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Don’t eat the rich: Argument against Occupy Wall Street ideas

Levine is a sophomore politics major and can be contacted at benjamin.levine@drake.edu

It cannot be denied that many of the overarching sentiments and demands coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement are anti-capitalistic in nature. The protestors call themselves the “99 percent” and detest the alleged greed and evil of the 1 percent of wealthiest Americans. Those rich, fat-cat Americans should pay more taxes, OWS argues, because right now they are getting off easy. Right?

Nope. Wrong. Dead wrong. As of 2008, the top 1 percent of Americans paid 38 percent of federal income taxes; even worse, the wealthiest 10 percent paid almost 70 percent of federal income taxes. Yet, despite contributing above and beyond their fair share, OWS protestors—and Democrats in Washington—don’t think that’s enough; they both agree that the rich need to pay more.

Really? President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress are so addicted to spending that they are willing to raise taxes even further on those Americans already contributing the most. It is completely ridiculous. I mean, set aside the negative economic effect it would have (taxes should be set at a lower level optimal for economic growth and not at a high level, optimizing revenue). It is morally unjust to take more from these people. That’s right; I am defending those rich CEOs against the idiots prancing around New York City. And here is why.

Rich people obtaining wealth is not any sort of injustice; in fact, it is good for every American when people earn money. Instead, the true problem is that the government is in bed with some of the biggest businesses of America, giving subsidies to large oil companies and bailouts to companies like Goldman Sachs. Ending corporate welfare such as this is what OWS should demand, not the far-left policy of increasing taxes on the rich and then redistributing it to others. Do the wealthiest Americans really deserve to have their money taken from them at a higher rate simply because they have a lot of it?

Of course, despite the logic, there are still those who will cry for higher taxation on the rich. After all, they only got there by stepping all over middle-class families while sitting in their offices.

Or, more realistically, they became successful after coming up with a vision, working their tails off, employing hundreds of people (middle-class) in the process, making a ton of money, investing it, saving it, spending it on other goods and contributing to the wealth of America’s economy.

Sure, there are rich people lobbying Congress for unfair benefits, such as the corporate welfare mentioned above, but that is not how the majority of wealthy people operate, and to put the blame on all of them is ridiculous. Politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, need to shoulder some of the responsibility. It is their policies that allow some rich people to evade paying taxes, to jump through tax loopholes or simply to favor some companies by giving them an unfair tax break and screwing with the market.

Yet politicians in Washington — Democrats especially, right now — are playing class warfare, pinning the anger of the middle-class against the upper-class citizens. Obama is leading the pack on this one, yet young people still put their faith in him as a leader.

I think it is time to use the critical thinking skills that Drake is supposed to be fostering in its students and look beyond the “hope” and “change” slogans that Mr. Obama so wonderfully articulated in 2008 to see the “failure” and “corruption” he has equally just as wonderfully acted out.

Don’t buy in to the “tax the rich” sentiment coming from OWS and Washington. Not only is it economically irresponsible, but it is morally unjust as well. And this is coming from a middle-class American, not the “1 percent.” Instead of envying the successes of those wealthy citizens—I understand that their hard work has given my parents jobs over the years, among other things—embrace them. Don’t eat the rich; thank the rich.



  1. Siara Delyn October 30, 2011

    QUOTE: “As of 2008, the top 1 percent of Americans paid 38 percent of federal income taxes; ”

    Precisely. They paid 38% of federal income taxes. And they earned 90% of the money. They should have paid 90% of federal income taxes. How did they pull this scam? With highly paid accountants who know how to manipulate the loopholes. Those of us who can’t afford these accountants just turn in our money.

    1. Marc October 30, 2011

      America’s top 1% have 2% of the total INCOME and pay 38% of the INCOME taxes they already pay more then their fair share. If the top 1 % had 90% of the income then yes they should account for 90% of the taxes. Because it is income tax. They pay other taxes on the other things they have that is not income. Also any gains that they have made in the market have already been taxed once through income tax. So they make the money and are taxed at 35% and then invest and are taxed at 15% so they are taxed twice on the same money. will true some live off of their investments and are taxed 15% they already made the money and payed 35% once. The rich do posses a great % of the wealth but that has nothing to do with income tax.

  2. Brah October 30, 2011

    “Or, more realistically, they became successful after coming up with a vision, working their tails off, employing hundreds of people (middle-class) in the process, making a ton of money, investing it, saving it, spending it on other goods and contributing to the wealth of America’s economy.”

    Maybe you should look up the definition of “inheritance” and look a little bit deeper into social stratification.

    1. lh November 19, 2011

      So, you want the rich people of yesterday, who earned their money, to pas it down to who the government deems worthy, instead of their own children and grand children? Will you give the government the money that you may one day inherit?

  3. Reno October 30, 2011

    The economic opportunity in a capitalist society is like a wheel: at any point in time, there is 1% on top (CEO) and the other executives right at the top. At the bottom you have the cleaners. On the sides are all levels of employees.Ideally, the wheel keeps on turning. In reality, it does not. Those at the top, because they are generally smart and educated, tend to be at the top. Over time, most wheels turn into rigid pyramids. It is well and good to say that I have worked hard, therefore I deserve all what I have. Still, we belong to a society and it is impossible for all people to have the same levels of skills at the same time. What I am trying to say is that the rich should be generous enough until their pockets hurt…this for me is the true essence of Christianity or any good morality for that matter. With the demise of the counter-culture, communism, CEOs for instance, have enjoyed outrageous increases in their salaries.

  4. William October 30, 2011

    It sounds to me like this article is pointing out many of the reasons we should be occupying. Rather thang dismissing te whole movement it should be aiming to educate and guide the people in the movement rather than belittle the whole thing because not all rich people are greedy. Yes most of them are trying to do good and support their families, however sometimes even good people do wrong.

  5. Andy October 30, 2011

    Whatever, I’m an Australian and I can see the wealthy don’t pay anything for taxes.
    The whole world can see how greedy the rich Americans are.. and look what they have done.

    Us Australians pay our fair share because we all care about our country and fellow man.

    Plus we all get free healthcare and it makes our country so much better to live in.

    1. Benjamin Levine October 31, 2011

      Andy, you certainly don’t have free healthcare. Somebody has to pay for it.

      How exactly do you “see” that wealthy people don’t pay anything?

    2. Tom December 10, 2011


      Please do not get me started on Australia. I am an American who studied abroad in Sydney this past semester. I, too, am sick of the American govt.–be it their stances on economics or the ‘war on terror’. But having learned about the Australian govt. and its history has taken egrigious behavior to a whole new level. You cannot tell Americans to follow Australia’s “example” when the country has (1) suppressed, murdered, and marginalized the Aboriginal community since the early beginning; (2) severely violated the UDHR and its legal/moral obligation to international human rights treaties in its treatment of asylum seekers and (3) treated women/gays with less dignity than I treat ants. I loved my time in Australia, but their government makes GW Bush look like Mother Theresa,

  6. jhog October 30, 2011

    You failed to mention the ultra rich make the majority of their income from capital gains that is taxed at a rate 15%. What percentage do you pay Ben?

    IMHO, you’re article is just a rehash of tired old overly simplistic conservative talking points.

    1. Benjamin Levine October 31, 2011

      Yes, some of the ultra rich make the majority of their income from capital gains. You make that seem like a bad thing? They’re investing money into our economy; why punish them for that?

      Liberals are hilarious. How is it possible that liberals can only sometimes understand the principle that when you tax something, you are effectively changing behavior? Ex: When you tax cigarettes then consumption does decrease. However, libs forget this when they tax investment.

      And why does it matter what I pay? That’s a fallacious question.

  7. Ann Ward October 31, 2011

    Ben, you are essentially creating a debate for yourself only here. If you are looking for a reason to be against this movement, it is surely easy enough to find, the only person saying “all rich people are bad” here is you. If you really want to engage in DIALOGUE, then maybe talk about the issues of corporate welfare, and out of control lobbying. This is what people are out in the streets about, among many other things, and surely you could even find people to say that all rich are bad, but the overwhelming sentiment is that there is a huge divide in our country and our system is not serving us. Our public servents, our elected officials, are not serving US as a people. Certain people and entities pushed it too far, abused their power too much, and now this is the natural evolution of things. I think it’s very exciting that there has been this mainstream awakening, and that it has a non-violent core. Say what you want, at least people are taking action.

  8. D October 31, 2011

    Taxing cigarettes doesn’t necessarily mean that consumption decreases. And there are sooooo many tax loopholes for the 1% to utilize that aren’t available to the average person (off shore bank accounts anyone?). The Occupy movement isn’t just about what taxes people pay and don’t pay. It’s about the frustration of politicians being BOUGHT by the 1% and doing nothing for the 99%. Occupying isn’t about liberals and conservatives, and unfortunately you are assuming it is.

    And I believe when Andy says that in Australia healthcare is free, it’s not just somebody paying for it. EVERYONE is paying their share into a national system that provides for EVERYONE. They don’t have to worry about going to the hospital or a doctor and having someone ask them if they have an HMO or PPO. They don’t have to worry about whether or not a procedure will be covered or denied by bureaucratic jerk offs that sit in their offices and are constantly bottom line only.

    If the top 1% would realize where they would be without the other 99%, they might change their attitude about things.

  9. Amanda October 31, 2011

    Arguing and bashing the other team is fun. But not very productive. I don’t necessarily agree with your point of view, but I respect your right to have it. I only ask that if you think others are going about this incorrectly, what do you think can or should be done with the current economic state?

  10. Ryne October 31, 2011

    I had the wonderful opportunity to work for a Fortune 500 company this summer and through the program, I got to speak with top executives and even the CEO (making 7 figures). These are ridculous people. They are so smart and have many talents that amazed me. They each have their own charity that they donate to by holding community events and writing personal checks. They are on top of their work load, mentors to many in the company and role models for everyone else. They pay their taxes and invest with what they can. They invest it because they know how to.

    Everytime I got the chance to speak with one of them, I asked them about their journey to the top and what sacrafices they made to get there. They each told me similar stories about how they worked, worked and then caught a little break to boost them up. They told me they missed out on a lot of family events, lost contact with college friends and found it hard to date people. They worked 60 hours a week then and still work 60 hours a week now. Most of them are age 40 to 60 with small children because they didn’t have time to ‘settle down.’

    This speaks to life being about making choices. They made the choice to commit themselves to a career and missed out on time they can’t get back. They made the choice to enter into a competitive environment where one mistake can ruin a career. These talented people deserve compensation for their talents and hard work. It really opened my eyes to how I want to plan my career roadmap and what is important to me.

    On a side note, being an accounting major, there is no such thing as legally manipulating loopholes for accountants. One class of managerial accounting will teach you that if you try to manipulate ratio’s your portfoilo will become vulernable in other areas. Balance is the key. One class of finanical accounting or finance will teach you that if you want to increase wealth, you must increase your risk. This concept is nothing new to anyone and can be considered a general life lesson.

  11. Benjamin Levine October 31, 2011


    I hope you read my article before commenting. If you did then you would see that I twice mentioned corporate welfare and said that is what OWS should be protesting. But there was a recent study by a Democratic pollster that found 49% of “Occupiers” actually agree with the big bank and corporate bailouts (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204479504576637082965745362.html). I lost sympathy for the movement when I found that out.

    And there are a TON of people — made clear by some of the comments on this article — that think rich people are horrible and get their wealth through merely inheritance. I mean, the TD recently ran an opinion piece where the author said that the reason people are unemployed today is because CEOs won’t use their “trillions” of dollars to hire people. As if that is how business works?


    “They don’t have to worry about whether or not a procedure will be covered or denied by bureaucratic jerk offs that sit in their offices and are constantly bottom line only.” You understand that it is when the government gets involved in economic matters that bureaucracy is at its worst, right?

    Well, if you do not mean free then I’d advise not to say free. But even so, the burden would inevitably fall on certain individuals more than others.


    I only had roughly 600 words to write this article and my goal was to point out the flaws of the OWS protestors. But if you want solutions here are a few.

    – End the Federal Reserve and fractional banking system and then allow competition in currency. Get the government out of the business of printing money out of thin air. The middle-class wonders why they are seeing prices rise yet are still ignoring the problem of the Fed.

    – End all corporate welfare. Corporations don’t need any welfare. The strong will survive without help from the government. And, as we have seen with the Obama administration and Solyndra, the government screws up when picking winners and losers in the market.

    – Cut back on government spending and intrusion in our economy. Get the government out of the market’s way but more importantly out of the individual’s way. Let people keep the money they earn and choose to spend it the way they want to.

    – Cut regulations on all businesses but especially small businesses. Starting a business in America is not easy whatsoever; in fact, it is one of the hardest places to do so. Some say if businesses run wild then the middle-class gets screwed, such as what happened in the latest Wall Street bailouts. But that is not the case. The problem was the Fed keeping interest rates too low and then the government picking winners and losers (a common theme). And the market self-regulates anyways.

  12. JTO October 31, 2011


    Although I’m sure you’ve read a plethora of biased articles mis-articulating the point of the Occupy movement, I suggest that you actually attend an Occupy General assembly meeting in order to learn what the movement is about… you clearly don’t understand the main pillars of Occupy, and it baffles me that a media source would print such erroneous material. Occupy wallstreet is not about demonizing CEOs. It is a movement meant to voice dissatisfaction with our government’s nepotism of large corporations. I’m disappointed that you did not do balanced research on the movement before writing this article.

  13. Neil November 1, 2011

    I agree with what Ben has to say. I am disappointed with how much coverage this “evil 1%” has been getting and I find it hard to believe that anyone could seriously think that taxing these wealthy few more could solve a problem that is inherent in the system.
    Examine our healthcare system as a comparison. Why is it that people are denied care due to economic status? Is it because the rich 1% have found another way in which to beat down the masses? I find it more because it’s in the best interests of medical care providers to have a system of care based on serving those who can pay the most, first. In order for this to come about, it is lobbied into existence through political channels. Corporate influence in governement causing problems again.

    Thanks for reading this far, sorry if it seems I get off topic.

  14. Top 1% November 1, 2011

    Ben I agree with you. Thanks

  15. Aaron November 3, 2011

    Great article Ben. You nailed it. As for the moronic rants about how great the movement is and how you need to visit one to understand, don’t bother. I visited Occupy Saint Louis; some local college professors highlighting the greatness of Marxism, homeless creeps eyeing the few girls there, and some retard college liberals trying to convince everyone to go violent. I gave them a quick lesson in econ, to which I received death threats and negative “twinkle fingers,” what a joke.
    To the moron who claimed higher taxes on the rich are the Christian thing to do, you’re a dumbass. First off, we all know you think you’re too smart to believe in God. Second, forcing money from people for the Gov to waste on “shrimp-treadmills” and “cocaine-for-monkeys” research is not charity. Speaking of charity, think of all the parks, stadiums, and hospitals that have been built for the public by private donations. You people need to grow up, 2012 can’t come fast enough.

  16. T November 5, 2011


    Pretty much only 10% of the protestors actually know what the movement is about. Most of the protestors are just there because they’re mad that they put themselves in horrible positions through terrible decisions. Now, while I agree with your eliminating corporate welfare point, it’s just not possible without a movement like this.

    I actually chatted with one of the leaders of the movement, and he listed out the original demands of the movements which were:

    -Repeal Bush tax cuts
    -Tax people based on income – Progressive tax structure as to not rip off the poor
    -Restore Glass-Steagal bank regulations
    -Conduct investigations on all financial and other corporate institutions involved in bailout
    -Tax Wall Street insider transactions
    -Abolish Corporate Lobbying – lobbyers can write letters
    -Penalize outsourcing and exporting of jobs – the most popular of the demands
    -End the war in Afghanistan – estimated $300 million per day price tag
    -Restore economic justice to all Americans – over-reaching concept

    OWS has brought attention to the numerous flaws in the government and corporate structure, which is why we should be thankful for it. Who knows, it may lead to your recommendations being considered. Protests like these make people realize that they have the power to demand change, which is what is beautiful about the U.S.

  17. Beth November 9, 2011

    First, I want to start off by saying that there are many valid criticisms to be made about Occupy Wall Street, both in their demands and their actions. With the number of valid criticisms out there, there is no need for you to create straw men only to tear them down. In fact, you seem to agree with a lot with what OWS and the local offshoots seem to be saying. Attend any rally and encampment and you will see signs blasting the Fed, corporate welfare, and the corporate bailouts. Most of the protestors I’ve talked to have no problem with corporations, they have problems with the coziness that corporations have with the government.

    What people should understand and perhaps, what OWS should do a better job of communicating is that Wall Street is a symbol (there is only one big bank actually left on Wall Street). What participants in the movement are protesting against is the power that corporations hold over politicians that they say should be serving the people.

    No one is saying that having wealth makes someone a bad person, but claiming that they have earned their wealth simply through their “visions” and by “working their tails off” is faulty reasoning. The trucks that delivered their goods to consumers used tax payer funded roads and the warehouses that store their goods were protected by tax payer funded police forces and fire departments. Maybe they even got some government provided tax breaks to help them grow and eventually thrive in their early fragile years. Some tax payers provided them with that. All they are asking for is that these businesses pay it forward so the next entrepreneur can start their own business and employ “hundreds of middle class people,” “make a ton of money,” “invest it”, “save it,” and “spend it on other goods contributing to the wealth of America’s economy.”

    As far as capitol gains go, investing just to invest isn’t nearly as good for the economy as the the purchase of actual goods and services that provide real money and real jobs. The money made through capital gains is just as valuable as the money made through other forms of income and should be taxed at the same rate.

  18. 99%er November 20, 2011

    You can’t tax Capitol gains as regular income, there has to be some incentive to make people invest. Have you ever seen anyone start a business without starting Capitol?

  19. Joe November 21, 2011

    All things being equal “the more money you have the more money you can make”. Take a typical middle class income of $50,000. He is able to put away $10,000 a year and makes 9% – $900. Take a upper 1% income of $1,000,000 and he puts away $200,000 (the same 20%) and makes 9% – $18,000. The richer you are the more money you are able to make. This is incredibly simple and dumbed down but it illustrates a point that people need to understand.

    On a sidenote I find it incredibly ironic that people here in the US are protesting against the rich. Take a more worldly view of it US is approx 4.5% of the world’s population yet we control over 35% of the world’s money. FYI to the people in the OWS movement – you are the 1%……

  20. mike November 30, 2011

    Helping out your fellow man isn’t feeding him your fish, its teaching him how to catch his own. Stop putting blame on people you don’t even know. Aussie I love my country, and everybody in it, all 100% I cant say 99% of my fellow men can say the same. Yes we need change, but any economic turn around is going to take time if its going to be done right. Yes some individuals are deserving of this, but many are working right now to ensure that thousands of jobs are secure and guess what.. some of them are even making all of their money consulting with small business owners all over the world to start or sustain their business. Shame on them? Don’t take ownership of a budget that you didn’t contribute to. 99% of this country can make a difference, its just not going to happen standing in the street blocking me from getting to my job. Grab the closest 10 geniuses to you blocking the intersection, and invest your money into your own business with your own ideas. Be careful though because your employees will feel entitled to your money and they may just reach into your pockets.

  21. Her Dad January 4, 2012

    I am the 99%. I’d like to say to the “Occupiers”…YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

    Thank you Ben. Thank you, thank you. There is SO much to be said against this “movement” (?). I wish there was an “Anti-Occupy” movement, but…where would that get us? They aren’t listening. I fervently hope that this behavior runs its course as indeed history has shown it to do in the past…before more people end up getting hurt.

    I AGREE with many of the sentiments of the Occupiers. And I defend their rights to disagree with ALL of my beliefs. I have extreme trouble with their collectively flaunting the rules that we, the MAJORITY of voting citizens in this nation, have determined to be the laws with which we will abide.

    You can’t change horses midstream without something bad happening. There will never be Nirvana on this earth. Babies will be killed, the naive will suffer, and innocents will not always be dealt fairly with. But that is a problem with HUMANITY. We gather in groups and create laws so that we can continue to peacefully COEXIST. Everyone will not believe what the others do. WE likewise do not have to listen to your (Occupy’s) drivel, when you chose to spout it in ways that break laws. Because we created those laws. We don’t WANT anyone and everyone to take over “public” spaces for their personal benefit. So there is a law against that. We don’t want men to put a bullet in their friends’ head..so they must be imprisoned for that. If you live here, that’s “accepted”.

    If you are a woman who doesn’t want to cover her head in public, you need not live in a Muslim country. If you do not care for smoking to take place in a restaurant where you are eating, you don’t eat at a cigar bar. If you think there should be no law, and no prison…go live where there aren’t any…I feel those places do still exist in the wilds of the Congo. But you live where the group of individuals present WORK TOGETHER for the good of all, NEGOTIATING, and COMPROMISING. If you don’t want to adhere to that, then we don’t want you here. And you DON’T have a RIGHT to live any way you chose, without laws, in a country where we already have laws.

    For SURE one can disagree. And there are MANY ways to bring about change that don’t HURT others. We got rid of a massive degree of smoking without standing in the streets blocking traffic. You cannot any one of you convince me that you’re passivists. I’ve WATCHED the anger and violence personally in several of you, doing things you call “peaceful”? That’s what the Christians said when they killed for their religion too. And every other religion that decries a similar sentiment, but thinks THEIR God allows an exception.

    I AM ONE OF THE 99%. And I’m willing to bet that there is a huge number that agree with me when I say YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME. Now let’s put this nonsense to bed and get back to CORRECTING the many many problems in America, certainly including our politicians and corporations and religions…IN WAYS THAT ARE EFFECTIVE. So these blinder clad Occupy activists will stop luring naive school age children into their cult like lairs.

  22. Shawn January 15, 2012

    Excellent article young man…excellent.!

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