Background: if I understand and remember correctly, the Occupy movement is a socialist protest movement whose goals include–but aren’t limited to–bringing everyone (down) to the same economic level. Its battle cry consists of numbers, namely the 1% of the population who make at least $506k per year and the other 99% who don’t (but who would snatch up the opportunity to do so given half the chance…don’t let them fool you). It’s those people to whom the rest of this post is dedicated, and yes, 99%-ers, I’m talking directly to you.
So you’re the 99%. You stand with everyone else. We’re all in the same boat; we’re all in this together…right? And I bet you feel pretty good about yourself. Since you’re not in the 1%, your social conscience feels pretty clean. By now, you’re starting to feel entitled to speak for everyone else in the 99%, because by God(dess), you share the same plight and sentiment as they do.
Three cheers for group solidarity.
Except for one inconvenient fact: if you had a chance at participating in the upper echelon of the 1%, you’d step on your ailing mother’s back to snatch it. In short: you wish. Since you haven’t yet figured out a way to become one of the 1%, it’s easier to put on your holier-than-thou hat and view prosperity with disgust and disdain, as if people who reap the appropriate fruit for their labor are somehow an Elite class whose fruit is “excessive”. The term “green” doesn’t just apply to recycling programs and wussy ridiculous-looking cars; it also applies to the cloud surrounding your life: envy. Shake it off; green isn’t your color.
Instead, let’s talk about who the 1% really are. Wiki defines them as a class of people who make more than $506k/year. But those are just numbers and you’re interested in real people, real individuals with real hearts and feelings, right? So let’s look beyond those numbers. I divide them into three major groups.
Group 1: Politicians. A whole whack of 1%-ers are on Capitol Hill, fat-catting themselves off of our tax money and lobby money for not only a cushy salary but also major fringe benefits. And it’s not just those damn Republicans, either. Democratic politicians are every bit as likely to look out for themselves and stock up on rich benefits and portfolios. They’re also just as likely to suspiciously marry into money (John Kerry marrying the Heinz heir is a glaring example). These people, folks, are the people you voted in with your ballot.
Group 2: Large corporations. A whole whack more of those 1%-ers head up companies whose patrons include lots of Democrats sporting BO bumper stickers on their minivans. Whether it’s Wal-Mart (on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum) or Whole Foods Market (on the upper end of said spectrum), you should realize that by shopping here, you’re supporting a lot of 1%-ers.
These people, though, are simply reaping the benefits voluntarily bestowed upon them by the same “poor me, go Obama!” people who shop there. I’m not saying everyone who shops at Wal-Mart or Whole Foods is a whiner; I am saying that many of the people who bitch the loudest about the “excesses” income of the fat-cats at the top think nothing of scoring a $20 vacuum without wondering where it came from and shopping at the big conglomerates to obtain it. Yep, those executives were “voted” straight into the 1% category…with your wallet.
Group 3: The Not-So-Usual Suspects. Another group of 1%-ers are people that run small businesses. I have a small business myself, as do most of my hardworking colleagues. We work hard to actually produce products or provide services of quality to our patrons without insurance or government trying to get in the way of the relationship.
Yes, with any luck, yours truly will hopefully be part of that 1% within the next few years and I can assure you, I worked goddamn hard to get there. I’d appreciate it if the 99%-ers targeted me (and those in my situation) less and the Washington politicians and Californian millionaire socialites a little more instead. We aren’t lucky enough to get your votes (wallet- or ballot-based) because we’re not promising the Blue Moon and stars like a politician or setting up yet another Fortune 500 franchise on a street corner near you.
That about concludes my rant. And when you work as hard as I’ve worked and take the risks that I’ve taken, you can bitch, too. Until then, be the 99%, be content with being 99%, and consider yourself lucky because I wouldn’t wish the past few years of my life on anyone.