Since the unemployment rate was high for a long period of time it began to make America’s wealth distribution even more unequal. In 2007, slightly before the recession, the top 1% wealthiest’s share of America’s total wealth was 24% (Gitlin 7). After the peak of the recession in 2011, the top 1%’s share had ballooned to 40% and the bottom 80% of Americans owned less than 10% (Jordan 2). The 1%’s wealth had jumped 16% in four years because of the loss of jobs by middle and lower class Americans (Gitlin 7). This created a situation in which the wealthiest were getting wealthier and the middle and lower class were getting poorer. It is obvious that a system that continues to work in this fashion is very unfair and is not going to work properly. This sense of immorality with the current direction in which the economy is moving and the built up frustration of this system are just some of the many factors that sparked the original protestors to create Occupy.
Who were the Occupy protestors?
Personally, I do not think that a single person I know has ever protested with the Occupy Movement, let alone start it. The Murphy Institute has recently published a study, led by Ruth Milkman, on this exact topic. The Murphy Institute is an academic program at the City University of New York (CUNY) that seeks to help academic, labor, and community leaders understand labor and urban issues (The Murphy Instituite). They point to the fact that the original Occupy protestor was not simply the average American standing up to the injustices of the American economy as they would want people to believe. Rather, they say that the original Occupy protestors were veteran political activists (Milkman 2). These veteran activists were crucial to the movement’s planning and initial spread.
If one were to have attended an Occupy protest, it would be easy to see that certain demographics were over represented; white, being college educated, under 30, and/or male (Milkman 13). However, this does not sound like the 99% at all. In a true 99% demographic, the number of protestors would match up accordingly with their population demographics in every race, level of education, age and gender. Why then would this particular group of people be over represented in a protest for economic reform under the 99% slogan? It makes sense when the events of the economy hit another group especially hard; the new college graduate. These young men and women believed that they had proven themselves worthy of society by staying up late at night writing papers, studying, and consuming unhealthy amounts of caffeine. They thought the world would greet them with open arms and give them a career. Instead they discovered that there were not any jobs available for anyone, let alone themselves. Because of this they had invested too much in a college education whose loan they could not pay back. And in the face of this debt building up they were forced to take up a job that had...