The 99 Percenters – Why is New York the Center of their Protests?

There are a lot of good reasons for centering the protests in New York, the proximity of the video and print media, the enormous number of opinion leaders in the area, and certainly the ability to recruit and maintain large numbers of protestors.

This would have been very difficult in Washington. Most of that city is a ghetto with little of the private infrastructure available in a modern metropolitan area.

But the history of Wall Street has to be a factor. It’s been a center of corporate power in the United States for almost two full centuries, and only the excesses of the Gilded Age rival the current levels of self-contentedness and pride among the wealthy today.

But there is also this article below. It has some powerful observations about why New York is such a good venue for the 99 percenters. —

Christopher Ketcham writing in McClatchy’s has a new article entitled –

Occupy Wall Street: The new populists?

The focal point, however, is specific: Manhattan. The capital of the finance corporations whose speculation, chicanery and outright fraud have produced havoc and pain for so many Americans. It sets the model nationally for a metastasizing economic regression: the maldistribution of wealth into the hands of the few.

Out of the 25 largest cities in the United States, New York is the most unequal when it comes to income distribution. In New York, the top 1 percent of households claimed 44 percent of all income during 2007 (the last year for which data are available). That’s almost twice the record-high levels among the 1 Percenters nationwide, who claimed 23.5 percent of all national income in 2007. During the housing bubble that ended in our current calamity, the average income for the 1 Percenters in New York went up 119 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of homeless in the city rose to an all-time high last year, with 113,000 men, women and children retreating night after night to municipal shelters. The real hourly median wage in New York between 1990 and 2007 fell by almost 9 percent. Young men and women age 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree and a year-round job in New York saw their earnings drop 6 percent. Middle-income New Yorkers – defined broadly as those earning between $29,000 and $167,000 – saw a 19% decrease in earnings. Almost 11 percent of the population in New York, about 900,000 people, lives in what the federal government describes as “deep poverty,” which for a four-person family means an income of $10,500; the average 1 Percenter household in New York makes about that same amount every day.

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2 thoughts on “The 99 Percenters – Why is New York the Center of their Protests?

  1. Andi

    While reading this article, I wondered about the ethics and what the author wanted us to tell. Is it the question whether it is morally right that people do the protests in NY or is it the question if it’s ethically that 1 percent of the population in NY owns about 44 percent of all income?! Or is it the more general question whether it is ethically to do protests in the street?

    To answer this question it is necessary to know the definition of an ethical decision. A decision is ethically if it affects others, has alternative courses of action and is perceived as ethically relevant by one or more parties.
    By comparing the questions with the definition, it becomes clear that the second question cannot be discussed under ethical terms. Only the questions whether it is ethically to to protests or to do them in NY, has alternative courses of actions.
    Therefore I focus on protests and try to state my opinion about it.

    To answer the question with the postmodern ethical theory (= decision is morally right if the person follows his emotions in a situation), I would say that doing protests to point to abuses is morally okay because it is a good medium to raise high attention in the press and in tv newscasts. But that’s only half of the story. To answer this question in a more rational view, the combination of postmodern ethical theories and ethics of rights and justice is needed. Here the question of fair procedures or fair outcomes comes up.

    Whether protests are morally right or wrong, is difficult. What do you think about the following questions?:

    Can a protest really influence decisions that there are fair outcomes for everybody? Or is it only a way to highlight unfair procedures?


  2. Katja

    Why should protests – as long as they are peaceful – be morally wrong? Protests are an important instrument for people who don’t have the power to combat something on their own. By protesting they get the possibility to draw attention to things that go wrong around the world and need to be changed. And if more and more people follow, the government and companies will be forced to renew systems because they don’t get any support anylonger.
    Nevertheless there are a lot of factors which influence the success of a protest, e.g. staying peaceful and making clear and useful claims.


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