If you are in the belief that you are one of the few Americans struggling to live comfortably in our economy and that most seem to be doing well, then the corporate owned media has done its job. Their job was to make everyone believe in the fairy tale that America is the land of opportunity and that all that was needed was a little hard work and perseverance. Sure there are a few poor people, but that is mostly due to their laziness and bad luck. Everyone is meant to believe that there are few poor, a lot of millionaires and the majority of the middle-class are living comfortably.
The facts are that poverty affects millions of Americans regardless of the color of skin, where one’s ancestors came from and is measured by much more than a person’s income. The definition of poverty simply means deficiency of resources that are needed or desired.
Economics cause Poverty. When a small group of people hoard the majority of wealth produced by all of us, then prosperity is not achievable. What most do not realize is that the majority of people, people who earn a wage, are the very means by which this small group of people are able to achieve so much wealth. Without the millions of workers, filling office buildings and factories, then that small group of people would not have their immense wealth.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46.5 million Americans were considered impoverished. How many is that? It is the entire population of Spain and more than 10 million more than the entire population of Canada. What is most striking is that the metric used to define poverty is a family of four (two children, two adults) is $22,283 and only measures the ability to buy food, shelter, clothing and utilities. This means that transportation, taxes, insurance and any other cost that almost all people have to pay are not considered in this equation.
Occupy Naperville believes that for our society to obtain prosperity we must have economic equality, opportunity and be free from exploitation.
The 1% vs. the 99%
We are the 99% is a phrase which quantifies the concentration of income and wealth in our society. To be in the 1% your income has to be over $350,000 per year. This means that 99% of all Americans earn less than $350,000 per year.
This divide is at the core of inequality. The median income (50% above and 50% below) for all American households as of 2012 was $51,017 with an average income of $71,274 ($28,070 per household member). A household consists of all the persons who occupy a house, an apartment, or other group of rooms, or a room, which constitutes a housing unit.
Income is wages coming in, wealth is what has been accumulated
In America, the top 10% own 75% of the wealth of the United States. Which means the bottom 75% have only accumulated 25% of America’s wealth.
When a person works for a business, that person is considered employed. When a person wants to work and cannot find work, that person is considered unemployed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March of 2014, the civilian labor force was 156,227,000 people out of a potential labor force of 247,258,000. The statistic which measures this is called the labor participation rate.
A number called the U-3 number measures people without jobs and having actively looked for work within the past four weeks. This is called the “official unemployment rate” and means in simple terms, if you have been looking for work longer than four weeks, you are not measured in this statistic. The REAL unemployment rate that counts all people unemployed, plus “plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part-time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force” is the U-6 number. This number is much more accurate than the “official” number and is almost double the U-3 number.
There is also what is called “underemployment.” What this means in simple terms is for example, a PhD. graduate working at Target as a cashier due to lack of opportunity. This is much more common than the corporate media reports (or does not report).
Some in the corporate media call businesses “job creators.” What this means is that the people who own businesses are the chief creators of jobs. What most do not realize however is that without the workers, they themselves would not have a business. Millions upon millions go to their jobs in order to produce for their employer. Their employer pays a negotiated price (i.e. a wage) for their time, skill and what they produce and then keep the surplus (i.e. profit).
In our 21st century global economy, more and more of these business owners are keeping more of their increasing profits while paying the people who do the actual work the same wage year after year.
Unions are a way that utilizes the collective power of workers to demand better wages and conditions from the employer. But employers ruthlessly fight the unionization of employees because it takes power away from the employer.
Employers are also not hiring because the higher the unemployment rate, the less rights and bargaining power the employee has.
There are many reasons why so many Americans are either unemployed or underemployed however. Worker discrimination is also big factor. Unjust or prejudicial treatment based on skin color, age, sex, and religion (just to name a few) are major causes for why so many are unemployed, underemployed or under-payed.
The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a SECRET trade agreement which has been negotiated for more than 4 years with the U.S. government, 11 countries and “advisers” from 600 multinational corporations. This trade deal will repress wages even further as the race to the bottom will continue. The only ones who will prosper with this trade deal are the business owners who are fighting to keep workers wages depressed.
Raise the Minimum wage
Business leaders always state that raising the minimum wage will cause them to fire workers and raise prices. But since the current federal minimum wage has not risen to keep up with inflation one would expect prices and unemployment to have remained just as low. This has not been the case as prices have risen, unemployment and underemployment are high and corporate profits and Executive pay are better than ever. The wealth that has been created by the 99% has only gone to the 1%.
Fair Tax system
Taxes are what fund our government. Since our society has decided to have government, it needs to be funded. But the question of who should pay for the governments is a question of tax fairness. A Fair taxation system, also called a Graduated Rate income tax or a Progressive Income tax will provide a more equitable system of taxation. Currently both the Federal and State systems of taxation are unfair.
The U.S. Government taxes earned wage income (pay for work) at higher rates than passive income. This means that if you go to work every day for a paycheck, you are taxed more than someone who simply lets their money collect interest or dividends.
Illinois State taxes
In the state of Illinois, the tax rate for all residents in 5%, regardless of income. This means that someone making an adjusted income $8,000 will pay the same percentage as an income of $800,000.
Occupy Naperville supports a Fair GRIT (Graduated Rate Income Tax) State Tax replacing the 5% Flat Tax currently in use.
The Flat Tax makes the bottom earners pay more than their share and the top earners less than their fair share. It creates too much need for property taxes to pay for schools and other needs and that means wealthy communities can offer far better schools and infrastructure than rural or poor ones.
Medicare for All
Although we believe the affordable Care act has brought many good reforms to health insurance, it keeps in place a corporate, system that mostly benefits for-profit corporate insurance providers. The ACA and Medicare are payers for healthcare and not actual healthcare. An insurance company does not provide healthcare, it simply pays for it.
We believe that Medicare, the insurance plan that all those over the age of 65 are entitled to should be made available for all Americans form the moment they are born.