Anti-Wall Street protests have escalated with more arrests over the weekend. Protesters are opposed to what they say is a government controlled by corporate money and the growing income gap between the very wealthy and the rest of America.
Celebrities including Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore have voiced support for the protests. The police department faces protester accusations that it had acted improperly during the gatherings.
NYC Financial District
The seven largest firms of Wall Street, the financial district of New York City, in the first decade of the 21st century were Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup Incorporated, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Chicago Tribune
During the mortgage mess from 2007-2010, Corporate America or Wall Street financing was blamed as one of the causes, although most commentators blame an interplay of factors. The U.S. government with the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailed out the banks and financial backers with billions of dollars, but the bailout was often criticized as politically motivated, and was criticized by journalists as well as the public. Huffington Post
As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth. The next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%. Only 15% of the wealth goes for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). Who rules America?
The top one percent of households has 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. Who rules America?
'Occupy Wall Street'
The Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out on September 17 with around a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway. It has grown sizably; however, both in New York City and elsewhere as people across the country, from Boston to Los Angeles, display their solidarity in similar protests. Huffington Post
On the past two Saturdays, the protests led to tense standoffs with police. On Sept. 24, about 100 people were arrested in New York and the group put out a video which showed some women being hit with pepper spray by a police official. On Oct. 1, more than 700 people were arrested in the city as the group attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Huffington Post
The demonstrators protest against an unequal distribution of wealth wherein one percent of the American population benefits from the capitalism system, while the other ninety-nine percent is exploited. The protesters say they are that ninety-nine percent. Dowser
"We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent." That is the motto of Occupy Wall Street, a "leaderless resistance movement" aiming to take back democracy in a time of corporate control and increasing powerlessness of individual people to affect change in government. Neon Tommy
The official Occupy Wall Street manifesto that was released a few days ago outlines the main grievances held by the protesters: collusion between government and corporation, lack of protection of individuals' rights, and much (much!) more. Dowser
Obama and Wall Street
One year and a half ago, President Obama labeled many financial industry executives as "fat cats" and criticized their bonuses. Time
According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. corporations held a record $1.93 trillion in cash on their balance sheets in 2010. But they are not investing to expand their companies, grow the real economy or create good middle-class jobs. Corporate CEOs are literally hoarding their company's cash-except when it comes to their own paychecks. AFL-CIO
In 2010, Standard & Poor's 500 Index company CEOs received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation- a 23 percent increase in one year. Based on 299 companies' most recent pay data for 2010, their combined total CEO pay of $3.4 billion could support 102,325 median workers' jobs. AFL-CIO
Attorney and political strategist Jack Burkman says "Without Wall Street's initial support he [President Obama] doesn't have credibility ... No doubt about it. Without Wall Street, Obama would not be in power today." Huffington Post
A July 2011 study by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that President Obama is relying more on Wall Street to fund his re-election this year than he did in 2008. The report says that one-third of the money Obama's elite fund-raising corps has raised on behalf of his re-election has come from the financial sector. CNBC