Occupy Wall Street has become too big to ignore, as the media has quickly come to discover. Originating in New York City, the —comprised of disenfranchised youths, unemployed citizens, and even some marines—has spread to major cities across the country including Boston, even as far north as Toronto and overseas to Britain.
The group doesn’t seem to have any real, definitive demands per-se, and perhaps is more a symbol of aggravation for the ‘rest’ of America—the “99 percent” of Americans that are not in the top one-percent of the nation’s wealthiest, or those who control about a third of the nation’s wealth.
Patch contacted the heads of the Democrat and Republican Town Committees to see what they thought of Occupy Wall Street and its implications. John Kalimadres, leader of the Wilton Democrats, was on vacation and declined comment via email. However, Al Alper, the RTC chair, was eager to chat.
“The economy has a high unemployment—20 percent of the total population [including people who are underemployed or have given up searching for work] have idle hands. And there’s a saying: ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,’” said Alper as he pondered the movement’s originations.
The head of the Wilton Republicans also sees this incivility as the mark of an ineffectual president.
“You have a movement that is the natural outcome of a leader who divides rather than unites. When class warfare is not only sanctioned, it is encouraged’ it’s a passive invitation for civil unrest. [Obama] pits American against American.”
Yet, Alper also acknowledged that the protesters bear resemblance to the Tea Party, which also started out as a grass-roots campaign.
“Some of them are against the government, and to that degree, some of them are very much like the Tea Party,” said Alper. “Others are flat-out socialists who want a leveling of the income base.”
It would come as no surprise that is against the ‘millionaire tax,’ a tax increase that would target Americans with an annual income of one million dollars or more, which has recently made headlines.
Alper argued that for a hypothetical Wilton family which makes one million dollars a year, and hypothetically without tax breaks, their take home pay “is closer to $400,000” under the current tax rate. After other “basic obligations [such as] eating, paying the mortgage—I’m not even talking about paying the mortgage on a vacation home—they’re left with a discretionary income of about $250,000. How much more is the government is entitled to? They’ve already taken $600,000. What’s ‘fair share?’ Someone define that for me. What is it?”
To counter Alper’s position, the popular argument in favor of taxing the rich has been succinctly put by Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s recent quote from a now-viral video:
""You built a factory out there? Good for you…But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."" (Source: CBS News)
This article has been updated to correct the following: It is Elizabeth Warren, not Elizabeth Buffet; and Al Alper's quote about the hypothetical Wilton family has been amended to include that the hypothetical situation does not include tax breaks, which Alper said during the interview.