Fact-Checking What the Rich Say About Occupy Wall Street

Yahoo Contributor Network

The people the Occupy Wall Street protesters describe as "The 1 percent" are responding to their protests with a mixture of fear, loathing, and hyperbole, in what Paul Krugman of the New York Times called the "Panic of the Plutocrats."

A few of their quotes, such as those reported by ABC News writer Alan Farnham, have made a lot of headway in the media despite containing factual errors or exaggerations.

Protesters are trying to "take the jobs away"

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the 13th-richest person in the U.S. and the owner of a growing financial news company, accused the Occupy Wall Street protesters of trying to "take the jobs away from people working in this city." He referred to Wall Street finance as "a big part of our economy" and said that if it goes away "we're not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean our parks or anything else."

It is true that Wall Street's financial industry is paying people in New York. Compensation for Wall Street traders and executives reached a record high of $135 billion in February. New York State, however, is facing a projected $10 billion budget shortfall in fiscal year 2012, and its taxes collected during the 2010-2011 fiscal year were more than $1 billion less than expected. Wall Street companies contribute only 13 percent of New York State's tax revenue, and the benefit to their remaining in New York is more one-sided than Bloomberg implies.

Protesters should "blame yourself" instead of the banks

Herman Cain -- Republican presidential candidate, former Godfather's Pizza CEO, and six-figure earner from sitting on a number of corporate boards of directors -- told the protesters "Don't blame Wall Street," in a Wall Street Journal interview. "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

As of 2009, there were six job seekers for every job opening. 14.5 million Americans were counted as unemployed at the time, and 14 million are unemployed today, with unemployment rates highest among both teenagers and blacks like Cain. Most of those who are lucky enough to get hired are unable to make headway towards becoming rich, as only the top 1 percent have seen any appreciable gains in income since 1979.

Protesters are mobs that are pitting "Americans against Americans"

Republican House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently said he was "increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street," and that "some in this town have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans," referring to the protesters in another city. As Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi noted, however, Cantor and his Republican colleagues encouraged Tea Party activists, even as they were spitting on members of Congress.

View Comments