Scrolling Headlines:

: Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

Extrapolating the Ideas of Occupy Wall Street

Fr.fotopedia.com

Fr.fotopedia.com

The Occupy Movement is centered on financial inequality, yet it misses half of the picture. Politicians, protestors and the press frequently speak on the topic of income inequality, but hardly ever about wealth inequality.

Additionally, there are two other important details which are also frequently missed. First, Occupy has been focusing on the richest one percent, as it should. But it should not restrict its focus to the top one percent; the country needs to look at the top five and 10 percent, too. The numbers attached to the one percent are staggering, but so are those of the decadal elite. When it comes to tax policy or economic analysis, this larger group cannot be overlooked.

The difference in wording between wealth and income inequality is subtle but the difference in socio-economic effects is huge. It is true that income inequality is very high and growing. According to census data, income inequality has not been so large since the 1920s. Congressional Budget Office reports show that average incomes after taxes of poorest 20 percent of the population have grown only about 15 percent over the last 30 years. That number is in stark contrast to the doubling in income of the richest quintile, gained over the same time frame.

These numbers are astounding, but wealth inequality is even more skewed. That’s because wealth (assets minus debts) is cumulative, and it tends to grow like compound interest – exponentially. The richest one percent of Americans hold approximately 35 percent of the country’s wealth. The same group takes home 22 percent of the country’s income. That’s a significant difference. Really unnerving is the fact that the bottom half of Americans, combining everything they own, accounts for less than three percent of the nation’s assets. The income inequality in the U.S. is higher than that of most other industrialized nations, but overall, we fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. Wealth inequality, however, is a different story. The U.S. ranks fourth worst in the entire world.

The top one percent earns and owns more than the top five or 10 percent. But that’s not a reason to exclude other percentiles from scrutiny. Popular discourse has made an arbitrary cut-off at one percent. With this rationale, we might as well look exclusively at the top tenth of a percent, or even the hundredth of a percent. After all, families in the top one percent make, on average, only 1.1 million a year. The top tenth of a percent make 3.2 million and the top hundredth of a percent – the super-rich – make more than 27 million. Or we could just talk about Philippe Dauman, the CEO who received the largest compensation of 2010 – 84 million. The point is, the top one, five, and 10 percentiles are all important.

I hope that global inequality is added to the current discourse. Living in a land of plenty makes us forget how good we have it. Inequality within the U.S. is very real and very important; it has a definite impact on the psyche of the individual and the nation as a whole. Inequality among nations, however, is also very real and has a significant influence in the way all citizens of the globe perceive their wealth. Interestingly, wealth within the U.S., as measured by the Gini Coefficient (a mathematical formula which boils inequality down to a single number), is spread out at a rate very similar to wealth among all the world’s people. And when one looks at the numbers comparing different nations, the United States looks awfully familiar to the condemned one percent Wall Street CEOs and investment bankers.

As discourse continues and the Occupy movement catches the conscience of the American people, the following must not be forgotten: firstly, it is the one percent, but it’s not just the one percent. Secondly, income inequality is important, but wealth inequality is even more important and out of whack. Lastly, financial inequality within the United States is a problem, but so is the inequality between the U.S. and developing nations of the world.

Johannes Holger Raatz is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at jraatz@student.umass.edu.

Comments
4 Responses to “Extrapolating the Ideas of Occupy Wall Street”
  1. ALICE CONNALLY FISK says:

    ECONOMIC JUSTICE NOW

    by Alice Connally Fisk

    U. S. poverty must Go

    a conscientious overthrow.

    Resolution now the call

    a living wage for one and all.

    Our long-time shafted people roar

    We Just Won’t Take It Anymore.

    The working poor, the down and out

    a risen people packing clout.

    The fairness movement leads the way

    People power here to stay.

    The middle-class profoundly score

    inequity shall rule no more.

    Righting long wrongs one by one

    disparity at last undone.

    Our fed-up people fiercely vow

    Economic Justice. Now!

    (poem / lyrics written by 73-year-old great-grandmother) Afisk10302@aol.com

  2. David Hunt '90 says:

    You attempt to “occupy” my property and I’ll follow the 3-S rule:

    Shoot
    Shovel
    Shut up

  3. The vernacular of the 99% is hardly arbitrary. While your statistics may be right, the 99% ‘meme’ was necessary for mobilization and movement building and solidarity.

  4. Brian says:

    This is an excellent article, and the author brings up many important points that are too often overlooked. I only have one small thing to add about the issue of global inequality. Since the United States contains 5% of the world’s population, it is mathematically impossible for everyone in the US to be in the global 1%. At most, the top fifth of Americans could be in the global 1%. But in reality, the number of Americans in the global 1% is much smaller than that, since the global 1% also contains the richest people from other countries.
    .
    I would guess that only the top 10% of Americans are in the global 1%, which goes along nicely with the main argument of this article: we should talk more about the top 10% in this country, because they are in the global 1%.

Leave A Comment