99 or 53, We’re Still All The Same

99 PercentNatalie W and Aaron Cynic write at Diatribe Media:

Ever since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, one of the ways members have told their stories is through simple photos of themselves holding writings of their life experiences and what makes them part of the “99 percent” of Americans who have been ignored, mistreated, and misrepresented by their government. Some of their heartbreaking stories include tales of vast amounts of medical debt due to unforeseen chronic illness and no insurance coverage, overwhelming college debt coupled with joblessness or no job prospects, and a shortage of work combined with short unemployment assistance, among many others. To read their stories, see We Are The 99 percent.

This week, founder of the right wing blog Red State, Erik Erickson began a Tumblr account dubbed the “53 percent.” The project attempts to be the conservative perception of Occupy Wall Street and solidarity occupations as a movement of whiners and layabouts who don’t want to pay their taxes and are looking for handouts.

First, the idea of the 53 percent is that a majority of US citizens pay more in federal income tax than they receive back in deductions or credits. Basically, the 53 percent are the people supporting the government and are complicit, even proud, to have the government operating in the manner it does.

The logic of the notion of 53 percent is skewed, as Alex Pareene at Salon points out: “Pretty much every adult American pays taxes. Workers who are too poor to pay federal income taxes still pay payroll taxes, and property taxes if they own their home. Even the unemployed pay sales taxes. The poorest Americans — people who make an average of $12,500 a year — pay, on average, 16 percent of their paltry income in taxes.”

The idea to seperate federal income taxes from payroll taxes is semantically splitting hairs. We’re all still paying taxes, not only in the form of either of those, but also in things like sales tax. The argument is a false equivalency, like saying a renter doesn’t have the right to decide what happens in their neighborhood because they don’t pay property taxes. The landlord or management company pays those taxes, but does that give them more of a right to decide what happens on someone’s block, rather than a person who might have been renting for years in the same home?

Read the full post at Diatribe Media

, , , ,

  • Mr Willow

    That’s the thing, isn’t it?

    The only difference between the ‘99%’ and the ‘53%’ is a matter of perception in their situation and perhaps an overall disagreement on how the economic disaster should be resolved. 

    The 53% consider themselves the perpetual underling, despite everything their overlords have done—not affording them healthcare, education, in some cases basic workplace safety, nor any manner of respect, and in many respects actively stripped them of what they once had in any of these areas. The attitude seems to be “Well, I get what I get. I’m not responsible for anyöne else, and there’s noöne responsible for me. The CEOs worked hard to get where they are, and if I work hard enough I’ll get there someday.” 

    This thought-form is so ingrained in them, particularly the ‘I’m not responsible, and noöne else is either’ that despite being very good people willing to help those in their immediate vicinity from time to time (in most cases), they don’t feel obligated to care about the remainder of America because they aren’t personally exposed to it. The other portion—‘if I work hard, and am honest, I’ll get there someday’—shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations and methods of the CEOs they would staunchly defend. They all accept the story they have been told about competition and corporations valuing their employees, when not only is that in complete contrast to the majority of corporate history, but even a cursory look around would tell them they are not valued by their employers—in the case of not being provided health insurance or a livable wage—but are in fact only valued in so far as they operate the machine (proverbial or literal) by which their ultimate bosses accrue wealth. 

    But they largely don’t care because (as far as I can tell) they have accepted their place at their masters’ feet or they have been convinced by people like Beck and Hannity and Limbaugh that the alternative in any form would be utter devastation that would involve mass slaughter and whatever else. 

    The 99% are attempting to wake people from this daze. They think the value of people should be placed before labour or wealth or anything. This in no way advocates indolence, as work must always be done, but the way in which we work, and our motivations to work should go beyond ‘I have to get a paycheck’ or ‘I’m not a constructive member of society unless I have a job, even if that job is soul-crushing, unfulfilling in any capacity, or I have to work three or four in order to provide a domicile of any sort for myself, in addition to healthcare, a car, and education’. They want a marketplace—if I can call it that—that does not consist of people ordering others what their ideas and dreams are, and then make their workers adhere so closely to that dream that if they deviate, or question, or offer any ideas of their own, they are in danger of being expelled from that venture altogether; or even worse people with no ideas of their own that pay people with ideas to come up with ideas (because they have the money to do that), whose ideas are scrutinised by the people who have no ideas to begin with, who then gauge those ideas against preconceived—and often quite removed—notions about what people like, want, or need. 

    The whole idea of the ‘rugged individual’, I think, is the image they are fighting against, as they recognise that each individual lives in a society, in a larger community, where we need to help one another or else we are all doomed to death. If you have no access to healthcare, education, housing or clothing even, then why is it not society’s obligation to at least attempt to address the problem? Especially after being told that we are living in the richest, best, most prosperous etc. etc. nation on the face of the planet. 

    Do you not have healthcare? We want to help you.
    Do you not have education? We want to help you.
    Forced to work two or three jobs just to afford gas, groceries, credit card bills, student loan debt, and rent? We want to help correct the situation.

    That seems to be the message, but they continually slap the hands away, repeating the mantra ‘I’m an individual, I’m an individual, I’m an individual’.

    • GoodDoktorBad

      I think it boils down to the definition of the word “civilized”. If society is nothing more than a modern version of the dog eat dog world of “pre- civilization”, where is the distinction? Has man really progressed or just achieved a more systematic order to his chaos?

      Some are afraid to give as much as they are to afraid to receive. The usury concept permeates all of our psyches to great extent. So often, we use and are used without consideration. True cooperation becomes an alien concept. Much is achieved, but for the wrong reasons, so things created within such a paradigm are like sand through our fingers and salt on our wounds. 

      I too, like so many am wrestling with the fulcrum of balance between personal survival and helping one another. I want to be of service and make a living too. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask does it? 
      ….and yet somehow, at least for the time being, it is. 

       

    • Nunzio X

      Mr Willow offers a concise and well-phrased analysis.

      I’m going to copy / paste this comment into emails (with credit given to Mr Willow, and a link to the post, of course.)

    • Gonoherpasyphilaids

      “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Business men, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” Morpheus

  • Mr Willow

    That’s the thing, isn’t it?

    The only difference between the ‘99%’ and the ‘53%’ is a matter of perception in their situation and perhaps an overall disagreement on how the economic disaster should be resolved. 

    The 53% consider themselves the perpetual underling, despite everything their overlords have done—not affording them healthcare, education, in some cases basic workplace safety, and any manner of respect, and in many respects actively stripped them of what they once had in any of these areas. The attitude seems to be “Well, I get what I get. I’m not responsible for anyöne else, and there’s noöne responsible for me. The CEOs worked hard to get where they are, and if I work hard enough I’ll get there someday.” 

    This thought-form is so ingrained in them, particularly the ‘I’m not responsible, and noöne else is either’ that despite being very good people willing to help those in their immediate vicinity from time to time (in most cases), they don’t feel obligated to care about the remainder of America because they aren’t personally exposed to it. The other portion—‘if I work hard, and am honest, I’ll get there someday’—shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations and methods of the CEOs they would staunchly defend. They all accept the story they have been told about competition and corporations valuing their employees, when not only is that in complete contrast to the majority of corporate history, but even a cursory look around would tell them they are not valued by their employers—in the case of not being provided health insurance or a livable wage—but are in fact only valued in so far as they operate the machine (proverbial or literal) by which their ultimate bosses accrue wealth. 

    But they largely don’t care because (as far as I can tell) they have accepted their place at their masters’ feet or they have been convinced by people like Beck and Hannity and Limbaugh that the alternative in any form would be utter devastation that would involve mass slaughter and whatever else. 

    The 99% are attempting to wake people from this daze. They think the value of people should be placed before labour or wealth or anything. This in no way advocates indolence, as work must always be done, but the way in which we work, and our motivations to work should go beyond ‘I have to get a paycheck’ or ‘I’m not a constructive member of society unless I have a job, even if that job is soul-crushing, unfulfilling in any capacity, or I have to work three or four in order to provide a domicile of any sort for myself, in addition to healthcare, a car, and education’. They want a marketplace—if I can call it that—that does not consist of people ordering others what their ideas and dreams are, and then make their workers adhere so closely to that dream that if they deviate, or question, or offer any ideas of their own, they are in danger of being expelled from that venture altogether; or even worse people with no ideas of their own that pay people with ideas to come up with ideas (because they have the money to do that), whose ideas are scrutinised by the people who have no ideas to begin with, who then gauge those ideas against preconceived—and often quite removed—notions about what people like, want, or need. 

    The whole idea of the ‘rugged individual’, I think, is the image they are fighting against, as they recognise that each individual lives in a society, in a larger community, where we need to help one another or else we are all doomed to death. If you have no access to healthcare, education, housing or clothing even, then why is it not society’s obligation to at least attempt to address the problem? Especially after being told that we are living in the richest, best, most prosperous etc. etc. nation on the face of the planet. 

    Do you not have healthcare? We want to help you.
    Do you not have education? We want to help you.
    Forced to work two or three jobs just to afford gas, groceries, credit card bills, student loan debt, and rent? We want to help correct the situation.

    That seems to be the message, but they continually slap the hands away, repeating the mantra ‘I’m an individual, I’m an individual, I’m an individual’.

  • Occupy Wall Street Together

    Great post. Right-wing Jewish bankers use these tricks to divide us into camps. We can not let ourselves be divided, we need to stand united. I AM THE 99%.

    • Alis

      Looks like the govt is working hard to discredit this movement by posing as supportive anti-Semitic posters. Good job.

    • Mr Willow

      You’re right. We need to stand united, so stop dividing us by alienating every Jewish person who is otherwise in support of the cause. 

      Ass.

    • Redacted

      Using Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric I see.

      Jesus was a Jew. I rest my case.

    • what about the rich Christians that do this too… one of the many faces of the right wing.

    • Andrew

      Hitler liked Jewish ice-cream.  FACT.

    • http://twitter.com/FProcent Fifty Three Procent

      u are miserable idiots,u living on unemployment checks, but if you take all money from 53% than who gonna pay taxes for your unemployment?

  • Occupy Wall Street Together

    Great post. Right-wing Jewish bankers use these tricks to divide us into camps. We can not let ourselves be divided, we need to stand united. I AM THE 99%.

  • Alis

    Looks like the govt is working hard to discredit this movement by posing as supportive anti-Semitic posters. Good job.

  • Occupy Wall Street Together

    NEO-CON ALERT. It’s anti-Semitism to make unfounded slurs, not to make factual statements. You want to derail the workers.

    The heads of all the major corporations and banks are Jews. We need to
    let them know we are working-class Americans who don’t appreciate slaving away for $5/hour while they make billions.

    Jews to Be Jailed for 2008:

    Bernie Madhoff

    Allan Greenspan

    Andrew Grove

    Bernard Marcus

    Ralph Lauren

    Bruce Kovner

    Leonard Laudner

    Robert Ziff

    Samuel Zell

    William Rosenberg

    Howard Schultz

    Philip Anschutz

    Neil Bluhm

    Sergey Brin

    Mark Cuban

    Lyor Cohen

    Michael Dell

    … I COULD TYPE ALL NIGHT!

    I AM THE 99%.

  • Occupy Wall Street Together

    If you want to jail the heads of corporations and bankers, and they all happen to be Jews, then it’s not anti-Semitic to say “Jail the Jews.” Otherwise who are you planning to jail if not the Jews? Name names. Seriously. Don’t just say “jail them” – tell us WHO you want jailed. Face facts – start putting out names and 90% of them are Jews.

    I have been at Occupy Portland for three days and we are in about 70% agreement that there needs to be an ultimate solution to the problem of financial Jewry destroying the American dream. Don’t come in here as a neo-con and start throwing around slurs at me when I’m out in the streets working to build a better future for my children and neighbors.

    I AM THE 99%.

  • Mr Willow

    You’re right. We need to stand united, so stop dividing us by alienating every Jewish person who is otherwise in support of the cause. 

    Ass.

  • Anonymous

    Using Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric I see.

    Jesus was a Jew. I rest my case.

  • what about the rich Christians that do this too… one of the many faces of the right wing.

  • herzmeister

    they are lying and faking up their stuff too (see image).

    (via http://twitter.com/#!/cshirky/status/125290686844112896 )

  • herzmeister

    they are lying and faking up their stuff too (see image).

    (via http://twitter.com/#!/cshirky/status/125290686844112896 )

  • Andrew

    Hitler liked Jewish ice-cream.  FACT.

  • Lucius

    Other than virtual economic serfdom, right wing social conservatives and #OWS/99%ers have very little in common. And it is telling that Mr Red State blog would seek to divide Us along a mythical tax line that was effectively debunked by these authors. 
    Social conservatives and religious fundmentalists cannot abide change. They want and need bedrock, absolute truths delivered by an authority. They trust the system even as it strips them of whatever dignity and economic opportunities We have fought for during the course of this nation’s history.  If they do not want to join Us, that is their perogative. But We the 99%ers are making History, and the only question is, which side of History do you want to be on?  That of We the People or that of the corporate plutocracy?

    Mr. Willow’s comments are right-on. 

    • Hweila

      These protests will be allowed to continue until they actually begin to present an inconvenience to the people in charge, and then they’ll be crushed.  By the time it happens the vast majority of the country will either be cheering on those doing it or utterly indifferent.

      Here’s what you’ll see: First, the police will goad the protesters into ever escalating acts of violence with the media dutifully covering each in everyone in detail. Next, you’ll see the media link OWS to fringe groups despised by the vast majority of the American public (such as the “endorsements” the movement has received from the American Nazi Party and various Socialist and Communist parties). Meanwhile, they’ll continue to present the conditions of the protest as increasingly dangerous and unsanitary.

      They will continue to do this until the next major news story comes along at which point they will sweep in, break up the protest and arrest large numbers of people. By the time people kinda sorta turn their attention back towards it, the only stories you’ll see is about the amount of illegal drugs supposedly seized, the number of people with outstanding warrants caught during the arrests, and what horrible dangers to public safety they discovered that they just barely saved people from by ending the protests when they did. They’ll entirely avoid discussing the brutality with which the protesters were arrested or the technologies used to rapidly pacify the crowd into submission.

      By the deep cold of winter this will be nothing but a fading memory serving only as the occasional joke on Right-Wing Talk Radio or as a new evergreen topic for arguments on progressive online forums and blogs as to what went wrong.

      Make no mistake, the US as we presently know it will collapse in the coming decades, but the odds are overwhelming that what replaces it will be worse rather than better. The only things that are really practical to do at the moment is to get somewhere sufficiently sparsely populated that it’s likely to be ignored and get as far off the grid as possible or to get out as soon as possible.

      • Lucius

        A pretty cynical outlook, but who knows, maybe close to what will happen, though I hope not. I remain optimistic about this movement because it’s taking hold across not just the US but worldwide and is drawing atttention to economic inequalities at the scene of the crime.  It remains to be seen what will happen once Winter settles in, but I’m not making any predictions.

        Frankly, I can’t see that crushing this movement could be good pr for anybody.  Plus, if you’ve noticed, any time the police strike out, the crowd surges forward with cameras and cell phones.  Then this gets uploaded to the internet.  It’s the internet that will determine the perception of #OWS, not tv or newspapers.  Besides, who watches tv or reads a paper?  And as for ‘endorsements’, well, I hardly think the American Nazi party has anything in common with #OWS other than maybe a high rate of unemployment.  In addition, #OWS is not repsponsibile for what crazy people do or say and no one remotely aware of what #OWS stands for would give any such specious association any credence.  

        I don’t doubt that if the corporatocracy feels threatened by this movement that there will be blowback.  But that will just prove #OWS’ point that We the People are being oppressed by the 1% who own the world.  The only issue is whether we can take back the government from its corporate masters and end the fiction of corporate personhood.    

        Re: the coming collapse and heading for the hills.  My buddy owns 150 acres in Maine and is totally off the grid. I spend 2 weeks there every summer and am in his will as a share holder. I also have access to a cabin in the Adirondacks.  My sister has 80 acres in VT and she and her husband’s family also own 1000 acres in Nova Scotia.  Soon as my other house in AZ gets sold, I’m heading out of Dodge. 

        • Hweila

          While, in terms of where people get the news, the Internet finally surpassed newspapers late in 2010, TV remains the dominant news source in the US by a wide margin. (http://stateofthemedia.org/) While crushing the movement won’t be good PR, that’s precisely why they have to wait until people have gotten distracted by something before doing so.

  • Lucius Sorrentino

    Other than virtual economic serfdom, right wing social conservatives and #OWS/99%ers have very little in common. And it is telling that Mr Red State blog would seek to divide Us along a mythical tax line that was effectively debunked by these authors. 
    Social conservatives and religious fundmentalists cannot abide change. They want and need bedrock, absolute truths delivered by an authority. They trust the system even as it strips them of whatever dignity and economic opportunities We have fought for during the course of this nation’s history.  If they do not want to join Us, that is their perogative. But We the 99%ers are making History, and the only question is, which side of History do you want to be on?  That of We the People or that of the corporate plutocracy?

    Mr. Willow’s comments are right-on. 

  • Hweila

    These protests will be allowed to continue until they actually begin to present an inconvenience to the people in charge, and then they’ll be crushed.  By the time it happens the vast majority of the country will either be cheering on those doing it or utterly indifferent.

    Here’s what you’ll see: First, the police will goad the protesters into ever escalating acts of violence with the media dutifully covering each in everyone in detail. Next, you’ll see the media link OWS to fringe groups despised by the vast majority of the American public (such as the “endorsements” the movement has received from the American Nazi Party and various Socialist and Communist parties). Meanwhile, they’ll continue to present the conditions of the protest as increasingly dangerous and unsanitary.

    They will continue to do this until the next major news story comes along at which point they will sweep in, break up the protest and arrest large numbers of people. By the time people kinda sorta turn their attention back towards it, the only stories you’ll see is about the amount of illegal drugs supposedly seized, the number of people with outstanding warrants caught during the arrests, and what horrible dangers to public safety they discovered that they just barely saved people from by ending the protests when they did. They’ll entirely avoid discussing the brutality with which the protesters were arrested or the technologies used to rapidly pacify the crowd into submission.

    By the deep cold of winter this will be nothing but a fading memory serving only as the occasional joke on Right-Wing Talk Radio or as a new evergreen topic for arguments on progressive online forums and blogs as to what went wrong.

    Make no mistake, the US as we presently know it will collapse in the coming decades, but the odds are overwhelming that what replaces it will be worse rather than better. The only things that are really practical to do at the moment is to get somewhere sufficiently sparsely populated that it’s likely to be ignored and get as far off the grid as possible or to get out as soon as possible.

  • Anonymous

    I think it boils down to the definition of the word “civilized”. If society is nothing more than a modern version of the dog eat dog world of “pre- civilization”, where is the distinction? Has man really progressed or just achieved a more systematic order to his chaos?

    Some are afraid to give as much as they are to afraid to receive. The usury concept permeates all of our psyches to great extent. So often, we use and are used without consideration. True cooperation becomes an alien concept. Much is achieved, but for the wrong reasons, so things created within such a paradigm are like sand through our fingers and salt on our wounds. 

    I too, like so many am wrestling with the fulcrum of balance between personal survival and helping one another. I want to be of service and make a living too. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask does it? 
    ….and yet somehow, at least for the time being, it is. 

     

  • http://twitter.com/FProcent Fifty Three Procent

    u are miserable idiots,u living on unemployment checks, but if you take all money from 53% than who gonna pay taxes for your unemployment?

  • Lucius Sorrentino

    A pretty cynical outlook, but who knows, maybe close to what will happen, though I hope not. I remain optimistic about this movement because it’s taking hold across not just the US but worldwide and is drawing atttention to economic inequalities at the scene of the crime.  It remains to be seen what will happen once Winter settles in, but I’m not making any predictions.

    Frankly, I can’t see that crushing this movement could be good pr for anybody.  Plus, if you’ve noticed, any time the police strike out, the crowd surges forward with cameras and cell phones.  Then this gets uploaded to the internet.  It’s the internet that will determine the perception of #OWS, not tv or newspapers.  Besides, who watches tv or reads a paper?  And as for ‘endorsements’, well, I hardly think the American Nazi party has anything in common with #OWS other than maybe a high rate of unemployment.  In addition, #OWS is not repsponsibile for what crazy people do or say and no one remotely aware of what #OWS stands for would give any such specious association any credence.  

    I don’t doubt that if the corporatocracy feels threatened by this movement that there will be blowback.  But that will just prove #OWS’ point that We the People are being oppressed by the 1% who own the world.  The only issue is whether we can take back the government from its corporate masters and end the fiction of corporate personhood.    

    Re: the coming collapse and heading for the hills.  My buddy owns 150 acres in Maine and is totally off the grid. I spend 2 weeks there every summer and am in his will as a share holder. I also have access to a cabin in the Adirondacks.  My sister has 80 acres in VT and she and her husband’s family also own 1000 acres in Nova Scotia.  Soon as my other house in AZ gets sold, I’m heading out of Dodge. 

  • Nunzio X

    Mr Willow offers a concise and well-phrased analysis.

    I’m going to copy / paste this comment into emails (with credit given to Mr Willow, and a link to the post, of course.)

  • Hweila

    While, in terms of where people get the news, the Internet finally surpassed newspapers late in 2010, TV remains the dominant news source in the US by a wide margin. (http://stateofthemedia.org/) While crushing the movement won’t be good PR, that’s precisely why they have to wait until people have gotten distracted by something before doing so.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lloydleroimiller Lloyd Miller

    I am ready, willin, able, I am ready to join up, help  out,…what can I do?

  • http://lleroimiller.vox.com/ Leroi

    I am ready, willin, able, I am ready to join up, help  out,…what can I do?

  • Gonoherpasyphilaids

    “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Business men, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” Morpheus

21