The occupiers' small slice of pie

To the Editor:

Have you noticed the amazing popular support for the "occupy" movement?  It started with "Occupy Wall Street", objecting to the financial industry's greedy gambling that cost so many Americans the pain of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, shrunken education and retirement funds, and the specter of financial ruin.

Now there are "occupations" from coast to coast. It's not just hedge fund managers who are targets, it's a paralyzed Congress, the military-industrial complex, the tax-dodging super-rich, PAC money's purchase of government (encouraged by the activist Supreme Court's decisions), the vested interest's assault to deny us clean air and water, the prevalence of hunger and homelessness, even the right to protest without being pepper sprayed.

With such a diffuse collection of discontents, it is small wonder that the movement looks uncoordinated. But lack of organization and funding are not preventing its growth. New occupations are sprouting everywhere, like dandelions in the spring.

Some of us are too old or too inhibited to join in, even though we are grateful that they are challenging the malaise of our nation, even though we share their anger. Perhaps this peaceful rebellion will gather sufficient strength to become a corrective force. Leadership may evolve, organization may emerge.

It is amusing to hear politicians who raised no objection to gun-toting Tea Party protesters call these occupiers a "mob" and accuse them of "class warfare".

Class warfare has been going on for decades. These folks are truly the victims of it, and see the future as a continuation of the slippery slope to even more victimization.

The problem is imbalance on steroids. Professor G. William Domhoff of the University of California at Santa Cruz points out that the wealthiest 1% own 34.6% of all U.S. wealth. The top 20% own 85%, leaving only 15% to be shared by 80% of us. That's not a recipe for stability, especially when so many have zero wealth.

Pie graphs of those numbers show the brutal unfairness of the status quo. Are you satisfied with the size of your slice?

There has been an astounding 36.1% drop in the wealth of the median U.S. household since 2007 according to economist Edward Wolff. That trend is unsustainable.

If a miracle happens --- some political figure designs a solution to the imbalance --- will it just die in Congress as nearly everything has in the last couple of years?

Do you remember the slogan of a few years ago, "Compassionate Conservative"? That seems to be an extinct species today.

Richard C. Bartlett
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