I’ll be honest; I thought the Occupy Wall street ‘movement’, if you can call it that was disorganized. While it purported to be a reaction to Wall Street greed and manipulation, it seemed unfocused, meandering, and often silly.
With that being said, I still think that we can learn something from it. In the last 20 years, the rate at which wealth has been concentrated to the top 2% is breathtaking.
“When all household wealth is divided by the number of households, the mean household net worth in 2010 totals $498,800. But the median household net worth was $77,300, meaning that the rich have so much that the average net worth in the U.S. is actually 6.5 times that of a typical American family.” – Dan Fromkin
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 400 richest Americans control more wealth than the bottom 50% of all households. At this point, you’re probably thinking this is another left-wing article bashing rich people and advocating for redistribution of wealth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do I not hate the rich, I hope one day to be rich. But the problem is that the current concentration of wealth is unsustainable, and flies in the face of the meritocracy that built this great nation.
As Americans, we don’t have a right to be wealthy, but we do have a right to economic opportunity. Any American that is willing to work two or three jobs should at least make enough money for the necessities—food, shelter, and basic health care. This isn’t just my personal opinion; it’s the reason our government established the Federal Minimum Wage. It was called a “living wage” because the goal was to ensure that every working American could at least make enough money to survive. But unfortunately, that has not been the case. Today, millions of Americans work multiple jobs, but still live below the poverty line.
These factors alone paint a bleak picture for the working poor. And now we see an explosion of so-called ‘businesses’ that often prey on the poor—payday lenders, title loan companies, and for-profit colleges.
To truly effect change, everyday citizens must take a stand in the fight for economic equality. Start the conversation and get involved in the fight for economic equality.
*This article previously ran in the Birmingham Times