Why we Occupy: Robert Reich explains the link between inequality and the lousy economy

  • Published on November 4th, 2011

Why is Occupy Wall Street focusing on inequality and the massive disconnect between the incomes of the uber-rich and, well, everyone else?

As Robert Reich explains, it’s very simple – until we fix that problem, we’re not going to be able to fix the economy:

  • The biggest question in America these days is how to revive the economy.
  • The biggest question among activists now occupying Wall Street and dozens of other cities is how to strike back against the nation’s almost unprecedented concentration of income, wealth, and political power in the top 1 percent.
  • The two questions are related. With so much income and wealth concentrated at the top, the vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. (People could pretend otherwise as long as they could treat their homes as ATMs, but those days are now gone.) The result is prolonged stagnation and high unemployment as far as the eye can see.
  • Until we reverse the trend toward inequality, the economy can’t be revived.
There. That seems pretty clear, no?

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More on Occupy Wall Street:

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Also coming up in the next week:

  • November 5Bank transfer day. Vote with your cash! Close your account at one of the too-big-to-fail banks and move your money to a credit union or small, local bank. (Background here)
  • November 6Keystone pipeline protest . Climate activists Bill McKibben and 350.org harness the Occupy Wall Street energy to circle the White House, sending the message to President Obama that he shouldn’t approve a new pipeline to carry polluting tar sands oil through America’s heartland. (Background herehere, and here)
  • November 12, the City of London holds an annual Lord Mayor’s Show, basically a celebration of the banking industry. There will be protests  at that… as George Monbiot says, “Expect fireworks – and not just those laid on by the Lord Mayor.”

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
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  • The 1% do control health care. Health care control is illustrated by 50% of health spending due to 50% of health workforce in 1000 zip codes in 1% of the land area. Not surprising Manhattan zip codes in and around Wall Street best reflect the 1% with top concentrations in many dimensions as well as the health insurance, corporate interest, and academic institutions shaping the design. The 99% left behind are best reflected in 30,000 zip codes with 65% of the US pop and only 25% of the US workforce. All lines of health revenue and the highest level of reimbursement in each line go to academic and large system top concentration locations. Half of 500 billion dollars in annual economic impact from medical education (AAMC) goes to a few dozen zip codes in 6 states. Even office based physician economic impact (AMA data) is over $10,000 per person in super centers with $800 to $1600 per person in economic impact for the 65% left behind.

    The disease-, subspecialty-, and academic-focused US health care design since 1980 has become a primary means of dividing the nation into rich and poor in income, in health, in health spending, in jobs from health care, and in economic impact. Our design works for few Americans for a few years of their lives delivered in a few locations. Health focused health care that is good for the economy is basic health access services needed by nearly all Americans nearly all of the years of their lives delivered in nearly all locations.

    Government and association reports claim that health care economic impact is good for America when the designs insure that the design is good for only a few Americans.