First: Will the Occupy movement make a difference? Not likely, and that’s not due to lack of sincerity. Most grassroots movements don’t end up influencing policy changes. The one giant exception is the Civil Rights movement. But most don’t come close.
“Winning is uncommon,” writes sociologist Claude Fischer, “but the general formula for winning seems to be that the protesters are going with the tide of public opinion; have allies in powerful places, especially the White House and Congress; are organized, disciplined, and hard-working; are focused on specific policy goals; can be seen as innocent victims of attacks by reactionaries; and more broadly are seen as virtuous by the general public.”
Many of these elements of success are obviously missing in the Occupy movement—except for going with the tide of public opinion. And, that’s where we come to today’s second question.
As we discussed yesterday, the majority of Americans believe that our society would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal. Two ways to accomplish that goal would be to tax the rich and raise the minimum wage. The Public Religion Research Institute asked about these issues in the 2011 American Values Survey.
A large majority of Americans (70%) support increasing the tax rate on those earning more than $1 million a year. Democrats are more supportive than Republicans of the idea (not surprise there) but just more than one half of those who affiliate with the GOP (52%) supports the idea. The Tea Party wing, however, does not—only 40% favor taxing the rich.
Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 an hour, the poll finds. Again, there are differences by political persuasion. More than eight of ten Democrats (82%) favor raising the minimum wage, but 52% of Republicans feel the same way. Only 41% of Tea Partiers support the notion.
What do you think about the Occupy movement’s long-term impact?
Would you like to see income inequality decreased by taxing the rich?
Or, raising the minimum wage?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.