A few facts about #Occupy

15 10 2011

While the commercial media continues to question the globally expanding leaderless movement’s self-evident agenda (i.e. the greed that dare not speak its name), we thought we’d provide a few facts.

By the Numbers

Via Brian Holmes’ “Got Plutocracy?” post on his blog Continental Drift: the other side of neoliberal globalization, we learned that the Top 5% in the U.S. owns nearly 2/3 of the wealth in this country.

Pie chart showing Top 5% ownership of nearly 2/3 of everything

Wealth Chart: The 'rest of us' in the Bottom 80% possess less than 13% of U.S. wealth

Holmes continues:

Now go a little further, into the research she drew her chart from — a briefing paper of the Economic Policy Institute called “The State of Working America” — and you find that the top 1% holds over 1/3, or 35.6%, of the country’s net worth. Elsewhere, in The Nation, you will find such interesting tidbits as “In 2006, the top 0.01 percent averaged 976 times more income that America’s bottom 90%” — a thousand-fold gap between “them” and “the rest of us.”

He also includes a chart showing the actual distribution of wealth in the US, with the top 20% possessing 85% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% possessing 0.3%, so small it doesn’t even appear on the chart, if you can believe that.

real-estimated-ideal_wealth chart

The top bar shows real distribution of wealth in U.S. From Norton and Ariely, 2011 (click for source).

Zuccotti Park used to be Liberty Park

as Michael Kimmelman’s news analysis “In Protest, the Power of Place” in the Sunday NY Times (10/16/11) details:

That it happens also to be a private park is one of the most revealing subtexts of the story. Formerly Liberty Park, the site was renamed in 2006 after John E. Zuccotti, chairman of Brookfield Office Properties, the park’s owner. A zoning variance granted to Brookfield years ago requires that the park, unlike a public, city-owned one, remain open day and night.

This peculiarity of zoning law has turned an unexpected spotlight on the bankruptcy of so much of what in the last couple of generations has passed for public space in America . . .

Kimmelman spent time at Zuccotti with occupants, including this 21-year old organic farmer from Vermont:

“We meet every night to talk about how to keep this place clean and sober, to keep it an emotionally, physically safe space for everyone. Consensus builds community.”

Patrick Metzger, a 23-year-old sound engineer and composer, echoed the thought: “From Web posts, you never get information about race, class, age — who people really are. Fox News talks about flakes and mobs. But you can see how complicated the mix really is: students and older people, parents with families, construction workers on their lunch break, unemployed Wall Street executives.”

Kimmelman begins by pointing out that

no matter how instrumental new media have become in spreading protest these days, nothing replaces people taking to the streets.

and concludes, “on the ground is where the protesters are building an architecture of consciousness.”

Finally, it’s worth pointing out after this week’s failed attempt to vacate Brookfield-owned Zuccotti Park, that Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend sits on Brookfield’s board of directors.

#OccupyWallSt sign of the day: "It's Wrong."

#OccupyWallSt sign of the day: "It's Wrong." via boingboing.net. By Ben Furnas. 10/15/11. UPDATE: She got fired the next day! (click for story)

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