Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We are the 53% 

Photographic messages from those who do the work to those who do not.


By Blogger Noumenon, at Wed Oct 12, 12:42:00 AM:

My first assumption about the 53% number was that it was based on the employment-to-population ratio, but that would be "the 45%". But you could definitely see this as insulting all the old people, children, students, and other nonworkers out there.

Anyway, this summarized my reaction pretty well.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 12, 06:48:00 AM:

I'm with Noumenon. That is about the tackiest strawman argument I've seen and has very little to do with what those protests are really about. Occupy Wall Street has nothing to do with a bunch of lazy hippies who want something for nothing (though I don't doubt some folks like that are in those crowds); it's about people being pissed at massive Wall Street corruption and a government that doesn't hold them accountable. The twisting of this story into a "hardworking vs. lazy people" scenario is such a load.  

By Anonymous John, at Wed Oct 12, 06:54:00 AM:

Noumenon, then you missed the point.

I spent 25 years as CFO of small companies, and worked with many really bright, hardworking, highly educated people. To a man (and woman), we were the children of working class folk. I would wager few if any got assistance. We pursued a better life because that was our choice, and our commitment to ourselves and our families to come. I can't speak for all, but I know my own experience and universally that of whom I discussed this with ... Did your first just offer shitty pay? yep. And you did it anyway. yep. And it led to more responsibility, more hard work, and better pay? yep.

I make no apologies for working in corporate America, or historically for small companies that created good jobs. I am the 53%. Losers who want to whine that I or anyone else owes them lose me at the jump.

Commit to yourself and value your life, education, future. If you don't believe in yourself and your possibilities, don't expect someone to do it for you.

FU protesters.  

By Anonymous John, at Wed Oct 12, 07:11:00 AM:

Anon ... so misplaced ... "about people being pissed at massive Wall Street corruption and a government that doesn't hold them accountable" should just be written "the Obama administration, and the cronies that filled his cabinet and advise him".

Most of us have a j.o.b. that we earned, and can't show up at some stupid protest without taking a day off, or risking our job. If the protests had a point, then the protesters would know what they're protesting. It's just pathetic.

All of it reminds me of a quote I once heard (attributed to JFK) ... "I don't know why (fill in the blank) resents me so much, I never did anything for him".

Am I pissed about corruption? f yeah, I am, and I'll express it in the voting booth.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Oct 12, 10:26:00 AM:

"Occupy Wall Street has nothing to do with a bunch of lazy hippies who want something for nothing (though I don't doubt some folks like that are in those crowds); it's about people being pissed at massive Wall Street corruption and a government that doesn't hold them accountable."

Like those are mutually exclusive. Show me a lazy hippie with entitlement issues who *doesn't* hate "Wall Street" (a convenient moniker that doesn't actually mean anything concrete) and think it's in bed with government, and I'll show you a liar looking for free weed.

When does feckless, childish anger become a virtue? When it's harnessed for leftist causes.

If the Tea Party did HALF the stupid shit these idiot children are doing (leaving garbage everywhere, stealing from vendors, shitting on police cars and attacking cops, screaming at passing Jews, "You can have sex with animals, or whatever;" "So, ultimately, the bourgeosie won’t go without violent means. Revolution! Yes, revolution that is led by the working class. Long live revolution! Long live socialism!", et cetera)... I dunno. It's unimaginable.

But get mobs of rude, crude, sub-sentient fools chanting liberal slogans and suddenly they're heroes. It's fucking disgusting, and EVERYONE who sympathizes with them should at least be ashamed at the hypocrisy.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Wed Oct 12, 10:36:00 AM:

Sorry, but I have to agree with John.

For the first 2 years of my marriage, we lived well below the poverty level for a family of 3. We had no medical insurance or credit cards and saved $$ and paid cash for the delivery of our 1st child. Oddly, I never felt "poor" - we had enough to eat, lived within our means (which meant NO LUXURIES and buying clothes from Goodwill - we didn't even own a TV set). There were lots of "wants" we couldn't afford, but our needs were taken care of and we even managed to *save* money from every paycheck. Not much, but some. Always.

Without exception. Because the poorer you are, the more carefully you need to prepare for reverses and unexpected expenses.

A lot of the "we are the 99%" manifestos aren't *actual* poverty. They're about wanting and feeling entitled to something more than you have and thinking you shouldn't have to deal with uncertainty, risk, or the consequences of your own freely made decisions.

The ones about graduating with a lot of student debt are the worst. We just hired a very bright young lady who graduated well over a year ago. She couldn't find a white collar job so she worked as a manager at a grocery store. She was able to make her payments.

My son graduated and worked at various low status, non-college-boy-type jobs for well over a year while systematically trying to get hired as a cop (persistence eventually paid off). During this time he saved money. His wife graduated and worked in a day care center and babysat on weekends. She put herself through grad school with minimal debt and finally got a teaching job.

Debt isn't something that is foisted upon us by Evil, Uncaring 1 percenters - it's a calculated risk (and the "calculated" part seems to have gone missing here, along with any rational notion of risk mitigation or caution).

I maintained a 4.0 GPA when I went back to school as an adult so I'd be eligible for scholarships (vs. loans). And I did it while working 40+ hour weeks, taking extra classes every semester, raising 2 kids, tutoring on the side, doing volunteer work, yada yada yada. My first post college job was an unpaid internship, but it led to FT employment.

Corruption didn't cause these people's problems - poor decision making did.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 12, 02:57:00 PM:

They may not be lazy hippies but they're spoiled brats who think they're entitled to everything for free.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 12, 03:44:00 PM:

"Occupy Wall Street has nothing to do with a bunch of lazy hippies who want something for nothing (though I don't doubt some folks like that are in those crowds); it's about people being pissed at massive Wall Street corruption and a government that doesn't hold them accountable. The twisting of this story into a "hardworking vs. lazy people" scenario is such a load."

Honestly, my own impression is that this comment couldn't be more wrong. The so-called "protest" is incoherent, populated by thrill-seekers, freeloaders and professional agitators who have absolutely no clue what they are protesting or why they are there. The articles and the photos are hilarious, in a sick sort of way, but also heartwrenching if you care about the future of the country.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 12, 06:58:00 PM:

@ Dawnfire.

Even if those two groups are not mutually exclusive (and I even suggested in my comment that some are in fact not), how does that not make the point of many (that this administration has not acted responsibly against Wall Street) less pertinent? Of course there are a lot of idiots in the crowd; the same can be said for the Tea Party movement, but that doesn't make either group illegitimate.

There are a good number of protesters who have very valid points as to why near 10% unemployment is happening, and it has nothing to do with what the 53%'ers are suggesting it has to do with. Unemployment doesn't drop 5% over a few years because people lack ambition.

A lot of people are expressing a "Well, I-was-poor-and-I-survived" argument, which seems misguided to me. People aren't getting jobs because they lack gumption, but because a financial system has become increasingly criminal. Do I think that it would benefit the protesters immensely if they could more specificaly explain how exactly the criminality occured? Of course. Likewise for not shitting in public or getting in a shower occasionally. But there are good reasons for many of them to be there.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 13, 09:11:00 AM:

@Dawnfire: I wouldn't be surprised if many of those protesters voted for O, who got big bucks from Wall Street people. So that should answer a multitude of questions for them.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Oct 13, 09:42:00 AM:

A lot of people are expressing a "Well, I-was-poor-and-I-survived" argument, which seems misguided to me.

I find it nothing short of astonishing that you can read story after story (try the link TH provided in the post) of people who paid their debts and gladly took any job that was available and worked their butts off until they achieved financial stability and come away with nothing more than, "I was poor and I survived".

"I survived" is passive. It makes it sound as though jobs and money just fall from the sky like manna if you just open your hand.

They don't. The idea that "people shouldn't have to work hard" is not based on any reality I have ever observed. But then reality has little to do with anything I've heard coming out of OWS.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Oct 13, 09:50:00 AM:

Exactly, Cass. Hard work has been, is, and will be, a prerequisite for success as a human being in all but an immaterial number of circumstances. It is table stakes. Yes, good fortune, both in the circumstances of one's birth (being born in the United States, Japan, or a few countries in Europe is a huge leg up over the remaining 85% of the world's population) and as life progresses matters a lot. These are some of the luckiest people in the world complaining about other people who are even luckier. Really silly stuff, especially from the left, which is always yammering on about how we are all global citizens. The sense of entitlement is astonishing.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Thu Oct 13, 10:38:00 AM:

I find "Occupy Wall Street" terribly unfocused. It's not even a good primal scream. It's a few thousand people with too much time on their hands, seeded by the likes of George Soros. It's lame, compared to what students were doing in the late 1960s.

Comparisons to Tea Party gatherings are inapt. As amorphous as the Tea Party can be, it's genuine grassroots and it's got a focus: it's against runaway debt-fueled government spending. "Tea partiers" are those who expect that they'll be singled out to get stuck with the bill. MSM coverage distorted this, as it sought out fringe elements at Tea Party gatherings for their entertainment value. Certain politicians declared themselves leaders of this autonomus collective, to get air time. MSM plays along, because you need talking heads to do TV.

There's a lot of anger out there. Telling people to "eat their peas ... and like it!" doesn't answer. OWS and Tea Partiers are angry about some of the same things, but I expect they diverge on solutions. OWS will lean to more and better government, more Hope, more Change.

OWS is actually small and fringe at this point, but it makes good copy. While it's somewhat critical of Obama, it means to channel anger into political support for the left. Obama has less than 20% odds of getting re-elected, I expect. But he can win if anger coalesces to his side, or gets frustrated and stays home. In this context, winning filibuster-proof control of the Senate is the big prize.

Most young people should be Tea Partiers, if they thought it through.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Oct 13, 04:41:00 PM:

Hard work has been, is, and will be, a prerequisite for success as a human being in all but an immaterial number of circumstances. It is table stakes.

To me the most alarming thing about Obama's campaign rhetoric was the subtle but omnipresent suggestion that it's somehow unfair to have to work hard. It ran like a constant refrain through Obama's speeches and also a lot of Michelle Obama's statements.

The whole concept of the American Dream was based on hard work, but also the notion (which served as an important distinction between the US and more class conscious societies) that if you were willing to work hard, America was a place where you *could* succeed, though success was by no means guaranteed.

In many places in the world, caste presents an absolute bar to working in certain occupations. In many countries, simply being female is a bar to working or going to school.

How we got from "Here, you have a chance to succeed" to "Here, everyone should have an iPhon... err... succeed equally or Social Injustice Has Occurred" is beyond me :p  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 14, 10:41:00 AM:

Anon Attorney here.

I could write my own 53% story--grew up relatively poor in Iowa farm country, not far from You TH, and now am a moderately successful attorney practicing out West. Not rags to riches, but hand-me-downs and farm labor to solidly upper middle class and law practice.

I own a couple businesses that cater to other the 47% who pay no taxes. The sad fact is that they never will. The lucky ones of these 47% are barely scraping by paycheck-to-paycheck. No savings. No 401k. They sell assets to pay for emergencies. The less lucky ones are not making it paycheck to paycheck, or subsist on government support.

I know quite a few of the customers of these businesses. For the most part these people work hard, many in backbreaking manual labor jobs. They simply do not earn enough money to make ends meet. The increase in housing prices and rents relative to income has left a large segment of our population paying 30-50% of their meager income on shelter. A deflationary depression in the housing market is the best thing that could happen to these people.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Oct 14, 02:35:00 PM:

You lived on a farm? I lived in a small shoebox in the middle of the road ... in the Bronx.

"A deflationary depression in the housing market is the best thing that could happen to these people."

Agreed. But I'd add the following:

Healthcare is way too expensive for your average American when they get it through their employer. We have a hybrid public-private system where the public side tries to only pay marginal costs, and puts all the rest of the costs onto the private side. Thus, in much of America, a regular healthcare plan costs more than average housing. I don't see ObamaCare fixing this.

Gas prices are a big factor too. If you're only making $20,000, gas can easily be 20% of your take home.

Lastly, the working poor do pay taxes even if they pay little or no income taxes. Payroll taxes go into the big trough just as much as taxes on carried interest do.  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Sat Oct 15, 05:10:00 PM:

Wall Street just has too much influence. The "corporations" that OWS people are pissed at are multinationals, and the really big companies like the much-reviled Wal-Mart, or Coca-Cola, or Nike, or any other company that fires Americans because they can hire Chinese guys at Industrial Revolution prices.

They'd all be huge supporters of campaign finance reform, because they believe that money has far too much influence in politics and in governance.

Honestly, I think the misguided nature of their protests is the product of misinformation. If they knew how corrupt Obama's campaign finance was, or if they knew that he gets his business advice from the multinationals, the situation would be much different. The grievances are the same as the Tea Party, they just blame our financial system (it's inscrutable and corrupt) instead of the government (also inscrutable and corrupt).

Side-note: after seeing videos of how some of the police have been treating the protesters, that's another thing they've been pissed at.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Oct 15, 07:06:00 PM:

"like the much-reviled Wal-Mart, or Coca-Cola, or Nike"

Is Apple on this list for exploiting Chinese workers, or are they just too cool? Just askin'

Re: the NYPD. I hope this doesn't end badly. Long-time New Yorkers will remember the Tompkins Square Park riot back in 1988. The NYPD got the blame for what needed to get done and what should have been done years earlier.

Many -- me included -- say that Bloomberg has been far too lenient with OWS -- pressure is building to resolve this. Now that there's some MSM coverage I suspect that some organizers would like nothing better than video of the NYPD breaking heads or, dare they dream, a Kent State moment. "tin soldiers and Bloomberg coming ...." Mayor for Life Mike may have to be tougher now than he needed to be had he only acted earlier.

Bloomberg people are feeding the story that the property owner has been intimidated by many left-leaning politicians, so it's their fault not Mayor for Life's fault, so they say.

I like the idea of a Reverse Roach Motel: you can leave the park but not go back in, because of an NYPD cardon. I suspect that many of the protesters are rotating and haven't been camped out since the beginning.

At this stage, I don't think most Americans care about OWS. Steve Jobs was a far bigger story last week.  

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