Americans are frustrated, and it’s showing. Over the last few weeks, the country has been closely following the Occupy Wall Street protesters and their message of “We Are The 99 Percent.” Even though many on the far-right have denounced them as a mob of anti-capitalists, an NBC poll found that Americans support the protests by a 2-to-1 ratio.
The overarching message of “We Are the 99 Percent” is simple: this crap is unfair. While a few CEOs become very rich and pay even less in taxes, hard-working Americans get left out. Even more hypocritical, while decrying the travesty of any government assistance to those most in need these same financial wizards and captains of crony capitalism lined up like pigs at the trough for taxpayer-funded bailouts.
Rich Studley (yes, that’s really his name), President & CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, is so moved by these Occupy Wall Street protests he feels the need to resurrect an old stereotype (even less relevant given Michigan’s ever-increasing 11.2% unemployment rate) – that liberals need the government to support them because they are unwilling to work. Except that many of the people who are occupying Wall Street are college students and recent graduates who worked hard and went into debt for their degree, only to graduate and find that corporations sitting on record piles of cash are unwilling to spend that cash on hiring Americans.
Conservatives like to call their CEO buddies “job creators” — only when asked if they’ll spend money on hiring more workers to boost the US economy, those same CEOs say it’s not their problem. They are blaming this on everything from “job killing federal regulations” to the economy, but the facts tell a different story. Americans are currently paying the lowest tax rate since 1950, and some of the richest corporations are paying even less in taxes than working-class Americans.
I don’t pretend to speak for any protest movement – but I know I’m frustrated with the status quo, and I want the starting line to be the same for every American. I want corporations to start paying their fair share, and I want our lawmakers to start listening to regular people who can’t afford a lobbyist or a super PAC. Lawmakers need to respond to these protests by addressing the root cause, not issuing more platitudes or worse, condescending attacks.