Does Occupy Wall Street Matter?

December 3, 2011

Political economy

I’m sure all of us have heard about the massive social movement called “Occupy Wall Street.” The movement has spread to many different states such as chicago and even here in Ann Arbor. The movement started in New York City in a park called Zucotti Park found in the Wall Street district.

The movement is a protest against economic and social inequalities in the United States. The protestors believe that the wealthiest citizens in the United States or the 1% as the protestors call them, are being greedy. The protestors want there to be a more equal spread in the wealth instead of a large gap between the poor and the wealthy. This movement lasted for quite a few weeks and is still happening in other parts of the country. However, was/is this movement fair? A segment on the famous Daily Show with Jon Stewart shows how the occupy Wall Street movement started to develop in quite the interesting manner.

The video shows how the movement was starting to reflect current society. A divide was being created between the wealthy and the poor even though this was the complete opposite of their intentions. I was shocked to find out that one half of the park was seen as the wealthy and the other as the poor. I feel like this expresses that whether we like it or not we need classes in society. Comedian Daniel Tosh jokes about social classes in this clip from his special, but what he says may be true.

It may sound crude, but it may be that there needs to be a separation through wealth in society. Daniel Tosh says “Money doesn’t buy happiness! Do you live in America? Because it buys a waverunner.” Americans have become quite materialistic as we also saw with the Daily Show video. The man wouldn’t share his ipad (material) with others even though he thought that everyone should have equal access to things. No one wants to share what they work hard for, the man probably worked hard to get money to pay for the ipad so obviously he doesn’t want others to use it who didn’t work hard for it like he did. This is just like the 1%, they more than likely worked hard to get the money that they have and they don’t just want to give it away. This is why the protestors are calling the 1% “greedy.”

I wish that everyone could be equal economically, but I don’t think that it is possible, at least in today’s society. What would Rawls say about this? Is it fair for there to be wealthy and poor? Is wealth solely about contingent facts of birth? I personally agree with with the old fashion “American Dream.” This is where no matter who you are, if you work hard enough you can become successful in America.Where do you stand? Do you support the 99%, 1%, or something else? If you don’t agree with Daniel Tosh then how can you prove him wrong? Would you propose another social movement like Occupy Wall Street or something completely different?



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4 Comments on “Does Occupy Wall Street Matter?”

  1. phillipschermer Says:

    After reading this article, I think that the author confuses two different principles — equality in opportunity and equality in wealth. I do not believe that Occupy Wall Street is a communist-esque social movement about eliminating socio-economic classes and equalizing everyone’s incomes. Rather, I believe that Occupy Wall Street is about ensuring that members of each socio-economic class are given equal opportunity to move between classes. This is the basis of the American democracy: that your success is a reflection of your work ethic. Occupy’s argument is that we are straying from this ideal; that corporations are getting so large that the hard worker can’t achieve the things that he/she could have a generation ago.

  2. rachdavidson Says:

    Occupy Wall Street has been plaguing the news in recent weeks. I, however, do not understand why. It seems to be a movement that has taken on such a following, and yet no one legitimately knows what they are actually following. It is like the new, hip thing to do. Some people get a spray tan, some go listen to house music, some join the Occupy Wall Street movement. In the end, I think there are probably better ways to protest, but that is besides the point.

    You pose the question of whether or not we all believe in the American Dream, and I think that is an interesting question to think about. First what is the American Dream? It seems to be defined as the freedom to pursue prosperity and wealth. With this definition, I am not sure I still believe in the American Dream. The world we live in is such a competitive place. With so many jobs being lost, and the mindset that so many jobs are going to be lost, it seems that everyone is fighting just to have a chance. And, with the economy down, all businesses are looking to create an image. And, as unfortunate as this is, this image benefits some and harms others. Those who do not fit into the cookie cutter description are going to have a tougher time pursuing the American Dream.

  3. hoeylue Says:

    I believe that protests are good and necessary to wake awareness about certain issues in our society. In this case I agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement and as an exchange student from Europe I’m convinced that the U.S. is the very place to protest against economic inequality. The U.S. has one of the highest Gini-coefficients in the world, which is a measure for the unequal income distribution between richer and poorer people inside a country. The U.S. is also a country with one of the lowest social securities in the world. Therefore, it’s time that they, too, become aware of the rising social unrest in their society and start to address these problems.
    As Tocqueville indicated in his work “Democracy in America”, selfishness and the laissez-fair mentality had turned America to a paradise for wealthy people a long time ago. These people don’t feel any necessity to change the current situation. But this doesn’t make the U.S. different from all other countries in the world. The recent economic recessions have caused more unemployment and uncertainty for everyone, but especially affected the already poorer ones of the population. Like any other country, the U.S. also has to accept the fact that they have a rising lower class, which demands more security and equality, and start to address those issues more eagerly and effective in politics. One way to do this could be to stick to Obama Care, even though it’s not implemented very efficiently.
    And I also think that one shouldn’t have high expectations on the actual act of protesting and on the protesters themselves. Many people don’t want to spend their own precious time for protesting even though they might share the same opinion as the protesters. Some consequences of demonstrations as for example jammed streets or occupied public areas should therefore be tolerated by the rest of the population.

  4. kpatch Says:

    After having witnessed Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan this fall while on break, I have further concluded that the media has an unbelievable ability to broadcast events as more significant than they deserve. This movement lacks a meaningful purpose. Many of those protesters were there just for the sake of protesting. The signs and the chants are all over the place, there is not goal or conclusion that these protesters are hoping to solve. There are people sitting around smoking marijuana and playing the bongo drums, I personally don’t think that will help sway anyone in the 1% to think that the wealth needs to be redistributed. I think that this movement can lead for a greater divide as the elite minority will be turned off by this behavior. The right to protest is extremely important for Americans, whether it be to resist an action or to push for a new bill but Occupy Wall Street is not specifically goal oriented to be effective.

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