Occupy Wall Street anniversary brings student apathy
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 00:09
Last Saturday in Zuccoti Park in New York City, Occupy Wall Street protesters marked the one-year anniversary of the movement. However, university professors and students said the movement has largely died down with almost no effect on political affairs.
Since the protesters assembled last year, occupiers protested economic inequality in the country. Demonstrators blamed high-powered corporations, like those on Wall Street, for the imbalance and decline of the nation’s financial situation. Their slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” referenced the difference between the wealthiest one percent of the nation and the rest of the population.
Economics professor Laurence Seidman said the protesters felt that there was too much inequality and the government should use taxes to take revenues from those who are part of the wealthiest one percent and use the money toward health insurance, Medicaid and other organizations that would benefit the whole population.
“Looking back, who caused us to take this plunge?” Seidman said. “A lot of people got very rich and ordinary people got hurt and [Occupy Wall Street protestors] thought that was not fair, which are good points.”
He said the issues brought up by OWS were interesting and important, but the sensation of the movement has since lost its popularity. While debt is still a topic of discussion, not as many people are protesting, he said.
Their actions will not directly change the economy, Seidman said.
Economics department chair and professor James Butkiewicz said the movement raised valid issues but did not go beyond that. He said many people may even be surprised to hear that the protesters are still around.
“It’s not clear what their goals are anymore,” Butkiewicz said. “There was never really a tightly knit organization. It became just an opportunity for people with something they want to protest to come and join the cause.”
He said the salaries of high-powered financial officials and the government’s support of the failing banks upset protestors. He said last year when the government gave the failing banks a bailout and the high employees bonuses were revealed, demonstrators decided to take action.
According to Butkiewicz, the press helped to make the issue a sensation.
“They were responding to what was in the media and the media was happy to say, ‘Look what we’ve done, we’ve created a movement based on what we were reporting,’ so I think they fed on each other for a while,” he said.
Butkiewicz said he does not think the movement will affect any salary changes on Wall Street or monetary changes in the economy. The national debt would still have been an issue, especially with elections this year, even if OWS did not exist, Butkiewicz said.
Butkiewicz said President Barack Obama has made the debt a concern, though the poor economic situation would have been the focus of the election campaign no matter who is running for political office. Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s personal wealth will also contribute to the issue of economic distribution in the election, according to Butkiewicz.