OCTOBER 13, 2011 2:58AM

I am the 99%...and SO ARE YOU

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One of the Ninety-Nine Percent In the wake of the We Are the 99 -- #wearethe99%--the internet is bristling with pics from the opposition movements that have stolen its creative format: details of the effect Wall Street’s actions have had on people’s personal stories, recorded on signs that usually hide a portion of them from view.

Some endeavor to separate themselves from the 99% as their own group. “The 53%” insists that “the 99% don’t represent ME!“ and attempts to set itself apart from the rest as a group of people who have done everything “right”. Their signs claim hard work, volunteerism, academic achievement, career and financial success, and financial responsibility, and imply that everyone else must be doing something “wrong”. These are those most likely to attack the Occupiers for protesting at all, or to insist that the protesters must protest “lawfully”.

Some simply presume--wrongly--that they are included in the 1% against which the 99% rail; one pic--which sparked long and furious interfamilial FB debate--depicted a young girl’s black-polished fingernails clutching a handwritten sign, proclaiming herself to be of the 1%, accused those participating in #OccupyWallStreet of being "hippies", and demanded that they “go get a damn job”.

What these opposition groups have in common--other than the fact that they all seem to be completely lacking in the areas of originality and creativity--are willful ignorance, misguided assumptions, an apparent lack of knowledge with regard to our Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and U.S. history, and a tendency to believe that one can still see the forest if one ignores all the trees one doesn’t like.

Oddly enough, most people who think they're part of that 1% really aren't.

Trust me, unless you live in a 5th Avenue penthouse, appear on the Forbes 400, drive a >$100K vehicle and have a trust fund that could choke a horse, you're NOT one of the 1% that #OccupyWallStreet is demonstrating against. Which means that they're fighting for YOU and YOUR rights, too, despite your opposition of them, their goals and actions. And when they succeed, an unfortunate side effect is that you'll benefit too, even though most would agree that you really don’t deserve to.

The people participating in #OccupyWallStreet aren’t lazy, unruly, unwashed hippie college kid punks who crap in alleys, destroy property and only protest for something to do. They are citizens who are suffering or have suffered in some way as a result of the depressed economy created by the greedy, unethical, illegal actions--or lazy INactions--of Wall Street.....just like you.

Citizens like:

--teens who can't find summer/after-school/weekend jobs to save for college, because they have all been taken by the laid-off, middle-aged, overqualified workforce;

--grandparents who are forced to rely on meager Social Security checks, because their part-time positions have been eliminated, recreated, and filled by younger, “more able-bodied“ workers;

--those who don't have the intellectual capacity to attend college or EVER perform more than menial manual labor, who work multiple full-time, minimum-wage jobs, still can't cover the basic needs for their families, and have no hope of ever being able to do so under the current system;

--the formerly insured, bankrupted after ONE major accident or illness caused them to hit their annual and/or lifetime coverage limits;

--military spouses, who can't find work because no one wants to employ someone who will almost certainly be moving every couple of years;

--full-time sitters, who have no kids to care for since their parents are all out of work;

--college grads with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, unable to find a job in their field, or anything better than a minimum wage job for which they are overqualified;

--college grads who CANNOT obtain even a minimum wage job, BECAUSE they are overqualified;

--the 50+ crowd, laid off as a result of the economy that the Wall Street 1% screwed up and unable to find employment due to ageism;

--the disabled, who can't find a job ANYWHERE [why hire someone who requires certain accommodations to perform their job when you can hire someone “whole” and overqualified?];

--high school students who fear tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and the prospect of not being able to find employment;

--teachers, police and firemen who have been laid off as a result of the budget shortfalls [as a result of the economy], who can't afford to move to another state to find work;

--those duped into signing for subprime loans they didn't really qualify for, to purchase homes that really weren't worth what the bank-kickback-accepting appraiser valued it at;

--those illegally foreclosed upon by the banks who don't actually own their loans, and can't produce any paperwork to prove who DOES own the loan, because no such paperwork actually exists;

--counties and taxpayers who lost billions of dollars in mortgage recording fees due to the banks' use of the MERS system, specifically created to allow banks to purchase and resell mortgages while avoiding the requirement to record these changes and pay for them;

--states and state taxpayers, who face budget shortfalls due to pension fund losses and increased Medicaid costs, caused by the poor economy, and therefore, Wall Street

--people with regular mortgages who were foreclosed on because they were unexpectedly laid off as a result of the Wall-Street-1%-induced depressed economy, could not find work that paid more than unemployment, and could not cover their bills;

--those who were laid off as a result of their company outsourcing their jobs while accepting millions or billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies;

--union members, who are expected or forced to accept contracts that freeze their pay and increase union dues, healthcare premiums and retirement contributions in order to avoid layoffs, despite the fact that this constitutes a DROP in pay, and despite the fact that it makes more sense to fire some in order to allow most to make enough money to pay their bills than it does to fire none and pay everyone less than they need to cover the most basic expenses;

--anyone who’s ever worked a full-time job and still had to depend on government assistance because your job doesn’t pay you enough to live on;

--anyone who stands to benefit from a retirement/pension fund, or who has an investment portfolio, as virtually every investment fund purchased holdings in the crap-disguised-and-sold-as-gold sub-prime mortgage bungles…er, bundles…and lost substantial value as a result;

--business owners, who depend on consumers having the disposable income Wall Street has screwed them out of to spend on their goods and services;

--and everyone else sick of working their tails off for 40, 60, 80, 120 hours per week, for less money than it takes to pay for all of their basic needs.

That's who's occupying Wall Street right now, and they are camping out in a city park, without a bathroom, running water, refrigerators or electricity, fighting to prevent Wall Street from stealing OUR money through unethical or illegal means so that we ALL can live a better life and get paid a decent wage that allows us to feed, clothe and shelter our families. AND YOURS. Because no matter how comfortable your financial situation is, and no matter what you want to think, you’re just ONE step away from your own economic disaster. One outsourced job; one death; one layoff; one accident; one illness. A single event is all that separates you from the chain of events that leads to your own personal financial Hell.

The only thing that sets these opposition groups apart from the 99% is their own faulty perceptions.

Ignoring the facts just leads to erroneous conclusions. If you see only the pines in a forest of elms, oaks and pines, you're going to think the forest is evergreen. But if you only came to that conclusion because you ignored all the deciduous trees, you're probably looking at a lifetime of getting lost in the woods.

If you don’t want to accept that you’ve suffered from the actions of Wall Street, fine. Don’t. If you don’t want to hear or care about the plight of your fellow American citizens, fine. Don’t. If you don’t want to take action against the system that’s been specifically engineered to funnel money from the have-nots to the 1%, fine. Don’t. But when you’re in the same boat as the rest of us, and when you stand to benefit from the actions of the people who DO know the score and DO give a damn and DO something about it, it’s NOT fine to attack them. It’s not fine to call them names, imply that they must have somehow done something wrong, insist that they’re lazy, or that they just want something for free. They fight because you don’t have the heart to accept that you’re one of us, the guts to out yourself as someone who has suffered, the balls to take action, or the brains to know you should.

We ARE the 99%. We accept your deficiencies, and we’ll fight for you anyway. Because, like it or not, believe it or not, accept it or not, you’re one of us.

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I started to write a comment on this great blog but it got out of hand so I’ve posted it as a blog. I have inserted a clickable link from my blog to yours here so people can see what I’m nattering about.

You said it all and so well. I am one.
Strong commentary. Thanks for this post.
You say it so well, but they will never understand.
SoS, Thank you for the passionate elaboration, which of course, is true. I tend to state it in terms of pithier condensations, however, given certain limitations in what people are capable of conceptualizing and their difficulty coping with the dissonance facts contrary to their belief systems create, I give either method not more than a c+ in effectiveness.

The delusions inherent in the way people see their prospects for wealth and where they are relative to others, are very powerful. Robert Schiller addresses aspects of that in his books "Irrational Exuberance" and "Animal Spirits". I sum up the fantasy of attaining wealth used to historically manipulate Americans as "Amway America" (for a very educational depiction of the techniques used by Amway, many of which mirror our materialistic society, see “The Cult of Free Enterprise” by Stephen Butterfield: http://www.amazon.com/Amway-Cult-Enterprise-Stephen-Butterfield/dp/0896082539 ).

It moves the masses to go where and do what, is necessary for those who will fleece them to end up as the ultra-minority of the truly wealthy, while keeping them caught up in a fantasy of future riches. This causes them to be fearful and resentful of any regulations or taxation which they fantasize will “punish” (great buzzword to vilify reasonable social responsibility) the future “status” they in reality, have next to no chance at all of ever attaining.

They listen to people like Limbaugh tell them that those taxes and regulations are the product of “jealousy” and “envy”, never stopping to consider that the fears are being generated by someone who has an income that there's about a one-in-a quarter million chance (his reported deal with Clear Channel gives him thirty eight million a year, beyond which are many other income sources) anyone in America will ever attain.

Nevertheless, the power of the delusion is so strong that they resist reform on behalf of those who will do them in, linked in an alliance of pure fantasy. It doesn't help that most people are bad at math, that really big numbers are difficult for anyone to truly appreciate and that they can't even make the leap of logic to understand that yes, being “rich” is indeed, relative and what that implies. Unless one proposes infinite increases in consumption, infinitely expanding markets (and the infinite resources to supply them) then wealth is not only relative, it is indeed, a zero-sum game, even without considering the other costs of irrational materialism. Of course that doesn't stop us from including the costs of bad consequences (natural disasters, health problems, environmental cleanup etc.) in our calculation of GDP. We celebrate how much we work, produce and spend on bad things, as part of a bigger number we should congratulate ourselves on.

Without a re-defining of what is worth pursuing and realistic to obtain, no matter what the structure of the system which endorses it, the results will be the same. Unfortunately, that would not only depose those who's power is based on the manipulations of insecurity, fear and envy, it would also currently further depose everyone else who is participating in the system as wage slaves. Whatever could replace it, will be very challenging to transition in a way that is not catastrophic.

I for one, really don't want to see another French Revolution. Those who want to see heads roll, need to consider that the process which selects many of those heads under such circumstances, is hardly laudable.

So when it comes to effecting change, in the short term, perhaps there will be some adjustments that the OWS protesters will motivate and I won't complain. When it comes to effecting change that counts, change that can't change back to something which takes advantage of the many by the few and eventually collapses, we're a long, long way off.

For further material to convince people that it's not what they say, but what it's actually done to the world we live in that counts, here's a great compilation of the state we are in: http://www.mybudget360.com/top-1-percent-control-42-percent-of-financial-wealth-in-the-us-how-average-americans-are-lured-into-debt-servitude-by-promises-of-mega-wealth/
Thanks for continuing to be a regular reader and commenter here, Mary; it's always appreciated!

Pauline, thanks for stopping by; I look forward to reading more of your work!

Miguela, Inverted, Muse: Thank you. I've been wondering when Americans would wake up, return to their roots and fight for what we need; I've been so energized by this movement, and I'm trying to do my part by spreading the message--and the facts.
sky, I don't see the link, but I'll be sure to stop by to check out your latest. Thanks for being one of my regulars!
Sam, I agree! It's been incredibly difficult to overcome the message that the MSM and Wall Street have been quietly spreading, and I cannot believe how many American sheep-le truly believe that they are NOT part of the 99%. I tried to simplify the message as much as possible, and I've been ho-ing the piece all over the internet!

I do think that they key to making OWS work is getting people to understand that they HAVE suffered from the actions of Wall Street; HOW they have suffered, WHY people are occupying [specifically], and WHAT it is they want changed. I'll continue to work on pieces that detail all of these in a straightforward way, in order to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

The title of your piece intrigues me; I'll be stopping by. Thanks for reading!
Just wanted to emphasize that I'm trying to do my part for the OWS movement, and I'm requesting your help. Please feel free to "Like" and share my OWS-related pieces [well, EVERYONE's OWS-related pieces], to help expose as many people as possible to the OWS message and facts; I'll be doing the same with all of your OWS-related pieces.

Thanks again for reading, and for any help you all can give those of us participating in OWS by spreading the word; THIS American citizen, for one, greatly appreciates the assistance.
sky, I completely misread your comment earlier. Thanks for the link, and for the support.
Can’t wait for your take on my blog!!