The brilliance of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it highlights our growing inequality in stark and simple terms. We are the 99% struggling to make a decent living, while the top 1% claim 40% of our country’s wealth and 20% of our annual income.
The meme went viral because it confirms the unfairness we all feel in our gut.
But what we also feel but rarely acknowledge intellectually is that, from the world’s perspective, the United States is the 5% of the world’s population that consumes at least 25% of the world’s resources. At the global level, we are the Koch brothers.
As we “celebrate” the birth of our 7 billionth world citizen this week, remember that if that child happens to be born in the United States, he or she will leave a far larger ecological footprint than a child born almost anywhere else on the planet. A child born here has the relative score of 8.00, far larger than a child born in Sweden (5.88), Chile (3.24), Brazil (2.91), China (2.21) or Haiti (0.68).It feels good to rail against the Koch brothers and other plutocrats who use their enormous wealth to maintain an unjust status quo that gives them the lion’s share of the spoils. Yet from the world’s perspective, we demand a disproportionate share of the fossil fuels and other natural resources requires to maintain our relatively lavish way of life, and we are equally ruthless in doing what it takes to keep it that way.
The Koch brothers and their ilk use their money to buy power, through campaign contributions, think tanks and public relations campaigns. The United States also wages a massive propaganda campaign, but one that is backed up by real weapons.