SURVEY SAYS: Does Occupy Wall Street Speak for You?

October 20, 2011 ( - The Occupy Wall Street protestors are getting a lot of coverage - and are apparently stockpiling supplies (and/or funds) for an extended "stay."   

Now, they say that they are speaking for 99% of the American people – this week I asked readers who they thought the “movement” was speaking for – and whether those protesters were, in fact, speaking for you.

First off, just 9.1% of this week’s respondents thought that “99% sounds about right” in terms of considering how many of the American people the group was speaking for.  Another 15% said it might be “as many as 75%”, while another 7.5% said it was “probably about half”.  So, by my reckoning, about a third of this week’s respondents were willing to concede that Occupy Wall Street was, in fact, speaking for a significant number of the American public.

The rest, as you might expect, were more skeptical.  The most common response – 18.7% – said OWS is speaking for “only the fringe”, while nearly as many (16.6%) said they were speaking for “no one but themselves.”

As for the rest, 7.0% said they were speaking for “less than 10%”, and another 10.7% thought it was “less than 25%.”

On the other hand, 14.4% admitted “I don’t even know what they are talking about,” while the remaining 1% said they didn’t even know what the whole question was about.   

Now, as for whether the protestors are speaking for YOU, a full half – 51.1% - said simply “no.”  Another 3.7% said “probably not”, while another 3% were not sure. 

About 12% were in the “I don’t even know what they’re saying” category.

On the other hand, 14.4% said the OWS protestors were speaking for them, and another 16.5% qualified that by indicating that they were speaking for them “somewhat.”

The comments, as always, were interesting – and it’s clear that there are very different perspectives on the protestors, their motives, and their target(s).  Regardless of where you stand on these issues, you’ll find “company.”

Oh, and you’ll want to check out the Editor’s Choice….


A pathetic group of individuals with no cohesive mission, whose aim is to further progress the far most left wing socialist agenda ever espoused by a sitting president.

I have been out of work myself for an extended period of time so while I don't take their cause lightly, I do think they are going about it completely the wrong way. The real unemployed are too busy applying for jobs to be spending all day in their skinny jeans playing with their iPads and writing witty cardboard signs in downtown Manhattan. It's more of a "be seen" atmosphere as opposed to actually getting anything accomplished. Maybe they should spend more time knocking on Wall Street's doors for jobs as opposed to wasting everyone's time by hanging out there. They're only hurting the real small businesses around the area anyway.

It's going to end badly - too many are advocating violence, they are being encouraged by the Obama Administration, and they are already doing damage to both property and city budgets.  Where are the "adults in-charge"?  Who will be held accountable for the damages caused by these terrorists?

"Business Insider Article:   CHARTS: Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About.."

At this point, they are not consistent in their message so it's hard to say. If the movement is to be sustainable, that will have to change.


Since the movement seems to be fragmented, I don't understand their goals. I especially don't understand how occupying public parks and blocking traffic will achieve them.

If they really want to make a difference they should get a job, or if they can't, volunteer for the candidate of their choice. That's a lot more productive than camping out on the sidewalk.

They are speaking for the US Middle Class who go to work everyday and try to make ends meet some without pay raises in 4 years.  While corporations are sitting on all the profits or paying themselves.  Watch out business owners there may be no money to buy your goods.  Watch out Washington you also may be out of a job.

We have a political system to accommodate changes.  If they are serious, that is where they need to start.

This is an extremely interesting exercise in democracy at work.  I for one appreciate their presence.

No one forced people to buy homes beyond their means or to take out school loans.  People have stopped taking personal responsibility for their own decisions and actions.

IMHO, the middle class. The top earners get the majority of pay increases and bonuses, in spite of the woeful economy. We see that literally in our roles at work. Execs get "special incentives" while support functions are cut as a way to save money. For middle earners, pay increases don't keep up with the cost of health insurance. We need to defer more income if we ever want to retire. Helping kids pay their post-secondary education costs is daunting. Sadly, America is turning into a feudal system, all done in the name of rewarding those at the top. It's unsustainable, and the occupiers may be a sign of the worm turning.

I wish they would go home and work on fixing issues in their communities.


They have no clue what they are talking about - they are just looking for a cause.  Any credence that they had with me was shot when I heard that New York Magazine (I think it was them) polled the protesters and 68% didn't know who the SEC was and 5% thought it was the SouthEast Conference of the NCAA.  If they do not know who the SEC is, how can they intelligently speak about Wall Street.

They are only speaking for those that lack initiative and are seeking to be rewarded for laziness and mediocre performance.

It isn't until "the people" start standing up for themselves...making noise, protesting, etc., that things get acted upon.  Sure, there is plenty of lip service given before that point...the dialogues for change that the talking heads espouse so seriously, but not until there is highly visible, uncomfortable protest in front of the worst offenders...spread around the world by the ever present those in positions to make change, begin to act.  Wake up people...profits aren't bad...destroying lives for very, very bad.

They don't even know!  They are non working individuals who want to be on the news and trying to bring the US down thanks to the class division that our wonderful President has started!

They appear to be a bunch of bored college graduates who can't find jobs and with nothing better to do than camp out together.  I doubt the majority of them even know what "their cause" is.

If Warren Buffett comes out and says that he needs to pay more taxes, then all wealthy individuals can afford to do so.  Squeezing of the middle class needs to end immediately!

Mostly fringe element, most of whom always wanted to protest because they thought it was cool when they looked at films from the 1960s-1970s.  Mantra appears to be 'socialism would be better'.  "99%" of what they're saying is incorrect!

With the lack of action from Congress and the feeling no one is listening I believe their backing will get stronger.  This could have a real impact on the elections in 2012.


Ironic to hear some of those who owe their election to Tea Party are now chastising these people for "taking it to the streets."  Freedom of speech is sacrosanct if the speaker agrees with you but not blasphemous if they're preaching against your orthodoxy.

If 99% of Americans are as incapable of coherently explaining what they stand for as the Occupy Wall Street crowd is, then we are in a whole lot of trouble!

It's a tough mix....some who truly felt the pain, but visually, it appears that most are paid protestors, those who never took a business class, those who never held a job, or those thankful for Mummy and Daddy trust funds.  Capitalist is NOT a bad thing!!!

I hope the do nothing congress hears them

When they talk about the disparity of C-suite pay to the rest of the work force, they are speaking for me.

So disorganized!  I haven't heard a single spokesperson emerge who makes any sense...

I will speak for myself if I decide it will do any good.

Freaks, losers, bums, dependents of government, lazy

I can understand frustration with the economy and unemployment, but so far I have not heard any concrete proposals from the Occupy group.  The core of the group seems to be a fringe of the far left, advocating total socialism.  Others seem to just be against a lot of things and have a nostalgia for the protest days of their hippie parents.


Income inequality is what has caused the Great Recession. The middle class is simply tapped out. Two incomes are no longer sufficient, credit cards and home equity loans are maxed out. If the rich were to share a bit more they could have a smaller piece of a larger pie and do better than they are now. All the borrowing by households created a debt induced bubble, but if incomes were greater, there wouldn't be the need to borrow so much. Incomes of the middle class have been stagnant for a long time now, while that of the richest has soared.


I can understand the frustration people feel towards banks and corporations.  While banks and certain major corporations reap huge profits, they are laying off large numbers of employees and raising fees (debit card fees come to mind).  They sit on large pools of money, yet do nothing to help grow the economy.  If one has a job, they are expected to work longer hours to make up for the people who have been laid off, while experiencing diminishing benefits and pay.  It seems that social responsibility is no longer part of the agenda. Rather, the agenda seems to be to increase the wealth of those at the top of the leader board and keep investors happy.   Have you ever noticed, that when layoffs occur, stock prices (value) for that company usually go up?

"I don't know how you can expect support or respect for your ""cause"" if you can't articulate it - I don't know what they are protesting or what they want, and I don't know why the media keep publicizing their protest if they can't clarify it.  Seems like that should be a pre-requisite for press coverage.  I don't know if you share links, but this editorial from Washington Post expresses my own feelings better than I can:"

It's not that hard to understand the frustration, really.  Real income for most workers has been stagnant basically starting with the Reagan administration. Productivity gains used to be shared between workers and shareholders, but this has changed, especially over the last ten or fifteen years.  I really think Occupy Wall Street is speaking out to try to save democracy and bring the capitalist system back into some semblance of balance.  When the rich are able to use their money to gain effective control over the government, then there is no counterbalance to the power of large corporations.

99%, are you kidding me?  These people are really bad at math, so they certainly are not speaking for me (a little actuarial joke).  We do look to government for too much in today's society.  Our safety net has become a security blanket.  Unfortunately, capitalism requires successes and failures.  These people have been heard and need to "move on."  What are the steps? denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance... 

We need to get corporations out of our government and give it back to the people.  The criminals on Wall Street who destroyed the world's economy should be arrested.  Instead we see peaceful protesters being arrested for exercising their constitutional rights.  We need higher taxes on the wealthy so that they have an incentive to reinvest in our economy.  The rise in the disparity of wealth between the top 1% and everyone else is truly obscene.  If this continues unchecked our country will be destroyed.  We need to bring back a strong middle class.

I work in lower Manhattan, so I pass by the protesters every day. While I don't disagree with part of their message (objecting to the large corporations' influence on Washington), I am annoyed by them. I think they would do much better to organize themselves like the Tea Party movement: communicate distinct and clear objectives, focus their energy on town hall meetings and getting their own candidates elected to public office. This sleeping out in the cold and rain for a month only alienates people, and attracts every weirdo, derelict and hippie to join them! Plus, I really miss Zuccotti Park. I often took my lunch out there and watched people play chess. The farmer's market came each Tuesday, and during the holiday season, the trees would be strung with lights. Now it's just a loud, crowded and stinky mess. I'm really very sad about it.

Its a lot of people, saying a lot of things, but the core messages, the root of their outrage, I can identify with, even if I don't support every single statement or reform idea. I definitely think there's an imbalance in the distribution work, reward and sacrifice, with the same people being asked to do the hard work, make the tough sacrifices and someone else reaping the lion's share of the reward. Of course, I think that's been true of throughout human history, from the Pharaohs, to the Romans to the captains of modern industry.

I wish they would get a common set of goals.  Right now everyone has their own agenda and no common view other then the banks are Running the country and caused the GLOBAL market correction.   We are lucky we have a Great Armed Forces otherwise we would be in trouble.

I wouldn't occupy Wall Street; Capitol Hill is where I would head.  To effect real change, some of these occupiers should run for office or support candidates that they feel will best represent their wants/needs. Do door-to-door canvassing; hand out pamphlets; talk to people on the street; and, especially important, soak in ALL points of view to formulate your own opinion.  Volunteer to help, don't just criticize.


Pointing out excesses in business and society is fine, but make sure that you aren't simply blaming someone else for your own problems. I don't think highly skewed pay scales and bonuses are appropriate in the banking industry (or any other industry for that matter); however, how many of the people yelling about it are in trouble financially because they have overextended themselves for bigger houses and large amounts of credit card and home equity debt. More than the top 1% of the population is to blame for that kind of mess.

I think our founding fathers would see the current state of our government, the distribution of wealth, and absolutely endorse this activity.

There needs to be some house-cleaning on Wall Street, especially those who profitted handsomely.  However, even more house-cleaning is needed in Washington.  Barney Frank and Dodd ( and the Democrat party) are more responsible for the irresponsible mortgage lending practices than the banks that willingly participated.  Why should working people who made financially reasonable home purchases, and repay on schedule be responsible for paying the mortgages of the greedy who got something for nothing.  There is a shocking lack of personal responsibility for oneself in today's society.  What happened to the values that made this country great?

Unfortunately they're not very organized. Most it seems are unhappy with the skewed value system America seems to have adopted in the last decade or so. Some are unhappy with the leadership or lack thereof.

I think they speak to the anger and frustration that the 99% feel because of the economy, lack of jobs, government action or lack thereof to solve problems, loss of personal wealth through housing or retirement savings.  Just ask anyone how they feel about the economy, their retirement/investment accounts, unemployment and you will get an earful.  What the 99% doesn't agree on is how to fix it.

Can't we find something more productive for these folks to do...


Those people need to get a job or create a small business so they can hire their friends!  That's what will turn the economy around. Not camping out and acting like they are a throwback from the 70's!  That's so been done already.....

Excuse the language, but they're a bunch of _____ing morons

"They don't know what they do want, only protesting against what they don't want.  They protest Wall Street practices, which I admit don't seem in my best interest either due to traders getting paid for trades whether I win or lose on the deal, but to assume that all people who earn money should give it to them because they have less goes against everything I believe in.  It sort of brings to mind my understanding of the (first) Russian Revolution which tore everything down and replaced one despot with another.  Economically, nothing changed except everyone was poor, except those people who headed the revolution and took from others.  I think they should also picket celebrities, athletes, and other highly earning people, since according to the recent survey of CEO pay, only a couple are even in the top tier. 

P.S.  I have been working/earning money doing something since I was 11.  I believe in hard work and achievement."

They don't have a concise or even vaguely clear message.  I do believe that they represent a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the country, overpaid business people (but not sports or entertainment figures...go figure), politics, and government spending priorities, but there are too many related issues to speak with one voice.  Movements like this tend to be more successful when they have a single issue that people can get their arms around, such as opposition to a war, improving race relations, or immigration reform.

"Sure, I wish the big banks weren't fee-ing me to death.  Like charging me for a savings account?  Isn't it enough that they are lending out my money for much more than they are paying me in interest?  But the way to deal with that is to move my money to a local bank that still understands the concept of customer service.  And that is exactly what I am in the process of doing.  Take that, Wells Fargo! 


And what I say to the protesters is:  If you want a piece of the American pie, go out and earn it.  If you can't get the job you think you deserve, take any job while you hunt for the perfect one.  You are not too good to pick fruit or dig ditches or wait tables or wash dishes or clean toilets.  No one owes you anything.  I feel I have the right to say that because that's what I did when I got out of college 35 years ago and had to work 3 menial jobs simultaneously to make my student loan payments.  I have always told my children that education is never wasted.  I might be wrong about that though if young people now believe that ""education"" entitles them to avoid starting at the bottom and working their way up."

This is inevitable.  The top-loaded concentration of wealth has been an insurrection waiting to happen.  There are far too many people who have been left by the wayside while the "fat cats" sit in their ivory towers and pretend they are doing the world a favor.

"They should be protesting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It was not Wall Street that bailed out the banks."

Ho-Hum, protest du jour.

They are fools, especially when I witnessed them badgering military cadets in Boston calling them "Baby Killers". They same men that will defend this country and their right to freedom of speech.


Have not followed it enough to know but did see one comment about greedy CEOs, which probably has some merit.  CEOs and other "O"s do and should earn more money but they are going beyond with additional perks and fringe advantages that prevent "fair" pay to the worker-bees.  The fork-lift driver contributes to the company too you know.

They are just griping.  I have no tolerance for people who just complain, protest, or demonstrate without any sort of constructive solution.  They need to get a job and contribute something positive to society.  Failing that, there are plenty of non-profit entities that could use the help.

A ball of confusion. Everyday I seem to hear something different as to what their position(s) is/are.  On the surface they appear to just be slackers.

This movement was initiated by the owner of a left wing Canadian publication and it is spearheaded by people who have far left liberal political views with an agenda for socialism.  That does not represent most of the views of the American people.  Most Americans are in the middle somewhere with their political views, whether they are Democrats, Republicans or Independents.  We still have a silent majority and that message will resonate in the next presidential election.

They deserve what they get getting run over by the police for blocking Broadway for the rest of us who work hard (and not quit our jobs to cause havoc) to raise our kids.  These people will be the first to complain when their taxes are too high, yet they are the cause of the $3.5 million in overtime they are making the police use to prevent these jerks from hurting anyone.

I don't understand why they're even getting coverage ... if the TV cameras would go away so would the "protesters".


A group of pathetic, misguided individuals who would rather sit around and feel sorry for themselves than do anything positive!

The uninformed message changes with the "give-me" whim of the moment. This is hypocrisy and lunacy on steroids.

They appear unguided/misguided souls who don't have anything else to do.  Seem underwritten/financed by the "greedy" people they're protesting against?  Ones I've seen interviewed were not articulate enough to voice any focused reason for their being in the group.  Did the interviewers pick out the weirdest people in the group?  Out of step aging Hippies come to mind, although all involved were not from that age.  Conglomeration of the aimless.

I am not really sure what their main focus is but everyone is angry. And we can all jump on the angry train!

While I also believe that the publicised compensation for Wall Street "Sr" executives far outweighs their contribution, there seems to be no "end game" to the occupation. When people protested the War in the 60's if we pulled out the protest would be over. So what is the action in this case that would end the protest? Ok ,they're mad about the current state of the country, but what would satisfy them? Let's pray for an early blizzard!!!

I have no clue what their agenda is, if any.  I understand the frustration that many people have with the state of the economy and the dysfunction of "leadership", both locally and nationally.

I agree reforms are desired, but of the ones that are discussed, I don't know which would be best.


They don't even know what they are saying.

I'm hopeful the weather turns cold in the event the Occupods continue to stand on my public park.

It seems like they just want more given to them at the expense of others rather than earning it.

While the principles they are talking about I agree with.  the approach and organization is so disorganized, I am not sure it will be effective.  They need to develop a platform and some great speakers to get their message (which still needs defining) across.

It's about time that there was a grassroots movement that said enough to the greed, corruption and ruthlessness of the financial community

Generally when I speak, I have a clear message, with clear objectives.  I understand this movement to be a general dissatisfaction with the economy where anger is directed toward "Wall Street".  The greatest thing to take from the protests is that people are fed up and don't know where to direct their anger, so they do so at a concept like "Wall Street".  If they developed some leadership, and actually directed their protests toward something concrete and not conceptual, a clear message and set of objectives would likely emerge.

You forgot the option "Hell No!!"  These groups are only speaking for the slackers of the world.


If the protesters focused their energy on finding a job, creating a job, or working at a job there would be much less to protest.   The fact that most don't want to work - or want a union job for life, and expect big government to take care of them is absurd.  Just look south of Florida and see how well the whole wealth distribution idea worked in Cuba (great if you are named Castro).   Easy to blame Wall Street for everything.  Easy to forget that it was the Democrats and Clinton Administration that created the policy of everyone has the right to own a home, thus the NINJ (no income no jobs) loans proliferated, the mortgage brokers made big bucks, people built houses for people that could never afford them, and smart people on Wall Street packaged these Government backed mortgages, the rating agencies all smiled, banks all over the globe and money market funds gobbled up these new mortgage backed goverment guaranteed securities and everyone made money until the music stopped.  Now its time to blame every one except those responsible.  Thank you Bill and Barney, and Ted.

The problem is they aren't speaking.  Action speak louder than words.   Standing around and 'occupying' a park isn't the way to be heard.  Action speaks louder than words.  If you want to be heard, go out and show your grittiness though persevering by working hard to gain employment.  Once you do, you can write a book about your experience. Better yet, you can counsel kids coming out of college on what to expect and how to successfully gain employment during these challenging times. That's the way to be heard.

I am all for peaceful protest. Being a Bostonian born and bred, it comes with the territory ... you know, the tea and all ... anyway, I cannot figure out what it is exactly they are for or against. Every sign seems to say something different. Last week they marched over to a bridge that needs repair here in Boston with signs about fixing it - which is already budgeted and work will be starting soon. Hello? I think it is just an excuse to camp out on the Greenway which is, after all, a pretty cool place to be while the weather holds ... they may have a different thought when winter blows in as they are only a block from the ocean.

They are welcome to protest peacefully- even if they are losers that need to move to a socialist country.


I get the anger, as I am frustrated with the economy, congress, the president, my boss, traffic conditions, the weather.. etc. But I have no idea what they are really protesting against and am not sure they do either.  I really think they represent the 9% unemployed - the rest of us are staying at work, holding on to our jobs for dear life!

"I wish the media would clarify more instead of taking the ""media circus"" approach. When the protestors say they are against capitalism, what exactly do they mean? When they say the rich earn enough, how much, exactly, is enough? And what do they expect the rich to do if we legally limit how much they can earn? Do they understand the rich would likely NOT work that hard if they would lose most of their income to taxes?

And mostly, I wish someone would just hose those folks down and force them to pay to clean up all the parks they are occupying. I think someone should sue them for these funds they have to use them to clean up the mess they've created."

I understand they are unhappy, but no coherent message of action desired has been expressed.  Or maybe I missed it.

They're speaking only for themselves.  And they really don't have a clue what they're talking about.  So much for a college degree nowadays.  If they'd put half as much energy into finding a job, they'd do a lot more to improve their circumstances.


I don't think they even know what they're saying.

One percent are true believers in their cause; 99 percent are participating in a Woodstock-wannabe.

Have you listened to ANY interviews of the Occupy Wall Street protesters? That says it all!

Is Wall Street the right location?  It may represent the corporations they are focusing on, but are they reaching the decision makers at those corporations?  Doubtful.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “Been there, done that and got the T-shirt (tie-dyed of course) back in the 70's. Have fun y'all, you'll giggle about it when you're the "establishment".

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!