“I’m not part of the 99%.” That’s the catch-phrase of a counter-protest that misunderstands the entire nature of the Occupy movement. Buying the lies that 99% activists are just a bunch of unemployed hippies looking for handouts, people like the following young student trumpet their work-ethics, and chide the rest of us for not being them.
(Later, after this essay was originally posted, the sign-holder’s claims were utterly debunked. Go figure…)
Parodying the various signs held by Occupy demonstrators, this picture epitomizes a view that misses the entire point of the protests. “The 99%” does not refer to people who want handouts; it refers to the people who pay the larger share of taxes, work the longer amount of hours, do the harder degree of work, and yet continually have our pay, jobs, health, environment and economy endangered or destroyed by the other 1%.
Admirable as this person’s work-ethic appears to be, she (I assume this person is female; I’m not certain) is clearly young enough and fortunate enough to not YET have experienced any of the following things that lay at the heart of the protest:
* Having her pay or job cut so that her CEO can get a pay raise.
* Losing her job or the company she works for to a badly-played gamble by one or more of her bosses.
* Having her stocks and/or savings wiped out by gambling bosses and brokers whose actions are beyond her control.
* Suffering a severe injury or illness, only to find that the health insurance policy she’s been paying for refuses to cover her treatment.
* Living downstream from a factory whose emissions and waste give her cancer or some other horrible medical condition (see above), trying to sue them for the damages, and then winding up losing the case (thanks to the company’s expensive legal team) and getting stuck with both the disease and the legal fees.
* Finding herself stuck with a dangerous and/or debilitating health condition thanks to tainted food or hazardous chemicals used by a corporation, and then winding up in the situation above.
* Getting injured at her job and then winding up in one or both of the situations above.
* Having some right or procedure upon which she depends suddenly imperiled or revoked because a politically-connected megachurch spent lots of money to take it away.
* Having her vote thrown out because she voted at a precinct where the voting machines were manufactured and managed by a company whose owner is loyal to a different political party.
*Having her contracted pay and benefits “re-negotiated” without her consent by politicians who claimed to favor “small government.”
* Living in a town where the majority of the jobs have been shipped overseas, thus making it harder to find or keep a job near her home.
* Having corporations make “gentleman’s agreements” to suppress wages in her region, so that a person working there can make only so much money.
* Winding up on the receiving end of a prison convict who got access to her home, property and person through the work he was contracted to do by state or local politicians.
* Any combination of the above.
If she doesn’t think this is happening, she’s not paying attention. And if she thinks she’s above it if she just works hard, she’s fooling herself.
Incidentally, unless this person is a multi-millionaire, she IS part of the 99%… and so are the rest of us. The slogan refers to the people making less than $10 million or so a year. That level of money is not something you often accumulate by working hard and living below your means. It’s the kind of money usually enjoyed by people who either do some of the things listed above, or who inherit wealth from other people who already did.