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The Business World Responds to Occupy Wall Street

Whether you look at Occupy Wall Street as a group of hippies with ridiculous demands or a group of courageous idealist looking to change the world for the better, it’s time to take notice of the effect this movement is having. When bank aligned politicians like Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke express, albeit awkwardly, empathy with the group, businesses can no longer ignore the movement.

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The loose-knit group has yet to publish a list of companies it believes they should target. One member suggested targeting companies that outsource American jobs as noted in CNN’s "Exporting America" list. On the list are companies from all backgrounds, not just big banks. Notable members include MetLife Auto Insurance, Microsoft, Nabisco and Walgreens. Some suggest the focus can only be on government regulations to control these companies. Even as the group works to sort out exactly what it wants, businesses are beginning to respond to its presence.

Interestingly, the response from businesses looks like a pyramid, with a large number of small businesses on the bottom and a few middle-sized businesses above that. Missing, however, is the pointed tip of the pyramid, where the main targets of these protests have failed to respond at all. The biggest targets of the protests are keeping their cards close to their chests as they tighten security and ignore the mayhem surrounding them.

Small and Medium Business Response

The response from small and medium businesses is pragmatic, stemming from the impact the movement has on their sales. NPR’s Margot Adler interviewed several small businesses on the ground at Occupy Wall Street and found winners and losers from the additional foot traffic brought in by the protests. The food vendors in and around Zuccotti Park aren’t complaining although revenues are a bit down since the protesters aren’t buying. They get free lunch as part of the event. Coffee revenues however are up 10 to 15 percent. A Dunkin Donuts operator said business is up because of increased police presence.

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Larger retailers like Sephora and Brooks Brothers are a little less happy. Although they wouldn’t comment publicly, workers expressed frustration over the barricades that make it harder for customers to make their way into the stores. Occupy Wall Street representatives go around to work with these businesses and address the problems the movement may cause for them. As a result, the strongest response from small and medium businesses has been a resounding shrug.

Even some companies that might expect rage from the group are chipping in without taking a stance on the movement itself. The McDonalds near Zuccotti Park is offering use of its restrooms and Wi-Fi free to protestors. UPS receives packages for them.

Businesses Responding with Cause Marketing

Some businesses see the movement as a marketing opportunity. Cause marketing is a feel-good enterprise that seems like a win-win for business and charities. In Seattle, small business, Big Mario’s has been handing out free pizza for a month. The Main Street Alliance, a small business support group, hails itself as part of the 99%, the movement’s expression of the disparity of power, where 1% of the population controls what happens to the remaining 99%.

Ben & Jerry’s posted its support of the movement online and then went down to serve ice cream to protesters. Even though Ben & Jerry’s is owned by corporate giant Unilever, the company has kept its small business atmosphere through an independent board of directors that does not answer to Unilever. A company representative wrote, "Unilever respects the unique social mission of Ben & Jerry’s and the independence of its board in speaking out on social issues." 

Corporate Giants Remain Silent

As the protests wear on, it is becoming increasingly difficult for corporate giants to keep their composure. In the beginning, many underestimated the leaderless movement as a flash in the pan. Now the group is flexing its muscles, with executives hiding from scrutiny.

Chief Executive for Goldman Sachs canceled a lecture at local liberal arts school, Barnard College. Many suggest the cancellation came from fears of protests. Officially, however, a Goldman representative said the cancellation was due to a scheduling conflict.

A Reuters report details the corporate response:

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‘Witold Henisz, an associate professor of management at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania who has studied the public reaction to the financial crisis, said banks’ response to anti-Wall Street sentiment had been woefully inadequate so far.

"Leadership from the heads of some of these banks would be a powerful signal and it’s just not there," said Henisz. "They’re putting it all in terms of, ‘You can’t tell me what to pay my workers, you can’t regulate me, that’s not the role of government, the role of government is to stay in the background.’ Well, where would they be without the bailouts?"’

The corporate response has largely been internal, with heightened security. The Reuters report details the "heightened awareness" among corporations on and near Wall Street.

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"The New York City Police Department has kept banks in the loop about protester activity by sending out email blasts to its Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, according to sources familiar with the matter. The emails tell landlords and occupants in those areas, including large banks like Goldman,Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp, where protesters are headed and whether there are any unusual risks."

The lack of public response by these companies is likely to hurt them in the long run. To heighten security inwardly and ignore protests outwardly will be perceived as a yet another selfish act that further defines them as part of the 1% that does not stand with the 99%.

Source: Business Insider



This is Obama, Pelosi and the left’s movement. Obama is expressing sympathy in his desperate attempt to shift blame for his unprecedented debt crisis. Obama has racked up more debt in three years than all previous presidents combined.

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Blaming the Jews would be entirely consistent with a Frank Marshall-mentored, twenty-year Jeremiah Wright disciple like Barack Hussein. "Jewish bankers" and such sounds eerily like pre-war Germany.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — “Blame the Jews.”

That’s the message one Wall Street protester was trying to spread in Lower Manhattan to anyone that would listen.

A new video posted to YouTube shows the protester loudly and aggressively proclaiming “the Jews control Wall Street.”

In the nearly 6-minute video, the man is seen standing in Zuccotti Park ranting against Israel and Jews while holding a sign reading “Hitler’s Bankers – Wall St.”

The protestor, who would not give his name to those gathered around him, is also seen arguing with members of the public who took offense to his choice of words.

A number of others also ask the protester if Fox News had paid him to stand and display his sign to which he responded: “[expletive] Fox News, that’s [expletive]. [Expletive] Jew made that up.”

Rush LImbaugh here:

Occupier, Occupy Wall Street Now.  I’ve often said, I said last week he who controls the definition of words, the meaning of words, controls the debate.  He who controls the language controls the debate.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff here.  Occupy Wall Street Now, 99%, that leaves 1%, roughly the percentage of Jews in the population, too.  And Wall Street and bankers have been anti-Semitic code for Jews in this country going back quite a while. 

Now, what’s happening here is that the Democrats… This is where Brooks may be on to something. It’s too early to tell. But the Democrats are embracing this group of people. They are embracing them big time. The Democrats — Jan Schakowsky in Illinois, members of Congress — cannot help themselves. They are embracing this group and encourages this group. Celebrities are showing up now. Kanye West shows up with Russell Simmons, and he was wearing his big gold chains, and he hung around for a while. He did a perp walk, signed some autographs and had to get out of there because he was mobbed by these people. But this Adbusters bunch has a history of anti-Semitism, proud anti-Semitism. (interruption) The article about Jewish "neocons" was just one of their pieces, Snerdley, that you mentioned here, along those lines.

And a lot of people, a lot of people like to think that Wall Street’s all made up of Jewish people. We’re the ones that mentioned this last week. We’re the first to tell you that Adbusters was deeply involved in this. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooks got the idea from this program. I’m gonna do a content search and I’m gonna go back and I’m gonna get the exact thing I said about Adbusters last week or the week before, whenever it was ’cause now people are starting to pick up on this. So here’s the point: If this group is being organized and paid for by a bunch of anti-Semites and the Democrat Party goes overboard in embracing this group of people, then this could be problem for the Democrat coalition, not to mention the fact that they could unleash a bunch of anti-Jewish racism down there if they’re not careful with this, ’cause there’s much more going on here than you just see at the surface.

‘Occupy’ anti-capitalism protests spread around the world

Thousands march in Rome, Sydney and Madrid as Occupy Wall Street protests go global

By:  and 

Saturday 15 October 2011 21.26 BST

Economic protests inspired by Spain‘s “Indignants” and the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York spread to cities around the world on Saturday. Tens of thousands went on the march in London, Frankfurt, Madrid, Rome, Sydney and Hong Kong as organisers aimed to “initiate global change” against capitalism and austerity measures. Rallies were expected in 82 countries.

As dusk fell on more than 2,000 protesters assembled in front of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, earlier addressed by the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, New York was bracing itself for a takeover of Times Square in a continuation of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Manhattan has seen a regular encampment of protesters in Zuccotti Park and violent clashes with police and officials.

There was civil unrest in Rome, where police turned teargas and water cannon on the crowds. Smoke hung over Rome as a small group broke away from the main demonstration and smashed windows, set cars on fire and assaulted television news crews. Others burned Italian and EU flags. “People of Europe: Rise Up!” read one banner in Rome. Fights broke out and bottles were thrown between demonstrators as some tried to stop the violence.

In London, police made seven arrests and kept the crowd “kettled” near St Paul’s. Assange made a dramatic appearance, bursting through the police lines just after 2.30pm, accompanied by scores of supporters. To clapping and some booing, he climbed the cathedral steps to condemn “greed” and “corruption”. In particular he attacked the City of London, accusing its financiers of money laundering and tax avoidance. “The banking system in London is the recipient of corrupt money,” he said, adding that WikiLeaks would launch a campaign against financial institutions.

Assange is on bail as he fights extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over claims of rape and sexual molestation made by two women.

Among the protesters there was a sizeable presence from Spain, home of the “Indignant” movement. Media student Sergio, 27, said he hoped London would copy protests in Madrid, where camps have been set up for weeks at a time. “Initially there were only three tents, but when the police kicked them out hundreds followed. I hope we see the same here,” he said.

By mid-afternoon seven tents had been erected in bright sunshine outside St Paul’s. Audrey Versteegen, 27, from Manchester, owned one. “I will stay here as long as possible,” she said.

Assange aside, perhaps the strangest event of the day came when a bride arrived at the side-chapel in St Paul’s. Across the road, scores of police were changing into riot gear as she entered the cathedral. It was clear that Scotland Yard had opted for pre-emptive strong-arm tactics in the wake of the summer riots. Last week the new Met commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, had pledged to “win days of action”.

Tens of thousands of people take a part in a demonstration in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid on Saturday, part of the global movement against corporate greed. Photograph: Arturo Rodriguez/AP

In Germany, about 4,000 people marched through the streets of Berlin, with banners calling for an end to capitalism. Some scuffled with police as they tried to get near parliamentary buildings. In Frankfurt, continental Europe’s financial capital, some 5,000 people protested in front of the European Central Bank.

In the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, marchers carried pictures of Che Guevara and old communist flags that read “Death to capitalism, freedom to the people”.

Another 500 people gathered at a peaceful rally in Stockholm, holding up red flags and banners that read “We are the 99%” – a reference to the richest 1% of the world’s population who control its assets while billions live in poverty.

“There are those who say the system is broke. It’s not,” trade union activist Bilbo Goransson shouted into a megaphone. “That’s how it was built. It is there to make rich people richer.”

A protest was due to begin in Lisbon and six marches were expected to converge on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol plaza. Asian nations, where the fallout from the banking crisis has been less severe, saw less well attended protests – 100 turned out in the Philippines.

A group of 100 prominent authors including Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman and Pulitzer prize-winning novelists Jennifer Egan and Michael Cunningham signed an online petition declaring their support for “Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement around the world”.

Source: The Guardian

Occupy Wall Street Protest Culminates With 6,000 in Times Square

By: Esmé E. Deprez

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City today culminated with a Times Square rally that drew thousands opposed to economic inequality, echoed by protests from London to Tokyo.

Participants in the month-old movement marched past a JPMorgan Chase & Co. branch early in the day to urge clients to close accounts. Twenty-four were arrested later at a Citigroup Inc. office, the police said, and about 6,000 gathered in Times Square, the organizers estimated.

Hong Kong, Sydney, Toronto and other cities also saw protests, which turned violent in Rome, in what organizers called a “global day of action against Wall Street greed.” Backers say they represent “the 99 percent,” a nod to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s study showing the top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of U.S. wealth.

“The world will rise up as one and say, ‘We have had enough,’” Patrick Bruner, an Occupy Wall Street spokesman, said in an e-mail. A news release from the organization said there were demonstrations in 1,500 cities worldwide, including 100 in the U.S.

New York participants walked from an encampment in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza near Wall Street. They passed out fliers urging clients to transfer accounts to “a financial institution that supports the 99 percent.”

The fliers provided a list of alternatives, including the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and Amalgamated Bank, described as the nation’s only union-owned bank.

Message to Banks

“I’m interested in sending a message to support banks that actually support the community as opposed to those like Chase that took government money and fired workers anyway,” said Penny Lewis, 40, a City University of New York labor professor. She said she planned to close her Chase account on Monday.

Howard Opinsky, a Chase spokesman, declined to comment. The second-largest U.S. bank received and repaid $25 billion from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

A group left a demonstration at Washington Square Park and entered a downtown branch of Citibank at nearby LaGuardia Place, Deputy New York City Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne said in an e-mail.

They refused the bank manager’s request to leave and 24 were arrested for trespassing, he said. One was charged additionally with resisting; the others were compliant, he said.

More than 700 have been arrested in New York since the movement began Sept. 17, mostly for disorderly conduct. Police said they arrested 15 yesterday for infractions such as sitting in the street and overturning trash bins.

Confrontation Avoided

A wider confrontation was avoided after Zuccotti Park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties Inc., postponed a cleanup that would have removed and banned protestors’ sleeping bags, tents and other gear that provided overnight accommodations.

Protesters and local politicians had gathered 300,000 signatures, flooded the city’s 311 information line and drew more than 3,000 people to the park to oppose the cleanup, Bruner said.

The protesters have sought to transform Zuccotti Park into a self-sustaining community with donated food, medical supplies, hygiene products, sleeping bags and clothing. Pete Dutro, a member of the group’s finance committee, said it had received at least $150,000 in donations.

Justin Strekal, a Cleveland native and member of the protestors’ shipping, inventory and storage committee, said about 200 packages are being received daily. He said names and return addresses are being recorded so thank-you notes can be sent.

Letters of Support

Letters of solidarity are also being archived to post online, he said. One that was included in a box holding 10 packets of ramen noodles said the sender couldn’t afford more because they were unemployed for two years and their house was in foreclosure, Strekal said.

David Gorman, who lives on Wall Street and works nearby as president of capital markets at Kern Suslow Securities Inc., said the area’s activity is a nuisance.

“They’re banging drums and screaming and it’s a quarter to eight in the morning and this is literally in my back yard,” he said. “People live here. If someone was protesting in front of my house in the suburbs, I don’t think they’d let that happen.”

The Occupy Wall Street protest has spread to U.S. cities including Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco. While New York’s participants have been allowed to stay at their encampment, other cities haven’t been as tolerant.

Near the Colorado state Capitol in Denver, police in riot gear took down protesters’ campsite and arrested two dozen people, the Associated Press reported. In San Diego, police used pepper spray to split up a human chain formed around a tent, the news agency said. In Trenton, New Jersey, police removed tents and other gear from an area near a war memorial yesterday.

A Day in the life of Protestor–Russia Today Report

Some of the U.S. mainstream media outlets have called the Occupy Wall Street protesters unorganized slackers who don’t know what they’re really doing out on the streets. RT’s Anastasia Churkina takes a look at what a day in the life of a demonstrator is really like.


Some of the US mainstream media outlets have called the Occupy Wall Street protesters unorganized slackers who don’t know what they’re really doing out on the streets. RT takes a look at what a day in the life of a demonstrator is really like.

When not maced in the face or dragged around during police arrests, a peaceful tone prevails at the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Hundreds of people have been out on the streets of New York’s financial district for over three weeks, all day and all night. Sleep here is scarce with the camp abuzz around the clock.

“It’s only really the dead of night, maybe for three hours, maybe from 3 to 5, when it really calms down some,” said Rick DeVoe, a volunteer with the Occuyp Wall Street press team.

The crowds have been consistently growing.

“I just took the train down from Buffalo, New York to show support,” said student Dave Koszka.

A daily schedule has kept the occupation in order.

“Breakfast is 9 a.m., we have a General Assembly meeting or working group meeting, so that working groups can address the things that they might need for that day,” said outreach group volunteer Ronnie Nunez.

Volunteers at these groups are busy all day long. The media center live streams video of developments from the ground. Others spread information and petitions on paper.

“We don’t want to give any more tax cuts for millionaires. The economy is not in any position right now to give millionaires a tax cut when everyone is suffering. We can’t pay teachers. We can’t pay for people’s healthcare. Basically, people don’t have jobs,” said activist Amy Miller.

The Occupied Wall Street Journal published by the people, for the people, is spread around.

“We had a media blackout so no one knew about it. You’d talk to common people, and they’d be like, ‘we don’t know what’s even happening,’" added Koszka.

A big screen with messages set up by occupiers reflects growing global support.

“What we have here is now over 250,000 people have signed a pledge of support for the occupiers saying we’re with you, we stand with you, we are united in the fight for real democracy and against corruption and for a government that’s truly accountable to the people and not corrupt elite,” said global campaigner Mia Cambronero.

The kitchen is constantly abuzz with people preparing meals for other occupiers. Those working in sanitation are busy keeping the camp clean. Comfort and medication area volunteers give out warm clothes and emergency assistance.

“As the matter for rest rooms, we make due. There are surrounding areas to use the facilities. As far as intimacy, in the crowds, you know, it’s dark at night, so I couldn’t imagine wondering about what’s going on under everyone else’s covers,” described protester Cory Thompson.

Daily needs brushed aside, self-education has occupied many.

“I spend a lot more time reading, versus like television or playing video games,” said newspaper stand volunteer Michael Wallace.

When they are not marching the streets of the Financial District, they demonstrate at the camp. Those with a creative streak paint and draw sketches to document the revolution.To relax some play chess or take yoga and meditation classes.

The General Assembly meetings pull everyone together. Held during the day and then at night, that’s where the big decisions are made through direct democracy, as protesting continues for one cause – to change a corrupt economic and financial system.

“99 percent of the country don’t have control of the wealth as they should – it’s not evenly distributed. One percent of the country owns 42 percent of the wealth,” said hip-hop artist and poet Talib Kweli to RT.

The day of a protester is packed. The mind occupied with revolution. The people out on the street want to bring real change to America through protest – the only way they see left.

Own the Media own the democracy

The OccupyWallstreet protest has been three weeks old. At the very start there was no media coverage of OccupyWallstreet, None whatsoever. All major news outlets refused to acknowledge if there was protest on Wall Street.

American public had no idea that a massive movement was unfolding right in Media’s own backyard here in New York City. Within blocks from their offices, they could hear the sounds of marching, charging feet, and the roll of drums. A determined group of youth were about to start what has now become a full fledged national conversation and a movement touching the lives of millions of Americans, weighed in by the President and the members of Congress.


We have been covering Occupywallstreet from day one. So how do we know where to find what is happening in our country apart from the traditional assist from our media ? It is called Social Media. It is made up via Social contacts, where no one controls anything, and there are no limits, on any conversation. There are no gate keepers and Inkwell owners and print press owners, to hold back the truth.


What started on September 17 , 2011 in New York City has now become a national movement. From the start the Media deliberately ignored the events. But with the star powers of Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon, they had to report it and they did it in a very muted fashion.

You wonder if there is a protest or gathering in far off Arab lands like Tahrir Square, Tripoli or Tunisia the media is all over the Arab world and imprints every little detail, and throws a gauntlet of news stream around you so you can’t escape it. But when the events unfold in our own country ,and in our own backyard, and in New York City and Lower Manhattan, where the media is hunkered down, you don’t hear a thing ? Why? Because the gatekeepers decide you don’t need to know about Wall Street’s corruption and Greed and the imbalance of Wealth and Social inequality in America. They want to block your mind set like they have done numerous other times, and mold your opinions in a democracy, which will suit their own interests, and their own people. These are thoughts and ideas, that can dislodge a powerful elite in America and change the social structure forever.


The media in the US is made up of few giant sized news outlets. They are top down. Executives and editors decide what is good and whats bad for you in advance. But those were the days when cigar chomping fat cats would dictate a copy, place an order, and shout down your days worth of news.

But not anymore in this day and age. With the proliferation of Internet, it is at it’s best, degraded from it’s former glory. Now there is a thing called the Web and there are web sites like this one, that you are reading, who have just as much control on the news as they have. The proverbial inkwell is now replaced by the mighty Internet. It’s funny to see how these cigar chomping, aging, Media moguls are sitting like bewildered rabbits in this fast moving digital divide. They are completely out of their wits ! Some of them don’t even know how to operate laptops and computers. What has replaced them and degraded them into such antiquity ? Twitter, Face book, You Tube and Iphone and the newly emerging technologies plus the growing population of Americans.

Now there is no need to have a paid camera men shooting film for the evening news cast. Anyone with a cell phone can just shoot a segment and upload it on You tube where it will be picked up by millions without any royalties or hassles. It is all free to access and use. The video attached here is an example of this brand of Journalism that is free and open and knows no bounds.


The Unions have been demonstrating against Wall Street’s greed for the last three years. You probably never heard about or did you? Every time they will come in New York and demonstrate the Media will ignore them flat out. They will picket and demonstrate the old fashioned way. The old crowd was totally ineffective against the owners of democracy the traditional US Media .The media has protected Wall Street for three long years and the Unions have failed to make a dent themselves and their voices heard.

This is what the Media did to the OccupyWallstreet movement. Ignored them flat out and completely- just like the Unions. But here comes America’s elite from Ivy League schools, students from Fordham, Columbia and Harvard and other places, who have been dealt a severe blow in this economic downturn. They had nowhere to go. They had nothing to lose. They were young. They knew their way around Internet. They had the technology on their side. They had the Media in their own hands. Twitter, Face book and You tube. It didn’t take long for the conversation and awareness to spread like wild fire. Live stream broadcasts gave viewers minute by minute updates. A movement was born out of nowhere puzzling the traditional gatekeepers as it spread to nationally just under three weeks.

It was only when the news became too big to ignore, than the US media got involved. Their own credibility took a hit, and they reported it with condescending attitude and ridicule. You can see in this video, how they get treated as the crowd chants and ridicules back.


The media does not wants you to know there is a protest against big banks. As always the media has protected the rich and powerful elite. They are cut from the same cloth as the rich Wall Street Barron and Institutions. They are their mouth pieces. They hardly have any sympathy to the poor in America or those who have suffered long and hard in this economic distress. They have no reason to be on the side of those who have lost jobs, homes and the American Dream.

They will continue to muddle the waters and shine the spotlight somewhere else. The only thing you can do is peel yourself off their grip and create your own media and enjoy the benefits like we do.


Protesters Against Wall Street

The New York Times Editorial

As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.

At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity.

The jobless rate for college graduates under age 25 has averaged 9.6 percent over the past year; for young high school graduates, the average is 21.6 percent. Those figures do not reflect graduates who are working but in low-paying jobs that do not even require diplomas. Such poor prospects in the early years of a career portend a lifetime of diminished prospects and lower earnings — the very definition of downward mobility.

The protests, though, are more than a youth uprising. The protesters’ own problems are only one illustration of the ways in which the economy is not working for most Americans. They are exactly right when they say that the financial sector, with regulators and elected officials in collusion, inflated and profited from a credit bubble that burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, incomes, savings and home equity. As the bad times have endured, Americans have also lost their belief in redress and recovery.

The initial outrage has been compounded by bailouts and by elected officials’ hunger for campaign cash from Wall Street, a toxic combination that has reaffirmed the economic and political power of banks and bankers, while ordinary Americans suffer.

Extreme inequality is the hallmark of a dysfunctional economy, dominated by a financial sector that is driven as much by speculation, gouging and government backing as by productive investment.

When the protesters say they represent 99 percent of Americans, they are referring to the concentration of income in today’s deeply unequal society. Before the recession, the share of income held by those in the top 1 percent of households was 23.5 percent, the highest since 1928 and more than double the 10 percent level of the late 1970s.

That share declined slightly as financial markets tanked in 2008, and updated data is not yet available, but inequality has almost certainly resurged. In the last few years, for instance, corporate profits (which flow largely to the wealthy) have reached their highest level as a share of the economy since 1950, while worker pay as a share of the economy is at its lowest point since the mid-1950s.

Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its aftermath have only accelerated the decline.

Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills, including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans.

No wonder then that Occupy Wall Street has become a magnet for discontent. There are plenty of policy goals to address the grievances of the protesters — including lasting foreclosure relief, a financial transactions tax, greater legal protection for workers’ rights, and more progressive taxation. The country needs a shift in the emphasis of public policy from protecting the banks to fostering full employment, including public spending for job creation and development of a strong, long-term strategy to increase domestic manufacturing.

It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.

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