A nonsensical editorial in The Oklahoman Sunday that criticizes the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations uses tortuous, overreaching logic that shows just how worried the corporate power structure here remains about protests against the country’s vast income inequality.
The editorial, “Maybe Occupy movement ought to retool its slogan” (Oct. 30, 2001), is just one of several commentaries mocking the demonstrations, including here in Oklahoma City, that has appeared in the newspaper since the protests began. The newspaper, which serves as guardian and mouthpiece for the state’s wealthiest citizens, has used a consistent mocking, demeaning tone in its editorials against the Occupy demonstrations, failing to seriously engage the issue of economic justice.
In its most recent editorial, the newspaper uses such tortuous logic in its “argument” that it’s difficult to actually discern the satirical points, which seems to be that (1) protestors should say they are the 80 percent, not 99 percent and (2) there’s more income inequality in California than Oklahoma and therefore wealthy people in California should be taxed more than Oklahoma. Here’s two key paragraphs:
California’s income inequality is relatively high. We keep waiting for an Occupy Hollywood movement to coalesce near Johnny Depp’s manse. If this is all about equity and economic justice, we should first reduce income inequality in California and raise it in states such as Oklahoma. The federal government would tax the wealthiest Californians at a higher rate than the wealthiest Oklahomans.
This, we presume, would induce wealthy Californians to migrate to Oklahoma. All the better! Over time, Oklahoma’s income inequality might exceed the national average and steps would be taken to reverse that.
The editorial is playing off a recent U.S. Congressional Budget Office report issued last week that shows massive wealth disparity between the country’s wealthiest citizens and everyone else. (I wrote about that report here.) The report notes the disparity between the top 1 percent and the top 20 percent of wealthiest people and everyone else. The top 1 percent, of course, is the real story, which saw its income rise by 275 percent over the last three decades.
But an editorial writer at The Oklahoman chose to ignore this fact. The Occupy demonstrations often note that “We are the 99 percent,” when it comes to income inequality. That 99 percent includes virtually all of us, and that’s the point of the Occupy movement, and that’s what has scared those people The Oklahoman represents.
The California/Oklahoma comparison is so vague and inane and such a stretch it’s difficult to see the point. Is it that when it comes to discussion about income inequality we should determine it state-by state? That’s fine, but what’s the point? Massive income inequality still exists between the top 1 percent of wealthy people and everyone else regardless of what state you’re in. Is the point that Oklahoma should be exempt from the demonstrations because there are fewer 1 percent people than in other states? Well, that doesn’t make sense; in fact, it’s only worse for the 99 percent here because the local 1 percent, fewer in numbers and less diverse, essentially have more control and influence over the state’s political structures.
I realize The Oklahoman is mocking the demonstrators, and its point is to get people to join it in demeaning the demonstrators with “clever” and funny arguments, but logically those arguments don’t hold up. They omit important information, and they use unclear or false comparisons given the rhetorical frames they employ even if we are to view them as satire.
What it shows the most is that the editorial writers at The Oklahoman have no argument when it comes to income inequality, and that the oligarchy it will support until its own demise is running scared because of the Occupy demonstrations.