Did you know that the top 1% of America owns 40% of the nation’s wealth but has only 5% of the nation’s debt?
This disproportionate gap has sparked a movement that’s sweeping the country called Occupy Wall Street. It’s a protest led by “the 99 percent” – the recent college grads who can’t find employment and are swarming in student loan debt, it’s the professionals who are stuck in the shrinking middle class, it’s the senior citizens who are pinching pennies to stretch their pensions. And together, these people are putting a human face on the consequences of Wall Street’s actions.
It all started nearly a month ago, when more than 2,000 people rallied in lower Manhattan to reclaim their American Dream. They camped out in Zuccotti Park (dubbing it “Liberty Square”) and challenged the “bailouts for banks, corporate greed and the unchecked power of Wall Street.” In the past few weeks, this initial gathering has sparked a revolution. According to Occupy Wall Street’s unofficial website, on a single day in October there were 1500 protests in 82 countries.
The movement has launched a Tumblr blog called “We Are The 99 Percent,” where people could submit pictures along with a hand-written signing explaining how these harsh financial times have personally affected them. The response was overwhelming – from 61-year-old grandparents who had to move back in with their adult children to a university professor forced to go on Medicaid just to cover the cost of formula for her newborn daughter.
Will Occupy Wall Street be able to make any long-term impact? That remains to be seen.
While some doubt the success of a group with no clear leadership, most seem to believe that it will continue to grow organically. They’ve already raised more than $300,000 in donations and scored some some serious celebrity supporters: Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Penn Badgley, Kanye West and rap mogul Russell Simmons have already visited the headquarters at Zuccotti Park.
Are you part of the 99 percent? Learn more about the movement at occupywallst.org