Before the Occupy Wall Street protesters decided they have an agenda (forty unrealistic demands that include reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and reversing the Citizens United decision), they were disorganized and had no clear message; however, they were largely united on one point… they opposed Wall Street because they believe Wall Street represents the top 1% of America’s wealthiest citizens and is a symbol of capitalism, corporations, CEOs and greed.
But who is the top 1% that the rest of the 99% are supposed to oppose? According to the IRS, the top 1% makes $380,354 a year. Clearly the top 1% must only be CEOs and Financial Analysts like Stock Brokers and Hedge Fund Managers, right? Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor says the average CEO almost always requires higher education and approximately thirty years of experience just to make the average of $140,880 a year. Psychiatrists and Orthodontists make more than a CEO. How about those nasty Financial Analysts? The top twenty-five Hedge Fund Managers made $22 Billion last year, so they must be the top 1%, right? According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the average Financial Analyst took home $74,350 last year. Even the top 10% of Stock Brokers made an average of $145,600 annually.
So, if the top 1% isn’t your typical greedy corporate CEO or Wall Street employee who loves capitalism, who is the top 1% that the protesters oppose so much?
It is the people who are the leaders in their industry. It doesn’t matter the industry, it only matters if the individual’s value is worth the price they are asking and the price they are receiving. There are Photographers, Chefs and Hairstylists that draw an annual income of more than $380,354. Not only are these people the top 1% in wealth in our society, they are the top 1% in their field or industry.
But that doesn’t stop President Obama, desperate with low approval ratings, from engaging in class warfare and using hyperbole like, “The rich need to pay their fair share.” And that oversimplified and confused mantra resonates with frustrated unemployed Americans as well as young idealistic kids that believe 1% somehow controls the financial destiny of 99%. They blame these people and they blame the system… and they want the top 1% to “pay their fair share.”
The top 1% is not paying their fair share, according to the Occupy Wall Street protesters. In spite of the fact that the CBO reports that the top 1% of income earners pay 39.5% of all federal taxes and 57.0% of all corporate taxes, the protesters continue to promote misinformation and hold up signs that read, “Top 1%, Y U No Pay Taxes?!” In fact, the American corporate tax rate is the second highest in the industrialized world at over 39.2% (the highest is Japan at 39.5%). So, who doesn’t pay taxes? According to the Tax Policy Center, this year 46.4% of tax filers will have no federal income tax liability. None. Zero. Zilch. Nil. Nada. Null.
So the protesters, made up mainly by the 46.4% that pay no taxes, are angry at the 1% that pays 39.5% of all federal taxes and have misdirected their anger toward CEOs, Stock Brokers and Hedge Fund mangers that, on average, make less than half what the top 1% makes per year.
Ironically, many of the folks providing support to the protesters are the 0.1% (those making $1.9 million or more per year) who traditionally support left wing causes. Who are they? They are those celebrities in the entertainment industry that I fondly refer to as Hollywood Hypocrites:
#1 Yoko Ono Net Worth – $500 million.
Tweeted: “I love #OccupyWallStreet. As John said, “One hero cannot do it. Each one of us have to be heroes.” And you are. Thank you. love, yoko.”
#3 George Clooney Net Worth – $160 million
Says he also supports the movement against corporate greed, but admits he needs to educate himself more about the specifics.
#4 Samuel L. Jackson Net Worth – $160 million
While on “The View,” the 62-year-old Pulp Fiction star said: “I’m really glad when I look at those kids on Wall Street and I think, ‘Finally, someone got up and did something’. We used to be on the streets in the ’60s.”
#5 Sean Penn Net Worth – $150 million
Speaking on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” he says, “It resonates a great deal and in many ways. I applaud the spirit of what’s happening now on Wall Street. I hope that increased organisation can come to it.
#6 Jane Fonda – $120 million
#7 (tie) Roseanne Barr Net Worth – $80 million
Tweeted: “The working class of this country were destroyed by wall street as the middle class was encouragd 2 jeer at them& call them lazy #goesaround.”
#7 (tie) Deepak Chopra Net Worth – $80 million
#9 Kanye West Net Worth – $70 million
Arrived to the protests in $1,000 jeans and a $300,000 car.
#11 (tie) Susan Sarandon Net Worth – $50 million
#11 (tie) Michael Moore Net Worth – $50 million
#11 (tie) John Cusak – Net Worth $50 million
Tweeted: “Was at occupy wall street – Is this fact or fiction…… reality …… if it were real, it would be awesome….but who knows?”
#11 (tie) Tim Robbins Net Worth – $50 million
#15 Keith Olberman Net Worth – $35 million (annual salary $10 million)
Tweeted: “Props to WCBS-TV reporter Sean Hennessy: startling video of police slamming protestors against buildings, brutal arrests #OccupyWallStreet.”
#16 Harry Belafonte Net Worth – $28 million
Told Agence Press-France of the Occupiers, “We’re lucky we got ‘em… I would suggest that they stay the course… I think that what they are doing is critical and necessary.”
#17 (tie) Danny Glover Net Worth – $15 million
Visited Occupy Oakland
#17 (tie) Salman Rushdie Net Worth – $15 million
Rushdie earned his net worth through his many publications, his role in film, and his cameo appearances in television shows.
#19 (tie) Ellen Page Net Worth – $14 million
Tweeted: “Thank you to @democracynow for the incredible coverage of #occupywallstreet.”
#19 (tie) Talib Kweli Net Worth – $14 million
#21 Mark Ruffalo Net Worth – $10 million
TWEETED: “The corporate world with record profits could stand to be reigned in a little bit. After all we did bail their asses out.”
#22 (tie) Dylan Ratigan Net Worth – $9 million (annual salary $1.5 million)
#22 (tie) Roger Ebert Net Worth – $9 million
The movie critic TWEETED: “Wall Street protests spread to Los Angeles. People are fed up with thieves.”
#24 Lupe Fiasco Net Worth – $8 million
Tweeted: “Invest in Wall St today!! #OWShad an amazing IPO and is projected to show record growth in the 4th quarter! Investors Wanted #occupy.”
#25 Rev. Al Sharpton Net Worth – $5 million
$26 Bun B (Bernard James Freeman) Net Worth – $2.5 million
Hip-hop artist and Rice University lecturer
#27 Michael Franti Net Worth – $2 million
Spearhead frontman strummed a song for protesters and said that, “I believe that Wall Street needs to be held accountable for the crimes that were committed during the real estate crisis.”
Penn Badgley of “Gossip Girl.”
Tom Morelli of Rage Against The Machine
Melanie Lynskey of “Two and a Half Men”
Naomi Klein – Journalist
Cornel West – Author and Princeton professor
Nev Schulman of “Catfish”
Jeff Mangum – musician
Jennifer Egan – writer
Michael Cunningham – writer
If this movement wants to gain credibility as the 99%, it needs to accept the average CEO, the average Stock Broker, the average Hedge Fund Manager and reject all the 1%, especially those celebrities who backhandedly support them.
Until then, they are just as bad as the sell outs they are protesting against.