Friday, January 27, 2012

OWS Raised Awareness Of Class Conflict

Despite the criticism of Occupy Wall Street as a movement without a purpose, it actually raised awareness and changed the national dialogue. First, the misguided emphasis on the deficit gave way to a focus on employment as the way toward economic revival. In addition, the public became aware of income inequality and the ways in which the economy was rigged through tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation. According to a recent survey by the non-partisan Pew Research Center, most Americans now believe that class conflict is the greatest source of tension in the country. While Mitt Romney wants the discussion of income inequality confined to “quiet rooms,” the awareness of economic injustice is spreading–in great part due to OWS:

About two-thirds of Americans now believe there are “strong conflicts” between rich and poor in the United States, a survey by the Pew Research Center found, a sign that the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness.

...The survey, which polled 2,048 adults from Dec. 6 to 19, found that perception of class conflict surged the most among white people, middle-income earners and independent voters. But it also increased substantially among Republicans, to 55 percent of those polled, up from 38 percent in 2009, even as the party leadership has railed against the concept of class divisions.

The change in perception is the result of a confluence of factors, Mr. [Richard] Morin [a senior editor at Pew Social & Demographic Trends] said, probably including the Occupy Wall Street movement, which put the issue of undeserved wealth and fairness in American society at the top of the news throughout most of the fall.

...The survey attributed the change, in part, to “underlying shifts in the distribution of wealth in American society,” citing a finding by the Census Bureau that the share of wealth held by the top 10 percent of the population increased to 56 percent in 2009, from 49 percent in 2005.

“There are facts behind it,” Mr. Smith said of the findings. “It’s not just rhetoric.”

Image: Charles Barsotti, The New Yorker


Michael The Molar Maven said...

I now believe that OWS should have spent less time camping out in downtown Manhattan, and more time organizing further and taking its message to Washington where it could have had more substance. The portest left itself open for criticism from the right, such as: "If these really wanted to work, why aren't they out there every morning pounding the pavement, rather than sleeping in tents?" It seems a fair question to a simple thinker.

Jeff Tone said...

Wall Street, though, was the scene of the crime with its financial shenanigans and deregulation. I believe many did pound the pavement, and their lack of results was one cause of frustration.