It seems the Occupy Movement has finally run out of puff. The press has moved on and city councils from London to New York, Sydney to Seattle, have cleared their public spaces. They’re gone, but did they have a point, asks Michael Elphick in Aurora.
Perhaps the movement’s greatest failing was its lack of a single, coherent narrative. No one quite knew what they wanted; the protest appeared to be a loose, rag tag coalition of causes. Some lamented the lack of jobs, others rising inequality and some the crippling size of their student loans. A deep dissatisfaction was the constant theme. Perhaps inspired by the Arab Spring, Occupy was, at the very least, a rebuke to the economic status quo.
Remarkably the movement was almost completely peaceful. No violence and little damage done. This was no London riot. The New York base in Zuccotti Park was run as a deep and direct democracy. Decisions were arrived at through collaboration and consensus. Food, power and shelter were all shared.
Contrast ‘Occupy’ with the mean spirited ugliness of Tea Party politics. There was much to admire before winter combined with police to close the protest down. So what of the protest’s central claim, the charges of excess and greed it brings against the economic elites, the so-called 1%?
Let’s go to a conservative source for the facts and figures. In November 2011, US Republican Senator Tom Coburn published a report on the “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous”. He makes the point bluntly and quotes the figures to back it up.
“The income of the wealthiest one percent of Americans has risen dramatically over the last decade. Yet the federal government lashes these millionaires with billions of dollars in giveaways and tax breaks.” Coburn estimates that the top 1,500 millionaires in the US effectively pay no federal income tax, with concessions to the economic elite amounting to $30 billion a year.
Remember, Coburn is no left wing rabble-rouser, he hails from the great state of Oklahoma; he sits firmly on the conservative side of politics. He goes on to say that this reverse Robin Hood style income redistribution is intentional, with wealth designed to flow up, not down, the economic ladder.
FULL STORY Did Occupy Wall Street have a point? (Aurora)