The 1% Speak Out: "I am a fat cat. I'm not ashamed"

A recent Bloomberg article describes how wealthy Americans are speaking out in response to attacks from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Top U.S. earners have been criticized for not paying enough taxes and contributing to the increasing income inequality, which, in 2007, was greater than that of China and Iran.

Arguments from the richest 1% include their right to earn and keep their income (particularly given high government spending) and how few low-income Americans pay taxes. One recent persuasive letter to President Obama is from Leon G. Cooperman,  a hedge-fund manager. In this video, Peter Schiff, investor, author, and commentator, defends the wealthy in discussion with Occupy Wall Street protestors.

Contrast this perspective with that of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. In August, Buffett wrote an opinion letter in the New York Times called Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.

Most millionaires agree with Warren Buffett and support a tax increase, as reported on

A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more)  support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.  

Assignment Ideas:

  • Research different perspectives of this story further: look at the Occupy Wall Street website, read the Bloomberg article, and find letters and videos of executives and others to get a complete picture of both sides of the argument.
  • Write an assessment of all persuasive arguments. How does each side use logical arguments, emotional appeal, and credibility to explain their perspective?
  • In small groups, choose one line of reasoning and defend your position. How can you support your view with research about the issue?