Is the Occupy movement warming up to electoral politics?

"On the evening of Wednesday, February 22, protesters pitched tents in front of the district office of Democratic Representative Allyson Schwartz in the small hamlet of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. The group—which numbered about five, and has since expanded to 15 members, including at times veterans of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Philadelphia, and Occupy Delaware—was met with a mixture of alarm and bemusement from the mostly middle-class residents of the commuter town, population 4,000, located just north of Philadelphia; but Ed Foley, the mayor of Jenkintown, declared that they were welcome to stay as long as they behaved. “In Jenkintown, we’ve struggled with traffic calming and they’ve had an excellent traffic calming effect,” he toldCitizen’s Call, a local website. “No one is rolling through that stop sign anymore.””

- Jesse Zwick, Occupy Congress

Photo courtesy of We Know Memes

Is the Occupy movement growing up?

"In the months since Occupy Wall Street pitched its first tents last September, one criticism of the movement has been that it does not offer much in the way of solutions. Enter Occupy the SEC, an Occupy offshoot made up of activists and veterans of the financial sector. Instead of taking the public stand of OWS, they’re using a different tactic: They’ve written a detailed 325-page analysis of the Volcker rule. And, in my view, they’ve got it exactly right.”

—Jared Bernstein, “Former Obama Official: Why I Applaud ‘Occupy the SEC’

Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

How can we update our vision of those who would stand to benefit from income equality?

"What image comes to mind when progressives think about the Americans who would benefit from a more egalitarian society? None of the images or phrases currently in vogue are all that inspiring. “Middle class” merely describes a bland, imprecise economic status. “The 99 percent,” the slogan of Occupy Wall Street, is certainly majoritarian and inclusive; but it begs the question of what, besides wealth, distinguishes that vast throng from the tiny, super-rich minority. Bill Clinton’s praise, two decades ago, of those who “work hard and play by the rules” certainly had the ring of virtue; but it never stuck politically."

-Michael Kazin, “The Producers

Photo courtesy of CNN

Why everyone overestimates American equality of opportunity.

Read an excerpt from Senior Editor Timothy Noah’s upcoming book, The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, published in the March 1, 2012 issue of the magazine.

"Most of Western Europe today is both more equal in income and more econmically mobile than the United States. And it isn’t just Western Europe. Countries as varied as Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Pakistan all have higher degrees of income mobility than we do. A nation that prides itself on its lack of class rigidity has, in short, become significantly more economically rigid than many other developed countries. How did our perception of ourselves end up so far out of sync with reality?”

—Timothy Noah, “The Mobility Myth: Why everyone overestimates American equality of opportunity.

Occupy D.C. is nearing its end. Why is it no surprise then that Occupy D.C. never took off successfully?
"Simply put, Washington, D.C. is a bad launching pad for a protest movement opposed to establishment politics. This city, for better and for worse, is for people who believe in the establishment. It’s home to several major universities, mainstream media outlets, and think tanks—and, most important, to the federal government. Its professional class is made up of people who believe (some earnestly, some cynically) in the legitimacy of establishment organs."
—Nathan Pippenger and Simon van Zuylen-Wood, “Why It’s No Surprise That Occupy DC Never Took Off”
Photo by Simon van Zuylen-Wood
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Occupy D.C. is nearing its end. Why is it no surprise then that Occupy D.C. never took off successfully?

"Simply put, Washington, D.C. is a bad launching pad for a protest movement opposed to establishment politics. This city, for better and for worse, is for people who believe in the establishment. It’s home to several major universities, mainstream media outlets, and think tanks—and, most important, to the federal government. Its professional class is made up of people who believe (some earnestly, some cynically) in the legitimacy of establishment organs."

—Nathan Pippenger and Simon van Zuylen-Wood, “Why It’s No Surprise That Occupy DC Never Took Off

Photo by Simon van Zuylen-Wood

Is the Democratic love affair with Wall Street over?

Today, Jon Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs CEO, Democratic senator, and Democratic governor, testified before the House Agriculture committee about the collapse of MF Global and the disappearance of $1.2 billion in customer funds.

For more, read Timothy Noah’s blog post on what MF Global’s collapse means for the future of Democrats’ already tenuous relationship with Wall Street.

Photo courtesy of CNN Money.

theatlantic:

2011: The Year in Photos, Part 3 of 3

Above: Occupy Wall Street protesters march and hold signs in New York City on September 17, 2011. Frustrated protesters had been speaking out against corporate greed and social inequality on and near Wall Street for the previous two weeks, further sparking a protest movement that spread across the world. Original here. (CC BY SA Carwil Bjork-James)

See more compelling photographs at The Atlantic

Victory for Occupy Wall Street?

Governor Cuomo reached an agreement today with legislative leaders to raise taxes on New York State’s wealthiest residents as part of a deal to overhaul the tax rates.

The tentative agreement would also cut taxes for the middle class, by creating four new tax brackets and tax rates. The officials said the tax rate changes would generate $1.9 billion in annual revenue for the state.

“This would be lowest tax rate for middle class families in 58 years,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “This job-creating economic plan defies the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this state once again.”

Will other states follow suit and implement a “millionaires tax”? Is this the result of Occupy Wall Street’s focus on income inequality?

Courtesy of the New York Times.

Are we all Don Drapers, obsessed with selling an image rather than tending to what lies underneath?

"In its simultaneous celebration and condemnation of consumer culture—and, worse, in its suggestion that America, beneath the glitz, might be hollow at its core—“Mad Men” plays to our deepest cultural fears in a way that is strikingly similar to Occupy Wall Street. "

-Ruth Franklin, “The Mad Men Revolution.”

Photo courtesy of the Village Voice.