Commentary: Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

Commentary: Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

Thoughts on the occupation of Wall Street.

Published September 30, 2011

To understand why hundreds of people are occupying Wall Street to protest against corporate greed, bank bailouts and the mortgage crisis while the middle class is denied help, a little history lesson is in order.


Recently President Obama proposed an ambitious program to boost our sagging economy by creating jobs for veterans, teachers, first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed. Obama believes that by putting people to work they will have income to buy more goods. Americans buying more goods stimulate companies to hire more people to manufacture more goods and the cycle hopefully continues until the economy recovers.


The American Jobs Act is heavy on tax cuts for businesses that hire new workers or raise the wages of their current workers, something most reasonable Republicans should like. Obama also proposed reforming the tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and rich corporations “pay their fair share.” Unfortunately, the GOP leadership didn’t like that at all.


Immediately after Obama outlined his proposal he was attacked by radical right-wing Republicans who accused him of engaging in some sort of class warfare against the wealthy. These accusations come despite the fact that some wealthy Americans like billionaire Warren Buffett urged Obama to raise taxes on wealthy Americans. According to Buffet the mega rich have been “coddled by congress long enough” while “the poor and middle class struggle to make ends meet.”  


But the truth of the matter is that if any one on Capitol Hill has engaged in anything remotely resembling class warfare it’s the Republicans, whose tax cuts benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor. For example, under the current tax code (created by Republicans) Warren Buffett pays less taxes percentage-wise than his secretary.


According to David Madland of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Republicans’ proposed budget, ironically called the “Path to Prosperity,” is full of policies that would enhance the life of the rich while saddling the struggling middle class with even more burdens. “It cuts taxes for the wealthy, while increasing taxes on the middle class and significantly cutting programs such as Medicare on which the middle class depend.” If that’s not enough it was under President George Bush’s administration that Wall Street investment bankers were allowed to make millions through derivative loans that eventually cost millions of people including African-Americans their homes.


This is the main reason why over the past 13 days hundreds of people from all over the nation converged at Chase Plaza in Lower Manhattan to stage a long and peaceful protest on Wall Street. Inspired by the example set by people in Egypt in the Arab Spring protest, which eventually led to the fall of the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes, the protesters hope to get the financial leaders of Wall Street as well as the legislators on Capitol Hill to understand the dire need do something about the wealth inequality in this country. 


“The top ten percent got 100 percent of the growth,” Said Cornel West, who recently spoke at the rally. “You cannot sustain a healthy democracy when you have that kind of wealth inequality.” I concur wholeheartedly.     


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

Written by Charlie Braxton


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