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Even as presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, readies for the South Carolina primary after soundly winning the New Hampshire primary, both the Obama reelection campaign and the Occupy Wall Street crowd he hopes to capitalize on are sharpening the knives of wealth envy.
As the 2011 year closed, the media remained obsessed with the Occupy Wall Street protests. Not a day went by without video of the protesters camping out, clashing with police, or some soft-peddled story on the merits of the protests. Absent are all the admonitions hurled toward the Tea Party for loudly denouncing the Obama Care Law or the president’s insistence on spending more and more money in debt to somehow magically create a positive economy.
Make no mistake, however, just as the Tea Party galvanized opposition against the policies of the Obama administration from fiscal conservatives, so too, does the president hope to utilize the Occupy movement in a similar fashion in the 2012 presidential election. The contrast between the two movements is stark.
There were hundreds of Tea Party rallies, marches, and protests throughout the country in 2010. Yet, not a single venue was trashed, the streets, avenues, and parks were left in pristine condition, and the only reported police arrest occurred in the beginning of the movement, when three white Union members attacked an African-American male in a wheelchair.
Occupy Wall Street, however, has had rapes, shootings, drug use, assaults, and have pretty much used the parks as their own private bathrooms. There has been violence in every city in which an Occupy movement has occurred, and the only word from the mainstream media has been the talking point of not unfairly assessing the Occupiers through the actions of a few bad apples. The hypocrisy is larger than the increase in the national debt, but is not even the worse problem.
There is no single overwhelming theme or idea from Occupy Wall Street, but the one thing they do seem to hate is what they consider to be income inequality. That they are the 99 percent versus the 1 percent has become the mantra, and the 1 percent are not paying their fair share. There is a call for a more even distribution of income and assets.
The ideas for this range from higher taxes to socialism and to out-right communism. What I find annoying is the idea that there should be income equality to begin with and the underlying idea that the rich have an unfair advantage. The reality, of course, is that life is not fair. We are not all given the same or equal attributes.
Some people are born ugly and others beautiful. Some people are born smart, others have average intelligence, and some people are just born dumb. Some are tall; some are small. And yes, some people are born rich, and some are born poor. It is a fact of life. What is also a fact, however, is that the vast majority of people in the top one percent of income earners were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths.
In the 1920′s, well over 80 percent of the wealth in the country was gained through inheritance. A person was born, and if they hit the cosmic lottery, their parents were a Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, or a Kennedy. In 2010, the percentage of wealth gained through inheritance is two percent. The vast majority of the people in the top income and asset brackets were not born that way. They earned it in their lifetimes.
They did this through opening businesses or obtaining professional degrees, like becoming doctors (doctors make up most of people in the top one percent), or by savvy and patient investment. Any way you cut it, they were not handed their incomes and wealth through some lotto ticket. However, the occupiers, which are more like ‘whiners’, act as if someone handed these millionaires and billionaires their money.
They never stop and ask themselves whether they are willing to do the things, make the sacrifices, risk their capital, their health, and or their marriage in pursuit of a business or profession that leads to wealth. The answer to that question is clearly no. If they were willing to do those things, they would not be camped out in a park, defecating in the street, and bitching about someone else’s money.
Yet, it is obvious from the calls for “income equality” that these people want the money that the one percent have. Thus far, none have given a single logical reason why they deserve it. Sure, the general idea of fairness can make many people sympathize with the protesters. After all, no one feels sorry for a billionaire.
However, what is fair about someone working 70 hours a week to start a business that takes ten years to build, having to shell over their money to a twenty-something or thirty-something year old that does not want to make the same sacrifices? If you use a sports analogy, why would an NFL team with the worse record deserve a part of the Super Bowl trophy? We all know the answer is a that they do not deserve it. Yet, many are duped into thinking that they have some divine right to the fruits of someone else’s labors.
It is unimportant that the top 1 percent owns upwards of 25 percent of the wealth in the country. They deserve it, and they own it because when you “own” as opposed to being a worker bee, your wealth and income are magnified. The beauty of America is that if you do not like what you earn, you can do things to earn more. Nowhere else in this world is it so easy to move up in both income and class without the right political or social connections.
Can you do that in China, Cuba, Russia, or India? No! In America, you can, and the proof of that is the people who make up the one percent. Go back 10 or 15 years, and the people there today were not there back then.
If you are part of the 99 percent, then the question is, “What have you done today, this week, this month, and this year to increase your wealth? What have you done to affect your income level?” If the answer is nothing, then Herman Cain is right, and you are poor because of yourself. It is no one’s fault, but your own.
As we have seen over the last few years, personal accountability has become a lost value for many in this country, especially for the spoiled children of baby boomers who expected the world to give them a silver spoon- even if it means taking it by force from someone else.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomische/