Steve Rattner, a Wall Street executive writing in the New York Times ( March 26, 2012) gave further ammunition to the Occupy movement. Relying on data from two economists who used IRS tax returns, Rattner commented on the growing income inequality present in the United States.
In 2010 93% of the additional income generated by the nation’s economy went to the top 1%; that’s $ 288 billion, or about a return of 11.6% to the households with an average income of $ 352,000. Furthermore, 37% of that increase actually went to .01 of the households, about 15,ooo, which the economists calculated at about a 21.5 % return. A pretty good deal.
Now here is where the Occupy movement comes into play. These two economists determined that the other 99%, during the same period, realized a return of $ 80.00 after adjusting for inflation. Yes, you read correctly, 80 measley bucks. Not a pretty good return.
Now Rattner is a capitalist and a Wall Street kind of guy so what he says in the op-ed is that these people who got a huge return probably got this windfall because they worked hard, are smart innovators, and know how to make money. A few probably got the return by cutting dividend checks from trust funds or granddaddy’s inheritance, and of course there is always the benefits of the capital gains windfall associated with the Bush tax cuts. But Rattner is willing to give these 1% the benefit of the doubt on why they deserve this huge return during some difficult times in this conntry.
But then Rattner and anyone else with even an ounce of fairness in their system would ask the obvious question that goes something like this – doesn’t this disparity of return from new income growth just seem out of place in this land of equal opportunity? This growing gap between the 1% and the 99% is so large and growing so wide that any reasonable individual who looks at these dollar figures would be correct in saying – “this just doesn’t seem right.” They might also ask the obvious question – “Haven’t the 99% also contributed to the income growth in this country?” “Don’t they deserve a larger piece of the pie for their hard work and sacrifice?” The answer should be- “yes these Americans also deserve a fair division of the new income rather than put most of it in the pockets of such a small group.”
For all the goofy antics of the Occupy movmement, they have latched onto something that is irrefutable – our economic system is unfairly and unjustly skewed toward the rich and those who have all the political connections. This is simply wrong and against the foundation principle that supposedly guides our economic system – equal opportunity.