Halloween is right around the corner.
Perhaps that explains why friends of the Occupy movement are trying to dress it up in so many costumes.
In an interview Tuesday with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Miami used the term “middle class,” no less than three times to describe the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York.
“This is the pushback,” she said. “This is the point at which middle class folks say ‘No more. It’s time for some balance.”’
Wasserman-Schultz, the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, added a few seconds later, “It’s a reflection of the frustration of the middle class and working families.”
I admit to doing no doing demographic studies of the Occupy Wall Street protestors, but to my eye, they don’t appear to what would typically be thought of as the American middle class or working families.
They appear to be the same habitual protestors who show up at G-7 summits and political conventions. They look strangely familiar to the anarchists, the anti-war crowd, college students and would-be hippies trying to recapture the supposed magic of the 1960s.
You could no doubt meet some legitimate members of the middle class in its ranks but if you insist on finding a movement that epitomizes what most people think of as the middle class, go to a tea party event.
They often happen around noon and usually last no more than a few hours, what with the participants having jobs, responsibilities and such.
The median age of tea partiers appears to be much higher and the level of prior civic activism much lower than their Occupy counterparts.
The Occupy protestors call themselves the 99 percent, setting themselves off from the wealthiest one percent, the apparent target of their demonstrations.
Yet tea party members have gathered in far greater numbers than the so-called 99 percent have been able to assemble so far.
The Occupy movement disguises itself in other ways, too.
Karen Dwyer is a former teacher who has taken on the role of organizing a first meeting of Occupy Naples set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Cambier Park. “Everyone in Naples, I think, is in the 99 percent,” Dwyer told a reporter. “We’re not talking the millionaires. We’re talking the Fortune 400 — there are a lot of names for them, but the really top 1 percent, which is kind of symbolized by Wall Street. Big money,” she said.
But if the target really is the richest 400 in a country of 300 million people, the movement isn’t going after the top 1 percent at all. It’s going after the top 0.00013 percent.
In truth, the Occupy movement is talking about millionaires, and then some. The top 1 percent of earners are those making more than roughly $380,000 per year, according to IRS figures.
Clearly, not everyone in Naples is in the 99 percent, as Dwyer suggests.
Dwyer said the movement seeks to, “Tax the rich, make corporations pay their fair share.” That would be laudable, if the rich didn’t already pay taxes. But according to the National Taxpayers Union, the top one percent of earners pay about 38 percent of all federal income tax. The top 5 percent pay almost 60 percent of the tax.
Corporations also pay taxes, a cost of doing business generally passed on to consumers. But if the corporate tax rate isn’t high enough, maybe Dwyer or someone else in the Occupy movement would be so good as to define “fair share.”
Perhaps the greatest Halloween ruse of all, Democrats such as Wasserman-Schultz and President Barack Obama have latched onto the Occupy movement, even though its origins on Wall Street indicate dissatisfaction with the government’s bailout of financial institutions, a practice that accelerated precipitously after Obama took office in January 2009.
It’s almost as if someone is trying to trick us.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten