Chris Hedges on why Occupy Wall Street could “bring them all down”

It takes a concerted effort on my part not to post videos here every night of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges. As I just posted video of him a few days ago, I hate to do it again, but, once you see this video of the former New York Times war correspondent being interviewed on the street by one of the Wall Street occupiers, I think you’ll agree that I didn’t really have much choice.

And here, for those of you who didn’t feel compelled to hit “play” is a quickly done transcript. I think you’ll agree that his analysis is pretty incredible, especially when taken alongside that of the talking heads on the cable news networks who seem all to willing to write this American uprising off.

I’m Chris Hedges. I’m a writer. I write books. I spent 20 years oversees as a war correspondent, came back, and realized that corporations had carried out a coup d’état in my country, and I’ve been fighting back… although not as effectively as you guys… (laughs)…

Well, I’ve covered movements. I’ve covered all of the revolutions in Eastern Europe. I’ve covered the street demonstrations that brought down Milošević. I’ve covered both of the Palestinian Intifadas. And once movements like this start, and articulate a fundamental truth about a society that they live in, and expose the repression, the mendacity, the corruption, and the decay of the structures of power, then they have a kind of centrifugal force… You never know where they’re going… I was with the leaders of the opposition movement in East Germany, in Leipzig, on the afternoon of November 9th, 1989, and they said that perhaps within a year, there would be free passage back and forth across the Berlin wall. In a few hours, the Berlin wall didn’t exist… What happens in all of these movements – this was true in Prague as well – is that the foot soldiers of the elite, the blue uniformed police, the mechanisms of control, finally don’t want to impede the movement. And, at that point, the power elite is left defenseless. So, where is it going? No one knows – even those most intimately involved in the organization don’t know. All of these movements take on a kind of life and color that in some ways is mysterious. The only thing that I can say, having been in the middle of similar movements, is that this one is real. And this one could take them all down.

Well, let me first say that I learn a lot more from the people who are occupying, than (they learn from me)… I mean, my critique of the corporate state, I think, coalesces with the critique that many people in Occupy Wall Street have, but I never wrote in any of my books about how to bring them down. This whole non-hierarchical structure is really brilliant. And I didn’t have a clue. (Laughs.) They can’t destroy the movement like that. The fact that you rotate people through positions of leadership, and the fact that you’re completely transparent, the fact that you realize that… uhhh…. You know, you’ve clearly been provoked. I mean, Anthony Bologna was clearly trying, I think, was clearly trying to provoke people in that crowd, because they want windows smashed. They know how to handle that. They don’t know how to handle this. This is driving them insane. And, the fact is, I can guarantee you that huge segments of the blue uniformed police sympathize with everything that you’re doing. And that is the way you can shatter the manacles of control that have been placed on the country by the corporate state. And that’s what scares them. I mean, the most aggressive figures in the crowds are these white shirted assholes (like Bologna). Always remember that you only have to deal with them once in a while… These poor uniformed cops have to deal with them every day. I think the movement is really, really, really smart – really astute – and I don’t think I have much to teach it at all.

I don’t think there’s any danger of this movement being seduced or co-opted by – which is a reprehensible organization – or the Democratic Party, or the Teamsters, or anyone else. The fact is, you’ve done what they have not done, which is fight back. And, because you’ve fought back, they’ve been exposed for who they are – i.e. the leaders of these groups. That’s why they’re running to you and attempting to restore what little shred of credibility they have left.

You know, I’m a visitor – I come and go – but I don’t sense that there’s any danger… I think the political consciousness of this group is so high that they see right through all of these figures that show up at the park. I was there when Patterson showed up, Charlie Rangel showed up… I mean, it’s sort of almost sad in a way. Because the fact is they have offered nothing, done nothing, except mouth this empty rhetoric, this kind of “feel your pain” language, while betraying the very people they purportedly represent. So I don’t think there’s any danger this movement will be co-opted at all. Even with the Teamsters, the union bosses – and these union bosses are pulling down five-times what the rank and file is pulling down – they’ve done nothing for unions except basically barter away their benefits and rights, and the union bosses have to get down here because otherwise they’re going to lose their rank and file. That’s why you’re seeing groups like MoveOn or the Teamsters coming down here – because you do what their leadership has not done, which is stand up. And let me just say something. I wasn’t here Friday morning. For me… I’ve got kids… And it’s not about me anymore. It’s about the next generation. It’s about my children’s generation. And I think my passion for what you’re doing – and I would even use the word love – comes from the fact that I look at you as fighting on behalf of my little three year old, and (he begins to choke up) on Friday morning, of course I was up, to find out what happened, and I did what I’m doing now, which is start crying. God bless you all.

Hedges was, of course, referring to the crack down by New York City riot police that we were all told would be coming last Friday morning. Thankfully, it never happened, and the movement has continued to grow. I don’t know that I’m quite as optimistic as Hedges about our chances of actually bringing about real, significant change, but I certainly appreciate his perspective, having watched countless oppressive and corrupt regimes fall first hand, more than I do the attractive people reading teleprompters on the cable news networks.

Please share this post with your friends. I think it’s important.

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  1. donna
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Hedges just made me cry too. Thanks for posting this.

  2. wetdolpinmissile
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 4:56 am | Permalink


  3. Edward
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I like how he makes the distinction between the cops in the white shirts, like the pepper spraying Anthony Bologna, and those in the blue shirts, who he thinks will eventually turn to support the protesters.

  4. EOS
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
    4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
    5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
    7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
    9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
    10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

    Rev. William J. H. Boetcker

  5. Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    EOS where did you find that? It’s rather provocative.

    Also I hope more vets start joining in the protests to protect the younger more naive masses who are easy targets for police brutality.

  6. Posted October 19, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I’ve been reading about the Republican Debates (can’t stomach watching them).

    It’s interesting the that party has all but ignored the two major populist movements that have happened since the 2008 elections season. The acknowledge the Tea Partiers insofar as Bachmann depends on their support, but really give it little serious consideration. Likewise, the OWS movement barely registers a blip on their radar, aside from a few snarky comments.

    I think that the candidates really have little idea as to what to do with either, belying their lack of comprehension or awareness as to what Americans are thinking. Instead, they follow a tried and true method of campaigning that reveals not only how painfully out of touch they are, but also the extent of their smug attitude towards the American citizenry.

    Sad, but unsurprising.

  7. EOS
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Provocative? It used to be commonly shared moral values. Heard it on a Podcast on my drive this morning and looked it up on the Internet when I got in. (

  8. EOS
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink


    You never get the full picture when you get your news secondhand. Paul and Cain both spoke about OWS last night.

    “I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims,” the Texas Republican said. “There are a lot of people who are victims of this business cycle.”

    And Paul delivered a veiled attack on Cain’s past as a member of a regional board of directors of the Federal Reserve, Paul’s favorite target. “They created the bubble,” he said.

    Cain had said the protesters “are directing their anger at the wrong place. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration.”

    The back-and-forth was part of a larger debate over the role of the federal government in the recession and the Wall Street bailouts in 2008. “Guess who they bailed out?” Paul said. “The big corporations who were ripping people off in the derivatives market. Who got stuck? The middle class got stuck.”

  9. Mr. X
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    With all due respect, EOS, you have no idea what you’re talking about. No one here is asking for a handout. Pay attention. Your “you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves” is completely off the mark. These people are not asking for handouts. They work hard and they want to know why our laws disproportionately work int he favor of the wealthy. They want to know why their federal tax dollars are going to banker bonuses instead of schools. They want to know why there’s no recourse for HMOs declining coverage for people who need treatment. They want to know why, when we’re giving billions to Bank of America, they’re laying people off in spite of record profits. They want to know why wages in America adjusted for inflation haven’t really risen since the 70s. No one is asking to be taken care of, you asshole. These people want jobs. They want to work. These are primarily college graduates without career options.

  10. Star Child
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Its nice to see some of our nations apathy melt away. I really hope this keeps gaining momentum. Hopefully this will help wake more folks up to the ruse that is going on in our current political system and the influence of corporations.

  11. Kim
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    His assessment of MoveOn is right on the money.

  12. Andy C
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    @Mr. X, It’s kind of nice to see some decent conversations on this little blog. Even Tater has posted on subject comments lately. Adding “you asshole” to your post just makes me think you’re an asshole. I’m sure you’ve never called someone “an asshole” to their face.

  13. kjc
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Well said, Mr. X.

  14. Maria
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    EOS, that’s just a bunch of commands somebody is saying to will things to be the way they want. They are actually kind of stupid. Don’t kid yourself, peasant uprising were always something the landed gentry were worried about, thus the concept of noblesse oblige.
    Of course, a bunch of poor people can rise up and take a rich man’s wealth for themselves, that has happened all through history.
    We’re hopefully have evolved away from that, and the peacefulness of this movement gives me hope.

  15. Maria
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    And Mark, this was a great thing to post.
    We’re watching history.

  16. someone
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Agree with Maria. Those points are repetitive to the point of being religious blather, and groundless to the point of being religious blather. Only further proving that the truth is closer to the opposite of those statements.

  17. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    If people want jobs so badly then maybe they should demand the govt. stop taking money from the job creators to pay for all of the govt’s schemes. One of the many reasons that entrepreneurs and businesses leave the country and take jobs with them is because they hate having their earnings taxed to pay for social welfare programs. You may not agree with this, but lots of business people will tell you that they think American’s are taxed too much.

    I for one wish I could opt. out of any govt. scheme I choose. I’d still give back to the community though.

  18. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    No, they leave the country for cheap labor, it’s pretty simple.

    No amount of tax breaks could ever drop the price of American labor down to what a Mexican auto assembly worker asks.

    Would you work for $3.50 an hour?

  19. Maria
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, of course rich people don’t want to pay taxes, but the real reason companies outsource is that it’s also it’s so much cheaper to pay someone to work overseas. Why shouldn’t rich people complain even more while they
    maximize their profits? It’s what they do,they maximize their profits. And they do whatever it takes, to the fullest extent possible. And if bitching about taxes helps them get a lower tax rate. they will complain. Easy as pie.

  20. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    And it’s much easier to enlist the right wing to blame government or the unions for moving manufacturing overseas, rather than just admitting that their sole goal is maximizing profits through cheap labor.

    For wage levels, there’s no way that an uneducated American worker could ever compete with the same worker in Mexico or Central America.

  21. Andy C
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Remember ENRON?
    Gave to W.
    Bought themselves a say on the countries energy policy.
    Deregulation really helped this country and created tons of jobs.
    This is still happening. Wall St. is no different than ENRON.

  22. kjc
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    oh David Gomez…seriously?? Maria and Peter are spot on.

  23. Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    SO I don’t have any right to decide where my tax dollars go? Come on. I’d to have the choice to not send any tax dollars to the wars, for example. If the wars are so great let the people who love them so much pay for them and the rest of us opt out.

    And if you don’t think burdensome taxes and economic policy aren’t leading people to set up show else ware you need to read economic sources other Obama’s little press meetings. Yeah no one would like to work for $3.50 an hour, no revelation there, but there’s also a TON of people who get paid WAY more than they’re worth in the public sector and maybe even the private sector too.

    Obama’s jobs bill wont fix the economy, watch if if gets passed in a year you’ll still all be like WTF, where are the jobs?!

  24. Maria
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    What’s your point?
    That you do have a right to decide where your tax dollars go? You get to vote.
    That you don’t want to pay the public sector more than the private? Well, it is a race to the bottom, and looks the bottoming out thing is coming.
    They’ll be jobs eventually, sure, with or without the jobs bill, but since we’re our incomes are declining, our buying power is being diminished as we speak.

  25. kjc
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    And if you don’t think burdensome taxes and economic policy aren’t leading people to set up show else ware you need to read economic sources other Obama’s little press meetings.

    little press meetings? no idea what you’re talking about. careful with the silly straw man arguments. in any case, Obama has nothing to do with the exodus overseas to exploit cheap labor. but if you think it’s all about the “job creators” getting screwed, maybe you need to stop reading Republican/Fox News talking points.

  26. EOS
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    If you envy the wealthy businessman, then emulate him, don’t take away what he has earned. Save your money, invest in a business, work long hours for low pay until it is successful. Then if you want, you can pay every employee the same salary that you earn, even though they are not risking their life savings on the successful outcome of your business. Give them free medical benefits at the best institutions. Pay ten times or more than what you owe the government in taxes. Give away your product for free to those who can’t afford to buy it. See how far that gets you.

  27. Chairman Meow
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Jesus would be banking with a credit union, I’ll tell you that much.

  28. Maria
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    EOS, those are all extreme examples.10x’s more than what you owe in taxes? Yikes.
    Lots of little businesses went out of business because so people were overextended, having received loans they never had the ability to pay back, and when the loaning binge gave out, the banks got the money, and everyone else got the bills and disposable income dried up.

  29. wetdolpinmissile
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    EOS…no one wants to take away money from the rich anymore than we want our money taken…a fair distribution of taxes is what the 99% want. Gomez-Sure I do not want my taxes going for wars and to subsidize big oil…I would see my taxes go for some green initiatives for so many good reasons, to early childhood education, because it is so cost effective and improves lives, I vote.

  30. Mr. X
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    You must have missed it, Andy C, but I said “with all due respect.”

    Doesn’t that make it alright?

    Seriously, I’m sorry I resorted to profanity, but I was pissed off. I try to control myself, but sometimes it gets really hard.

  31. gary
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    i want my taxes going to burritos.

    occupy taco bell!!!

  32. dragon
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with his children watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.
    That is class warfare. No word on whether or not the peasants apologized for calling the knight an asshole.

  33. Maria
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Wow, that makes the guillotine look civilized.

  34. EOS
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I would like to engage in a conversation with you about this issue. You have posted several times, and I don’t mean to ignore your posts, but I really can’t comprehend what it is that you are trying to say. Of course, businesses are out to make a profit. If they don’t make a profit, they go out of business.

    “They’ll be jobs eventually, sure, with or without the jobs bill, but since we’re our incomes are declining, our buying power is being diminished as we speak.”


    “Of course, a bunch of poor people can rise up and take a rich man’s wealth for themselves, that has happened all through history. We’re hopefully have evolved away from that, and the peacefulness of this movement gives me hope.”

    ??? Are you saying that taking a rich man’s money by force does benefit the poor, but only if it is done peacefully by government?

    I’m sure I don’t always write clearly either, but I try.

  35. Eel
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I’d be surprised if she were suggesting that the poor rise up, cook the rich on spits, and divvy up their gold. What she may be saying, however, is that the rich should keep in mind that such things do tend to happen when income disparity becomes so shockingly apparent, and when there is little or no opportunity for people to change their lot in life through education and hard work. It’s really no surprise to me that Warren Buffet is coming out, saying that these issues need to be addressed. If I were wealthy, I’d be saying the same thing.

  36. Maria
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Okay, I need an editor, but what I am saying is that opening a small business and working hard alone wasnt’ going to cut in an economy which is spiraling downward. That’s the whole point, it isn’t just about hard work, it’s about macro forces at work that are derailing the system as we have known it.
    So, about 2008 when Michigan was laying off tens of thousands of high paying factory jobs, which supported many other businesses,(on a ratio of 1 auto job to 8 other local jobs) many small businesses were severely distressed and folded. Given the high debt burden that so many people had amassed, there wasnt’ much else to do. Look around you, the fallout in the commercial real estate sector is quite apparent, just drive State Street and Ellsworth and look at all the for lease and for sale signs on business lots. That whole problem isn’t done yet.
    So just sucking it up during the start up years isn’t necessarily all it takes right now to get ahead. It isn’t the taxes that are killing entrepreneurship, there’s just no real disposable income, given people’s debt burdens.
    And absolutely, you can take from the rich and feed the poor. That’s kind of what goes on with the money they use to feed kids in Title 1 schools. Gross inequality is simply not well tolerated in a society. And the poor will take from the rich if they feel oppressed and stressed enough. It has happened many times in remote and recent history.

  37. EOS
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks Maria. I think every society has gross inequality. Even in a socialist state there is disparity. In an economic downturn, the people stand for hours in long lines to be able to purchase a small fraction of their true needs.

    I believe that capitalism has provided the most wealth for the greatest number of people. There comes a point where you can take so much from the rich that they no longer strive to produce. When the “rich” no longer get sufficient financial reward for their efforts, then they’ll close their businesses and the workers will lose their jobs. And if the poor are fed with handouts from the rich, they lose their incentive to provide for themselves. I think this ultimately harms the poor in the long run and what the 10 points that I posted were getting at.

  38. Maria
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    You know, I do agree with a lot of what you say, believe or not.
    But these severe stressors are dangerous, and civil unrest convulsions are by their nature, violent and dislocating. Human’s emotions take hold, and when a mob mentality takes over, it’s almost like the whole situation has a course to run, almost like a fever.
    So it’s best not to let things get too uneven.

  39. Maria
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    A few good reads about Europe in the last century along these lines, are
    For Whom the Bell Tolls by E. Hemingway and The Road Back by Eric Maria Remarque…
    Sad, good books, in the not so distant past, a time and a place which my grandparents lived through themselves.

  40. kjc
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    “And if the poor are fed with handouts from the rich, they lose their incentive to provide for themselves.”

    Don’t worry EOS. Many poor children are going unfed. You should keep up with child poverty in this country and feel heartened to know that provision is not being made for the majority.

  41. EOS
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink


    Families with children make up the greatest percentage of those living in poverty. I am well aware of this fact and provide funds to feed children on a monthly basis. I’ve volunteered at Gleaners – sorting donated food that is distributed to needy families in Detroit. Most churches that I have attended have pantries, where people from the community can go and receive food to help during an emergency. The Salvation Army feeds families across our nation. You should feel heartened that these provisions are provided voluntarily, without governmental oversight and excessive bureaucratic expense.

  42. kjc
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    If we could end all govt assistance, think how many more you could have at your pantry!

  43. EOS
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    The pantry is a temporary fix until people get back on their feet, and then they repay the church. Government assistance is a multi-generational dependency from which it is difficult to escape.

  44. kjc
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    they repay the church???


  45. Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that sounds pretty self-serving, though I have always known that churches were exclusively a commercial venture worthy of taxation.

  46. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    It is great that churches help the poor, it is what Jesus would do…it is not enough. I approve of my taxes going for federally funded food programs for feeding children at school. It is known well by teachers that often this is the only real meal children receive. Then comes summer and while there are funds, few communities utilize schools for meals in the summer. Some playground programs provide meals, but many fed $ go unused. But the Occupy Movement is not only about the very poor, it is about the unemployed, young students that though educated cannot get employed, retirees that cannot retire and still eat. And what do I read about one wealthy corp? BofA is laying off workers, sending jobs overseas to generate more wealth for the few… Pshaw on the rich and greedy I say!

  47. Maria
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Don’t pan what EOS is saying, I think it’s great that there is outreach. We’re gonna need a whole lot more of that spirit.
    My FIL tells how he grew up on a farm and his mom was so tenderhearted, she fed the hobos who came by…maybe no great shakes to you, but there are people who just wouldn’t do it either, just cause.

  48. Mr. X
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Our local churches would even remotely be able to handle the need. To suggest as much is laughably naive. Do you have any idea how many families in Ypsi are on food stamps? According to our most recent data, 43.6 million Americans used food stamps. 19.% of Michiganders were on food stamps as of a year ago, and I suspect it’s much higher now. And I would bet that the percentage is higher in Ypsi than elsewhere in the state. Let’s assume it’s 20% though. With a population of 20,000, that means we’ve got roughly 4,000 in need. I would imagine that Ypsi has fewer than 4,000 adults that attend church regularly. That would mean that each of them would have to have to pay to feed another person three meals a day? Does that sound realistic to you, EOS?

    Here’s the data on food stamps.

  49. Mr. X
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Maria, no one is disagreeing that charity is important. It’s absolutely vital. What people are reacting to is EOS’s belief that individual charity should be enough in and of itself. He’s suggesting that the government get out of the business of providing food stamps, leaving it to the churches and other faith-based institutions. What he apparently doesn’t realize, though, is that we tried that. But, after tiring of seeing our elderly dying in the streets after years of back breaking labor, we decided to enter the modern age, putting systems like social security and food stamps in place. Charity didn’t work. And that was during a time when a great many more Americans attended church.

  50. Mr. X
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Like all of the tea party talking points, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

  51. Maria
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    So what, that’s EOS’s belief.
    No,charity alone will not do it, I agree with you.
    I think the OWS energy will dissipate what the Tea Partiers are trying to do. That crowd will be just a footnote soon. And that’s just my belief.

  52. kjc
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Exactly, Mr. X.

  53. kjc
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    stealing from my friend, who has way more energy to educate than i do: Adjusting for inflation, the average worker earns about the same, or less, than he or she did in 1980. This is irrefutable. The only folks who have seen real growth in their income in the past 30 years are those in the 99.9th percentile, whose incomes rose by 181%, and those in the 99.99th percentile, whose incomes grew by a staggering 497%. So, for those of you making all your sly little jokes… and comments about how poor and working-class people are trying to steal a piece of the rich man’s pie, how is it that you explain or defend these numbers? What neat trick of mathematics do you use to rationalize the fact that most Americans are earning the same or less than they did 30 years ago, while the wealthiest have seen their incomes explode? Instead of lambasting the people who are calling attention to the astounding inequality of our economic system, you should be re-thinking everything you thought you understood about incomes and wealth in these United States…

  54. Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    EOS, if you’re able to respond to Mr. X, I’ll move your conversation up to the front page.

  55. Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Obviously, 99% of America are lazy bums. It’s all because of food stamps and welfare.

  56. EOS
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    “If everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free distribution of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted and unfailing. But there is another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: The incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man… in that primitive, universal and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.” Frederick Bastiat 1848

    Mr. X wrote, “What people are reacting to is EOS’s belief that individual charity should be enough in and of itself. He’s suggesting that the government get out of the business of providing food stamps, leaving it to the churches and other faith-based institutions.”

    He’s misinterpreted what I wrote – I don’t believe that at all. It’s not the church’s responsibility to provide for the social welfare of every individual in society, and if they tried, it would detract from their primary focus on sharing the Gospel. Really, what does it profit a man to go to hell on a full stomach?

    I was merely responding to kjc’s accusation that I was unaware of the number of children who are hungry in this society. I am aware. Many children suffer because they live in single parent households. The breakdown of the family has had a huge impact on this generation of children. Our society encourages young, uneducated, unwed mothers to raise children on the government’s dime. The more removed a person is from the source of their charity, the easier it is for them to expect it as an entitlement and to do nothing to eliminate their dependencies. If an unwed mother more directly witnessed the burden her decisions have placed on others, perhaps it would influence her decision to continue to reproduce indiscriminately. When “Grandpa” has to delay his retirement to work two jobs so that her kids eat, it should cause the mother to figure out better means to provide for her offspring or at least keep the number of children to a minimum.

    As government sponsored financial aid has risen, more persons have attended college and received degrees. As the numbers of students have expanded, the level of instruction has diminished, and as a result, most college graduates today have not attained the level of education that was once prevalent among high school graduates. Yet, along with no real job skills, they have $20K to $50K in debt to repay. The expectation of many is that because they spent 4 – 6 years as an undergrad, they should be able to step into jobs that provide a middle class income, or at least move out of their parent’s basements. And if those jobs are not forthcoming, they’ll occupy the centers of cities and threaten to take what they want from the rich. Or perhaps, just destroy the ability of others to work hard and achieve their goals.

    The fact that some are able to do extremely well in our economy and earn more than 99.9% of other people should be an incentive for others to emulate. The astounding inequality of our economic system mirrors the inequalities of personal effort and the individual’s sense of personal responsibility.

  57. Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Yes, I really want to emulate those with inherited capital, inherited stock portfolios and inherited opportunities, but no matter how hard I work, I just can’t get new parents.

  58. kjc
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    “The fact that some are able to do extremely well in our economy and earn more than 99.9% of other people should be an incentive for others to emulate. The astounding inequality of our economic system mirrors the inequalities of personal effort and the individual’s sense of personal responsibility.”

    It’s impossible to marshal facts for your argument that most people just don’t try. It’s merely your cynical belief. You can’t prove it in any way, and you can’t convince anyone here. Your certainty is impenetrable. Really nothing more to say.

  59. EOS
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Half of those on the Forbes 400 wealthiest list started their economic careers by inheriting businesses or substantial wealth. Of these, most inherited sufficient wealth to put them immediately into Forbes’ heaven. But, more relevant to our discussion, 30% on the Forbes list can be regarded as self-starters whose parents did not have great wealth or own a business with more than a few employees.

  60. Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    This discussion is stupid. The reality is that a good percentage of Americans won’t even make the median income for the country, since by definition 50% of Americans are under it.

    Bringing discussions of people on the Forbes list is just a distraction from the real issues, which include racism, bad schools, insufficient and inequitable distribution of resources, hunger, homelessness, drug abuse, violence, poor health, a lack of jobs that pay a living wage, poor transportation, bad housing, social instability, should I go on?

    There’s a reality here that you’re missing or choosing to ignore.

  61. kjc
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    “The reality is that a good percentage of Americans won’t even make the median income for the country, since by definition 50% of Americans are under it.”

    Are you sure of that math, Peter? Cuz EOS already explained that ALL OF US can be part of the 1% if we TRY HARDER.

  62. Mr. X
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I’m confused EOS. A little while ago, if I’m not mistaken, you said that state managed welfare was unnecessary because churches and other faith-based groups would take that on. You even told us how you once volunteered at a food pantry, loading up boxes for the needy. Now, however (once I pointed out that our Ypsi churches couldn’t come close to meeting the local demand) you’re saying that feeding the poor isn’t the church’s role.

    Here’s what you said: “It’s not the church’s responsibility to provide for the social welfare of every individual in society, and if they tried, it would detract from their primary focus on sharing the Gospel. Really, what does it profit a man to go to hell on a full stomach?”

    So, if there are hungry children in record numbers, as you admit there are, at this very moment, who would you have feed them? If it’s not the role of churches, and if you don’t want the government in that business, then who sees to it that they’re fed? Would you have them starve if their parents cannot find work? Would that be the Christian thing to do?

    In your scenario, you point to the responsible grandfather, who, seeing his grandchild going hungry, would go back to work. But what if there are no jobs? And what if there isn’t a kindly grandfather willing to make the sacrifice?

    It sounds like you’re saying that a generation or two of children might have to starve to death in order for us to break the welfare cycle. Is that a fair assessment? Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that welfare is so seductive that a large number of women – and let’s cut right to the chase here, and say black women, because that’s what this is really about – are purposefully having babies in order to get more money from the government?

    I agree with you that poor women tend to have children too early, before they can afford to properly meet their needs. I think it’s a huge problem that we as a society end up paying for over and over again. I don’t, however, agree that the solution is to allow those children to die. The solution, I think, has to involve education and birth control. (Abstinence programs, as I’m sure you know, have been proven repeatedly not to work.) We have to spend our money disproportionately in the education of the poor. Instead of warehousing poor kids in classrooms of 60, we need to give them individualized attention, and show them that they have what it takes to be self-sufficient. It may be more costly in the short-run than letting them starve to death, but it should yield benefits. (Recently we were discussing the Finnish public education model here. You should check it out.)

    If the real problem at the root of all of this is teen pregnancy, then let’s deal with it head on, like adults. Let’s not just tell kids not to have sex, spend as little as possible on them, and then let their children die when they can’t be fed.

    And, for what it’s worth, I know people living in white, two-parent households that are on welfare. Your suggestion that single-parent families are to blame for the nation’s current economic situation is ridiculous. People want to work. There are no jobs. This isn’t about welfare queens, and, as much as you’d like it to be, this isn’t just about poor young black women having too many babies. This is a systemic problem that’s touching everyone in our society. I know it’s complicated to wrap your mind around, but you have to try. Your overly simplified Tea Party talking points don’t cut it in the real world.

  63. EOS
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    kjc – exactly!

  64. EOS
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    “you said that state managed welfare was unnecessary because churches and other faith-based groups would take that on. ”

    No, I didn’t.

    “let’s cut right to the chase here, and say black women, because that’s what this is really about ”

    No, that’s a racist assumption on your part. Most children in poverty are white.

    “allow those children to die”
    No, I would never say that.

    The children are the responsibility of their parents first, and their extended family second. Governmental assistance should be a temporary solution only. If you pay girls to have children out of wedlock, then don’t be surprised to find more single parent families.

  65. kjc
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    again, so cynical.

  66. PD
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Bill Maher on why OWS will be successful.

  67. chris
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Why Are Police Attacking Peaceful Protesters? How OWS Has Exposed the Militarization of US Law Enforcement — As the number of OWS arrests nears 1,000, instances of police brutality continue to pile up. Now all of America is seeing the result of police militarization.

  68. anonymous
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Hedges talks about the point when the blue-shirted police stop taking orders. Well, we may have reached that point in Albany.

  69. Herb Rudolph
    Posted July 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to check, but I don’t think they’ve all been brought down.

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