In my internet circles I have read complaints about the claims of some Occupy protesters that this movement is inspired or bears a relationship with the Arab Spring. The complaint is that it is absurd to compare the difficulties facing the American people with those faced by the citizens of Egypt or Libya.
For most Americans, such a comparison is definitely weird. Most Americans are not deprived of free speech, political organizing, and voting rights via a 30-year long state of emergency declaration, as Egypt's people were. Most Americans also don't have to worry about ending up in a secret prison without trial, as 5000 - 10000 of Egypt's people were in the year before the revolution.
But most Americans is not the same as all Americans! Invoking the injustices of Egypt and Libya, whatever its flaws as good messaging, can only be called a crazy idea if you forget that America contains lots of people, and not all of them are white twenty year-olds.
For some more comparisons,
The population of Libya is 6.5 million.
The prison population of the United States is 2.3 million, with an additional 4.9 million on parole or probation, and an additional 40 million out of the justice system but still holding criminal records that prevent employment for which they would otherwise be eligible, or limit their access to government assistance, or legally forbid them from voting in many states*. The United States has something like two Libyas-worth of disenfranchised citizens who will never break out of poverty.
Back to the original 2.3 million actually in jail:
905,000 are black.
475,000 are Hispanic.
500,000 are awaiting trial at any given moment. The United States has a rolling population of .5 million untried prisoners at all times.
Out of the 1.5 million in state and federal prison, 12ish percent, 180,000 people, are there for pot. The percentage within local jails and the parole/probation population is harder to find out.
Of course, this isn't largely what the white kids in the 99% are protesting. They're protesting inequality. Clearly America's inequality problem should never be compared to Egypt or Libya.
(One more tidbit: The population of Egypt, 80 million, is 43% urban. Of all Egyptians, 30% enroll in some amount of post-secondary education, 15% graduate. 2/3rds of the population of Egypt is under 30. The median age of Egypt is 24.)
*All states except Maine and Vermont take away voting rights upon felony conviction. 2,000,000 Americans who have completed applicable prison and parole sentences are ineligible to vote due to prior convictions. Millions more fail to re-register to vote after becoming eligible due to confusion over their state's re-registration laws.
-Source for prison population statistics: Wikipedia
-Source for post-prison and disenfranchisement statistics: ACLU: Voting With A Criminal Record - Executive Summary