Economist Jeffrey Sachs spoke to Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park on October 7, 2011. Here's a transcript of his remarks:
First I want to say thank you. You are changing the direction of this country. And this country's direction needs changing. And you're the first to do it in a very long time. You got the right message. We are the 99%. We really are the 99%. And the 1% doesn't get it yet. So keep telling them the truth. They are a little slow, but they'll get it eventually.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about the 1%. I've been studying the 1% for a while. It's quite a story. You know there was a long time in this country when the 1% were under control. They were still well to do but they didn't own everything and they didn't run everything. And this country started to split around 1980.
So here are the basic facts, which I'm sure you know very well. In 1980, the top 1% took home 9% of the household income. Now, the top 1% takes home 23% of the income. The top 1% of wealth holders has more wealth than the bottom 90% of this country. The top 0.01% - that's 12,000 households - take home 6% of the household income. That's more than the poorest 20 million in this country. The last time America had this level of inequality was in 1929. And you know what happened then. It led to disaster. So we have to head off disaster.
How did we get to this miserable situation? It started in the 1970s when globalization began and that was good for many poor countries. It was good if you were rich in the United States. But if you were an average worker, you started to find that your income was squeezed. All of a sudden you were facing competition from halfway around the world. Now those were poor countries halfway around the world, and they started to get wealthier, which was all to the good in my view. But this country left the people who were hurting.
If you had a high school education and you were working in a factory, you could say goodbye to your job. It was going somewhere else. If you wanted to keep your job, they were going to bust your union or cut your benefits or cut your wages. A civilized country would have done something about this. We would have helped people get more skills, more training, more education. We would have helped our factories to be more productive. That is why we have a government after all. It was supposed to help.
In 1981 a very strange thing happened. A man was elected. He came the first day of office and he said "Government is not the solution. It is the problem." Now a man who believes that should not be our President. He should have stayed on TV and left us alone. We need presidents who believe that government is the solution for all of us. But what Ronald Reagan did was he cut the taxes at the top and cut the benefits below and put our country on the path of inequality.
Now here's the sad news. It is not news to you because you figured it out before everybody else. It wasn't just Ronald Reagan. It wasn't just the Republicans. It was both the Republicans and the Democratic Party. They figured if they cut taxes for the rich, the rich would give them campaign contributions, and they could all live happily ever after. They could all live happily ever after. Not us. They are the 1%. We're the 99%.
This has gone on for 30 years now. The corporate lobbies have owned our government - even Barack Obama, who I supported and I voted for and I want to succeed. He's having dinner with rich people all the time, but he's not having dinner with the 99%. If you have to pay $35,800 a plate, the 99% are going to go hungry. Every week, President Obama is having a campaign dinner. $35,800 per plate. Who do you think he's meeting? Who do you think he's listening to? The 1%. We need to elect a government for the 99%.
What are we going to do when we get it? We are going to reestablish government for the people. The people need help and the government is there to help. So with all that income of the 1%, there's some pretty good things to do. We are going to go for at least 1% more of GNP in income tax, 1% of GNP in a wealth tax, 1% of GNP in a corporate tax, 1% of GNP in enforcing our tax laws so that people pay what they owe, so they don't hide it in the Cayman Islands. No offense to the Cayman Islands, but stop hiding our profits there.
Now when we have those 4% of GNP, we are going to add 2 more percent immediately because we are going to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq and we are going to close these military bases and stop wasting the fortune of this country.
Now you have 6% of GDP. We can get our budget in shape. We can invest in our young people. We can invest in our infrastructure. We can invest in our schools. We can invest in sciences to solve problems of disease and hunger. There's nothing that this country can't do. This is still a great country. This is a country of great talent. This is a country of great ingenuity.
Except the 1% are lazy and they've stopped trying and they're not paying their share. It's not a choice anymore. Tell them they're paying whether they like it or not. No more excuses. It's not a favor. If they don't like this country, they have to do something else. They can't be here and take the privileges and not pay for civilization.
I leave it to you ladies and gentlemen. You are doing a magnificent job. This is how history is made. This is how this country is going to turn. Anything I can do, I'm going to be with you to support you. Keep it up. We're going to take back this country and we're going to make it great again.
Occupy Wall Street is about folks who: Thought it was great to live beyond their means. Take out big mortgages and live large without the worry of havint to pay back debt obligations. Like Herman Cain said, if your not rich in America its you old fault. Finally, payback your student loans its your fault you decided to go to expensive schools. Go live in another country, if you don't like to be free to make as much money as you choose to.
Actually, Occupiers strike me as people who feel locked out of the so-called American dream and they want in. Far from signally radical change, they are like the Tea Partiers in the sense that they refer to the past, or some imagined past rooted in a romantic notion of the unfettered individual. They both seem to be missing the critical role of government in underwriting our freedom. This doesn't get interesting until "Occupy Wall Street" links to "Occupy Penn Avenue."
I disagree. The connection from wall st. to K st. to Penn. ave. is common knowledge among us. Have you spoken to any of us, or is this just an impression you got from where...?
In 2005 I needed a place to live in South Florida. All houses, however, were wildly overpriced. Every single one. A $150,000 house was priced at $400,000. Real estate people told me to take an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. I said, "No Way," they said, "Tough luck. Do without." I did without, with no kids, I humbled myself and bought a mobile home. Others could not put a family in a mobile home, so they took the Adjustable rate Mortgages. The Real estate industry jacked up prices, made enormous profits, took their money and ran, and those who had no alternative are now in a hole. I was lucky, I could get out from under it and live in a cramped, tiny mobile home. Don't blame the victim. The guy with a couple of kids in school needed a house, he was the victim of the greed of the banks, the mortgage companies, and the real estate people. The government, which should have been regulating those greedy businessmen, bankers and real estate people, totally let us down. That is who the 99% are angry at, the banks, the mortgage companies, and the Real Estate people. And mainly the Republican government who encouraged their greed.
Couldn't you just rent an apartment?
We went to Florida and I saw what you say, we were able to qualify for senior housing and then got the hell out of there. We started planning to leave as soon as we got there.
Through no FAULT of my own, I lost 32% of my home's value and I paid my home off - no reckless borrowing. I have lost my entire pension to crooks and my IRA was decimated as it was in stock. Health care costs are eating into my food budget. I am hungry for the first time in my life. I volunteer, I graduated with honors...one of America's finest! I was very safe in my transactions and followed the rules...never living beyond my means. It is the corporate greed that stole from me and now they are sitting on that money...won't give back what they stole. I stand with OWS!!
No it didn't.
Your house value when up to more than it was worth and then it came down to earth.
Let me explain another way:
Say you bought IBM stock at $100. 5 years later it is valued at $300.
You don't sell at that price, you keep the stock. 2 years later it is priced at $200.
Have you lost 1/3 of your money? You could have sold at the top of the market, but you didn't. But you are still doing OK.
Yeah you're probably right. The reason that unemployment shot up above 9% is probably because millions of working Americans suddenly got lazy around 2008 and decided they didn't need to work anymore. It probably has nothing to do with the global economic meltdown that same year.
It's laziness and incompetence that shuttered the doors of small businesses, not the sudden tightening (and near collapse) of the credit market.
If you're not rich, it's your fault! Look at this poster's namesake. Bernie Madoff wanted to be rich and he made himself so. Then the evil government stepped in and punished his success. What a world!
Apparently all the small business owners became lazy and incompetent at the same time.
I think that the greatest thing about this Occupy Wall Street campaign is the masses of people joining together in their community and taking a stand to have their voices heard. Instead of being sheep in the system of capitalism, they are walking down a different path and forcing the world to listen.
Arianna Solare (Singer/Songwriter) in Tucson, Arizona says it best with her music and heartfelt words. Support her campaign across America's Occupy protests to draw more crowds together to speak and sing their mind. Check out the campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1129350185/the-occupy-america-tour-songs-of-tears-and-liberty
first, learn to spell. then, stop typing. you're an idiot. if you'd like to bury your head in the sand and pretend we still live in a land of opportunity, fine, but do it quietly. the people that understand the problems of this country are tired of your type of inane babbling.
You o realize that Herman Cain is a joke, don't you?
Why on earth do you invite Niall Ferguson to be on your show? Every time I have seen him in public discussions of this sort, he immediately resorts to ad hominem personal attacks against someone representing the other side. He did it to Fareed during the Monk debates on China and he has done it again against Jeffrey Sachs on today's (October 30, 2011) show. The man is simply not capable of civil debate.
I agree with you. Mr.Sachs was professional unlike Neil Ferguson.
Neil Ferguson was very unprofessional and sounded like the playground bully. While I definitely disagree with most everything he said, his rude demeanor took away my usual ability to let anyone with a different point of view state that view. Someone referred to wondering why he has been given so much "spotlight". I suggest that it is America's infatuation with the British accent, certainly not his intellect. As a Bostonian, I am dismayed that he used the cloak of Harvard University to act so distastefully while Jeffrey Sachs retained his aboveboard standards and conveyed his thoughts tactfully and fairly.
Fergusson and Sachs are both very knowledgable academics, but they have different fields. Sachs is professor of economics and focuses on development, sustainability, poverty alleviation, globalisation and the implementation of shock therapy. Fergusson is a historian and specialised in economic and financial history. The two have also different orientations too. Sachs is progressive and Fergusson is a conservative supporter of Thatcherism.
Right now, grovelling to the rich doesn't help put the country back on its feet. Sachs is right, nobody should enjoy privileges like law and order, safety and clean enviroment without contributing his share to the community, that provides them.
I disagree. I felt that Mr. Ferguson spoke to the issues at hand. Now, this may be because I felt that Mr. Sachs DID make a sweeping indictment of three million people when he conflated the top 1% of income earners in the country with the financial sector, and his comments to OWS were little better. In this, I don't think that Ferguson saying that Sachs had become a demagogue was particularly out of line. I also felt that Sachs was basing his argument on a number of assumptions that he wasn't articulating, and responded badly when those assumptions were challenged.
I guess everyone sees it in their own way, but I felt that Niall Ferguson was being more even-handed during their discussion this morning.
Sachs makes so much sense in summarizing the problem and Ferguson, is atypical representation of the Right to confuse the facts and blame the victim. He ignored every single logical point raised by Sachs and attacked his knowledge, intentions and observations. The one percent will keep on dominating the 99 % in America and feel so protected that it's beyond their comprehension that when people have nothing left to lose, then even tyrants like Gaddaphi are not safe.
Sachs trots out every cliche in the book.
The 1% are lazy? Really? Show me a lazy person that earns $250,000 a year.
Government is the enemy because it plays favorites and is bought and owned by special interests. The free market is the only true fair playing field. Monopolies are creations of the government, they don't exist in the private sector.
Neil Ferguson's reckless comment about teachers' unions and proclaiming that a poor public educational system is the reason that upward mobility in this country has stagnated is beyond angering. In fact, government regulation and relentless cutting has effected the quality of education in this country more than "ineffective" teacher. The incredible growth of children with diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder and Autism have effected educations more than unions. The continuation of legislation perpetuating 19th century management structures and the silencing of teachers' voices in reform or even in basic curriculum policies has done more to damage education than a union. The rigidity of standardized testing, poverty, and the disintegration of the family have all had more impact on what goes on in the classroom than any union. It isn't the union forcing the status quo, It's all the politicians and pundits who haven't spent any time in a classroom since they left high school.
Jeffrey Sachs is brilliant! Please have him on GPS more often!
Agreed, Ferguson is a pompous jerk and Sachs is brilliant!
Fully Agree. Fergusson is arrogant jerk who has a tunnel vision and understanding.
Interesting your coverage of Argentina. Remember that a lot of people lost a lot of money when Argentina defaulted in 2001. Argentina stole the money of many individual's savings and retirees with a 75 % hair curt. Large banks took the lost but individuals lost their life time savings.
I'm watching the show today. Mr . Sachs made excellent, well thought out points in a professional manner. Mr. Ferguson's behavior was unprofessional with his personal attacks, so I could not listen to him or see him as credible. I understand that people have different opinion, so let's have a meaningful, professional discussion.
For the next 5 shows, have a segment ... "What Would A Canadian Do?
Report on 5 issues on how Canada handles these problems.
Monday – Illegal Immigration (People land in Canada only to be smuggled into the US)
Tuesday – Federal department of Education (none in Canada)
Wednesday – Bank Regulation, Bailouts, Housing Collapse, etc
Thursday – Debt, Deficit and economic growth
Friday – Energy (Canada has Tar Sands and developed them, US has Oil Shale but did nothing ... wimps!)
Note – Heath insurance is too complicated for one day. Interview the Canadian "Snowbirds" in Florida to see what they say. They are generally upper middle class and have experience with both systems.
You must understand that the Ferguson family, like most British establishment families, are 'busting their britches' trying to make the Queen's honours list- ("Maybe we will one day be Lord and Lady Ferguson"). They don't change their focus when they inhabit another country.
Mr. Ferguson did not grow-up in this country. He is British and has HEALTH CARE. How dare he come to our country and decide how we should operate. You need to feel the hunger and lack of services for the middle class who has slide into poverty. Frankly, Mr. Ferguson, you can go to hell. Nothing like getting sick in this country as it the road to bankruptcy.
Too bad "self-styled expert" Bernard Henri Levi was who we had to get our analysis of Lybia from.
Too bad when there are so many legitimate experts that could have done a much better job,
one obvious choice being CNN's own Ben Wedemen. I get the distinct sense that Levi's agent is
hard at work pushing to give him a forum in any way he can.
I get up specificaaly to watch GPS on Sunday, so was particularly disappointed to get this
less than qualified input from Levi.
Please, please, please do not invite Niall Ferguson on again. His arrogance and incivility negate his arguments. Does he think he wins an argument by calling names? I dislike his pieces in Newsweek for the same reason and simply do not understand why he has gained such a platform. Perhaps he'll grow past 15 year- old in emotional age and reach 16 some day. Then he might actually let someone else express an opnion.
Ferguson's attack on teacher's unions is sadly not surprising. The right, whether Brits or Americans, wants to blame workers who DARE expect a decent wage and benefits. Meanwhile, every bit of data available shows that states where unions for educators are the majority, fare much better in every test than the states (like Mississippi, Alabama, etc) where teacher's are poorly compensated and have unions in name only.
Ferguson and his ilk do not like democracy, do not believe in upward mobility and would happy to go back to the days of nobles and property barons being a class in and of themselves who never had to deal with the servant class.
Screw you Ferguson.
JJ, The public sector unions, whether they represent teachers, policemen or maintenance workers, have defrauded the American taxpayer with a pension system that is not only unsustainable, but is ultimately unfair to the workers who may never collect their their pensions after cities and states are forced into bankruptcy. The union leaders and the corrupt politicians who enter those contracts on behalf of the taxpayers they're supposed to represent will get their retirement funds, but the workers will be forced to take the haircut. Then there is the inability to get rid of incompetent workers.
Everybody likes teachers, firemen and policemen. Not everybody agrees with the out of control public sector union pension system. It's time the workers kicked in their fair share.
They're just as corrupt as Wall Street.
I thought I was watching Sean Hannity with all the interruptions name calling by Ferguson. Fareed lost complete control of his show. If he ever lets this joker back I hope he grows a pair and takes him on.
I am currently watching Sachs and Ferguson. I am commenting not only because i agree with Sachs, but Ferguson loses points because he is not simply disagreeing with Sachs' positions, he is personally attacking Sachs. Once someone attacks the person I no longer listen. When Ferguson said Sachs had his time to speak and did not want to be interrupted, Sachs ( when he talked) stated his views, but Ferguson chose to attack the person (Sachs) not his ideas. Thumbs down for Ferguson!
Dr Sachs has the right perspective. People really need to wake up and look towards the future of this country. Our only way out is to start REALLY pushing education, infrastructure, science, technology and innovation. We NEED to educate our citizens or we DEFINITELY will be falling to last in the world economy. Wake Up! Start thinking about the future, not just today.
I find it ironic how in an earlier piece you mentioned that Revolutionary Guard controls 40% of the Iranian economy implying that is a bad thing and yet here in America we applaud that the elites here control 40% of the economy. Both in Iran and here there will be no "trickle down" of that wealth nor in any way does it benefit the 99 percenters.
I absolutely found Niall Ferguson a refreshing break from Sachs who isn't saying anything different. He agrees with "Occupiers." While it is true that Wall Street is corrupt, the answer is not make the 1% pay and I don't know how you would do that. No, the occupiers are barking up the wrong tree. It is Washington where they need to be. Obama has made a mess of the economy and has made the tax payers pay the piper. How about asking him about his policies. I know all he knows is to blame the republicans but he has had the congress for two years. He is in bed with the lobbyists. Just look at Solyndra and how he short changed Americans, now that is another bill we have to pay. What else is he doing behind our backs? And, how did Barney Frank get away with messing up Fanny May?
Niall Ferguson has some answers and I think it is difficult for people to hear because they think they already have the answers. I saw a video of a CEO who went to Occupy Wall Street and debated with some individuals. The man said he was a socialists and that the CEO owed him money. He really didn't know what he was talking about and out of his anger really believed that this CEO who paid more taxes than them, owed them. I think that just being angry isn't the answer, how about learning about how the system works and then work through the system. Maybe down at Wall Street they should also be providing some education.
One thing in Sachs' comments I take issue with: "We need to elect a government for the 99%".
No, we need a government for the 100%. The top 1% shouldn't be left out of the polity, but the other 99% need to be left in.
Thankfully, we have a procedure to mitigate for this: it's called voting. You won't get perfect candidates, especially not as long as campaigns are expensive (especially national campaigns), but you can at least nudge the system this way or that. And it's nt just about getting one 'savior' into office: you have to keep your eye on your congressmen, senators, and state politicians too.
The Tea Party is voting, are you?
I can tell you it will end in a blanket party.
Right on the button, Jeffrey Sachs!. But America is truly Darwinian....survival of the fittest. I'm not optimistic. The system is set in concrete. I don't see any way out.
I agree 100%.Please change name OCCUPY WALL ST to OCCUPY WASHINGTON and we 99% should have form rotating
group of people from every where to assemble in WASHINGTON daily and tell our politians that they must raise taxes on
people making over $million/year atleast 5% more and close all loop holes in tax code for corporations and individuals making
more than one million$/year and say any politician doesnot agree make clear your vote will go to who agree and every congressman/woman must sign-this must be first step and see how much money more in revenue will come to Govt that can be spend for more teachers/police/contruction and ancillary works could be done.Please make as occupy
Washington name change and those in power will notice AND NO Democrate/Republican should be elected and see howpeople will see changes in Govt and make those in power WILL NOT BE IN POWER IN THIS NOV itself.
The defenders of vast imbalances of wealth in social systems where all wealth is in fact ultimately socially generated, given that we are all necessarily interdependent in everything we do, fail to appreciate that wealth is never privately deserved. Instead, it is itself only an artificial creation of the democratic majority, which decides how private property rights are designed and enforced, thus setting the rules for determining who can get how rich by cooperative activity. Since this design is a democratic construct, the democratic will of the people should be able to redesign its own creation when it becomes a Frankensteindistributing the wealth to the disadvantage of the vast majority of the people.
Professor Ferguson either doesn't understand this, which I doubt, or he defends the maldistribution of wealth out of a primal inhumanity of the privileged against the unfortunate. The utter moral bankruptcy that Ferguson displayed today in his vicious attack on his opponent strongly suggests that his inhumanity rather than his ignorance accounts for his ideology. I sincerely hope he is never invited to appear again, or required to deliver an apology. Fareed was grossly negligent in his role as moderator today.
My wife and I find your program Fareed Zakaria, GPS an oasis in the wasteland of US T.V. As for the debate between Dr Jeffrey Sachs and Niall Ferguson was very enlightening about the defender of the wealthy and powerful like Niall Ferguson. He was interrupting constantly. He was calling names and went on tangential arguements like teachers' union. You could have had Paul Ryan, the Wisconsian congressman instead of a faculty member from Harvard.
You also recall that Nobel Laureate Joeseph Steiglitz also addressed the occupy Wall street protesters. In a strange way I think Harvard did not change since the 1930s. When F.D.R. visited his old almameter Harvard he was called class enemy by the students. For writing the SEC laws and the bank act F.D.R. sought out Columbia alumini like Tommy Corcoran and Benjamin Cohan. Niall ferguson is a great example of Harvard culture of defending the wealthy.
Why stop at the top 1%. Why not the top 1.5% say. or the top 5%. Also why talk about income. It is wealth that creates income. It is the wealth inequality that stifles opportunity for the many and growth.
Occupy Wall Street says they represent 99% of Americans, but they display the behavior of an extremely radical and extremely small fringe of the political Left. How very nice of them to create all these problems and force these cities to have to pay for extra police when the tax payer is the one that will have to cover it.
They dont represent the majority. They are tools unwittingly working for forces that want to destroy America.
I support the OWS movement not because I have any personal financial issues. I'm in my third year of part time work by choice because I saved up so much money the prior 10 years (fortunately, I don't spend much because I don't like 'stuff', SUVs and TVs and whatnot). I bought a house that cost half the price of the homes my real estate agent tried to sell me and I was lucky because my dad helped me pay my bills during university.
I support OWS because I perceive their #1 complaint to be that people with money get significantly more representation than average or low-income people. This is not democracy. This is a plutocracy. I support the OWS because I would like to restore our democracy.
They got Jeffrey Sachs because Leon Trotsky is dead?
I have to side with Mr. Ferguson.......It sounds as if some here are having a difficult time hearing Mr. Sach's arguments exposed for what they are.......a call for a more progressive, european-style government.
Dear Mr Fareed Zakaria,
As a U.S. citizen living in Greece (who's father was a WWI (one) U.S. veteran), I was indeed excited to watch on 10-30-2011, a different kind of "debate" on American t.v. : J. Sachs vs L. Ferguson, or The American Capitalist System vs The British Imperialist System, or The Democrat vs the Oligarch . I am sure Alexander Hamilton, F.D.R. and J.F.K. would have loved it . Maybe next time you should have Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. debate L. Ferguson . That should be a lot of fun...
-A frequent observer of your excellent show (GPS).
Thanks for posting this, Fareed.
ray ban cyber monday
Cyber Monday 2013 North Face http://www.bamboocloset.com/
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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