Protesters march together in New York City as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 (PaulSteinJC/Flickr)
Next week marks the two-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that began in New York City’s Zuccotti Park in response to rampant Wall Street corruption and social and economic inequality.
And while most of the Occupy camps have been destroyed by police, many of the former occupiers still maintain the same spirit that birthed the movement, but now they’re channeling their energy elsewhere, often in more focused ways that, unfortunately, receive far less media attention.
All of the conditions that inspired the Occupy protests are still in place. For example, new analysis of IRS data finds that the income gap has actually widened to its highest levels in a century.
The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their largest share in Internal Revenue Service figures going back a century.
U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. But until last year, the top 1 percent’s share of pre-tax income had not yet surpassed the 18.7 percent it reached in 1927, according to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.
And while the class divide widens, Congress has shown nothing but contempt for the poor by slashing their already meager support systems during the sequestration.
The House of Representatives is expected Thursday to take up a proposal that could make somewhere between 4 and 6 million Americans ineligible for full SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or food stamps).
Because conditions have arguably gotten worse since 2011, protesters maintain the spirit of Occupy is still very much alive—it just isn’t centralized in camps anymore.
Interestingly, Occupy the SEC, the wonkier branch of the OWS movement, proved to be the answer to one of the most prominent criticisms of OWS: that the movement lacked focus.
Occupy the SEC is an extremely focused offshoot off OWS, and it’s perhaps the group’s commitment to toiling away in unglamorous court cases that has resulted in many of their legal battles receiving little media attention.
Akshat Tewary, co-founder of Occupy the SEC, says one of the main issues their group will be focused on in the next few months is the replacement of Ben Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve.
“At present, Larry Summers has been tapped as Obama’s pick. This is especially troubling as Summers was complicit in formulating economic policies that helped cause the recent financial crisis,” says Tewary.