even wider gulf in opinions about what, if anything, to do about it.

Activists in hundreds of cities protested economic inequality and unemployment.

They say troubled banks get bailed out by taxpayers, but ordinary people with financial problems face foreclosure.

The Occupy movement blames the financial crisis on banks and Wall Street, and says the wealthiest one percent of the population gets too much money and takes advantage of the 99 percent, buying political power to block taxes on the rich and slash social services for the poor.

It is demanding a more equitable society through more taxes on the wealthy and more regulation of business.

But Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute says lower  taxes and less business regulation would help the economy.   

He says the growth of high tech firms like Apple computer show government should get out of the way of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs.

Wallison says income inequality is less important than the possibility of getting rich, which drives entrepreneurs to take risks and create products.

"Many of these people grew up in very poor circumstances [Apple computer co-founder] Steve Jobs was a great example of that, and turned out to be a very wealthy man because of  the things he was able to do in our very flexible society," says Wallison.

But John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies says high unemployment raises doubts about the rags to riches story.

"I think why the Occupy movement has struck such a cord, and been so popular, that they are the living embodiment that that story is no longer true," Cavanagh says.

The Congressional Budget Office says the richest one percent of the U.S. population saw its income jump 275 percent over the past three decades, while the poorest one-fifth gained just 18 percent.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows the wealthiest one-tenth of U.S. society has an income 14 times the size of that of the poorest one-tenth.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria says inequality is a problem.  

"The social compact is starting to unravel in many countries. Uncertainty and fears of social decline and exclusion have reached the middle class in many societies. People feel that they are bearing the brunt of a crisis for which they have no responsibility, while those on high incomes appear to have been spared."

The protesters say they will continue as long as the economic problems that sparked the demonstrations, such as unemployment, remain unsolved.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9009
JPY
USD
123.09
GBP
USD
0.6387
CAD
USD
1.2524
INR
USD
63.605

Rates may not be current.