Business Insider recently published an article (with graphs) about what the Wall Street protestors are so angry about, ultimately unemployment apparently is at the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, jobs are still scarce, with at least 14 million Americans wanting to find work but simply unable. Unemployment, should be defined as people who are working at least part-time but want to work full-time and those who haven’t looked for a while (given up out of frustration?). This places unemployment nationally at 17%. Corporate profits on the other hand, have never been higher, higher in fact then they have been since 1950 and average CEO (Chief Executive Officer) pay is 350 times higher (300% higher than in 1990) than the rate of pay to the average worker, which is up 50 times the rate from the period of 1960-1985. All of this while average worker pay has increased only 4 percent since 1990 and average hourly earnings have not increased in fifty years. Income equality in America is so vast that the US now ranks 93rd in the world for income equality of which, India and China are listed before us on the scale. Social mobility is also at a record low, so the likeliness to believe in the ‘American dream’ is also presently scarce.
To quote the article, “The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation’s history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high (Blodget).” The top 1 % owns a record 42% of the record wealth of the nation while the highest 5% own 70 % of the wealth. The top 1 % also do not know firsthand the level of indebtedness most Americans are feeling crunched by at the moment since they own only 5% of the country’s overall debt. Taxes are also at a record low for the highest earners in America, closest to the rate the rich paid in the 1920’s with the exception of the time period between 1988-1992. “The richest 20% pay 64% of the total taxes. Of course, that’s because they also make most of the money (Blodget).”
Even as the American taxpayer had to bail out the banks, in order to not flat-line the economy, the banks are reaping record profits and have paid back their loans yet, they are not lending to Americans, they are in fact lending to the US government and making a killing and accruing interest on money they have at the Federal Reserve (FED) that they are not lending. Additionally, the banks are borrowing money with a very low interest rate from the FED. “According to IRA, the “net interest margin” made by US banks in the first six months of this year is $211 Billion…that has helped produce $58 billion of profit in the first six months of the year (2011).” It might also be interesting to note that bankers made 6 time the private sector wage in 2010, meaning in 2010, “the average banker in New York City made $361,330.” (Blodget).
So, the article claims, why are these people upset? Because income inequality has been this sharp since the 1920’s. Half of the population in the country owns only 2.5 % of the countries entire wealth while the top 1% own a 33 percent of it. Is it becoming easier to see why these groups are calling themselves the “99%”? But, who are these protestors?