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Occupy Wall Street's real impact

Occupy Wall Street activists march past foreclosed homes

Occupy Wall Street activists march past foreclosed homes in Brooklyn (Dec. 6, 2011). Photo Credit: AP

The Occupy Wall Street movement -- and its spinoffs around the world -- seems to have no leaders or formal agenda. Yet this very lack of personalities or program may account for some of its success in putting inequality squarely on the political agenda. The quick agreement by Albany lawmakers to change the state's tax structure in a way that increases taxes for the very highest earners, reducing them for others, is considered one example of its impact. With its Manichaean division of Americans into 99 percenters and 1 percenters, OWS provided an indispensable sound-bite summary of our economic dilemma. Even if winter weather and evictions reduce their numbers on the streets, OWS will remain in the imagination. Next semester NYU offers two courses on its influence. The movement may have come out of leftfield, but it came to play.