Gilmore: If the 1% had less, would the 99% be better off?

Elspeth Gilmore holds an Occupy Wall Street sign.

Kai Ryssdal: I don't know that there's an official count of how long the Occupy protests have been going on, but today's day number 58 of the demonstrations that started in New York City. They've come to a close in Oakland, Calif., at least for now. Police moved in this morning to clear campers out of a plaza in downtown.

The through line of this movement so far, at least the one that's been easiest to understand, is the wealth gap. The "we are the 99 percent, but the 1 percent gets to control everything" story. We decided to turn that question on its head a little bit and ask if the 1 percent had less, would the 99 percent be bettter off?

Here's commentator Elspeth Gilmore.

Elspeth Gilmore: I am the 1 percent. I recently marched on Wall Street with the 99 percent. I stand with the 99 percent, but I marched for myself, too. For decades, the U.S. economy has been organized to boost the wealth of the 1 percent.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 40 percent of all wealth gains between 1983 and 2009 went to the 1 percent. Eighty-two percent went to the top 5 percent. All the rules of the economy have been tilted in my favor. Yet it is not in my interest to allow the disparities of wealth to keep growing. We should not have to hoard wealth in this society in order to keep our families healthy or to get an education. Health and a good education should be rights.

My job at Resource Generation is to organize wealthy people under 35 who want to change this. There are more than 1,500 of us who know that our lives would be better if we personally had less and we could all rely on a collective safety net. We need to re-imagine what is possible.

I want to live in a world where we together provide the basic needs of all people: adequate infrastructure and roads, well-funded school systems, clean water systems, innovative transportation and health care for all.

We need a more just economy -- and one of the ways to get there is for people like me to pay higher taxes. Lets change the policies that keep the wealth in the hands of a few. Let's increase millionaire taxes and end loopholes for corporations. Please tax the income from my investments at least as much as my earned income, it's common sense.

So let me say this as plainly as I can. Tax me, tax the 1 percent. If the 1 percent had less money, we -- a 100 percent of us -- would be better off.

Ryssdal: Elspeth Gilmore is the co-director of Resource Generation. Tomorrow our series continues with Reihan Salam on the same question: "If the 1 percent had less, would the 99 percent be better off?"

Send us your thoughts.

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Elspeth Gilmore is the co-director of Resource Generation.
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"You cannot"?? Not going to extremes, possibly not. But, these citations are the anthem for the 1%.

The playing field certainly needs to be leveled because few of the 1%ers in the financial world got there by following the Golden Rule, excepting pro athletes, film & recording stars, top doctors and a few other select areas. And, they have been receiving Welfare for the Wealthy for far too long.

The House that the 1% Built:

The 99% consume products and services that the 1% built.
The 1% hoard the money the 99% paid.
The government taxes the 1% to help cycle some of the money back to the 99%,
so that the 99% can again consume the products that the 1% built.

The economy runs because the 99% consume. If the 99% has no money to spend the economy fails.

Try selling ipads and autos to Ethiopians - hmmm, try selling food...their economy is so bad those consumers can't even afford to eat.

The economy is a three legged stool: resources, manufactures, consumers. If any one fails, we all fail. If we all work together and share, we all succeed.

If the 1% had less money BY PAYING MORE TAXES, YES the 99% would be better off because state and federal revenue would increase and help pay for airport security, port security, border security. It would help clean up the 1%'s industrial pollution, oil spills, mountain top damage. It would help cover the medical bills of people who get sick from the 1%'s industrial pollution. Better public schools would keep poor and middle class kids in school and not on the streets with nothing to do but join gangs, and no skills to get work with later in life. DEFINITELY, the rest of society would be better off.

If the 1% had less the 99% would not be better off. Of course the same is true if the 1% had more. The reason is that the 1% invests extra money. They don't spend it. We already have a surplus of investment money. That's why you get about 0% interest on your money market fund.

A better question would be "Would the 99% be better off if the 49% had more?" The answer here is a definitive "YES". That's because when poor people get money you can pretty much count on them spending it and that is what the economy needs now. More spending. More demand. You want to get the economy going? Give every tax payer $500 a month until either unemployment is below 5% or inflation is above 5%. Don't increase the debt, just print it up. This will get people spending and, as a result, businesses hiring and the economy recovering.

What a horrible question... The idea that the Occupy Movement is about the 1% "having too much" is absurd. The movement is based on the idea that the system is rigged to benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99%. It's not about "taking" wealth from the 1% or even "giving" wealth to the 99%, it's about fixing the system so that the 1% can't keep writing rules that redistributes wealth to themselves. This question is a horrible misrepresentation of what the movement is all about.

Disregard my initial post. I thought this was the piece that ran this evening. The evening of the 17th.

Richard Wilkinson: "How economic inequality harms societies"
at Ted.com.

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.


Shame on marketplace for placing this question up for debate--its very asking deflates and demeans the roots of the protests. It's not about certain rich people having too much money; it's the masses saying NO to the irresponsbile takeover of our political system by big companies. Big companies are using the country as a piggy bank. It is not sustainable. If B of A calls on the FDIC on that 73TR$, the country is bankrupt. On paper, the USA is already bankrupt thanks to companies like BofA. Shame on them and shame on Marketplace for implicitly siding with big business!!!

Just because certain people have the power to write your check for less, and theirs for more, doesn't mean they earned that money.


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