October 31, 2011; Source: Huffington Post | Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, has something to say to those who think the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement isn’t focused on or doing anything to “make real change.” In his latest post for HuffingtonPost, Reich asserts that the OWS movement is not only growing but also already having an impact beyond what anyone imagined by dramatically changing the public debate about income disparities, jobs, and wealth concentration in America.
As evidence, he points to last week’s Congressional Budget Office report on widening disparities of income in America, which, for the first time, landed on the front page of major daily newspapers. Even more startling, he writes, is a New York Times/CBS News poll finding that an “astounding” 66 percent of Americans today say that the nation’s wealth should be more evenly distributed (an opinion that hasn’t enjoyed majority status since the 1930s). A similar majority believes the rich should pay more in taxes, based on findings from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to the NPQ newsletter to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
In short, Reich says, most Americans seem to “have become class warriors”—a label that’s sounded the death knell in the past for many an aspiring politician. He believes that this shift stems from growing recognition that “guns, gumption, and hard work don’t seem to pay off as they once did,” and that the game is now skewed toward the already rich and powerful, as well as their children. Look at Herman Cain, Reich writes. He tried the “if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself” mantra, but that “didn’t hit a responsive chord,” and now Cain’s backed off from it. And, he adds, look at how trickle-down economics has failed and how the Wall Street moguls who’ve become richer because taxpayers bailed them out are now seen as “rigging the system.”
OWS has hit a chord, Reich writes, because a large number of Americans are grappling with the real-life consequences of fewer jobs, less personal disposable income, stalled housing prices, and decreased savings. Those issues are now coming front and center in the public debate—something that few people saw coming as recent as a few months ago. Now, the question is what happens from here? Reich has his answer: Americans need to march to the music—and organize.—CMG