October 26, 2011
More Fodder for Uprising Against Economic Inequality
by Robert Kropp
The Congressional Budget Office reports that household income of the top one percent grew by 275%
between 1979 and 2007.
The charges made by Republicans such as Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney that the Occupy Movement is
waging class warfare, if viewed through the lens of a recently published report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), suggest two
First, if anyone is left still wondering why growing numbers of
protestors are congregating in more and more cities across the US, the report from the nonpartisan
CBO emphatically provides facts to explain the phenomenon.
"For the 1 percent of the
population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent
between 1979 and 2007," the report states.
"As a result of that uneven income growth, the
distribution of after-tax household income in the United States was substantially more unequal in
2007 than in 1979," the report continues. "In fact, between 2005 and 2007, the after-tax income
received by the 20 percent of the population with the highest income exceeded the aftertax income
of the remaining 80 percent."
The reader will notice that the CBO analysis only extends to
2007; that is, before the financial crisis and its prolonged recessionary aftermath struck. Now,
according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI),
that same top one percent now controls one-third of the nation's wealth.
EPI's analysis of
the state of the economy makes for alarming reading. The wealthiest 20% of Americans now hold 87.2%
of wealth. The net worth of the top one percent is 225 times greater than the median. The median
net worth of black households is $2,200, the lowest ever recorded. And for the first time, the
percent of home value owned by homeowners was below 50%; in other words, banks now own more of the
value of the nation's housing stock than do homeowners themselves.
So the second point to
be made assumes that the reader can discern the difference between inflammatory rhetoric and the
fact that the Occupy Movement has proven itself to be practitioners of civil disobedience and not
violence. The Movement in fact provides a valuable example of a properly functioning democracy in
action, and it is clear that the protest's primary focus is on the deepening inequality that
threatens to become a permanent institution in American life. To the growing number of protestors,
that the 99% stand by and accept such inequality amounts to a failure of democracy.
members of the sustainable investment community are recognizing that the aims of the Occupy
Movement align with theirs in many respects, as evidenced by the the statement
of support offered recently by Zevin Asset
Management, a Boston-based investment firm.
Thus far, it appears that no other
sustainable investment firm or organization has publicly stated support for the Movement. But as
the protests continue and the issues continue to be debated, it may well turn out that others
besides Zevin will come to see the Movement as an opportunity to honor their mission of public