Peter L. Myers : Pepper Spray Gazette (Numbers Don’t Lie)

Lt. John Pike, who was photographed pepper spraying passive protesters at U.C. Davis, is shown here doing the deed in Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.” Graphic by Brady Hall / Pepper Spraying Cop / Tumblr.

Pepper Spray Gazette:
Numbers don’t lie!

By Peter L. Myers | The Rag Blog | December 20, 2011

2011 will be remembered for historic world-wide uprisings against despotism and against the astronomical, obscene growth of income and wealth inequality. It will also be remembered for assaults against unarmed protesters with tear gas and pepper spray and, in some nations, with live ammunition. In the U.S., the main achievement of the Occupy movements has been to put wealth/income disparity in the public consciousness:

  • The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.
  • The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.
  • From 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.
  • Of the 100 highest paid chief executives in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their companies paid in federal corporate income tax.

— Nicholas D. Kristof, “America’s Primal Scream,” The New York Times, October 15, 2011

  • “Between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent… during the same period the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.”

— Paul Krugman, “The Social Contract,” The New York Times, September 22, 2011

It is immoral that immense wealth is increasingly concentrated in a tiny layer while:

  • One in five children in America is at risk for hunger and lives in poverty. (Share our Strength; MSNBC)
  • A record number of Americans — nearly one in two — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. (MSNBC)

Second, the “1%” and their corporations are stifling political democracy:

  • Corporate lobbyists control Congress. This is no leftist paranoia: Jack Abramoff boasted on NBC that he had literally controlled at least 100 Congressional offices by buying off the staff.
  • Almost half of Congress members are millionaires themselves.
  • Tax laws are written so that billionaires like Ronald Lauder have their wealth protected.
    — David Kocieniewski, “But Nobody Pays That: A Family’s Billions, Artfully Sheltered,” The New York Times, November 27, 2011
  • Corporate influence on campaign finance and the media stifles public discourse and the political process.

The chief demand of the Occupy movements is to create and expand political, social, and economic democracy and a society at the service of human needs. We will end Occupy when Wall Street stops occupying our Congress and ripping off the poor, working, and middle classes. Please join the worldwide movement for freedom and an end to despotism and injustice.

[Peter L. Myers is a semi-retired professor of anthropology and alcohol/drug studies, and a text author and editor. He was active in the early civil rights and student movements. Send comments and additions to nyprof@gmail.com.]

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