[Article by Christopher Bernard]
What Do the Occupiers Want?
The news media seem confused about what the Occupiers of Wall Street, San Francisco and other cities around America, and now the world, have been demanding. The Occupiers are mad – they’re mad at Wall Street, and mad at the rich, and mad at Republicans and Democrats who have coddled the rich for decades. The pundits and reporters say the protests are all wonderful and signs of a vital and energized democracy – but what in the heck do these people really want?
Jeffery Sachs recently published a new book called “The Price of Civilization.”
Well, the answer is simple: They want the top 1% to pay their fair share of the price of civilization.
For the last thirty years the richest Americans, whether individuals or corporations, have taken for themselves everything they can get their hands on. They have not shared the spectacular gains our economy has made either with the people who work for them, or to pay for the collective actions that make up government, the services we all use, including police protection, transportation systems and the military.
This has resulted from the hyper-individualistic Reaganism that has dominated our national life since the 1980s. But Americans are not merely a collection of individuals seeking to maximize their returns. America is a society, not just an economy, and a society functions well only when everyone pitches in to make it work. The middle class has been doing its part from the very beginning, and over the last few decades has borne the brunt of the costs of our deepening economic and political dysfunctions.