Sure, they’re both movements for change, Matthew Salesses writes, but the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are fundamental opposites.
Or try this: close your eyes and imagine America as a house with 100 rooms. One person owns 35 of those rooms. Nine other people own four rooms each. The remaining 90 people have to share, three people to a room. The first person makes $1.1 million/year. The 90 remaining people make an average of $32,000/year.
Now open your eyes. This is the reality of our current economy.
I could write this entire response by employing biting sarcasm, accusations, and suggestions, but I’m not an expert on either the Tea Party or the Occupy movement. I’d rather stay away from speculation. The lack of facts or evidence in Tom’s piece is part of what drove me to write this. I’d rather an economist or political scientist step in and speak to the issue, but in the meantime, I’ll have a go at pointing out the inaccuracies.
Here are some ways in which that article goes wrong.
- Money. The Tea Party is impossible to separate from big business, flush with corporate donations. Here’s an example of a donation from a donor hidden from the public.
- Taxes. I’m not factoring in the magic of accountants, but the effective tax rate for millionaires under the Bush tax cuts is 32.4%, the lowest it’s been since before 1945 (in 1945, it was 66.4%). A household that makes $17,001-$69,000, at least from most of what I can find online, pays 15% in taxes. A flat tax rate of 22.5% would seem only to increase inequality. The Tea Party would love to lower taxes. The Occupy movement wants to reduce inequality, which would mean, by any measure, a higher tax on the rich than the poor (i.e. tax everyone 22.5% and someone who makes $1 million would make $775,000, give or take, after taxes, while someone who makes $50,000 would make $38,350, give or take, after taxes. Tax millionaires 50% and use the current graduated levels otherwise and the richer person makes $500,000 while the poorer person makes slightly more. The difference between the two is reduced by over $250,000.)
- Education as a priority. It’s hard to say, really, without speculating. But here’s a fact: the Tea Party wants to eliminate the Department of Education. The Occupy movement has librarians and its own library.
- Medicare and Social Security. Yes, the Tea Party would like to do away with both. But (OK, I’ll finally speculate a little) I seriously doubt the unemployed, poor, and liberal in the Occupy movement are for cutting either, especially Medicare. If you have no job, and you need insurance (which we all do), why would you want to cut Medicare?