by Jeremy Leaming
As Occupy Wall Street continues to spread from city to city and garner backers from Union leaders to the head of Washington’s largest progressive nonprofit, an important and long overdue focus is shifting to the efforts of the nation’s super wealthy to keep things just the way they are.
In a piece for The Huffington Post, Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, laments the stranglehold the status quo has on Washington, where austerity measures are all of sudden the obsession of many conservative politicians, and incessant talk of cutting Social Security and Medicare rules the day.
While conservative talking heads bemoan the growing gap between the nation’s top one percent and everyone else as class warfare, Baker notes that the only redistribution of wealth occurring in this country is that which helps those within the top one percent.
In short, we have an economic system that, even when it is working, has been rigged to redistribute income to the rich. And we have a political system that at a time of immense economic distress is more focused on undercutting the means of support for working families than fixing the economy. It is hard to understand why everyone is not occupying Wall Street.
As noted on this blog numerous times, Columbia Business School Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote earlier in the year about the power of the country’s top 1 percent and its efforts to hold the status quo. He argued that the top one percent is seriously out of touch with the rest of the country, and it appreciates a government that can only push policy that furthers its interests.
But such action has created the current economic morass, one that doesn’t bother many conservative pundits or is not understood by them.