Two years ago today, demonstrators descended on Zuccotti Park in New York City's financial district. Their focus, economic injustice, was clear in the name the movement would take: Occupy Wall Street.
Since then, nearly 8,000 Occupy protesters have been arrested fighting to fix a series of problems they feel are plaguing the nation. Have their efforts been for naught?
1. The gap between the rich and poor is still growing.The U.S. continues to be plagued by the worst income inequality in the developed world. In fact, according to one measure, income inequality grew faster under President Obama than under President George W. Bush.
2. The Robin Hood Tax has yet to be implemented.The Occupy Movement called for a tax on all Wall Street transactions. While the European Commission has proposed a similar tax on its financial institutions, it has yet to be pushed forward in the U.S. Supporters plan to continue rallying for it Tuesday during demonstrations in New York.
3. The student loan debt problem is only getting worse.Obama recently signed a measure to lower interest rates for student loans. Still, total outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion while the average borrower is more than $26,000 in debt. Over the course of a lifetime, average student loan debt could cost a household $208,000.
4. The Volcker Rule has still not passed.The rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, was written as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill to protect customers from risky bank behavior. Despite support from Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, the rule remains unfinished.
5. The housing market has begun posting signs of recovery. The number of homes entering foreclosure is down sharply, and prices are on the rise. This has led to a fear (unimaginable until recently) that prices are going up too fast.
6. Politicians continue to prioritize the wealthy. Occupiers decried the influence of the 1 percent on politics. Unfortunately, not much has changed. The issues politicians care about are more likely to match up with the issues their wealthy constituents are concerned about as well. One prominent example: Rich Americans are much more likely to be concerned about the budget deficit than their average counterparts, a March study found. Another unfortunate result of the wealthy's outsized influence on politics is that democracy has done little to counterbalance income inequality, a study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives found.
7. Corporations are still allowed to spend an unlimited amount on political campaigns. Despite protests from Occupiers and even some state governments, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed for unlimited political spending by corporations, unions and other entities, has yet to be overturned. A full 62 percent of Americans oppose this unlimited flow of corporate money into politics.