The Occupy Wall Street protesters and those marching in solidarity with them throughout the nation are attempting to fight back against the top 1% of earners who have hijacked our nation and turned what is claimed to be a democracy into a plutocracy rife with corruption and corporatist policies.
While the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be focusing mostly on the banking interests that have run our economy into the ground while raking in staggering profits, there remains a sub-set of the 1% that needs to be identified and exposed.
This sub-set is the 0.01%, the executives that take in astounding sums of money, leverage tens of millions in lobbying money to control our so-called representatives all to the detriment of the American people, the American economy, and the world at large. They profit at the expense of the American taxpayer, off the lives of American soldiers, and from death and destruction around the globe.
These are not entrepreneurs who struck it rich giving us a product or service that we need, they are getting rich while manipulating the American political system and the fear of the American people while perpetuating endless, unnecessary and unethical wars.
This one hundredth of one percent includes the war profiteers, the CEOs of military contractors that are paid even more than CEOs of financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
To put this in perspective, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, James “Jamie” Dimon was paid $20.81 million in 2010. The CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, was paid $18.97 million, while the CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, was paid a relatively small $1.94 million (although it would be a huge amount of money for most Americans).
When considering these numbers, one must keep in mind that the earnings can be highly variable, with Jamie Dimon pulling in $1.32 million in 2009 and $35.76 million in 2008.
These numbers for Dimon include salary, bonuses, stock awards, option awards, changes in pension value and “nonqualified deferred compensation earnings” and “all other compensation”.
Now let’s take a look at what top CEOs in the defense contracting industry were paid last year.
CEO of Northrop Grumman, Wesley Bush, made $22.84 million. CEO of Lockheed Martin, Robert Stevens, made $21.89 million and Boeing’s CEO James McNerney made $19.74 million.
These figures put military contractor executives deep in 0.01% territory, seeing as one must make $9.14 million annually to fall in this ultra-elite strata, according to an article published on the liberal website AlterNet.
However, an anonymous investment manager’s article published on a University of California at Santa Cruz professor’s website claims that the top 0.01% has a net worth of $24.4 million on average. Unfortunately a source for this statistic is not cited.
Either way, it is an irrefutable fact that the income distribution in the United States is highly unequal and a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report makes it clear that it is just getting worse (morehere and here).
The war profiteers that make up the 0.01% of earners in the United States are not simply bad because they make far more money than anyone else. This is the type of skewed logics that so-called conservatives regularly use in order to justify claims of class warfare.
Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with making money, and there is nothing wrong with making lots of money.
To make matters worse, the Pentagon paid $270 billion from 2007 to 2009 to 91 military contractors that were also involved in civil fraud cases resulting of judgments more than $1 million.
During the same period, $682 million was paid out to 30 contractors convicted of “hard-core criminal fraud”.
Military contractors regularly defraud the Department of Defense, and thus the American taxpayer, yet they continue to operate with impunity while taking in nearly unfathomable profits on our dime.
The war profiteering industry trumps the financial sector when it comes to the millions pumped into Washington in lobbying dollars as well.
None of these numbers should be acceptable but it is clear that the war profiteering industry is putting disturbing amounts of cash into Washington in order to influence public policy, which they do remarkably well.
If we want to really get our nation – and the world at large – back on track we must not only set our sights on the corrupt, criminal banking industry and the private Federal Reserve but also the equally corrupt and criminal war profiteering industry.
WarCosts.com put out this brief yet quite informative video on this subject which should be spread around to all Occupiers and activists alike:
Only through spreading this information can we fight back as clearly the 1% and the 0.01% are in control of our political system.
Unfortunately the war industry is so deeply entrenched in the United States that only through a massive popular movement can any real change be made.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is off to a great start, we just must remember not to become myopic in focusing solely on the criminal banks and the private Federal Reserve.
We must also focus our energy and rage on dismantling the “defense” industry that only serves the ultra-elite while robbing average American taxpayers and killing well-meaning American soldiers and those who are targeted by the military-industrial complex.
The war profiteering industry is tragic in its scale and destructive in nature, but hopefully through spreading awareness of the undue influence they hold in our nation we can start to push back against these corporations and executives that profit off of death and destruction.