We’re Somewhere Between 90th and 99th Percentile. You, I Don’t Know.

Spurred by the imminent closure of the encampment in Boston’s Dewey Square we again debated at coffee this morning. Some of my friends argue that the occupations have been essential to starting a national debate on the protesters’ message. My response–after making clear that I harbor no animosity towards the protests–, was that there is no unified message, other than that the economic system is unfair. And that’s not news. There’s certainly no agreement on the root of income inequality–protesters blame everything from Wall Street’s greed to capitalism’s essence. “We are the 99%” implies that the 99% have common economic social interests–a preposterous idea, as this Household Income Graph demonstrates:

Where Do You Fall on the Income Curve” states “the difference in incomes between a household at the 98th percentile and the 99th percentile is $146,118 ($360,435 jumps up to $506,553).” Mind you, that’s the difference between just the 98th and 99th percentile of household income: “the difference in income between a household at the 50th percentile and a household at the 51st percentile is $1,237 ($42,327 versus $43,564).” “We are the 99%” is short, catchy, and sounds relevant, while being useless as a platform to actually do anything.

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  • kunaparaju Abhishek

    I completely agree with the fact that there is extreme uncertainty in what the protestors want. Also, recent protests at ports in California and other places only create more harm than good. It is interesting to see what the occupy movement will ultimately result in. 

  • Anand Brahmbhatt

    I work at Harvard, and every week when I go there for the last few weeks — they won’t allow anyone onto the campus that does not have a Harvard ID. I wonder, are they allowed to do that? Occupying something is one thing, and because there’s students Occupying Harvard– does that give them the right to close off their campus to everyone else? I don’t mind the protestors as much, if they’re standing on grounds they strongly believe and advocate. 

    • Anonymous

      Harvard is a private institution. It has the right to control access to its private property.

      David

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  • David Bren

    The “occupy” movement has turned into somewhat of a joke now because it turned into a modern day culture fad. It’s as important to most of the people protesting as their “fixie” bicycles or rayban sunglasses would be. When my roommate somewhat recently visited New York, he (not being against the movement, but just curious to hear their responses) asked some occupiers what they were there for. When their only response was that they were the part of the 99%, my roommate probed further into what they thought was wrong with the distribution of wealth. After being told by this group of occupiers that wealth wasn’t what the movement was about, he laughed, turned around, and walked away. When people get involved who have no idea what they’re even there for, they weaken the legitimacy of the whole ordeal. It’s pretty unfortunate, because with some strong leadership, a lot more could be done.