Many people online, in editorial pages, on television and in the streets are denying their membership in the 99%. Few if any of the people that fight against their membership to this not-so-elite group fully understand the concept of the “99%”.
Those who automatically reject anything they consider “liberal” will reject their membership in the 99% as a way to reject a group they falsely consider lazy, unclean Americans who want to blame corporations for all their troubles. However, Occupy Wall Street is not asking for you to agree with everything every member of their group believes. Admitting that you are part of the 99% does not require you reject your conservative, or other, principles.
What admitting you are part of the 99% requires is that you let go of your denial and acquire a modicum of class consciousness. First, you must let go of the myth that the richest 1% of Americans care about you and are job creators instead of job destroyers. Then you must develop an awareness that you are in the lower classes and the 1% determines, to a large extent, what happens in this nation.
Many people reject this idea because they think it means you have to be an anarchist, socialist, communist or some other ist to belong to the 99%. That’s a misreading of the metaphor. What’s more, they don’t even know it is a metaphor, a number that represents the inequality in our economic and political system but may not be literally accurate.
Even Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, showing how smart he is with numbers, took “99%” as a literal idea and corrected the notion several times in his post:
“Let’s be clear. This isn’t really the 99 percent. If you’re in the 85th percentile, for instance, your household is making more than $100,000, and you’re probably doing okay. If you’re in the 95th percentile, your household is making more than $150,000. But then, these protests really aren’t about Wall Street, either. There’s not a lot of evidence that these people want a class war, or even particularly punitive measures on the rich. The only thing that’s clear from their missives is that they want the economy to start working for them, too.”
Let’s be clear about Mr. Klein’s misreading of OWS: 99% is a metaphor that he takes too literally and thus misses the point that it’s about inequality, not exactitude. And it is about Wall Street. The protests are about Wall Street run amok, about how Wall Street gets a free pass when they break regulatory laws, about a Wall Street that is in large part responsible for our economic disaster we find ourselves in. But, it’s not only about Wall Street. The Occupy Movement is about banks, mega corporations like Monsanto that poison our food supply, BP and other large companies that pollute with impunity, the military industrial complex, and so forth. Just because it’s called “Occupy Wall Street” doesn’t mean Wall Street is their only concern, and it’s willfully ignorant to think that. Read their declaration and educate yourself about their issues.
Klein also echoes sentiments of Republicans and dismisses the movement as self-centered, only concerned about themselves, only wanting the “economy to start working” for them, thus he misses the point again. Sure, members of the occupy movement are concerned about their own welfare, and also their neighbors, their children, their family, their community, their teachers, their public servants, other workers, and all members of the 99% that might have had tough times because of the plutocracy we live under. Otherwise, why would so many employed, retired and financially secure people involve themselves in the movement?
Compassion for others is not a hard thing to understand. It’s too bad Klein’s analysis only skims the surface of what the Occupy Movement is about. If he can’t correctly interpret Occupy, he should stick to writing about the Republican primaries. There, he will see enough lies to write about, and he won’t have to write misinformation about the Occupy Movement.
You’re part of the 99% if:
- Most of your income comes with a W-2 attached.
- You have ever, or currently, received food stamps, unemployment, SSI, or other government assistance.
- You don’t have an offshore bank account.
- If you are not a financial manager or CEO of a major firm, you are part of the 99%.
- You are also a member of the 99% if your income is less than $400,000 a year.
- If you earn less than 25% of your income in rent and dividends, you are part of the 99%.
- If you are one paycheck from being homeless, you are part of the 99%.
- If you are not a manager, executive, or supervisor of a large firm, you are likely part of the 99%.
- You are part of the 1% if you can donate millions to a political campaign.
- You are part of the 1% if you can write laws for ALEC and thus Congress.
- And if you’re reading this, you are a member of the 99%.
Here’s a demographic breakdown of the 1%:
Fact: the top 1% in the US control 42% of the nation’s wealth.
Rich Versus Poor demographics