Thursday, November 10, 2011

99% vs 53% vs 1%

In an effort to undermine or disqualify the Occupy Wall Street movement, a few people have signed on to a new astroturf "we are the 53%" group. This 53% is supposed to be the percentage of Americans who pay a net income tax at the end of the year. The irony of the slogan is that it states, by logical process, that 47% of Americans live below an income level to which they would have to pay incomes tax. Saying that 53% of Americans pay a net income tax isn't something to be proud of, it is a condemnation of the economic situation that we find ourselves in. I used to be in the 53% tax bracket. I used to end up getting back only a portion of what I paid in over the year and do you know what? I was fine with that and I would happily go back to that bracket in a heartbeat if only I could.

Yet, politicians and their backers want to play class warfare by painting those who don't make enough money to pay income taxes as lazy. I hate to break it to you but not everyone can become a CEO, an investment banker, a trial lawyer or win the lottery. Some people are going to have to flip burgers, bus tables, scrape roadkill, fix flat tires, bag groceries or work as a security guard to make our society continue to work as we know it. Guess what? Some of us are OK with the cards that life has dealt us. Some of us have accepted that the "American Dream" may not be realized for us but we're still trying to get it for our kids.

Occupy Wall Street isn't protesting to ask for a handout, it is protesting to ask for a handup instead of the current system that primarily rewards people who climb the ladder, only to kick out the rungs below it. The 99% represents the people who the system isn't working for anymore, not those who want a free government check every month.

It is too easy to be mentally lazy and let Fox News tell you that we are a bunch of "dirty, lazy hippies". The problems we face are far more complex than some pasteurized 30 second sound bite. It is intellectually convenient to just write off a social issue that has come to a head as the bitching of a few who want something they aren't entitled to. It isn't that simple. Think for yourself.

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