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Letters: Occupy Wall Street and the 99%

Kai Ryssdal Nov 18, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: We’ve been running a sidebar to the news of Occupy Wall Street this week, a series of commentaries centered on this question: If the 1 percent had less, would the 99 percent be better off?

Elizabeth Venstra wrote from Solsberry, Ind., to say if the 1 percent “had less” suggests income distribution just happens. Her question would be phrased: What if the 1 percent took less and paid more?

Elizabeth Venstra: I’m neither an economist nor a businessperson, and I know I’m naive, but somehow, I just really feel that if you were a decent human being who wanted to do right by the rest of the country, and you happened to be a CEO of a corporation, it might be possible to say to your board, “You know, I don’t really need that 11th million. My family and I can squeak by on just 10 million this year, if we’re careful.”

Yesterday, commentator and satirist P.J. O’Rourke took down what he calls the zero-sum fallacy, the idea that there’s only so much wealth to go around. Bob Reich said basically the same thing from a diffferent point of view on Wednesday.

Steve Emmett from Gainesville, Fla., offered this corollary.

Steve Emmett: The government has proven it is not competent to manage individual wealth — look at Social Security. We are free to elect honest or dishonest people. We are free to spend our money as we wish. These are the vehicles for change in a free society.

Finally, our conversation yesterday about giving the Occupy movement some branding and marketing help got some eyerolls. Molly Kelly-Elliott from Loveland, Ohio, says we just don’t get it.

Molly Kelly-Elliott: A truly organic movement borne of pain, frustration and gross social injustice does not interest itself with the need to be slick and uniform. It is, in comparison to what branding is about, an honest thing, after all.

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