Welcome back, Sara! You may remember her from a guest post a few months ago about Jezebel’s iffy science coverage. We were discussing my Occupy Wall Street post earlier this week, and she raised some very interesting counterpoints to my frustrations with the OWS movement. I asked her to write them down (in non-gchat form) and she did, just for you!
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Much like Emily, as I’ve watched the OWS protests, I’ve alternated between feelings of solidarity — my salary, while keeping me in yoga, isn’t exactly paying for a private jet — and feelings of disconnection – I too am the child of educated parents who grew up in a house full of books and opportunities. But I support those protesters and I identify with their frustration, even if I’m unlikely to brave the cold to join them. And it’s because I really do think they’ve started a national conversation about income inequality in this country.
Because of OWS, I can make intelligent arguments about how there should be higher capital gains taxes – a term I couldn’t even have defined 6 months ago. Now I know that hedge fund billionaires pay a lower marginal tax rate than I do, and that there are no insider trading laws preventing congressmen from using privileged information they might gain from, say, sitting on the committee on financial services, to increase their personal income. All of this knowledge about the way the tax code works is stuff my accountant parents have talked about for years, but it took OWS to make it national news.
I credit the protests with forcing the American media, and therefore Americans, to have an actual philosophical (if also hyperbolic, melodramatic and sometimes alarmist) conversation about the way wealth is distributed in this country, and whether we think a government has a responsibility to diminish inequality. Whether you think the free market should reign unchecked, or that we should all live on a commune and share everything evenly, that’s a pretty powerful conversation, and exactly the one we should be having.
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