Trading Places in the Occupy Movement?

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January 1, 2012; Source: Register Guard | A satirical contingent of Occupy supporters in Eugene, Oregon braved freezing fog on New Year’s Eve to demonstrate against income inequality by dressing as “rich people” and promoting their rights. Speeches, “money = power” signs, and chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, the middle class has got to go” punctuated the evening. The fun is “celebrating, in our sarcastic way,” one participant noted.

The demonstrators may not want their protest to be taken literally, but the opportunity to do so is not lost on those who advocate for the rights of the very wealthy. In a recent Financial Timesarticle, New York hedge-fund manager Anthony Scaramucci asserted that “The 99 percent really want to be part of the 1 percent.” The article also contains several examples of Wall Street executives taking their policy agenda to “the people,” as they cite the positive job creation impact of financial services, income tax contributions of high-income individuals, and traditional American values that should guard against divisive tax policy debate. It’s interesting to see their advocacy move beyond the borders of back room negotiating tactics and campaign donations to a direct-media campaign.

What’s next? As communication tactics evolve, do you see a different, or more visible, role for nonprofits emerging?—Kathi Jaworski

  • Tom King

    Too many nonprofits have taken a political stance that, in essence, bites the hand that feeds them. I suppose if you plan to rely primarily on government largesse for support, it’s a safe stand to gleefully support the OWS protesters. If, however, you find, as many of the organizations I work with do, that the government is increasingly reticent to fund private nonprofit programs, especially faith-based ones, then blithely standing “with” the so-called 99% against the very folk whose charity funds us, seems to me to warrant my Grandmother’s warning not to “cut off your own nose to spite your face.”

  • Terry Masters

    One could posit that charities exist to fill the needs that our society ignores: the underserved, the under-insured, the unseen populations in poverty.

    Who donates the most to charities as a proportion of disposable income (and let us exclude super-PACs from this discussion)? The 1% get a 100% tax deduction for their contributions; the 99% do not, making their donations an even greater proportion of their disposable income.

    Sympathy may not be the best response to a 1%-er