There’s a group of greedy individuals in Lower Manhattan who think that they deserve more than their fair share. Their selfishness blinds them to the fact that most people on the planet have drastically less than they do. They appear to be concerned only with themselves. They live a life of privilege and luxury, oblivious to those who have nothing; they live in comfort while others starve. These men and women ought to be called to account for their greed, for their selfish regard for only themselves.
If you want to find these men and women, head straight for Wall Street…and then continue on another block to a place called Zucotti Park.
This is the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which has as one of its many slogans, “We are the 99 per cent.” This phrase is meant to unify us in solidarity against the one per cent. (Nothing brings people together like a common enemy.) The one per cent are the rich and the powerful who control most of the wealth and resources while the 99 per cent slave (if they’re lucky enough to have a job) to make ends meet. The one per cent are the unscrupulous corporate fat cats who, aided by corrupt politicians, hoard vast mountains of cash while the rest of us are forced to smash our piggy banks in order to collect enough pennies for bus fare to get to the local food bank.
Far be it from me to make fun of poverty. The crushing weight and hopelessness that accompanies real poverty deserves our compassion, and more importantly, requires us to act.
But the sad irony of the occupy protests, and what makes them almost laughable, is that they’re based in North America—one of the richest parts of the world. North America accounts for only six per cent of adults worldwide, but held 34 per cent of the globe’s household wealth in 2006. In that same year, Canada’s net worth per capita came in at US$70,916 while America’s net worth was $143,867 per person. By comparison, Ethiopia registered $193 per person and Congo $180.
The United Nations Development Program released a report in 2007 which states that the richest 20 per cent of the world’s population—which includes Canadians and Americans—accounted for three-quarters of world income, while the bottom 40 per cent (who live on less than $2 a day) accounted for only five per cent of world income.
Let me put that another way. The poor, hard done by, downtrodden 99 per cent here in North America belong to a group of people that have a share in 75 per cent of the world’s wealth, while a group of people twice the size has a share in only five per cent. The 99 per cent in North America already have a huge slice of the world’s pie and the 99 per cent wants more? In 2005 an individual required a little over US $2,200 in assets to be included in the top half of the world’s wealth distribution. That’s a Macbook laptop, an iPad and perhaps an iPhone tossed in for good measure (much like those being used by the protesters.) While there can be greed among the one per cent (Bernie Madoff comes to mind), there can just as easily be greed among the 99 per cent.
We need to stop taking the Occupy Wall Street Movement and its hypocritical brand of Marxism seriously. Instead, we need to wake up to our responsibility as the top 20 per cent to seek justice for the real poor in this world. (Hint: it’s not us.) ~Gordon Hawke