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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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137 Responses

  1. norbizness
    norbizness October 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm |

    [a modified piece of dialogue from Full Metal Jacket]

    COLONEL: Whose side are you on, son?
    JOKER: Our side, sir.
    COLONEL: Don’t you love our economic system?
    JOKER: Yes, sir.
    COLONEL: Then how about getting with the program? Why don’t you jump on the team and come on in for the big screwjob?
    JOKER: Yes, sir!
    COLONEL: Son, all I’ve ever asked of my serfs is that they accept their sorry lot in life as if it were preordained by God himself. We are here to help the plutocrats, because inside every socialist there is an American trying to get out. It’s a hardball world, son. We’ve gotta keep our heads until this economic fairness craze blows over.
    JOKER: Aye-aye, sir.

  2. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm |

    Really worth noting that progressives want to unite 99% of the country, while this conservative aspires to construct a bare majority and set it against the rest, dividing us just about in half and siding with the powerful half.

    99% erases a lot, as Sady Doyle has pointed out, but it is a testament to its rhetorical effectiveness that Erickson feels compelled to respond.

  3. Miku
    Miku October 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    “No more taxes!… Wait, you’re not paying taxes? Shame on you!”

    But seriously, this is how the Republican party gets votes – convincing people to vote against their own desires (and gerrymandering and encouraging people not to vote and making it harder for those who are trying to vote etc.).

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin October 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    A joke from 1963.

    Alan Bennett: I think there is a danger though of seeing the colour problem simply in terms of black and white.

    Peter Cook: It’s a lot more complicated than that.

    Dudley Moore: I gather the Negroes are sweeping the country.

    Jonathan Miller: They are. It’s one of the few jobs they can get.

  5. norbizness
    norbizness October 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    #3: “I mean, apart from the regressive sales taxes, indirect property taxes, and payroll taxes that are making your life a crappy paycheck-to-crappy paycheck existence, of course. My advice, son? Blame illegal immigrants.” (winks)

  6. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    First $250,000 of cap gains taxed at 22%. Remainder ordinary income.

    Done.

  7. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn October 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    It’s worth pointing out, also, that Erickson’s site features mostly white people. It features people who are used to being on the A Team. I don’t think anyone on that site would actually say that they feel an air of nobility for being part of the underclass; I don’t think they believe they’re part of an American underclass at all.

    I read something a while back (I can’t remember what it was, but it might have been a study) about how impoverished white people latch on to their identity as white as a way of managing feelings of inferiority.

  8. Erica
    Erica October 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    It’s worth pointing out, also, that Erickson’s site features mostly white people. It features people who are used to being on the A Team.

    To be fair, so does We Are the 99%, for the same reason… white people are built up with Horatio Alger dreams since we first learn how to dream, and when they come true we gloat, and when they don’t come true we act like it’s something new. “What? You mean there’s an upper class that is basically in control of my financial destiny and a whole system of insurance schemes, unpayable debts, and stagnant wages that are designed to keep me trapped and destitute? Why was I not informed??”

    But yeah, that cancer one is super sad. Fuck the American Dream, I want the Scandinavian Dream.

  9. Meh
    Meh October 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    The class warfare this “99%” nonsense has stirred up is disgusting. I wish both sides would stfu.

  10. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni October 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

    The rich depend on the Stockholm Syndrome of the poor, and the myth of the ‘American Dream’ to maintain the status quo.

    It’s not much better here in the UK either.

    What’s especially upsetting is seeing the very people oppressed by the system spewing back lies like “Hard work never fails” and “Not working means you’re worthless”. Disability-related hate crime is soaring here (in the UK) on the back of govt. rhetoric claiming that anyone not working is a freeloading leech who, should be left to starve for ‘Bankrupting Britain’, while granting tax write-offs of up to £6bn to corporations like Vodafone. It shouldn’t be surprising that race-related crimes are burgeoning too, as immigrants are blamed for unemployment and economic hardship.

    UKUncut are probably our equivalent to the 99%, and there was a ‘Hardest Hit’ march, with disabled Brits marching on Westminster. There was hardly any mainstream media coverage of any of the protests, unsurprisingly. When the riots happened in the summer a lot of people were saying “This isn’t the way to protest economic inequality, peaceful protest is”, but the peaceful protests have been happening since the Coalition (of bastards) came to power, and they’ve been roundly ignored.

  11. Juke
    Juke October 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm |

    It’s quite a feat that the oligarchs (for lack of a less sensational term) really have convinced these people that their poverty is noble and righteous and, in this life or the next, will somehow deliver them.

    Somehow I don’t think it’s coincidence that these people are often devout conservative Christians…

  12. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm |

    Clarisse, you’ve just described the most important dynamic of US political history, 1945-present.

  13. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Anyone who wants to see what class warfare looks like should look at the size of the US prison population in comparison to other affluent, democratic countries. Military units, gunfights, armored vehicles, and casualties, prisoners and collateral damage — we even call it a war. But we call it a war on drugs, and a war on illegal immigration.

    Demanding reform is not the same as dragging people out of their beds and pointing guns at them.

  14. Gigi
    Gigi October 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm |

    Just to clarify: not everyone pays sales tax (e.g. Delaware); property tax and most of payroll taxes are for your state not federal gov; your fed tax return is made up of payroll taxes given back, so if get much of what you got deducted, you’re not really paying full fed tax.

    This mess is squarely on the fed that gave bail out money to banks with no strings. I say OCCUPY WASHINGTON! They made tat deal with our money. They had no prob giving GM and CHRYSLER money with string attached. Why not the banks?

  15. Yan
    Yan October 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm |

    I am currently one of the 53%, and glad to have the paycheck that allows me to make enough to “have” to pay federal income taxes. I have also been the 47% — not receiving social services (yet. I came close), but underemployed and with enough deductions to have a negative adjusted income.

    I am not, nor will I ever achieve, the 1%. Nor is it a goal of mine. I think the line between the 53% and the 47% is slim, shaky, and permeable, especially these days. The line between the 99% and the 1% is more like an iron curtain.

  16. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni October 13, 2011 at 7:01 pm |

    I never cease to be amazed at the US prison system. It apparently has nothing to do with rehabilitation or even punishment, it’s just another industry. There was a Louis Theroux documentary shown over here, he’d been to prisons in Miami, and it seemed like the vast majority of inmates were guilty of EWPB – Existing While Poor and/or Black.

    How can 4.5m people be incarcerated, with up to half of those awaiting trial for months on end, without a massive outcry?

    Look at Topeka – domestic violence is decriminalised, but you can bet they’re still locking people up on drugs or immigration charges. In the meantime, spouse batterers can act freely on their violent whims, because domestic battery is only classed as a felony after the third prosecution. But, if nobody’s being charged, then the magic number 3 is never being reached.

  17. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm |

    Re: Gigi’s comment – does anyone know why the symbolic is so important that they’ve forgone the practical? i.e. why Wall Street and not Washington?

  18. Jadey
    Jadey October 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm |

    Isn’t the point of taxes to, you know, pay them? I mean, I enjoy getting my tax refund every year (I am a grad student and thus in a fairly low tax bracket), but if one day I make enough income that this return is either small or non-existent, well… isn’t that the point? Forgive me for my backwards Canadian socialism, but I always assumed that how it was supposed to work. It’s not impoverishing or punitive – it’s part of that whole social contract thingy that we as a cooperative social species have come up with in various iterations over the course of our existence! We contribute to the group, the group thrives, we live sustainably in the thriving group. Everybody wins. It’s not like it’s going to the extreme of, “Everyone must have equal everything and no one can be different in any way and I don’t care if you don’t want a car, EVERYONE GETS A CAR.” It’s just trying to establish a minimum standard of living. Seems like that would speak well to the country as a whole.

    I find it baffling because to me one of the essential features of USian culture (from an outsider’s perspective) is the level of devotion and loyalty to the idea of a unifying American identity (compared to my country where we don’t even know what our national identity is, much less embrace it with anything approaching fanaticism). Yet this seems to be at the expense of caring about actual Americans.

  19. Jadey
    Jadey October 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    (Which is not to say that Canada is superior to the US–I hope it doesn’t come off that way too much. My country has many of its own problems–some similar, some different–and one of them is to use comparisons to US problems as a way to minimize our own.)

  20. Jadey
    Jadey October 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    PrettyAmiable:
    Re: Gigi’s comment – does anyone know why the symbolic is so important that they’ve forgone the practical? i.e. why Wall Street and not Washington?

    Google confirms that Washington is also being occupied, although the name of the movement is still based on where it originated. Hard to re-brand mid-movement.

  21. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar:
    Clarisse, you’ve just described the most important dynamic of US political history, 1945-present.

    Maybe the most important dynamic, period. For example, poll taxes and literacy tests that were put in place to keep black men from voting after the Civil War, kept just as many if not more white men from being able to vote as well. And the Civil War itself would not have been possible if it weren’t for poor whites fighting in the interests of rich slave owners.

  22. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm |

    The “we are the 99%” doesn’t piss anyone else off?

    I am admittedly in a different boat. I am not in the 1% bracket, but am in an industry where that’s attainable. Full disclosure.

    I agree with some of what the protesters are putting forth. I agree that the wealthy need to suck it up and pay taxes. The incremental benefit of those taxes to a well-off person are much less than the incremental benefit to society as a whole.

    I do not agree with the methods. Protesting is awesome, but protest with a coherent message. Protest with a unified cause in mind. When you do finally put forth recommendations (e.g. Glass-Steagall and so on), don’t pretend that this is anything more than a band-aid because globalization makes US law nearly irrelevant – they’ll just incorporate elsewhere.

    Pissed that corporations aren’t paying taxes? Be pissed that they’re jumping ship to other countries because most other countries have lower corporate tax brackets. (I’m looking at you Ireland; hey, nice debt crisis).

    Many more thoughts, but the last couple of days have been 15 hour work days and I have to clean my apt so I hopefully get laid this weekend whoooooo!

  23. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm |

    Gigi:
    Just to clarify: not everyone pays sales tax (e.g. Delaware); property tax and most of payroll taxes are for your state not federal gov; your fed tax return is made up of payroll taxes given back, so if get much of what you got deducted, you’re not really paying full fed tax.

    There are a few sales taxes that go to the federal government, most notably on gasoline, telephone/internet, and utilities. And I’d argue the gasoline tax is a very regressive tax, considering the number of people who can’t sell their homes and are forced to make very long commutes in order to get somewhere where there is work.

    It’s probably isn’t equivalent to “full federal tax” but it is a burden on a lot of people, especially as local governments cut service for public transportation. And while I agree with the idea of giving people tax rebates to make their homes or cars more efficient in theory, in practice it seems like we’re giving rich people tax rebates on Pruises and solar panels, and paying for it with regressive energy taxes on people who can’t afford to buy such things.

  24. EG
    EG October 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm |

    Protesting is awesome, but protest with a coherent message. Protest with a unified cause in mind.

    Oh, I disagree. I’ve been protesting with a coherent message and a unified cause for literally decades, and abortion rights have been rolled back non-stop. I’ve gone to unified marches, made unified donations, and voted in a unified manner. I think it’s time to try something else.

    This protest and its methods have caught hold of people’s imaginations and emotions. We can make the rest up on the fly.

    Heh. I don’t think it’s the 99% campaign that started the class warfare thing.

    What’s the line? “They only call it ‘class warfare’ when we fight back.”

  25. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 9:21 pm |

    Meh: The class warfare this “99%” nonsense has stirred up is disgusting. I wish both sides would stfu.

    What is wrong with class warfare? If the classes are women/men black/white it is easy to see the point. Yet if the classes are rich and poor then somehow it is disgusting?

  26. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    EG: “They only call it ‘class warfare’ when we fight back.”

    Exactly!

  27. Drahill
    Drahill October 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Yes, the slogan pisses me off!

    I can only speak for what I know, personally. I grew up under the poverty level (at least the national one). I’m from a little town in western Montana (pop. 510, last time I was there). The overwhelmingly majority of people in the town and surrounding areas would be classified as poor. And they HATE OWS. Like, truly HATE it.

    Part of it, I think, is probably still attributable to regionalism and differences in mentality. the government (state, federal) simply does not have a presence in the area. The local government is mostly limited to your local sheriff and police (who may total all of 2 people). The government is the biggest “other” out there. The overriding mentality is that the government, and those who would seek out the government’s assistance, cannot be trusted. That view is so historically and culturally ingrained in some parts of America, it would take me a dissertation to really explore it.

    My father used to live in California as a teenager, briefly. He always said it was odd that the blue collar workers who encountered college students and young people protesting Vietnam hated the protestors so much – when blue collar americans were the most likely to suffer because of the war. But, like it or not, the role of the messanger in activism cannot be discounted. I don’t see rural representation in those crowds in cities (mostly because rural people probably wouldn’t spend the gas ton get there!).

    My biggest problem with the “99%” slogan is that, to me, at least, it feels like a partial erasure. Rural poverty cannot be addressed in simplistic solgans or marchs – no more than urban poverty can! I cannot know or speak on the experience of a poor african-american woman living in a city. I cannot understand what most of these people live. I can only know me – and lumping such diverse people, with such diverse needs, under a single banner, to me, is almost bordering on insulting to so many. I don’t understand the need to try to form such a cohesive movement – when it is so much more clearly a coalition.

  28. Christie
    Christie October 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm |

    But it has certainly added fuel to the fire.

    Jill: Heh. I don’t think it’s the 99% campaign that started the class warfare thing.

  29. Christie
    Christie October 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm |

    If you really believe all of this 99% is about “what is right” and that the 53% bloggers are a bunch of angry self righteous white men, I would ask that you please stop and think a moment. Do you really believe that we should all be on equal grounds? Then you are not for a democratic society, you want a socialist society. If you do, I encourage you to read a short story by Kurt Vonnegut entitled Harrison Bergeron. You may find the full text easily on the web. It will make you think about an “equal” society.

  30. Christie
    Christie October 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm |

    Men/women, black/white are not classes; they are subject to discrimination and no one has ever said it is right or that it is not disgusting either. What I believe the author of the statement was inferring is enough is enough. Just as discrimination in general is wrong and shouldn’t we be beyond it in this day and time?

    IMHO

    llama: What is wrong with class warfare? If the classes are women/men black/white it is easy to see the point. Yet if the classes are rich and poor then somehow it is disgusting?

  31. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    EG: Oh, I disagree. I’ve been protesting with a coherent message and a unified cause for literally decades, and abortion rights have been rolled back non-stop. I’ve gone to unified marches, made unified donations, and voted in a unified manner. I think it’s time to try something else.

    I guess? I see the problem you’re facing, but I still think it’s a problem when the message is muddled. I don’t want anything to do with the local movement because of the way the message gets distorted and my disagreement with some of the root causes they’re identifying and omg the subway preachers, but if it was simplified to “tax all motherfuckers, esp the motherfuckers who don’t need extra cash,” I feel like you really could get the 99% behind it.

    Of course, i think it’s one step at a time too – you argue all the things at once and none of the things happen. I’m focused on the tax issue now because I genuinely think the most people are united on it and, you know, topic of the post and I finally managed to not participate in a derail. (WHAT WHATTT FEMINISTE STREET CRED)

  32. Bloix
    Bloix October 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    The point of “we are the 99%” has to do with increasing income inequality. Since 1979 (in effect, since Reagan) the average household in the top one percent has seen its income increase – thats’ increase, not total – by $600,000. The rest of the top 20% – some slight increases. The bottom 80% has seen its household income fall.

    Poor rural people have seen their incomes fall, so yes, they are part of the 99%. They may not understand why they are poorer than they used to be, but they are, and it’s not class warfare to point out the facts. It’s unfortunate that poor white rural people identify with the assholes that keep them down, but that’s the history of poor rural people in the US for the last hundred years.

  33. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm |

    EG – also, I really (probably naively) think more people are united on taxes than almost any other issue. To give you an idea of how fucked up our attitudes on choice and life still are, today at lunch, one of my coworkers told us how in his part of Korea, you’re born at nine months of age. Because you were alive. While a fetus. And I threw out a “I’m pro-choice, so I don’t see it that way” and was done with it, but holy fuck am I still angry about it.

    What both of these topics need is education.

    Incidentally, I happen to think that’s a bigger issue than the tax issue – affordable, quality education. I don’t have many solutions for that though (…other than increase taxes, haha).

  34. Christie
    Christie October 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm |

    Wow, really? Punching you in the face for years? I guess I’m tired of being “punched in the face” every time I go to the grocery store and see able bodied women and men that used EBT cards to pay for steaks, chips, sodas, etc. while talking on their cell phone paid for with my tax dollars! I’ve worked and paid my taxes for over 25 years so that others can abuse the system time and time again. I am not opposed to social welfare when needed, but on a limited basis for a limited time. Extending unemployment for 18 months? Come on! Not requiring potential buyers to provide proof of income and lending 125% of the value of the home’s worth. All of the things that led to the economic decline; and then we bailed them out! Would they bail me out? No. I say they should have let them fail. So you see I am not a staunch conservative that believes the 99%ers are lazy no gooders. But I believe the media is certainly adding fuel to the fire. Instead of complaining, I think they should get out and try to find a job, go back to school if necessary, quit relying on the government and crying about life being unfair. Guess what? Life is often unfair, no one ever said it would be. Our constitution grants the right to PURSUE happiness, not be given anything. Too often that is confused; people feel they are entitled to happiness. No, get out and make your happiness.

    Jill: I’m not sure that finally being like “Hey this isn’t nice!” when someone has been punching you in the face for years is “adding fuel to the fire.”

  35. Christie
    Christie October 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm |

    Wow, really? Punching you in the face for years? I guess I’m tired of being “punched in the face” every time I go to the grocery store and see able bodied women and men that used EBT cards to pay for steaks, chips, sodas, etc. while talking on their cell phone paid for with my tax dollars! I’ve worked and paid my taxes for over 25 years so that others can abuse the system time and time again. I am not opposed to social welfare when needed, but on a limited basis for a limited time. Extending unemployment for 18 months? Come on! Not requiring potential buyers to provide proof of income and lending 125% of the value of the home’s worth. All of the things that led to the economic decline; and then we bailed them out! Would they bail me out? No. I say they should have let them fail. So you see I am not a staunch conservative that believes the 99%ers are lazy no gooders. But I believe the media is certainly adding fuel to the fire. Instead of complaining, I think they should get out and try to find a job, go back to school if necessary, quit relying on the government and crying about life being unfair. Guess what? Life is often unfair, no one ever said it would be. Our constitution grants the right to PURSUE happiness, not be given anything. Too often that is confused; people feel they are entitled to happiness. No, get out and make your happiness.

    Jill: I’m not sure that finally being like “Hey this isn’t nice!” when someone has been punching you in the face for years is “adding fuel to the fire.”

  36. Bloix
    Bloix October 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm |

    John Quiggin at Crooked Timber has a great explanation of the both the literal truth and the political power of “We are the 99%” –
    http://crookedtimber.org/2011/10/14/percentiles/#more-21925

  37. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    Christie: Men/women, black/white are not classes; they are subject to discrimination and no one has ever said it is right or that it is not disgusting either.

    It doesn’t really matter whether you call a subgroup of the population a class or some other word. It is clear when the groups are say men/women or black/white that some ‘fighting’ needs to be done to redress the balance. Yet if the imbalance is something that is defined by money and opportunity then suddenly the idea of ‘warfare’ is disgusting. Why?

  38. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm |

    Christie: I guess I’m tired of being “punched in the face” every time I go to the grocery store and see able bodied women and men that used EBT cards to pay for steaks, chips, sodas, etc. while talking on their cell phone paid for with my tax dollars!

    FFS, I was all optimistic for two seconds. It’s like you saw someone was hopeful for humanity and swooped in to crush it.

    Let me beat this thread to the punch: You’re an asshole. A giant asshole. I would love a thread without assholes, but ironically, it’s because of entitled dickwads like you that we can’t have nice things.

  39. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    It’s worth pointing out, also, that Erickson’s site features mostly white people. It features people who are used to being on the A Team.

    You’re forgetting Mr. T!

  40. Drahill
    Drahill October 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm |

    Bloix: The point of “we are the 99%” has to do with increasing income inequality. Since 1979 (in effect, since Reagan) the average household in the top one percent has seen its income increase – thats’ increase, not total – by $600,000. The rest of the top 20% – some slight increases. The bottom 80% has seen its household income fall.Poor rural people have seen their incomes fall, so yes, they are part of the 99%. They may not understand why they are poorer than they used to be, but they are, and it’s not class warfare to point out the facts. It’s unfortunate that poor white rural people identify with the assholes that keep them down, but that’s the history of poor rural people in the US for the last hundred years.

    Bloix, I’m not sure how extensive your knowledge of rural american history is, but…have you ever heard of the Grange? The Populist Movement? Farmworkers’ Rights Organizing? Rural Americans have a long history of NOT aligning with the assholes in Washington. In fact, distrust of government is pretty high in lots of rural areas (sorry, this sorta irks me – my thesis was in rural american history and organizing).

    I know the point about income disparities is true – but I don’t give the whole movement a free pass for that. Even among the 99%, there is still a great deal of economic diversity – and thats only the beginning! The movement is so diverse and large, catchy titular solgans are not gonna do its members justice. There are still really profound issues of racism, sexism, and other inequalities to address within the movement. and so far, I haven’t really seen that (I’m living in Philly, so I’m specifically thinking of some issues that have arisen in the past few days about racism at Occupy Philly). Until there are real efforts to combat this stuff, I think the mantel of “We are the 99%” is premature and erases those issues.

    And, I do just feel the need to clarify…I’m rural, I’m considered poor…and I’m not white (well, half). Diveristy does exist out in the boonies.

  41. Marle
    Marle October 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm |

    Christie:
    If you really believe all of this 99% is about “what is right” and that the 53% bloggers are a bunch of angry self righteous white men, I would ask that you please stop and think a moment.Do you really believe that we should all be on equal grounds?Then you are not for a democratic society, you want a socialist society.If you do, I encourage you to read a short story by Kurt Vonnegut entitled Harrison Bergeron.You may find the full text easily on the web.It will make you think about an “equal” society.

    Democracy and socialism are not opposites. And Harrison Bergeron is a parody of people like you overreacting about communism.

  42. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm |

    Drahill: (sorry, this sorta irks me – my thesis was in rural american history and organizing).

    This is interesting – don’t out yourself if you don’t want to, but I’d love to read it. Or maybe you could suggest some resources?

  43. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 13, 2011 at 10:54 pm |

    I’m with EG. I’ve only ever participated in a march once, and after that I was done with that sort of thing. Marches, occupancy and sign-waving do absolutely nothing. The era of non-violence is over and has been over since the 1960s. The reason the left accomplishes nothing is because we still naively believe that non-violence is the way to go. We need to start getting destructive: physically tearing structures down, brick by brick.

  44. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm |

    PrettyAmiable:
    The “we are the 99%” doesn’t piss anyone else off?

    I’ve been reading the 99% tumblr, and about half the pictures make me want to cry, and the other half make me think “what kind of reputable loan company would give someone 150k to get a degree in graphic design!!” But that might just be because I’m a pragmatic person who shelved my dreams of becoming a video game designer at an early age. :(

    Seriously, though two years ago the Tea Party was a bunch of old white people wearing tri-corner hats and screaming “Get the government out of my medicare (but not my uterus)!” And now, for better or for worse, they have a ton of people in DC, and have managed to get themselves in a decent position to actually have some effect on the government. So I think the Occupy movement might be in a similar situation where they need to build up some publicity and a base of supporters first.

  45. Drahill
    Drahill October 14, 2011 at 12:12 am |

    PrettyAmiable: This is interesting – don’t out yourself if you don’t want to, but I’d love to read it. Or maybe you could suggest some resources?

    I still need to find a scanner to actually put my thesis on the computer (the original computer copy was lost to a hard drive crash!). But there are authors who can do far more justice to the subject. The library I have is mostly these books:

    Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon (Anthony Harkins): this is probably the best book out there on rural americans and their history. It’s a “pro-hillbilly” book.

    Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change (by Stephen Fisher)

    The Countryside in the Age of the Modern State (by Catherine McNicol Stock)

    A Way Down South (by James C. Cobb) excellent because it gives special attention to the history of southern and rural people of color.

    Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fight Mountaintop Removal (by Silas House)

    And the book that basically guided all my ideas, Born in the Country: A History of Rural America (by David Danbom)

    There are also a ton of links about rural history online – but, fair warning, a lot of them get co-opted pretty quick by either Tea Partiers or Confederists.

  46. Tapetum
    Tapetum October 14, 2011 at 2:02 am |

    Christie – I can name you multiple people, all well-educated (Really, really well-educated, Ph.D’s, multiple languages, Ivy League schools), competent people who are eager to work, who haven’t been able to find work for 18+ months. Just from my own personal acquaintances. Education is rapidly turning into a Catch-22 – you can’t get any living wage job without it, but having it is no guarantee at all, and the cost of it will sink you.

    One of them wandered around for three weeks with a wrist broken so badly it needed surgery, a plate and screws, because she had no health insurance and no money to pay for treatment.

    Yes, she’s being punched in the face by the current economic set-up. Actually, she’d probably prefer being punched in the face.

  47. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 14, 2011 at 2:06 am |

    PrettyAmiable: The “we are the 99%” doesn’t piss anyone else off?

    Surely, it sounds a lot better than ‘We are a small percentage of the 99% who have the time and inclination to point out obvious inequality in income levels.’ I’m not saying that as if it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s a catchy title, not a solid claim that they represent the exact feelings of the 99% of Americans. And to respond to the comment of Christie @30, the ‘We are the 53%’ doesn’t represent the feelings of the 53% either. Both slogans are just marketing tools, creating by marketing tools, so I think Jill is right to judge each group on the individual (or collective) merits of its members.

  48. jennygadget
    jennygadget October 14, 2011 at 2:12 am |

    “and the other half make me think “what kind of reputable loan company would give someone 150k to get a degree in graphic design!!””

    well, but…this is part of the point. A reputable loan company wouldn’t do such a thing. At least, not until fairly recently. But not only did a loan company do that – one with presumably a lot more experience and more capable of weathering the risk than an 18 year old – but that company (or, somewhere along the line, one of it’s parent companies) got tax money to cover similar not so brilliant mistakes (and possibly illegal activities).

    and yet….the person that was barely an adult when signing that loan? is not only stuck with paying it back but stuck with paying it back at the risk of not only happiness but health.

    so, yeah…that’s kinda bullshit

    Also bullshit, btw, is the meme that all the people owing tons of student loans picked “silly” degrees. (Which, whether you meant to or not, your comment is contributing to.) One of the other points is that there are no “safe” degrees AND YET most middle class paying jobs expect college degree at minimum.

  49. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles October 14, 2011 at 3:16 am |

    PrettyAmiable: FFS, I was all optimistic for two seconds. It’s like you saw someone was hopeful for humanity and swooped in to crush it.

    Let me beat this thread to the punch: You’re an asshole. A giant asshole. I would love a thread without assholes, but ironically, it’s because of entitled dickwads like you that we can’t have nice things.

    Quoting just to say “seconded”.

  50. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers October 14, 2011 at 8:00 am |

    My sister in law got $80,000 in student loans to go to Liberty University.

    LIBERTY FUCKING UNIVERSITY. It isn’t even accredited. If I’d known at the time that she was applying (which she was doing because of a boyfriend, not because she’s a wingnut) that she was taking out $80K in student loans to pay for it, I would have tried a lot harder to talk her out of it. Because a degree from Liberty is literally worth nothing unless it’s your ambition to become a right-wing pundit. Yet somehow someone gave her $80K to go to that school, and she is now on the hook for that money *forever*.

    Jesus fucking Christ. It’s in the Constitution that 20-somethings are dumbasses (it doesn’t explicitly say “dumbasses”, it just says that you have to be 25 to be a Representative, 30 to be a Senator and 35 to be President, and that was in a day and time when you were generally married and working full time at age 18); why can’t we protect young people from bad decisions by forcing loan companies to *not* give out student loans for non-accredited colleges? $150K for graphic design is ridiculous, but at the least, at the end of the day you *do* have a usable skill, even if it’s unlikely you’ll get the kind of money for using it that justifies what you spent. But $80K to go to a non-accredited college is just some bullshit.

  51. Casey
    Casey October 14, 2011 at 8:19 am |

    RE: Rural poverty. Occupy Smalltown, Indiana has been pretty successful. And, obviously this is from my limited viewpoint, when I’ve gone home to visit, almost everyone I’ve spoken with has been supportive of OWS. In Indiana.

    RE: Distrusting the government. I can tell you, based on attending several general assemblies and marches, that a lot of the anger expressed by the protesters is directed toward government leaders who represent corporate interests instead of public interest.

    RE: Erasing. It is a people’s movement. If you don’t like the direction it’s taking or you feel your interests aren’t being represented, then GET INVOLVED. Everyone is welcome, and the process of the general assembly is structured so that folks from historically marginalized groups get first dibs at speaking. From what I’ve seen, people work hard to step out of their comfort zones to interact with people they may have at one time distrusted or even feared. I have not seen this young, white male-dominated crowd everyone keeps invoking. The rallies I’ve been to in Indianapolis and Louisville have been remarkably diverse.

    Please don’t discount the movement based on what you’ve read in the news, or the footage you’ve seen on TV. Occupy is not about the marches or the chants or even the demands everyone seems to think are lacking. It’s about the process of the general assemblies. It’s about arriving at decisions based on consensus, and witnessing first hand what that looks like. For me, it is the first time I have ever participated in a democratic system.

    Is it frustrating at times? Yes, and incredibly challenging at others. I find it truly inspiring, and I wish others would take the time to experience it before drawing unfair conclusions. I’m not saying it’s above criticism, and it is certainly not perfect, but it’s worth a closer look.

  52. ks
    ks October 14, 2011 at 8:19 am |

    I’m with EG. I’ve only ever participated in a march once, and after that I was done with that sort of thing. Marches, occupancy and sign-waving do absolutely nothing. The era of non-violence is over and has been over since the 1960s. The reason the left accomplishes nothing is because we still naively believe that non-violence is the way to go. We need to start getting destructive: physically tearing structures down, brick by brick.

    I was talking with a Greek grad student at work yesterday about the protests here and also the situation in Greece–he made this exact point. He also jokingly offered to call a few of his buddies back home, because apparently “his people know how to do a riot the right way” (his words). Unfortunately, I think he (and you) probably have the right of it–things won’t change for the better until those of us at the bottom and middle are willing to do some damage and spill some blood over it.

  53. Andie
    Andie October 14, 2011 at 8:43 am |

    A) The site in the OP reads like the geeky kids who make fun of the geekier kids as a way to get the cool kids to like them, not realizing that the cool kids are just going to beat them up for their lunch money anyway.

    B)

    Christie:
    I guess I’m tired of being “punched in the face” every time I go to the grocery store and see able bodied women and men that used EBT cards to pay for steaks, chips, sodas, etc. while talking on their cell phone paid for with my tax dollars!

    – Invisible disabilities.. They’re a thing. So Fuck You.
    – There are people on social assistance that work but still need help – aka assistance – to make ends meet, so fuck you again.
    – Some people have cell phones as their only phone line, so fuck you x3

    I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

    C) My dad said once that it’s a pretty sad thing that college degrees went from being something you got to get ahead, but now they are something you need merely to keep up. Now THAT’s not even a guarantee. Sad.

  54. Glove
    Glove October 14, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    @ Christie

    Obviously you aren’t aware that the odd bystander has already shouted things to the effect of “Get a job, assholes!” to the OWS protesters, and the uniform response from them has been, “We WANT jobs! GIVE US JOBS PLEEAAAASE!”

  55. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 8:48 am |

    Christie, I say this in all sincerity, as someone who would have probably qualified as a “good” unemployment case–you have no clue what the fuck you are talking about. And it sounds like you want feudalism.

    First, those cell phones you’re complaining about? I have one. It’s a cheap T-Mobile job with a buy the minutes ahead dealie. So kindly don’t go making assumptions about my spending habits because I have a fucking cell phone. For many people, they are cheaper than landlines.

    Second, I had been laid off (despite glowing reviews and bringing money in) and was unemployed for a good stretch because I was let go when scads of other people had been let go. I had and have friends who are looking for work but have not found anything, and many have been unemployed for more than 18 months–which will happen when the market is flooded with job seekers. Fuck you and your self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude.

  56. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    I don’t see rural representation in those crowds in cities (mostly because rural people probably wouldn’t spend the gas ton get there!).

    To be fair, these are urban protests and demonstrations. By definition, they’re going to be full of urban people. As you say, protests that work for rural people are going to be the protests conceived of by them.

    I do understand the problems with the 99% erasure. I do think, though, that the erasure has been part of the US zeitgeist for decades now. Nobody wants to acknowledge the existence, let alone the problems, of poor people in this country, thus you have the constant reference to the “middle class” on both sides of this fight, without, it seems, a single thought to what the middle class is actually, you know, in the middle of. The rich on one side, ok, and on the other…? That would be…? This has happened within my lifetime, beginning with right-wing attacks on poor people (Reagan’s “welfare queens”) and culminating in the destruction of AFDC (thanks, Clinton)–during those years, not only people on the left but also good liberals talked a lot about the problems facing poor people. Since then? Fucking silence. It’s not surprising to me to see that silence being carried over into this movement. It may be tactical–very few people in the US want to acknowledge that poor people exist or that their problems matter, very few people want to think of themselves as poor–or it may be a reflection of the larger society’s willful blindness. Either way, yes, I do see the problems with it. But it’s the slogan that’s there; it’s not going to change at this point.

    I don’t want anything to do with the local movement because of the way the message gets distorted and my disagreement with some of the root causes they’re identifying and omg the subway preachers, but if it was simplified to “tax all motherfuckers, esp the motherfuckers who don’t need extra cash,” I feel like you really could get the 99% behind it.

    This may be a local variation, then, because the demonstrations I’ve been to have all been relatively focused on “tax those motherfuckers.” But I’ve long thought that if I wait for a movement that expresses my concerns perfectly, I’m going to be waiting a long time (I mean, we can all see the problem with the civil rights slogan “one man, one vote” or “I am a man”? But hanging around waiting for a movement with a “better” message or slogans would have been a mistake, in my opinion.). So I’m OK supporting the movement that’s there and that seems to be meeting with significant support. But YMMV.

    I guess I’m tired of being “punched in the face” every time I go to the grocery store and see able bodied women and men that used EBT cards to pay for steaks, chips, sodas, etc. while talking on their cell phone paid for with my tax dollars!

    Poor people should not be allowed to enjoy chips and soda (even if they are cheaper than other things)! Poor people should be forced to eat gruel! Gruel with wood shavings in it! And moldy bread!

    Jesus, why do you care what other people eat?

    Pre-paid cell phones are often cheaper than landlines. Are you seriously suggesting that it’s reasonable to expect people to look for a job without a telephone line in this day and age? Further, food stamps/EBT are given to anybody whose income falls below a certain line. Which is to say, for all you know, these able-bodied men and women are working two jobs and paying for their cell phones with money they have earned.

    Instead of complaining, I think they should get out and try to find a job, go back to school if necessary, quit relying on the government and crying about life being unfair.

    So true. Why, there are so many jobs paying a living wage with health insurance out there, waiting to be snapped up by people who inexplicably, and unlike your virtuous self, prefer to be lazy and poor. And going back to school when you can’t afford it is a sure-fire way to work things out. You won’t end up in debt and still unable to find a job, nuh-uh. That never, ever happens. And as for how you live in those years between “going back to school” and “graduating,” why, did you not see the part about gruel with wood shavings? And you can live in a tent. Although not in Zucotti Park, of course.

    Life is not fair, and it is wrong and immoral to try to make it any fairer than it already is. Wrong and immoral, I tell you. The job of the non-rich is to suck it up and be grateful for any crumbs that happen to fall their way.

    Our constitution grants the right to PURSUE happiness, not be given anything.

    Actually, the phrase is “the pursuit of happiness.” And the word “pursuit” can be read in two different ways. There is, of course, the way that Wile E. Coyote pursues the Roadrunner, always doomed to failure. But there is a rather more 18th-century meaning as well, a hobby, a leisure activity–“the pursuit of beekeeping,” for example. Even if I felt like a bunch of 18th-century documents were the final word on justice and fairness, which is laughable, that phrasing suggests to me that indeed, people are entitled to “the pursuit of happiness.”

    Do you really believe that we should all be on equal grounds? Then you are not for a democratic society, you want a socialist society. If you do, I encourage you to read a short story by Kurt Vonnegut entitled Harrison Bergeron. You may find the full text easily on the web. It will make you think about an “equal” society.

    Hmm. Which do I care more about, a fictional piece, or people not being able to afford food, shelter, and health care? Decisions, decisions.

    What on earth is democratic about allowing the rich to buy politicians?

    Marches, occupancy and sign-waving do absolutely nothing. The era of non-violence is over and has been over since the 1960s. The reason the left accomplishes nothing is because we still naively believe that non-violence is the way to go. We need to start getting destructive: physically tearing structures down, brick by brick.

    I agree. I’d start with civil disobedience and peaceful resistance, but after that? Major liberal legislative victories in this country happen because the ruling class gets scared of losing their power. The New Deal went through because the ruling class were frightened of an actual Bolshevik-style revolution, due to labor militancy and activism during the Depression. Civil Rights legislation went through because the ruling class was being internationally embarrassed by what they were allowing to happen to black people and nationally embarrassed by what they were allowing to happen to the young white people who went down to support them during Freedom Summer, but also because of the specter of fear of what would happen if black people got sick of being nonviolent while their children were being mowed down with fire hoses.

    I do believe it’s time to start scaring those motherfuckers again.

  57. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    Oh, and? Those of us who got jobs are working for far less than what we got before, working longer hours, and dealing with rising costs (including bank fees because those pwecious execs just can’t do without their seven-fucking-figure bonuses).

    You want to volunteer to be a serf? That’s your problem. Don’t fucking moralize to me or berate me for finding serfdom repellant. You might willingly volunteer for this shit but I do not.

  58. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 8:53 am |

    There are people on social assistance that work but still need help – aka assistance – to make ends meet, so fuck you again.

    THIS. When you work a minimum wage and/or part-time job with no insurance, and you have kids, you tend to need assistance. (This has also been a thing for years, even when the economy was good, and I hope that the beleaguered and newly-radicalized middle class realizes that they are no better than the long-term poor and strives to build bridges.)

  59. Norma
    Norma October 14, 2011 at 9:18 am |

    @Drahill, really great points. The elite on the right and left tend to view the rural poor as one homogenized unit, and I think the left often assumes that the rural poor just don’t understand what’s good for them or how to assert themselves.

    Casey: RE: Erasing. It is a people’s movement. If you don’t like the direction it’s taking or you feel your interests aren’t being represented, then GET INVOLVED. … I have not seen this young, white male-dominated crowd everyone keeps invoking.

    It’s condescending to imply that the people of color criticizing OWS’ inclusiveness just aren’t bothering to get involved. I’d encourage you to read some of the thoughtful writing that POC have contributed on this topic (Raciailicious has good coverage).

  60. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 9:37 am |

    It’s condescending to imply that the people of color criticizing OWS’ inclusiveness just aren’t bothering to get involved. I’d encourage you to read some of the thoughtful writing that POC have contributed on this topic (Raciailicious has good coverage).

    This.

  61. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 14, 2011 at 9:40 am |

    Glove: @ ChristieObviously you aren’t aware that the odd bystander has already shouted things to the effect of “Get a job, assholes!” to the OWS protesters, and the uniform response from them has been, “We WANT jobs! GIVE US JOBS PLEEAAAASE!”

    This reminds me of an editorial letter I read recently. A prominent Republican said the protestors downtown could be scared off by soap and job applications. The response in the letter was “we’ve applied for hundreds of jobs, a few applications aren’t going to do anything. Job offers, on the other hand would be happily accepted.

  62. Noah the epistemic pinata
    Noah the epistemic pinata October 14, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    Marle: Democracy and socialism are not opposites. And Harrison Bergeron is a parody of people like you overreacting about communism.

    It’s always sad when people miss the satire. Anyway, from the mouth of Vonnegut, regarding other people with this same misunderstanding:

    “It’s about intelligence and talent, and wealth is not a demonstration of either one,” said Vonnegut, 82, of New York. He said he wouldn’t want schoolchildren deprived of a quality education because they were poor.

    “Kansas is apparently handicapping schoolchildren, no matter how gifted and talented, with lousy educations if their parents are poor,” he said.

  63. Cluisanna
    Cluisanna October 14, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    Christie: Do you really believe that we should all be on equal grounds? Then you are not for a democratic society, you want a socialist society.

    Actually, yes I think we should be on equal grounds. I guess we can agree that no one should be privileged based on race, gender, weight, etc. So why should someone be privileged based on their parent’s income?
    I’m not saying “take all the money from the rich and distribute it fairly so that everybody is equally poor!” I’m saying make it possible for everybody to get an education, without being indebted for life, and to get a job.
    And what is with the fear of socialism/communism? Is that still cold war thinking? Because actually, if you think about the basic idea (just remember, there never was a real communistic or even socialistic country), it’s actually pretty nice, is it not? The idea that everybody can live how s/he wants, not how other people want him/her to?
    Quoting Marx: “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”

    Rebecca: I’ve been reading the 99% tumblr, and about half the pictures make me want to cry, and the other half make me think “what kind of reputable loan company would give someone 150k to get a degree in graphic design!!” But that might just be because I’m a pragmatic person who shelved my dreams of becoming a video game designer at an early age. :(

    But the point is you shouldn’t have to shelve your dreams and study something you don’t enjoy so you can work to make other people richer and maybe get a little piece of the cake that doesn’t satisfy you much but at least keeps you alive. That’s not fair.

    Christie:
    Instead of complaining, I think they should get out and try to find a job, go back to school if necessary, quit relying on the government and crying about life being unfair. Guess what? Life is often unfair, no one ever said it would be.Our constitution grants the right to PURSUE happiness, not be given anything.Too often that is confused; people feel they are entitled to happiness.No, get out and make your happiness.

    But don’t you think everybody should have the right to be happy, just because s/he is human? I personally think that any government that is voted for by people should act Utilitarian: so as to make the most possible people as happy as possible as often as possible.
    I don’t see governments doing that; I see them acting so that they are happy, and the people that give them tremendous amounts of money; I see them acting in conformity with their own ideologies, not with what most of the people believe; I see them fulfilling publicistic goals with the next election in mind and not the future beyond that; in short, I see them doing many things that not only fail to increase the happiness of most of the people, but actually decrease their happiness – and that with the tax money we actually give them.
    Don’t you find it bizarre that you pay taxes to serve public interest, but a lot of that money goes to corporations, bankers and a useless war?

  64. Meh
    Meh October 14, 2011 at 10:24 am |

    There is absolutely no coherence in this “movement.” National Review of all places had a good article about how misdirected most of this anger really is. The people protesting should be pissed off at the ridiculous federal student loan program that allows schools to charge insane amounts for basically worthless degrees. That is a huge part (along with the lousy economy) of what leads people to be massively in debt and unemployable. The protestors should also be pissed off at the extremely inefficient healthcare system we have in this country. Shutting down Bank of America and Goldman Sachs and confiscating the 1%’s wealth is not going to solve these people’s problems in the long run.

  65. Casey
    Casey October 14, 2011 at 10:35 am |

    I’ve been following the coverage on Racialicious. I especially appreciated this one http://www.racialicious.com/2011/10/11/decolonization-and-occupy-wall-street/ and this one. http://www.racialicious.com/2011/10/03/so-real-it-hurts-notes-on-occupy-wall-street/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Racialicious+%28Racialicious+-+the+intersection+of+race+and+pop+culture%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

    I’m not dismissing anyone’s concerns. I really don’t want this to dissolve into “We’re all the same on the inside! We just need jobs!” And I think it has the potential to be so much more. I was just so pleased to participate in cities that aren’t particularly known for racial harmony and see how steps were being taken to make sure the voices of people of color were amplified and to maintain a zero tolerance policy on oppressive behavior within the camp.

    I’m not so naive as to think this is enough or that it’s working right this second, but it was really cool to see that as the starting point and to hear stories from people from so many different backgrounds. Everyone there had been harmed in different ways, and hearing people speak from so many different experiences gave a sobering glimpse of the scope of the problem. It was overwhelming in both negative and positive ways.

    Like I said, it’s not a perfect movement and there’s plenty to improve. A lot of the language bothers me. I would like to a little more humility on the part of some of the organizers. It is challenging and I understand that for a lot of people it could feel downright hostile. I want that to change, and I think it can.

    I would just encourage anyone who is even remotely curious or sympathetic to come to one of the general assemblies and see what it’s about. From what I’ve heard, it differs dramatically from city to city, so I can’t speak for any groups outside of the ones I attended. Also, I work and I’m a single mother, so I don’t spend time at the actual camp. I can’t speak at all to what goes on there. I can imagine that there are plenty of problems to work through, though.

  66. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 10:40 am |

    What makes you think people aren’t pissed off about those things? Problem is, the crappy access to healthcare and spotty health insurance is thanks in part to the policies that promote the interests of the ultra-wealthy and of corporations at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Heaven for-fucking-big that a company like Walmart hire people full-time, pay them a living wage, and provide decent health insurance–no, they’d rather push them off on government assistance. And then reap the benefits of tax loopholes. So when I hear C-level execs say we need national health insurance and that people will have to accept higher taxes to get it (as opposed to their fucking corporation paying their share, or THEY THEMSELVES paying their goddamn share) it makes me want to spit.

    People are pissed off at banks because they were behind pushing the student loans, they were behind the bad mortgages and are now lecturing everyone about personal responsibility. When they targeted subprime prospects for loans because they could make a shitload in high interest rates once the ARM grace period was over AND they could sell the debt obligation. Win/win for the banks. Until people couldn’t pay and they had to foreclose.

  67. L
    L October 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm |

    Christie’s frothing at the mouth comment was incredible! Never have I seen such a perfect summary of everything Glen Beck says.

    – “how dare people use food stamps to buy food!”…CHECK
    – “how dare poor people have cell phones!”…CHECK
    – “what are you, a socialist?” CHECK
    – “GET A JOB, because there are so many”…CHECK
    – “go to school to get an education that will guarantee you literally nothing, in addition to bankrupting you!”…CHECK

    She reminds me of that Fox News segment about how OMGZ 99% OF POOR PEOPLE OWN REFRIDGERATORS. Because fridges are definitely not a necessity!

  68. Casey
    Casey October 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    Politicalguineapig: The reason the left accomplishes nothing is because we still naively believe that non-violence is the way to go. We need to start getting destructive: physically tearing structures down, brick by brick.

    I understand the frustration behind the sentiment here, but this line of thinking makes me uncomfortable. I have a few friends that would like to participate, but are scared to because they have criminal histories. The possibility of violence and subsequent mass arrests is a real deterrent for them. Honestly, it’s a deterrent for a lot of people, not just those with a record.

  69. Jadey
    Jadey October 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    re: violence and destruction

    More likely these actions would end up being classed as being the same as the Vancouver and UK riots. You’d never be able to keep the vandals and looters out of it anyway, and then it would become all about them.

    Plus a million to everything people have said to Christie.

  70. Meh
    Meh October 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    What makes you think people aren’t pissed off about those things?Problem is, the crappy access to healthcare and spotty health insurance is thanks in part to the policies that promote the interests of the ultra-wealthy and of corporations at the expense of the middle class and the poor.Heaven for-fucking-big that a company like Walmart hire people full-time, pay them a living wage, and provide decent health insurance–no, they’d rather push them off on government assistance.And then reap the benefits of tax loopholes.So when I hear C-level execs say we need national health insurance and that people will have to accept higher taxes to get it (as opposed to their fucking corporation paying their share, or THEY THEMSELVES paying their goddamn share) it makes me want to spit.

    People are pissed off at banks because they were behind pushing the student loans, they were behind the bad mortgages and are now lecturing everyone about personal responsibility.When they targeted subprime prospects for loans because they could make a shitload in high interest rates once the ARM grace period was over AND they could sell the debt obligation.Win/win for the banks.Until people couldn’t pay and they had to foreclose.

    The problem, at least wrt student loans, is that the lenders were only doing exactly what the government encouraged them to do by guaranteeing these student loans, making them risk-free for the banks. This goes back to LBJ signing the Higher Education Act, and the problem has been exacerbated for years by Congress steadily making it harder to discharge student loans in bankruptcy (now it is all but impossible, with a never-used “undue hardship” escape clause).

  71. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    Yeah, and no one is saying the government isn’t culpable. A lot of this is fueled by the anger at the love fest between corporations and the government. The thing is, government might have pushed student loans, but it was a snake swallowing its tail–it was a “free market, love capitalism, stay away from those icky socialist grants” mindset our elected representatives (even on the Left) bought into, that businesses helped to push.

    We can get as mad as we want at government only, but then we’ll be ignoring the lobbying and the ridiculous amount of influence corporations have been peddling.

    I have a lot of criticisms of OWS, but making corporate America uncomfortable is not one of them.

  72. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    Can I interject at this point and say that graphic design is a very respectable profession and can be quite lucrative. Think of the numbers in the advertising/marketing sector alone.

  73. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    Christie:
    Blah, blah blah… people feel they are entitled to happiness.No, get out and make your happiness.

    I suppose you’re against inheritance then?

  74. karak
    karak October 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    And people like Erick Erickson are nasty, willfully blind classist monsters the saddest wannabe Vikings in the world.

    Fixed that for ya.

  75. Drahill
    Drahill October 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    Casey: RE: Rural poverty. Occupy Smalltown, Indiana has been pretty successful. And, obviously this is from my limited viewpoint, when I’ve gone home to visit, almost everyone I’ve spoken with has been supportive of OWS. In Indiana.RE: Distrusting the government. I can tell you, based on attending several general assemblies and marches, that a lot of the anger expressed by the protesters is directed toward government leaders who represent corporate interests instead of public interest.RE: Erasing. It is a people’s movement. If you don’t like the direction it’s taking or you feel your interests aren’t being represented, then GET INVOLVED. Everyone is welcome, and the process of the general assembly is structured so that folks from historically marginalized groups get first dibs at speaking. From what I’ve seen, people work hard to step out of their comfort zones to interact with people they may have at one time distrusted or even feared. I have not seen this young, white male-dominated crowd everyone keeps invoking. The rallies I’ve been to in Indianapolis and Louisville have been remarkably diverse.P>

    Casey, I’m glad that OWS has been a good experience for you- really. But it’s awfully simplistic to say “well, if your not represented, then get INVOLVED!” That ignores a lot of big reasons why certain groups either can’t or choose not to participate. If I was still in Montana, I wouldn’t drive the almost 3 hours to Billings to join a march. Know why? Cause it would be a supreme waste of gasoline that I could better use to drive to the general store or Walmart or something for food.

    A few commentators above me pointed out that racalicious has been covering OWS from a critical race perspective. I know that here at Occupy Philly, some racist activities have been reported, and other occupations have had some issues as well. Should POC make themselves be a part of a movement that isn’t safe or hospitable to them for the sake of “getting involved?” Should any marginalized group? Hell no.

    My biggest problem with OWS is that it reeks of the “aren’t you grateful for what we’re doing for you?” viewpoint. Saying “We are the 99%” implies that the protestors are there on behalf of many, many nonpresent others. To me, as long as issues continue to persist in the movement, that claim isn’t really, well, legit. And your own positive experiences shouldn’t be used to justify the very present problems a lot of people have with it.

  76. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    Shutting down Bank of America and Goldman Sachs and confiscating the 1%’s wealth is not going to solve these people’s problems in the long run.

    No, but it’s a damn good start, not to mention fun!

  77. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    My biggest problem with OWS is that it reeks of the “aren’t you grateful for what we’re doing for you?” viewpoint.

    Hmm. I haven’t gotten this from the protests at all. I went down to Zucotti Park at one point, to see, and didn’t get any vibe like that. I haven’t gotten any vibe like that at either of the demonstrations in support that I attended. I think that perhaps we should start talking in a bit more detail. When we are referring to the OWS protesters, are we talking about the 99% tumblr, or the protests at Zucotti Park, or the protests in Boston, or what? Because I’m getting the sense from this thread that not only are experiences diverging based on race and class, but also that things people are observing in one place are really not happening in another (for instance, in reference to Occupy Philly upthread, somebody mentioned subway preachers–I have no idea what he/she is talking about. Are subway preachers unique to Occupy Philly? Who are they? What do they do? Are they in NYC too, and I just haven’t seen them (totally possible)?).

    Saying “We are the 99%” implies that the protestors are there on behalf of many, many nonpresent others. To me, as long as issues continue to persist in the movement, that claim isn’t really, well, legit.

    In my opinion, that’s a bit of an over-reading. I think “we are the 99%” is catchier and has a better chanting rhythm than “we are members of the 99%” is and does, and I also think that the people who are protesting are there on behalf of many, many nonpresent others. That doesn’t mean that they’re there on behalf of all nonpresent others, of course, but I would guess that most of the protesters know a good chunk of people personally who cannot be there with them protesting but certainly support them and what they are doing.

  78. Casey
    Casey October 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm |

    Drahill: Should POC make themselves be a part of a movement that isn’t safe or hospitable to them for the sake of “getting involved?” Should any marginalized group? Hell no.

    I completely agree with everything you’re saying. I tried to elaborate a little in my second comment, but I don’t think I ever got to the point I intended.

    I think there are ways to get involved in the spirit of the movement without actually being there, and if people don’t feel safe for whatever reason, then it’s totally understandable to physically steer clear. But for those who are interested in being part of it, but apprehensive about the environment or can’t get there due to distance/expense/other constraints, I don’t think it would be in vain (or at least I hope not) to contact people who are are there (via FB, for example) and let them know why you can’t/choose not to attend, and what issues you would like to see addressed at the general assemblies. Most of them are streamed, so there might even be a way to directly participate remotely. I don’t know. I realize that won’t work for everyone, but it’s a start at least, and it highlights the fact that a lot of people are being left out for one reason or another.

    And then there are also people who don’t have any safety concerns or ethical problems with the movement itself or difficulty getting to a general assembly, but feel like they can’t support something that doesn’t have a clear agenda. Those people, I think, absolutely should go, because if they have ideas, then they should speak them.

    I guess when I said “get involved,” I meant it to be heard not so much in a commanding or exasperated voice, but more of a plea. This movement isn’t going to go anywhere if it doesn’t have true public participation and I’m not sure how it could get to that point without asking people to, please, participate.

  79. Casey
    Casey October 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    Also, I didn’t mean to come off as justifying the problems with occupy. I just wanted to say that I see a lot of potential in this movement, if we could overcome those problems There are going to be growing pains, but I really think that if we could get more people working together, we could make it work better.

  80. Drahill
    Drahill October 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm |

    EG: In my opinion, that’s a bit of an over-reading. I think “we are the 99%” is catchier and has a better chanting rhythm than “we are members of the 99%” is and does, and I also think that the people who are protesting are there on behalf of many, many nonpresent others. That doesn’t mean that they’re there on behalf of all nonpresent others, of course, but I would guess that most of the protesters know a good chunk of people personally who cannot be there with them protesting but certainly support them and what they are doing.

    I think we’re disagreeing on this point, mostly. When I hear protestors saying they are representative of 99% of America, I damn sure think they’re saying they represent the interests of 99% of americans. And yes, the slogan is catchy – but I don’t care about catchiness. I aspire to a slogan that’s true – for me. And, honestly, I just don’t feel it.

    I’m inately suspcious of large protests or movements that take up the mantles of inclusivity or being “for everybody.” Because, frankly, I believe that such a a large movement would have a hard time making sure that the movement is, firstly, a safe space for everybody (and at least some of the protests have failed at this). Secondly, and this is a tough one, they would have a hard time making sure that a.) marginalized groups and people within the movement direct their own advocacy and needs, and b.) that such people were fully allowed to advocate for themselves and their own, unique needs. Maybe this is just me, but I’m a strong believer in that advocacy for marginalized people works best when it is done BY those people (with support coming from allies). I have only been to Occupy Philly, but just from that, I don’t see allies – I see a lot of co-opting and messages getting lost. Still, that is only my opinion.

  81. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm |

    I get what you’re saying about slogans being accurate, but the nature of a slogan is that it’s short and catchy, and being short and catchy will always mean oversimplifying and reducing, but not having a short and catchy slogan greatly hampers your ability to chant something in unison, unite your members rhetorically, and attract people’s attention. I mean, consider “the people united will never be defeated.” First of all, it’s just incorrect. The people united have been defeated any number of times, for a given value of “the people.” And then, because it doesn’t rhyme in English, it invariably mutates to “the people united will never be divided,” which does, but is so inane and stupid that I can barely stand to be involved with any march/demonstration/whatever that uses it, but since that’s all of them, I just suck it up and scowl whenever it appears, because lots of other people seem to like it.

    To my mind, every lefty movement has to try to balance efficacy, appeal, and trying to model the values they espouse, and they all tend to fuck up somewhere along that line. Either they sell out or they turn so far inward that they just sit around in a circle critiquing each other’s navels. It’s a hard line to walk, and nobody ever ends up feeling like any movement has achieved it well. While on one hand, some note that the OWS protesters are erasing class and race distinctions with their slogans and representation; on the other, I’ve read lots of criticism directed at those same protesters for, essentially, not being hierarchical and coherent and united enough (no concrete list of demands, no identifiable leaders, decision-making by consensus in open general meetings, which, as so many of us no doubt know, is the sort of thing that goes on for fucking ever until you’d rather claw your own face off than go through one more hour of discussion, so you just go along with whatever so the damn meeting will end already and you can go to sleep. ahem.).

    What they’ve got going on is good enough for me to throw in with (though I do understand that you, Drahill, and many other people feel differently, for perfectly good reasons), particularly because after literally years of my life trying to work for movements attacking the US economic system, this one finally seems to have legs (I did organizing work to resist the destruction of welfare fifteen years ago; I looked into becoming a labor organizer and spent some time doing organizing work; things of that nature). Americans so rarely admit on a national scale that economic class divisions exist, and I do find it exhilerating to see it finally breaking out.

    And, at least at the demos I’ve been to, there’s been not insignificant representation from non-white people (especially in union delegations and student groups).

  82. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm |

    Drahill: My biggest problem with OWS is that it reeks of the “aren’t you grateful for what we’re doing for you?” viewpoint.

    My biggest problem with OWS is that guy who was sexually assaulting women. But I suppose we all have different priorities.

  83. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm |

    Fat Steve: My biggest problem with OWS is that guy who was sexually assaulting women. But I suppose we all have different priorities.

    Yeah, and this is exactly why I don’t want these guys going around and claiming to be the 99%. When you take on the title, you say this is what the 99% believes or stands for. And it makes me angry. It is dangerous and I do not want to be associated with it. That’s why I believe in simplifying the message as much as possible.

    I see the benefit in unification – I do. But I value individuality so much that I want that unification to be based on the simplest precepts possible.

  84. Elizabeth Hill
    Elizabeth Hill October 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    I think I just noticed that the oft quoted statistic about 47% paying no federal income taxes is 47% of households. Households with a single adult in them tend to be poorer, on average, than households with two adults in them. I’d like to see these numbers adjusted and broken down. (Elderly widows whose only income is social security are likely to not have enough income to pay income tax. Also, some SS income is excluded from federal income tax.)

  85. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 7:24 pm |

    Yeah, and this is exactly why I don’t want these guys going around and claiming to be the 99%. When you take on the title, you say this is what the 99% believes or stands for.

    But, in the instance cited by Fat Steve, I think it is representative of the 99%. If you consider 99% of Americans, you are going to be including some rapists and/or perpetrators of other kinds of sexual assault, especially if that 99% is selected on the basis of income, or some other measure that is not specifically geared toward eliminating rapists. If this were a demonstration of rapists claiming to represent 99% of the populace, then yeah, I’d see the problem. But if in a group of people representing 99% of the populace (and as I say, I’ve always understood the slogan to be shorthand for “we are members of the 99%, but obviously other people don’t), there’re one or two rapists…that, unfortunately, sounds perfectly accurate to me, if not low.

  86. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm |

    EG: I think it is representative of the 99%. If you consider 99% of Americans, you are going to be including some rapists and/or perpetrators of other kinds of sexual assault, especially if that 99% is selected on the basis of income, or some other measure that is not specifically geared toward eliminating rapists.

    You know, I wonder if this is why I want it to be a cause and not a group label. Since my experience with SA, I’ve actively worked on my independence and keeping myself separate in name from those people. When it’s a cause, I can get behind a cause. When it’s a group, I cannot bring myself to join a group. I know it sounds kind of like a stretch, but there you go.

    Maybe if they made the slogan “tax all the motherfuckers.”

  87. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    I’d cosign that slogan!

    Actually, I’d prefer the slogan on the button I had on my denim jacket when I was a teenager (can you guess in what decade I was a teenager?):

    Eat the rich.

    Aside: what’s SA? I don’t think I’ve heard of that acronym before?

  88. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    Sexual assault – maybe now you can see why I consider it almost a stretch unless you’re me. It’s all weird remnants of ptsd that have permeated into other aspects of my life, like not wanting to associate myself with a group of anyone. Way off-topic, sorry.

    In the meantime, my understanding is that rich people have cake. And if you are what you eat, I can definitely get behind eat the rich. Even if I end up rich one day. Then it’s an added bonus for me.

  89. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    I’m sorry, PrettyAmiable. I hope I didn’t raise any bad ghosts by asking, and I appreciate you explaining it to me.

    After the revolution comes, there will be cake for all!

  90. Miss S
    Miss S October 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm |

    I understand the need for marginalized groups to organize around their specific needs. At the same time, if you have no job, no healthcare, etc, you’re already part of a marginalized group. It would be nice if this country could take care of basic needs for its citizens first. Regardless of race, gender, etc, we all need healthcare and food and housing.

    Compared to many other developed nations, the U.S is pitiful in terms of social safety nets. It’s not really that complicated to create a nation with a much lower poverty rate, and the U.S government isn’t stupid. Countries that have better social safety nets have lower rates of poverty. Sweden (if I remember correctly) drastically lowered the poverty rate for women and children by offering national maternity leave and government support for single parents. It’s a matter of prioritizing where our money goes.

  91. Prez
    Prez October 15, 2011 at 3:02 am |

    I don’t think they believe they’re part of an American underclass at all.

    And that’s why you lose, you sniveling, sanctimonious waste of space.

  92. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 8:38 am |

    PrettyAmiable:
    Re: Gigi’s comment – does anyone know why the symbolic is so important that they’ve forgone the practical? i.e. why Wall Street and not Washington?

    For the life of me, I do not know. I wanted to do this three years ago on Capital Hill, but why now and why there, confuses me. I’m all about the anger – I’ve BEEN angry for 3 plus years now, but to not take this out on the Fed that GAVE OUR MONEY TO THEM WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED (like they did with GM and Chrysler) makes me think this is a huge missed opportunity. And now I’m more angry.

  93. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 8:44 am |

    Jadey: Google confirms that Washington is also being occupied, although the name of the movement is still based on where it originated. Hard to re-brand mid-movement.

    not re-brand. brand appropriately. This movement should have originated at CAPITAL HILL! Wall Street’s greed is not the only greed at fault here. The big banks didn’t sneak into my house in Sept 2008 and take that $$$, my government gave it to them WITHOUT stipulations. Why is that?

  94. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    Rebecca: There are a few sales taxes that go to the federal government, most notably on gasoline, telephone/internet, and utilities.

    Rebecca: I agree, but SAles and Use tax and what you cite here are usually not confused. In all my years, no one ever referred to gas tax as a sales tax. Nor the tax on cigarettes as anything other than a sin tax. I understand a ‘sale’ has to occur to pay that tax, but they are usually not confused in that way. I know because I run a small business and I have to pay them to the state. So, I agree with what you said, but not about the sales tax.

  95. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 9:05 am |

    PrettyAmiable: we can’t have nice things.

    Bless you. For the laugh and for defending a nice discourse because I haven’t seen a nice discourse about this any where else.

  96. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 15, 2011 at 9:42 am |

    Casey: What’s wrong with taking a brick a day out of a building? I admit that violence against property might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but my point stands. The left tried non-violence, it hasn’t worked, and then it dissolves into navel-gazing. The left needs to get over it’s squeamishness and start getting destructive. A really good place to start would be with the nearest church, and a few dozen chisels.
    PA: I hear ya. With the nights shortening around here, I tend to be more reluctant to go out. I usually just figure that any man below 25 or any unmarried man above 40 might be a threat to my safety and proceed accordingly. Liberal men tend to be worse sexists than conservative men: at least with conservative men, it’s expected.

  97. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    Alara Rogers: why can’t we protect young people from bad decisions by forcing loan companies to *not* give out student loans for non-accredited colleges?

    Because it’s about personal accountability. I feel for the sentiment, I do, because I had loans myself. BUT we can’t protect everyone from these types of bad decisions. A lot of student loans are predatory, but the universities should do more to prevent affiliations in their Financial Aid departments with predatory banks. HOWEVER, the scenario you have here is the same as going to a car dealership, buying the nice, new, shiny car and paying a huge interest rate for it. Do I have to protect those people, too? I can’t, as a tax payer, protect every bad decision made by adults. Under 18? Yes, they deserve my protection. Not 18 year old. And certainly not ones that are smart enough to pursue higher education. They should educate themselves about the lending process FIRST!

  98. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:06 am |

    Casey: It’s about arriving at decisions based on consensus, and witnessing first hand what that looks like. For me, it is the first time I have ever participated in a democratic system.

    You just described democracy. This, what you just wrote here, is EXACTLY why I think the movement (the anger) is misdirected. The democratic process does not start at the protest; it starts at the voting booth. If not one protester goes to the poll to vote for change, you can protest until the cows come home and it won’t make a lick of difference. VOTE out the people that did this. VOTE for the people that recognize this AND have a PLAN to change it!

  99. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:13 am |

    EG: Alara

    No, if that happens, I get screwed.

  100. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    Elizabeth Hill: Households with a single adult in them tend to be poorer, on average, than households with two adults in them. I’d like to see these numbers adjusted and broken down.

    Sister, you ain’t just whistling Dixie! I’m poor and single. Talk about a double whammy!

  101. Jadey
    Jadey October 15, 2011 at 10:19 am |

    Gigi: not re-brand. brand appropriately.This movement should have originated at CAPITAL HILL!Wall Street’s greed is not the only greed at fault here.The big banks didn’t sneak into my house in Sept 2008 and take that $$$, my government gave it to them WITHOUT stipulations.Why is that?

    I… don’t know? Hey, it wasn’t my choice–it’s not even my country. Someone decided to focus on Wall Street and that’s where the original name came from. I was just observing that it’s difficult to re-title a movement once people have latched onto a name, regardless of its appropriateness.

  102. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:20 am |

    EG: Eat the rich.

    change that to EAT ALL THE CRAPPY POLITICIANS and I’m in. I work hard and one day I hope to have wealth because of my hard work (I’ll never be the top 1, 20 or probably 30%). But I want to have wealth and share wealth. Riches is not what I take issue with. Ill-gotten gains is, and that Washington takes my money and gives it away without my approval? Eat them!

  103. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:26 am |

    Jill: Because Wall Street and the big banks threw tons of money at politicians, and basically bought them out, and pushed for financial deregulation and all sorts of laws that corporate leaders essentially created. That’s why people are protesting Wall Street.

    You’re still not taking politicians to task. That’s giving them the big pass. My business doesn’t take money from loan sharks. It’s out there; I could. But I don’t want my legs broken and I need to sleep at night. I don’t sell drugs to make money. I could; it’s out there. But I don’t. I vote for them NOT to take money from them. They work for me, the people. The corporation have no obligation to me. The POLITICIANS DO. I appreciate your response, but your simplifying something that by nature is not simple. And the zest for going after an obvious villain lets the real bad guys get away with it. Every corp could fall tomorrow and I’d still have a shitty congress.

  104. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    Jadey: I… don’t know? Hey, it wasn’t my choice–it’s not even my country. Someone decided to focus on Wall Street and that’s where the original name came from. I was just observing that it’s difficult to re-title a movement once people have latched onto a name, regardless of its appropriateness.

    Blame Canada. (just kidding!) The focus is the meaning, is it not? If your focus is misplaced, you’ll never reach your goal. That’s why I think it’s a missed opportunity. I’m not for protecting D-bags like Angelo R. Mozilo and his ilk, but he’s not my representation. And his access to my tax $$$ is only through an elected official. I have to hold the elected official accountable first.

  105. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:41 am |

    Jill: Who’s giving politicians a pass, though? I don’t see that happening — I see people at the protest talking about politics and politicians all the time. But not everyone can get to Washington. New York is a big city full of pissed-off people; it makes sense to congregate somewhere local. If folks in DC want to protest on the National Mall, they can do that too (and there are protests around DC all the time about various political things, so really, I don’t think politicians are just being patted on the back and ignored). This isn’t an either/or. No one is saying not to protest politicians. In fact, it’s straight-up fiction to suggest that no one is taking politicians to task.

    Here’s why I say no one is taking politicians to task: this bail out happened 3 years ago. The fed still has Bernanke, the House Banking Committee has prosecuted NO ONE for their actions during this debacle, and many of those on the committee during this nightmare are still there (and got plenty of back door deals.) This movement has been critical of how Banks and Insurance does it’s business, but not one voice has come out as to what needs to change. What I’ve heard most is the constant “throw the baby out with the bathwater” idea that the banks need to shut down.

    To say I’m speaking fiction that “no one is being taken to task” is fiction itself. Jill, I’m not being accusatory. I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but if I’m speaking fiction, you and I are in the same isle of Barnes and Noble, my dear.

  106. petpluto
    petpluto October 15, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    Gigi: You just described democracy.This, what you just wrote here,is EXACTLY why I think the movement (the anger) is misdirected.The democratic process does not start at the protest; it starts at the voting booth.If not one protester goes to the poll to vote for change, you can protest until the cows come home and it won’t make a lick of difference.VOTE out the people that did this.VOTE for the people that recognize this AND have a PLAN to change it!

    I’m all for voting. Seriously, I believe every person should vote. But just voting does little.

    Just voting allows people like John Boehner to start his sentences with, “The American people want…” Just voting is often a choice between the candidate you definitely do not want in office and the candidate you can live with in office, but who doesn’t believe in the same things you do. Just voting the bare minimum of democratic participation.

    Protesting, writing letters, demonstrating, and putting pressure on those government officials you voted for (and sometimes that you didn’t vote for) is democratic action as well. It says, “I am not happy about what is happening here, and you, elected official, are not focusing on the issues I feel are most important”. Protesting and being vocal means that the politician you could live with maybe starts to move more toward the politician you really wanted. Protesting and being vocal means changing the political headwinds. Protesting and being vocal means drawing more attention to your issues.

    Voting is all well and good, but people are told they’re throwing away their vote if they vote for the Green Party in presidential elections. They’re told they have to pick between two candidates who are often times not far apart on the political matters of the day. They’re voting for politicians who are getting a load of money from corporate interests.

    The reason why people protest is because they feel like voting isn’t getting their voices heard. Because voting is an endorsement of a politician. Protesting and demonstrating is making that endorsement conditional.

  107. Gigi
    Gigi October 15, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    petpluto: The reason why people protest is because they feel like voting isn’t getting their voices heard. Because voting is an endorsement of a politician. Protesting and demonstrating is making that endorsement conditional.

    Um, I disagree. Protesting doesn’t make my endorsement anymore conditional than my vote, but I like what you’re saying here. Here’s why: voting isn’t as effective because we still have only half the voting eligible population voting national, and in some areas 20% voting in local. It all starts local, then state, then national. If protesters where all registering to vote (and then actually voting) I’d say “heck yeah!” You dont’ have to vote my way, but you need to vote. You say it’s not effective, voting. The low numbers of voters is what makes it not effective.

  108. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon October 15, 2011 at 10:54 am |

    Gigi: Here’s why I say no one is taking politicians to task: this bail out happened 3 years ago.

    The official declaration did make reference to corporations *running our government*

  109. llama
    llama October 15, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    Gigi: If protesters where all registering to vote (and then actually voting) I’d say “heck yeah!”You dont’ have to vote my way, but you need to vote.You say it’s not effective, voting.The low numbers of voters is what makes it not effective.

    We have compulsory federal voting here in Australia. We get fined for not turning out. Yet we still get crap politicians and crap policies most of the time.

  110. victoria
    victoria October 15, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    Gigi, if the bailout was the only issue that protesters were concerned with, then maybe i’d see your point. But this is about more than the bailout, it’s about being fed up with an economic system that is unjust and unsustainable.

    As for voting, it is *one* tool in the social change toolbox, it is not a magic swiss army knife.

  111. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 15, 2011 at 11:22 am |

    Ah, see, I think it makes perfect sense to focus on wall street/rich rather than government. Politics in the US is dug in along party lines. Criticizing the dems means joining a racist political movement. Criticizing the repubs means alienating a large chunk of the white working poor. But its pretty easy to agree to hate on the rich and corporations. And corporations and their execs are the problem. Income inequality in this country is spiraling because they’ve turned the US political system and legal system in their favor.

    Voting is all well and good, but when all the candidates are funded by moneyed interests they are going to act in ways thay preserve that funding regardless of the interests of people in the voting booths. And that is why voting participation rates are low.

  112. llama
    llama October 15, 2011 at 11:24 am |

    Kristen J.: corporations and their execs are the problem. Income inequality in this country is spiraling because they’ve turned the US political system and legal system in their favor.

    Exactly the point.

  113. Allison
    Allison October 15, 2011 at 11:27 am |

    Because it’s about personal accountability. I feel for the sentiment, I do, because I had loans myself. BUT we can’t protect everyone from these types of bad decisions. A lot of student loans are predatory, but the universities should do more to prevent affiliations in their Financial Aid departments with predatory banks. HOWEVER, the scenario you have here is the same as going to a car dealership, buying the nice, new, shiny car and paying a huge interest rate for it. Do I have to protect those people, too? I can’t, as a tax payer, protect every bad decision made by adults. Under 18? Yes, they deserve my protection. Not 18 year old. And certainly not ones that are smart enough to pursue higher education. They should educate themselves about the lending process FIRST!

    But when many of those students whom you “can’t protect” end up unable to pay back their massive student loans, you along with other taxpayers will be on the hook for them, because they’re government guaranteed. The student loan crises has been widely predicted to be the next housing bubble. We’re talking a lot of taxpayer money here.

    But the used car analogy doesn’t really work, IMO, because unlike student loans, car loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy. That means that banks/financiers are much less likely to make financially unjustifiable car loans that stand little chance of ever being paid back. You say that we can’t protect naive 18-year-olds from predatory lenders who take advantage of their desire to get an education and better themselves, but it wouldn’t take much to offer them at least the same protection that people with regular credit-card debt receive.

  114. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |

    PrettyAmiable: Yeah, and this is exactly why I don’t want these guys going around and claiming to be the 99%. When you take on the title, you say this is what the 99% believes or stands for. And it makes me angry. It is dangerous and I do not want to be associated with it. That’s why I believe in simplifying the message as much as possible.

    I see the benefit in unification – I do. But I value individuality so much that I want that unification to be based on the simplest precepts possible.

    As EG, pointed out, this is not something considered acceptable behavior, it is unfortunately something that has happened numerous times before at concerts, park parties, and numerous places with a large gatherings of people. That’s down to societal shittiness or rape culture, or whatever you want to call it. I’m sure it would happen at Tea Party events if people in this country fetishized fat stupid white men.

    If one imagines the number of Wall St types that date/aquaintance raped someone under the influence of alcohol I don’t see how you could come up with a number that wasn’t exponentially higher.

  115. Drahill
    Drahill October 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm |

    Miss S: I understand the need for marginalized groups to organize around their specific needs. At the same time, if you have no job, no healthcare, etc, you’re already part of a marginalized group. It would be nice if this country could take care of basic needs for its citizens first. Regardless of race, gender, etc, we all need healthcare and food and housing.P>

    Well, yeah – I don’t see anybody here who’s arguing against your points. The problem with advocacy, sometimes, is that just because your an advocate, it doesn’t mean that your not still reinforcing stereotypes and acting out a privilege. I’ll give ya an example I’m familar with. Sometimes, urban people take it upon themselves to get involved in the rural rights movement or other causes that impact rural people (like environmentalism, farm rights, mining, ect.) Sometimes, the advocacy these people do is steeped in harmful or ignorant stereotypes because they believe that rural people cannot effectively organize for themselves, are too poorly educated, are too poor in general, ect. That kind of advocacy is harmful to the very people it seeks to help, because it reinforces stereotypes and promotes the idea that a traditionally disinfranchised group needs the help of outsiders or others to be effective. It happens with a lot of other groups too.

    So, yeah, OWS is trying to do good things – and they should be commended for it. But I would disagree with you that any advocacy is good – it can be harmful sometimes. I haven’t seen anything systematic in OWS that suggests that kind of harm (tho some individual members have behaved pretty badly). And it’s worth noting that even among those universal needs you listed, there will be variations in needs among economic, racial, class, and gender lines. My biggest beefs with OWS and the other movements that spawned from it are mostly that, from my own personal experiences, they don’t seem as diverse or inclusive as they could be and thus, I feel like the “99%” slogan is a wee bit…premature, i should say.

  116. karak
    karak October 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm |

    I understand the frustration behind the sentiment here, but this line of thinking makes me uncomfortable. I have a few friends that would like to participate, but are scared to because they have criminal histories. The possibility of violence and subsequent mass arrests is a real deterrent for them. Honestly, it’s a deterrent for a lot of people, not just those with a record.

    I have a lot of empathy for people with criminal records who are reluctant to tussle with the law–I have a few people with records in my immediate family who are afraid to call the police when they’re in the right, because they were so abused by the system. And, at this point, it’s not necessary for them to risk their freedom and safety.

    But I am often confused with the conflation of civil disobedience/pacifism/feminism. Like good feminists (or even good people) shouldn’t be violent, shouldn’t throw bricks, shouldn’t illegally occupy parks or throw glitter at homophobes. To me, this really seems to be some level of internalization of “GIRLS can’t FIGHT or be LOUD because that’s not FEMININE what feminists do.”

    I, personally, WANT to strike fear into the heart of the 1%. Like me, I want them to fear they may have no home, no job, no future. Like me, I want them to fear the violence of the world they live in, and then be absolutely helpless in front of it.

    As Batman says,
    “I seek…the means to fight injustice. To turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.”
    “It’s time my enemies shared my dread.”

  117. EG
    EG October 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    The big banks didn’t sneak into my house in Sept 2008 and take that $$$, my government gave it to them WITHOUT stipulations. Why is that?

    Because the people who run the financial industry own their asses. Simple as that. That’s why the protesters have focused on Wall Street. Real power in this country is consolidated in the hands of the wealthy. They buy government power to protect their interests, thus gaining political power without any of the onerous tasks associated with having to govern.

    Not 18 year old. And certainly not ones that are smart enough to pursue higher education. They should educate themselves about the lending process FIRST!

    Wait, so an 18-year-old who is busting her ass keeping her grades good enough to get into college, is most likely working as well, may or may not have family problems that require her attention, applying to college and doing all the things associated with that should also be studying the loan industry well enough that she can prevent people with graduate degrees in business who spend their careers devising these schemes from taking advantage of her?

    That does not strike me as at all reasonable. Regulate those assholes.

    The democratic process does not start at the protest; it starts at the voting booth. If not one protester goes to the poll to vote for change, you can protest until the cows come home and it won’t make a lick of difference. VOTE out the people that did this. VOTE for the people that recognize this AND have a PLAN to change it!

    I could not possible disagree more. Protesting is far more democratic than voting; voting is making a choice among candidates that have already been pre-selected by wealthy corporate interests via donations. It is not possible for somebody who is not himself wealthy and cannot win donations from big business even to get enough signatures to get himself on the ballot for anything above, oh, City Council, let alone win. This game is fixed. We voted Obama in, and damn if he didn’t become about 500% more conservative than he was when he ran.

    As my beloved Emma Goldman said, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

    The low numbers of voters is what makes it not effective.

    This is intentional on the part of the powerful, and it has nothing to do with individual motivation. If we wanted everybody to vote, we’d make election day a national holiday, instead of putting it smack in the middle of a workday. If we wanted everybody to vote, we’d allow early voting and mail-in ballots for people who would be unable to get to the polls on election day. If we wanted everybody to vote, we’d keep polls open 24 hours so that people who work all shifts could get there. And that’s not even touching the recent ramping up of voter ID laws that has happened.

    This is all part and parcel of making voting a useless exercise.

    change that to EAT ALL THE CRAPPY POLITICIANS and I’m in.

    No, I can’t do that, because I’m not going to buy into the idea that the problem is that we just have the wrong people in office, and if only we could get better people in office, everything would be different. The system is corrupt, and it corrupts almost everybody who has a stake in it. All the politicians are crappy, if by “crappy,” you mean “beholden to corporate interests.” I would wager cash money that you could require every single member of congress to step down, elect a whole new batch using the same system we have now, and the new batch would not behave significantly differently from the old batch.

    As others have said, it’s not the bank bailout that’s the problem. The bank bailout is an impossible-to-miss symptom of the problem, which is that our political system is or has become a shell game run almost entirely by the ultra-rich. They control news media and political funding, and those things are far, far more effective than voting ever will be. Voting is essentially an individual action. The only way, in my opinion, to have even a prayer of combating the immense power that accrues to the wealthy in this country is via collective action. Protesting is a good first step.

    But I am often confused with the conflation of civil disobedience/pacifism/feminism. Like good feminists (or even good people) shouldn’t be violent, shouldn’t throw bricks, shouldn’t illegally occupy parks or throw glitter at homophobes. To me, this really seems to be some level of internalization of “GIRLS can’t FIGHT or be LOUD because that’s not FEMININE what feminists do.”

    I, personally, WANT to strike fear into the heart of the 1%. Like me, I want them to fear they may have no home, no job, no future. Like me, I want them to fear the violence of the world they live in, and then be absolutely helpless in front of it.

    Quoted and bolded for truth. I hear this a lot from liberals–anxiety about the morality of breaking the laws created by people representing the interests of politically powerful groups (read: corporate interests) specifically to advance and protect their power. Not all laws deserve to be respected. These people have blood on their hands–those in this country who can’t get enough to eat, those who suffer and die because they can’t afford health care, all those who die of gang violence in economically blighted areas–but because they cause their suffering without breaking the laws passed by people they’ve bought off, that’s all OK. But it’s not. It’s immoral.

    (In the interests of full disclosure: I am not a good candidate for any violent action because I a) have always been physically inept in almost every way, am wimpy, and now getting old and b) have a bizarrely powerful compulsion to stay on the straight and narrow despite every value my parents tried to instill in me, probably because I am a first child, although my mother was a first child as well, and she didn’t mind a little inappropriate behavior back in the day. I have done some civil disobedience, but only of the safest kind, not hard-core, like my stepdad.)

  118. This week in the War on Workers: Correcting Herman Cain | Hotspyer – Breaking News from around the web

    […] Jill Filipovic finds “We are the 53%” to be “actually very sad,” but Amanda Marcotte is embracing it. Also, Sady Doyle’s The Percentages: A Biography of Class, linked in Jill’s post, is not to be missed. […]

  119. The Real 53%
    The Real 53% October 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    Please consider joining this serious response to the 53%:

    http://thereal53.tumblr.com/

  120. moron
    moron October 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm |

    Democracy and socialism are not opposites. And Harrison Bergeron is a parody of people like you overreacting about communism.

    I am a huge admirer of OWS and think the Right’s horror of inequality is dumb, but I don’t think this reading of “Harrison Bergeron” can really be supported — it’s a best a minority interpretation and doesn’t have much support in the text.

    I think the obvious interpretation is the right one — Vonnegut was more or less uncritically accepting (quite wrongly in my opinion) the prevailing conservative view that socialism is “bad”.

    He wasn’t a particularly deep thinker, politically or otherwise, and I’ve never understood liberals’ infatuation with his work.

    BTW, “Harrison Bergeron” was originally published in — wait for it — The National Review… not meny years after William F. Buckley’s infamous campaign in support of segregation and white supremacy in the former Confederacy.

    Any attempt at a sympathetic reading of “Harrison Bergeron” has to contend with that context, and I don’t think there’s really any way to square that circle, sorry.

  121. Miss S
    Miss S October 16, 2011 at 12:26 am |

    But I would disagree with you that any advocacy is good – it can be harmful sometimes.

    Agreed to an extent. I think my concern is that right now, people are going without food, shelter, and healthcare. I would rather focus on making sure everyone had their basic needs met, before focusing on issues that affect me, like racism. Does that make sense? Then again, issues like employment, housing and healthcare affect me right now too, as a college grad who hasn’t found work outside of waiting tables.

    Maybe I feel like my basic needs are more important right now, but that’s my opinion and I realize that someone else could see sexism, or something else as a more pressing issue.

    I just feel like if we had a society that provided basic needs, a lot of people would be so much better off.

    The system is corrupt, and it corrupts almost everybody who has a stake in it.
    Quoted for truth.

  122. Drahill
    Drahill October 16, 2011 at 2:29 am |

    Miss S: I think my concern is that right now, people are going without food, shelter, and healthcare. I would rather focus on making sure everyone had their basic needs met, before focusing on issues that affect me, like racism.

    Well, I suppose my question back would be why can’t both be done at the same time? And, I suppose, my follow-up would be “but what if, in trying to meet immediate needs, an advocate engages in behavior or tactics that reinforce stereotypes or privileges?” Because that’s what I’m getting at – I’m not saying needs and priorities can’t be made in advocacy (they should be). I’m talking about when that advocacy either takes authority or power away from the people it’s supposed to help or when it relies upon stereotypes to get things done. If a white person went into the inner city and began to advocate for housing and employment for poor people of color, they are doing a good thing by trying. But they also need to recognized that what they’re doing could result in the co-opting of a movement that really, at the end of the day, belongs to those poor POC. Additionally, if the white person did the advocacy because they believed that those same POC were too poor/uneducated/unorganized to do it for themselves, thats not good advocacy – because it plays into tropes about POC and makes value judgments about them. So that’s my point – that’s bad advocacy. And I really don’t think a pass should be granted to bad advocacy, even when its for things people really need – because down the line, its just playing back into the system.

  123. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |

    Jill: I brought up churches because the US churches have played quite a large part in this debacle. The leaders tell their congregations to be content with crumbs today, so that they can have cake tomorrow or in the afterlife. They also convince their congregants to make life as shitty as possible for the outsiders by voting in politicians who say the right things, promise more crumbs and are in the pocket of big business. And it doesn’t have to be a church; how long do you think those nice big bank buildings would last if someone took a brick a day out of them?
    Karak: Absolutely. Violence can be a useful tool, but most feminists refuse to consider it. And then they wonder why nothing changes, and why men are still sexist and rapey. Nothin’ like a good butt kicking to inspire respect.
    Gigi: I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18. Things just get worse. If the politicians aren’t malevolent, they’re ineffective wimps. It’s getting to the point where monarchy now seems like a good idea.

  124. Miss S
    Miss S October 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    And I really don’t think a pass should be granted to bad advocacy, even when its for things people really need – because down the line, its just playing back into the system.

    I definitely get this, but I feel like intent really only matters when your needs have been met. I’m not sure that a homeless woman and her child aren’t as concerned with the intent behind someone who is advocating for or providing housing for the homeless as they are about actually having housing. If I were hungry, I would be less concerned that the people running the food bank had negative stereotypes and more concerned with eating. Since I’m not hungry I have the leisure to think about it.

    I believe the first step is making sure everyone has basic needs met. Everyone means… everyone, so that no one can be excluded because of an apsect of their identity, like race, or religion. Once everyone has a basic standard of living, I think it will be a hell of alot easier for people to advocate for themselves and their community instead of literally struggling to survive.

    You’re right that specific issues and broader issues can both be solved, but how can we get to the broader issues if we’re divided?

  125. Dan S.
    Dan S. October 16, 2011 at 11:37 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: ironically, it’s because of entitled dickwads like you that we can’t have nice things.

    Is there anywhere we could trade entitled dickwads for nice things? Because that would be awesome.

  126. EG
    EG October 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm |

    The Nice Things Exchange Counter would run out of stock way before we ran out of entitled dickwads, unfortunately.

  127. Drahill
    Drahill October 17, 2011 at 4:25 am |

    Miss S: And I really don’t think a pass should be granted to bad advocacy, even when its for things people really need – because down the line, its just playing back into the system. I definitely get this, but I feel like intent really only matters when your needs have been met. I’m not sure that a homeless woman and her child aren’t as concerned with the intent behind someone who is advocating for or providing housing for the homeless as they are about actually having housing. If I were hungry, I would be less concerned that the people running the food bank had negative stereotypes and more concerned with eating. Since I’m not hungry I have the leisure to think about it.I believe the first step is making sure everyone has basic needs met. Everyone means… everyone, so that no one can be excluded because of an apsect of their identity, like race, or religion. Once everyone has a basic standard of living, I think it will be a hell of alot easier for people to advocate for themselves and their community instead of literally struggling to survive. You’re right that specific issues and broader issues can both be solved, but how can we get to the broader issues if we’re divided?

    Well, to me, I don’t believe needs are stratified like that. If I am starving, and you are offering me food, yes, I would be a fool to refuse it. But that doesn’t mean, by taking the food, we’re building any coalition. If you patronize me or otherwise mistreat me while offering me help, I’m going to take the help – but I’m gonna hate you while I do it. And once I satisify my immediate needs, I’m not gonna be inclined to go back to you anymore. I’m certainly not gonna want to join you in any advocacy later. So the two go hand in hand – you can meet immediate needs while doing the advocacy in a respectful and mindful way. Bad advocacy today hurts movements done the line. Because marginalized people tend to not forget being treated poorly before by people who want their support NOW. So, to me, the fact that adovcates are out there for immediate needs doesn’t give them any kind of pass when it comes to how they treat people or represent themselves to others – it still matters just as much as I contended at first.

    And my suggested answer to your last question – if you want to build bridges, as opposed to divisions, then my suggestion would be – well, be aware of things like privilege, standing and history before you try to advocate, so that you can treat people right from the beginning – and then there will be less divisions to work on later.

  128. Drahill
    Drahill October 17, 2011 at 4:32 am |

    I suppose I should just amend the previous comment to add: To summarize – I believe that intent matters ALL the time- no exceptions.

  129. Links 10/18/11 | Mike the Mad Biologist
    Links 10/18/11 | Mike the Mad Biologist October 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |

    […] of no better way to give the movement sympathy than to arrest people for withdrawing their money) We Are the 53%. Or not. Diane Ravitch makes a funny Advertisement Eco World Content From Across The Internet. […]

  130. Take two: Occupy protests - Page 3 - CurlTalk

    […] pathetic, sad "We Are the 53%" campaign. We Are The 53% Love these articles about it: We Are the 53%. Or not. The Right-Wing Version of 'We Are the 99 Percent': Heartbreaking […]

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