To The 99% Protesters: You Do Not Represent All Of Us

You’re mistaken if you believe the 99% will just rage against the 1%.  They won’t stop until they protest against half of America, and then they will turn on themselves.  After reading all the “We Are The 53%” submissions, I was inspired to write my own. The 53% figure refers to the percentage of working Americans who pay for 100% of all federal taxes in our country. The 53% blog is a response to the “We Are The 99%” Occupy Everything movement, which also shares some moving posts about people who are having trouble getting ahead.  Unfortunately, there are also some incredibly misguided posts that put blame on others for their own mistakes.

The 99% movement doesn’t represent all 99% of us because the 99% isn’t one big pity party that we’re being made out to be.  Some of the reasons for protesting are down right embarrassing.  If you have student debt and can’t get a job, please protest your school’s career service office.  If you are against corporations, please don’t use an iPhone and then go charge it at McDonald’s.  If the damn insurance company is denying you benefits, protest right outside their corporate headquarters and at the homes of their execs!  There are thousands of first generation legal immigrants who come to the States, don’t speak English, and find a way to live a better life.  We at least have a head start with the English language!

The 99% movement might represent 10% of Americans who are fed-up and outraged by the super wealthy and our inept politicians and want to protest. For the rest of the 99%, we aren’t complaining.  Instead, we’re focusing on making ourselves better. We’re not depending on the wealthy or the government for anything.  We’re depending on our own initiatives to make things happen.  You do realize that we taxpayers made money bailing out the banks to the tune of $10 billion dollars right? Thanks Wall St!  We’re still waiting for GM to give us our money back.

Stop thinking about yourself and what the country and the government can do for you.  Start thinking about how you can add value to society and help someone before you help yourself.  Being selfish gets you nowhere because nobody will want to help you, especially if you are protesting the very people who donate to charity, provide students scholarships, help fund cures for cancer, and provide employment opportunities!

Here is my note. I hope you can share your own.

REPRESENTING THE 53%

• At 16 years old I went to work at McDonald’s from 6am to noon for $3.25 an hour on the weekends. The manager was abusive and told us to never speak Spanish, even amongst ourselves. I knew then that I never wanted to be poor, and despite the bad environment, I became the best damn Egg McMuffin maker the chain had ever seen.

• During junior and senior year of high school, when my friends wanted to play hooky and smoke cigarettes and weed, I told them I had to go to tennis practice and then study. That was a 6-hour affair after school every Mon-Thursday, and 4 hours on Friday. I already fucked up badly once and wasn’t about to do so again.

• In college, when my friends wanted to get plastered and hit on chicks, I gladly came along for a couple beers and a good time, but I never blacked out, doing something I’d forget and regret. OK, maybe I did just once, but I don’t remember.  My girlfriend and I studied for 6 hours on average every single day, all throughout the day. Who would employ us if we did otherwise?

• After college, when my friends were still sleeping, I got up at 4:45am to get to work by 5:30am for two consecutive years. There I worked until 7:45pm on average because that’s when the cafeteria opened, serving free dinner. Damn, I got fat working so much, but I wanted to save money because the Big City was expensive and I always felt broke. I didn’t blame Jenny Craig.

• Two years later, I got a new job offer with a pay raise and a promotion. The only catch was that I had to move cross-country to San Francisco, where I had no friends and no family. I was scared, but what the hell. I was young and left on Friday and started work on Monday. Here I got fit again by running every day until I was back to my normal self.  Screw Jenny Craig and her diets.

• Over a decade later, I no longer work 14-hour days, but still get in by 7:30am and usually am one of the last to leave. There is no face-time involved anymore. I leave when the job gets done and only when I feel comfortable I’ve earned my day’s pay. There’s no way I’m taking this opportunity for granted. It is an honor to be employed and I’m thankful every single day.

• Because I only work 10-11 hours a day now, I started a couple sites called FinancialSamurai.com and Yakezie.com. After spending 3 hours a day on average for 2 years writing content and connecting with others, my online endeavors have grown to a size that enables me to retire from my day job. I won’t be living it up in retirement because it’s not that much, but I can live freely if I want to. Anybody can build an online business if they have the dedication.  Everybody should start an online business if they have no job especially!  The government didn’t help me one bit. Instead, the government made it difficult to start a business and incorporate. It took 3 months just to get the paperwork done. The amount of paperwork was incredible and I needed help from a lawyer, which cost $200/hour. What a waste of money.

• I’ve paid over $100,000 in Federal and State income taxes a year since my late 20′s and yes, I have an accountant.  The $100,000+ a year is used to build our schools, fund our libraries, expand our roads, protect our nation, and provide medical care for our deserved senior citizens.  I try and forget how much I pay in taxes because I know I will never get that money back in return.  Why are you angry with me? I’m not angry with you for whatever amount you’re paying. Despite paying more in taxes than the average American income, the government wants me to pay even more while half the population pays no Federal taxes? Talk about a kick in the nuts, but I shut the hell up and pay my taxes and don’t complain.  However, if more is what the government and protesters want, how about Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adam’s idea of letting me drive in the HOV lane by myself whenever I want with my $4,000, 11-year old beater as a small token? Or maybe just a short “Thank You” letter from any government benefits recipient each time a check is cashed? At the very least, don’t attack me for being a law-abiding citizen who pays a ton of taxes!

• How much have you paid in taxes? Taxes are what keeps this country running.  Did the government and greedy corporations really take any of your money if you pay little to no federal taxes?  Don’t you think the people who should have the most beef be the ones who’ve paid the most taxes not the other way around?

* Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you can wake up at 4:45am in the morning and put in 14 hours a day for several years. I bet if you do, you’ll get way ahead. In fact, I firmly believe you will crush your competition and achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.

* Ask yourself if you were a manager in a difficult economic environment whether you’d fire your top 10% best workers or your bottom 10% worst workers?  Of course you keep your best people.  Would you hire yourself?  Of course you would, but do you really think a job is a right?  I tell myself I am nobody everyday, and so should you.  That way, you’ll never be complacent, and never fall in the bottom 10% ever.

* Last year I donated five figures to charity and spent 30+ hours volunteering.  With the help of the Yakezie Network, we started the Yakezie Scholarship / Writing Contest which allows students looking for educational financial aid to compete and win over $1,000.  I will do the same every year until I retire, and then maybe I’ll focus on giving back full time.  Why am I a bad person?  I don’t do any of this for credit.  I do it in secret just because it’s a good thing to do.

• I am the 53%. There’s no way you will ever join us if you’re sitting around protesting. Each minute you spend protesting is another minute someone else is out there making a living.  You can hate us for being in the top 53%, but you should start hating yourself instead.  That way, you’ll be so disgusted with yourself that you will go to the ends of the earth to succeed!

* I stand by every single American out there who doesn’t complain why life isn’t fair, who never gives up, and who looks to put others before self.  I stand by those in the 99% movement who are doing everything they possibly can to survive.  Seriously, the insurance companies are a joke if they are denying people affordable insurance due to whatever reason.  Here’s my story on fighting an insurance scam.  The government is disgraceful if they aren’t doing everything possible to help our honorable veterans find jobs and flourish back at home.  How much more do they have to serve their country for goodness sakes without having to fight at home?  There should never be jobless or homeless veterans!  Fight on people!  Let’s just focus our frustrations at the right people!

* We are the 53%. There are literally tens of millions of us with our own stories.  Won’t you join us?

Readers and fellow bloggers, tell me you aren’t the only ones who feel assailed for working hard and making a living? Why do we have to feel ashamed for striving to be successful in our respective fields? Shouldn’t we feel proud of our accomplishments? What the hell did we do wrong?

I encourage all readers and bloggers to write their own 53% letter and tell your story of why you deserve to live.  If you are a reader and would like to have your story published here, I will do so.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    I grew up not having much, and paid my way through college. People think that you can just get student loans to cover what you can’t pay but that is not how it works. Financial aid assumes that your parents will pay a certain amount no matter what, and my parents contributed nothing. I worked all through high school and college and holidays were not a time to go have fun, it was a time to put in 100 hour work weeks under the table so I could have some money for the next semester. For one year I even donated plasma twice a week because I would get paid 29 dollars/week, and let me tell you, that is not a pleasant process. Even though I had to take out a bank loan to pay for college and worked as much as possible, I still had debt.

    When I graduated, I accepted my debt, and I took a job I didn’t like because I knew I had to pay bills. There was no ‘doing what you love’ it was ‘doing something because I had bills to pay’.

    Flash forward 20 years and my family makes a decent income, but we have definitely paid our dues. I did get some financial aid in college, but nobody came and bailed me out and I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I felt lucky that I was able to get an education and become self sufficient. I didn’t want anyone to come and rescue me, I wanted to be independent. It just never, ever crossed my mind that someone else should be paying more to make my life easier. Life is hard, and you have to work hard.

    I think I will go protest ‘debt distribution’ which requires me to end up paying for everyone else’s debt defaults.

    • says

      Yikes, that’s intense you donated plasma twice a week for $29! Thanks for the idea though, as now I guess I can donate a couple bodily fluids to make some money and survive if shit hits the fan!

      Kris, I thank you for sharing your story as I always appreciate your wisdom and experience. I do want to thank you also in advance though in case California gets bailed out by the rest of the country. We’re in trouble here! Best, sam

    • says

      Amen. I love this post. Get off your butt and do something about your situation. Complaining isn’t going to make you money the last time I checked. Or you could always spill coffee on your crotch at a drive through fast food joint and sue…..there’s some easy money in that I hear. ha

  2. Nifkin says

    I think you fail to see the point when it comes to certain aspects of the protest. This isn’t only about tax. These protesters are pissed off that not a single person was held accountable during the financial crisis a few years back. CEOs were still giving themselves six figure bonuses even after the shit hit the fan. It’s the corruption that these people are sick of. Enron and AIG was but a tiny fraction of the giant shitstorm that was and still is. Learn the facts.

    • James says

      Who is truly to blame? The ones who offered low rates or the ones who asked for loans, not only w/o downpayment but also for much more than they should have known they could reasonably afforded? Or should we point higher to the ones who insisted that home ownership was a “right”? Even that is a small point. I keep hearing the protesters blame others for their own choices, and insisting on “re-distribution.” Whatever they claim the issue du jour, it always seems fluid and dynamic. When asked and re-stated, the instant reply is always, “that’s not what I’m saying.” My end point is this: your poor choices are not my responsibility.

      • says

        Tough to find a better way to say it James. Aside from the brutally lack thinking of all of these individuals participating (Prosperity is Evil!!!!), I can’t get away from the complete lack of ownership of personal decisions that they espouse. People made horrendous financial decisions for themselves and need to (and I quote the above poster) be “held accountable”. About time for the “99%” to own up to their part of the “conspiracy”.

  3. says

    Your post is very inspirational to me. I am going to write about 53% (in one way or the other) on my new blog. I came to the US 11 years ago not speaking English. I achieved what I achieved through hard work. I did not do anything wrong and I do not feel ashamed. Great post, Sam!

    • says

      I LOVE, LOVE the story of immigrants who’ve picked themselves by the boostraps and made something of themselves!

      Going to a new country and not speaking the local language is a serious obstacle to overcome. Because of this very obstacle, I have to believe it drives one to really focus on making the best of their situation. Good luck on your new site!

  4. mike says

    ” and then they will turn on themselves”

    How true Sam. Ultimately they will swallow themselves. In the end, they’re nihilists.

    My respect to you as a young man studying and making yourself a better person. I was one to follow the crowd because I wanted to be cool, to be accepted. Little did I realize it’s easy to be against the status quo, not so easy to do what’s right. I salute you Sir.

  5. says

    My parents were immigrants who worked exremely hard to achieve success. Their success allowed me a good education and a desire to reach higher. Neither my parents nor myself were given any breaks!
    I do not look to the government or anybody else for anything. Everything is unfair, impossible and geared to people who have money. Nothing has changed! The odds are against you, but hard work, ingenuity and persistence can get you there. Although you can protest for anything, they seem unfocused in what they are protesting. They have not expressed what goal or outcome they want to achieve either.
    I will continue to look out for myself and family as I ahve before these times.

    • says

      The odds are always against us since this world is so damn competitive. If we recognize the competition and realize what’s truly out there, we’ve got NO CHOICE but to just try harder. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. says

    I would love to be there when you go talk to the Occupy SF people. :D
    From the people I talked to, they didn’t bash the 53% all that much or asked for hand out. They wanted corporate to stop influencing our government by limiting lobbying power and campaign contribution. I’ll go talk to more people this weekend and I’m sure I’ll find some complainers, but the protesters are not all bad….

    • says

      Why are they whining against corporates? A corporation doesn’t direct, it’s the person at the corporate that directs!

      Are they saying government officials are little babies and can’t make their own choices? They should be rallying straight at government officials!

      I didn’t say any protester is bad. I’m saying it’s an absolute WASTE OF TIME, when they could be using the time developing skills, starting a business, and searching for better work.

  7. says

    I suggest you read this. I get that you are proud of your accomplishments (and they are impressive) but you’re fooling yourself if you think you’re not getting screwed.
    relfe.com/plus_5_.html

    • says

      I’m not fooling myself. I KNOW I’m getting screwed over by the government, and it makes me mad that now people are protesting against the very people who are paying taxes.

      I was happily minding my own business, trying to highlight to the web how messed up our taxation system is, and so much else run by the government. Now I’ve got to listen the 99% movement complain why they are getting screwed over? I’ve had enough and wanted to write my own.

      How about you share some of your story too?

  8. says

    You know…about 20% of Americans are either out of work or seriously underemployed right now. My income from three revenue sources is less than half what I earned on the job from which I was laid off; before my employer shut down our office and canned me and all five of my employees, I did not work 16 hours a day, which is about average for me now. I am highly skilled, luxuriantly experienced, and frighteningly smart, and I couldn’t even land a job driving the zoo train, much less get f/t work in the two fields in which I have strong professional track records.

    Twenty percent. Maybe a few of those think they brought it on themselves or God willed their misfortune. So let’s say 15% of unemployed Americans have enough sense to realize something’s rotten in Denmark…only substitute “Washington and Wall Street” for “Denmark.”

    Quite a few folks I know are fully employed and still mighty p.o.’ed about the present mess, and yes, they do blame corrupt politicians and unethical corporate magnates. How many of the 80 percent of Americans who are still working view the world this way, I could not say. But for sure, a minimum of 15% do. No, it’s not 99%. But it’s a heckuva lot more than 10%.

    • says

      Are we going to quibble about a 5% difference? I’m sure a ton of people are frustrated, but only a microscopic minority are frustrated enough to go protest, miss out on work, and waste their time protesting the wrong people.

      Sure, let’s substitute the words. The point is, EVERYBODY needs to own their own actions!

  9. Sid says

    Thanks for the posts–I’ve found them interesting but I think I’m going to take a break from this blog for a while. I enjoy the financial insights but it seems like this is taking a turn to the insular political name calling that I get way too much of in the corporate media. Frankly, it’s why I turn to blogs. I’ll check back in a few months to see if the conversation has turned.

  10. The Genius says

    I wonder how many of these protesters were strsight A students and could work 14 hour days? Somehow, I think the answer is less than 1%.

    What you write is a demonstration of work ethic and determination. The unintended consequences is that you will lose people like Sid up above, who GIVES UP instantly after reading your post because it reminds them of how little they’ve worked and accomplished.

    A lot of people besides Sid will just give up, given they realize this is what they have to compete with. Can you blame them for going to protest instead?

    Imagine a world where the 47% just disappeared.

    • says

      I don’t know, but that’s what I mentally prepare for in any sort of endeavor, competitors who work at least 12 hours a day and who keep pushing forward.

      Maybe this is the issue. America is still stuck in a bubble, and don’t speak other languages and are not aware that there are hundreds of millions of people out there working harder and cheaper than us.

      I can’t blame Sid for leaving. It just shows who s/he really is. Yes, maybe this post will damper the dreams of many who can’t work as long or hard, but so be it. Be happy with what you have if you can’t, b/c everybody else is.

  11. Mike Hunt says

    I’ve paid more than $100k a year to the government in taxes, only the last 6 years this was not the US government…

    -Mike

  12. Traineeinvestor says

    Very well said.

    The more I read about the occupy protestors the less sympathy I have for their selective grievances. Most of the time they sound like a bunch of whiners looking for a free ride off the backs of current and future taxpayers.

    • says

      I’ve read about 13 pages of the 99% site. 65% of them are inspiring and I can empathize. 35% of them are just so misguided. Whereas when I read the 53% site, around 95% of them are just awesome.

  13. says

    My problem with the Occupy protests is there isn’t a clear goal or set of goals. Do they want to end corporate greed? That’s not a concise goal. Do they want jobs? They won’t get one protesting. Are they unhappy with the tax system? Protesting won’t change that. Do they want to lessen the influence of corporations on the government? Hire a lobbyist. I think instead of protesting, they need to educate themselves on setting SMART goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and only then will they know what the next step toward change will be.

  14. says

    First off, I’m Canadian so I don’t want to stick my nose in too far where it might not belong and I really debated posting something because I am not always one to stir the pot.

    But I work at an employment centre and if you haven’t looked for work lately you might be really out of touch. Youth unemployment is officially listed at 15% but because we get the unofficial numbers I can tell you it is closer to 35-40% and that most youth under 30 are severely underemployed. People ARE looking for work – the employers we work with on average are getting over 200 resumes for an position they post – the competition for jobs right now is insane. They answer simply isn’t ‘get a job’ because there are not that many places hiring, and those that are, are mostly paying minimum wage (which usually doesn’t cover rent).

    The other thing that really confuses me – are the 53% not concerned that there are so many working-age people not paying taxes? That means that 47% of Americans are too poor to pay taxes. In Canada you start paying taxes around $21,000. I’m not sure if the 47% includes women and seniors, but even still – economic inequality on that scale is not good for long term stability of a country and will actually hinder economic growth of the 53% because no one will be able to afford whatever it is they are selling. Its impossible to believe that 47% of Americans are too lazy to get a job that would put them above the poverty line. Unless the structural factors that are rapidly increasing the poverty rate and rapidly shrinking the middle class are addressed, the current 53% will simply have to take on more and more of the tax burden as more and more people become to poor to contribute at all.

    If you want more people to pay taxes, something has to be done to decrease the poverty rate so that more people even qualify to pay taxes. Pandering to corporations and allowing their interests to be at the forefront of the political process is clearly not working, which is the crux of the demand of the Occupy movement.

    (ps. I’m not trying AT ALL to discredit it all your hard work – it sounds like you really worked hard to get where you are and I commend you for that!)

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the viewpoints of Canadians because of your Social Democracy. Your system is working much better than ours, even if tax rates are at 40% for what.. 100K and above? I like your universal healthcare system.

      What’s stopping the unemployed and our youth from starting their own online businesses? The barriers are practically zero. Do Canadians ever wonder why the majority of internet companies and technology is invented by Americans? It’s about innovation, sweat, and taking risks.

      I DON’T want people to pay more taxes and that includes the 47% who don’t pay taxes already! I want smaller government because they are INEFFICIENT and cannot be trusted.

    • Holly says

      There are many households who are eligible for deductions, tax credits, etc. and if they are knowledgable enough, they can take full advantage of these ‘gifts’ from the government (i.e. – to name just a few – child tax credits, earned income credits, student loan interest deductions, childcare or dependentcare credits).

      Itemizing on your taxes and setting aside pre-tax retirement savings can also substantially reduce one’s tax burden.

  15. says

    Getting a college degree is not insurance that you’ll get a great job which is evidenced by how many people we have unemployed right now. I think the protest is a good thing and people need to stand up and complain. Are there idiots out there making most of them look bad? Sure. But, if we didn’t speak up for ourselves for injustices (and I do believe that the under-regulated Wall Street led to this global crisis) we wouldn’t be the country we are. We need to complain. We need to make our voices heard. But, when change is on the horizon then we need to be willing to work. And, if that means working 14 hour days then that’s what you need to do. If it leads to the possibility of a better life then you need to do what is required. Life is not easy and those who want a handout do not have my support. But those who are angry at the government and greedy bankers have a right to be so. Enough is enough.

  16. Brian says

    Sam,

    Was your experience at McDonald’s the driving force in your motivation, or what else pushed you to have this work ethic?

    • says

      There were two things I can remember:

      1) McDonald’s kicking my ass at 6am, and after the 6 hour shift, all I had was around $19 in earnings before tax. The manager was an arrogant prick.

      2) One of my parent’s friends were very wealthy and picked me up in a dark tinted Mercedes 560 SEL to go to their party b/c I got home late. I saw their wealth and was inspired to make it on my own.

      As a 16 year old who wants to buy a skateboard, or a computer, or go out with friends, working was the only way I could do so. I had another job making $4 as a mover when a company moved offices for 2 weeks. The other job I had was also around $4 for stuffing envelopes. All crappy jobs, but it bought me some freedom!

  17. says

    I guess my biggest problem with the protests is that it is not in my nature to sit around and complain. I hate complaining. If something bothers you so much , DO SOMETHING about it. And no, sitting around a park pouting or being a general nuisance does not mean you are DOING anything at all. If you think government panders to the corporate interests, do the legwork and find new and fresh candidates to back that share your views. Put your energy towards getting them in office instead of whining. If you think colleges are bought by the Wall Street investment houses, use your energy to find knowledgable business people willing to back an alternative career counseling institution. Best yet, if you can’t find a job, start a business. In this day and age of the internet, the barriers of entry to starting your own business have all but been eliminated.

    The past isn’t coming back. Those who realize it, and are willing to be their own advocate are the ones who will succeed.

    • says

      I like it Joe! Let’s do something about it! I agree with you 100% on starting a company or even a blog since the barriers to entry are so low. It takes time to learn how to set something up, but all the info is out there!

      Your attitude is exactly what America is all about!

      • says

        Your exactly right about the information being there. I’m just getting started finding my way online, and that’s after relentless research over the past year or so. I have a great job already, that I like. But, you never know when the rug is going to be pulled out from under you. There’s more than one way to make a living. It’s not always a J-O-B.

    • James says

      Well spoken, Joe. It’s about Motivation. Listening to people over the years, I’ve learned that you cannot stop a motivated individual. Conversely, if you want to find the shortest, simplest method, ask the laziest person around.

      It’s not enough to say there is a problem. We know that! Find me a solution, or at least a viable option. What’s that about being part of the problem or part of the solution?

    • James says

      Well spoken, Joe. It’s about Motivation. Listening to people over the years, I’ve learned that you cannot stop a motivated individual. Conversely, if you want to find the shortest, simplest method, ask the laziest person around.

      It’s not enough to say there is a problem. We know that! Find me a solution, or at least a viable option. What’s that about being part of the problem or part of the solution?

  18. says

    When many people complain, it gets me thinking about immigrants…..

    There are plenty of immigrants who came to this country over the years with no money, mediocre English skills, and lacking knowledge of the culture in this country. Many of them worked their a**es off while operating on unequal footing with many of us that were born here and native to this country.

    The results? Some of these people, despite operating with fewer things going for them, later in life ended up doing incredibly well. Why? I think it’s self-reliance, taking individual responsibility for one’s welfare, hard work, and drive.

    So, it can be done. But why do some people get so upset and blame others who are far more successful? Why do some people with many opportunities to earn money just want an easy life handed to them?

    Is there something wrong if one person lives in luxury while another lives paycheck to paycheck? I don’t think so. I’ll bet that in most cases, it’s perfectly fair. Keep in mind, I’m not one of those people living in luxury – but I realize that my middle class status is what I’ve earned. I haven’t earned anything more at this point. I’m not entitled to be rich, or even to be middle class. I have to earn it. I’m not rich because I haven’t deserved to be rich. Period. But I’ve been a middle class taxpayer so far, and that’s ok too. I’m proud of my work history.

    I just don’t understand entitlement. Sure, I’m all about fairness – and do have a lot of sympathy for those truly in need or who have been dealt a genuinely unlucky hand. And yes, I do believe in accountability for all – especially those elected. However, that doesn’t mean that all of those people who are highly successful have done something wrong, nor does it mean that all people who are living paycheck to paycheck have been royally screwed in the big picture.

    Bottom line is that there’s nothing wrong with working hard. Hard work and smart work can lead to good things. If people dont want to work hard – fine. Ok. We’re all different and that’s fine. Just don’t expect the same opportunities and rewards as those that do. We reap what we sow.

      • says

        Its because as first generation immigrants we take jobs that are deemed unworthy or embrassing by those who are born here. We save instead of spend, and we are taught at an early age that it is a great privilege and opportunity to be able to come to America, and that this opportunity cannot be squandered.

        • Yelena says

          *** I agree 100% with you Robin!!

          I came to the US in ’92 @ 8yrs old thanks to my grandparents.
          At 13 I had a paper route, than worked at at art gallery & cashiered at a grocery store through hight school. Since college was never an option for me (oldest of 5 kids & moved out of my parents @ 18) After hight school I started at an insurance co and still work there.
          at my measly 32k/yr job & frugal living I have a 401k, RothIRA, 529(for kids I don’t even have yet) & Enough in savings to get me by for 4 years. Now how is it that people who live here all of their lives can’t even accomplish that ?!

        • says

          You are SPOT on! And your story about 70-80 hour weeks, no days off, starting those stores is exactly eBay I’m talking about.

          It’s absolutely stupid if you have no money to think any job is beneath you and that you should expect the rich and the government to bail you out. What is up with this entitlement culture?

  19. Darwin's Money says

    Like your life story; thanks for sharing. (sounds familiar! I lived in a fraternity house with “name that major” that skated by and partied every night while I toiled away with ChemE, only one in the house…our professors even intentionally ruined spring break opportunities each year by assigning a massive take-home team project the Friday bf spring break so we could never even contemplate going away to Cancun like everyone else).

    That said, on this Occupy thing, the cliche thing now is that you can’t criticize them because there’s no “one” voice that speaks for all of them. So, if you criticize them as being hippies the retort is that there are laid-off teachers and firefighters in the crowd. If you criticize perpetual protesters that don’t have a job, the answer is that they’re students with 100K in debt that can’t find a job. There’s a retort of each critique to kind of say “you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about”. So, that’s why I like that 53% website. Good for them! (and us). It’s interesting to see the administration “getting behind them” even though they’re largely part of the problem with structural joblessness right now.

    • says

      The administration needs to get behind them bc they know they will be target número UNO if they don’t

      Leaderless is fine. It’s good they at least have a voice and a movement. Unfortunately, little will be accomplished bc of precisely no direction.

      • Tea Party says

        That’s what they said about us… then, in a blaze of unintelligent fury, we tore through the political system and convinced millions of willfully ignorant conservatives that we could make this country better by attacking the middle class (the very same people we were recruiting … the dolts… hahaha) and even some of the angry lower class. Of course we weren’t exactly evil … it’s not as if we actually knew just how much damage we’d be doing to the national and state economies by getting hardliners in to do our bidding and setting up roadblocks to just about every possible avenue of economic recovery.
        Maybe these 99%ers who represent the 99% of income earners (even the ones who don’t want to be represented) who aren’t actually in the top 1% of income receivers in the country will actually be able to slow the destructive momentum we’ve started and will be able to turn this country around from a predatory state to one where everyone (including the 1%ers) prosper again (at all) or even more than they have been as predatory financial practitioners during the past few decades.
        I doubt it… the 1% didn’t get to be 1% by NOT having a bunch of willfully ignorant middle-classers vying and championing for them while they were simultaneously sucking the financial life out of those same champions.

        With regrets,

        The Tea Party

        • Timmy? says

          Wow YOU are the Tea Party? Apparently you were sick that day they taught The Boston Tea Party, and the concept of taxation without representation

          I have to say, if you are “The Tea Party“, I’m disappointed… Perhaps they didn’t cover this history lesson yet in your junior high school, because surely you are only 13.

          As for the 1%, Ford didn’t create jobs, how about Edison? Jaime Dimon didn’t create jobs (the governor of NY said Mr. Dimon did)? Even Obama championed Mr. Dimon (although he’s being quiet now, going with the flow I guess, after all it’s getting close to election time…).

          The countries without the job creators would be much like it is else where in the world. Study some foreign countries that don’t have such people as the 1%, perhaps you will be surprised… If you aren’t I’m not surprised, perhaps you should go protest instead of commenting here… I recommend starting with the Sport and Rockstars, or perhaps Jon Stewart (oh wait, he’s more like a .01 percenter… super rich).

  20. says

    Great article. Not only do all of those 99% not represent all of us, but it seems like their message is getting lost with the sheer amount of people showing up! I heard someone on the radio a few days ago saying they were there to protest “you know… whatever.” That certainly doesn’t represent the bulk of America. There’s also this interesting site about some of those 1%ers who are out there on Wall Street, literally holding up signs begging “TAX ME!” What do you guys think?

  21. says

    I agree 100%!

    I have no idea where the phrase “a job is a right”, but that’s not true. It’s not an entitlement, it’s when a company uses you as a resource to get a job done. The entire “a job is a right” idea IMHO is pointless and less than intelligent.

    I kind of understand those that are protesting, but they are protesting to the wrong group. They need to protest the government for weak policies, not the 1%…

    I think I’m going to go protest Michael Vick because I want to be a quaterback, and I think that quarterback job is a right… Doesn’t make sense does it. The 1% make jobs for people, they are the Michael Vicks in the world but intellectically and with work ethic…,

    They aren’t lucky, they are the counterpart of a superstar athelete. Most of the 1% are just very smart and work with a work ethic that most can’t be matched by the 47%….

    Perhaps the 47% don’t get it because the dont’ understand…

    I’m not even mentioning the sacrifies that the 1, 5, 10 or 53% made to get there… I think you help with your article. While a good portion of the 47% were playing the role of the grasshopper, the 1% were going as you were doing! Busting their butts to get ahead and make money!

    Media isn’t helping, they are adding fuel to the fire…

  22. Paul says

    Good for you. But I worked for a Fortune 500 company, for 4 and a half years as a union hourly employee, then as a supervisor. I worked third shift, mostly. Then after getting promoted to management, would work whenever needed (in about a 2 week period I worked through all 4 shifts at different times, and had my schedule changed so much I actually forgot what my original start time was). I showed up early, left late, worked for managers nobody else wanted to work for. Then was offered another third shift position at a new company which was for more money. I took the job.

    My manager would use every excuse he could to not pay off my bonuses. Said I worked for two weeks with pneumonia because I was “dedicated”. Told my employees that if *they* didn’t think I was doing my job, he’d put me in the unemployment line. He gave me shit for not coming to work the night my apartment building burned down. Then, when I was laid off, the piece of shit didn’t even bother to stick around to shake my hand.

    I was laid off for 51 weeks, and finally hooked on as a temporary warehouseman for about 1/4 of what I had been originally making (with no benefits) at a job that was an hour from my house (opposed to the 20 minute commute I was accustomed to). I was told the job was a 3 month temp-to-hire position. After 3 months my temp contract was extended another 3 months. After the 2nd extension, I was among a handful of temps who were not renewed. I was laid off again.

    Since then I have not been able to find any stable work. I’m working off the books doing whatever I can, but I have gone 14 months without earning a real, honest to god paycheck.

    Meanwhile, corporations that are making RECORD SETTING PROFITS are not increasing their work force. Corporations that are pissing money away are getting bailouts.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement isn’t about demanding hand outs. It’s not about working is a right. It’s about corporate accountability. It’s about treating employees with respect. It’s about fighting those at the top of the food chain who want to squeeze us for everything we’re worth. Then send our jobs overseas anyway.

    The policies the 99% movement are fighting for are positive changes that need to be made for the economic stability of this country. They’re not sitting around in parks saying “Waa, I want a job, gimme a job”. A lot of them have jobs that they are putting at risk for the greater good.

    It’s about fighting conservative politics that say “If we let Bank of America make $2.4Trillion dollars and give them $666million in tax breaks (numbers are close, but approximate), then that’s going to create jobs.” The fact of the matter is tax cuts at the top, budget slashing in Washington, and deregulation of industry are bad for the economy. They’re bad for business, and they’re bad for the American work force.

    So what, exactly, is the problem with the work force saying “Knock it off, and act like you know what you’re doing?” What exactly, is the problem with demanding that people who make over $250,000 a year, and corporations that bank millions and billions (and christ, trillions) of dollars of profit, pay some, any, whatever kind of taxes? What is wrong with us, as the work force, standing up and saying “The President’s Job’s bill will – according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office – not just create jobs, but cut the budget by $6 billion over the next decade”? Or why can’t we say “Herman Caine’s 9-9-9 plan is just so plane goddamned stupid that we’re all a little bit dumber for having been forced to consider it”?

    This isn’t about threatening hard working Americans who have lifted themselves out of poverty. That’s a success story that you have every right to be proud of. But it is about forcing the government and corporations to act responsibly and take accountability for their decisions.

    • says

      I recommend getting a big corporation to fight a big corporation. A person, or many people fighting many big corporations isn’t going to change anything. In fact, it might very well black ball everyone who is protesting against the very corporations who might consider hiring.

      Warren Buffet, a great liberal loves Bank of America, the very bank you hate. He loves it so much he invested billions of dollars into it. Don’t be fooled. The protesters and Warren love the banks and wealth. Watch what people do with their money, not what they say.

      • Paul says

        If we’re talking hypocrisy, let’s not forget all the small government yay Jesus Republicans who want to legislate morality while they’re fucking other dudes.

        But that doesn’t negate the fact that I believe you missed the whole point of the OWS/99% movement.

        And I believe that the Occupy groups nationwide have attempted to be very judicial with the money they’ve raised.

        I also believe CitiBank had around 2 dozen protesters arrested when they tried to close their accounts.

        Regardless. This isn’t about the people asking for handouts. It’s about the people demanding responsibility from the government and from the financial district.

        It’s about making fundamental changes to the way business is done.

        By the way, you are completely, and totally wrong about people fighting corporations and losing.

        The Philadelphia & Boston Tea Parties (Philadelphia was first, because we’re better than Boston at everything), was a collection of people fighting unjust practices of the East India Tea Company and the Crown. So people can stand up to big corporation and eventually win.

        Meanwhile, instead of nitpicking Warren Buffet, who hasn’t to my knowledge broken any laws, why aren’t we talking about the mortgage industry, currently being sued for fraud in Delaware, or basically anything going on in Wall Street. Quit chasing ghosts and focus on the real issues. People on your side of the issue are bitching that while Warren Buffet only paid his taxes, they’re ignoring the fact that BoA made more than $2Trillion over 2 years and didn’t just not pay tax, but got rebates. That’s just pants on head stupid.

        But every time I raise points like the Jobs Bill would work, Herman Caine’s plan is just flat ridiculous, and that mortgage companies are actually guilty of fraud, conservatives never debate those facts. They just shift focus to these vagaries of “Well, protesting is stupid. Warren Buffet is a hypocrite, blah blah blah.”

        Whatever. Look at the facts. Show me any time in the history of recorded civilization where trickle down economics have worked. Show me any time in history where budget cuts have helped a society recover from an economic disaster. I’ve been asking these questions for two years, and have yet to get an answer that doesn’t involve “Yeah, well Obama’s not a real Amurican.”

        So, until someone’s ready to deal with those issues without throwing stupid ass Fox talking points at me that are generally baseless and have no bearing on any real issue, I’m done even dealing with conservatives. It’s a waste of time.

  23. Paul says

    To clarify, I worked in the union for 4.5 years, then another 3 in management before spending 2 more at another shop before being laid off.

  24. libby says

    I love this article. I agree that protesting is a waste of time and other more productive things could be done with it.

  25. bcwf says

    I am 100%. 100% myself. I can not really speak for those on wall street but I respect their message. I’m a young black woman with two kids and a husband who doesn’t work. So perhaps your first thought is that I’m “one of them”. Well my husband doesn’t work because he has sickle cell anemia and is permanetly disabled because of it. I am young, but had my first child after I moved out of my mothers home and graduated from high school. I have held a job continously since I was 16 with the exception of being unemployed for four months after having my first son and being laid off just this year. I have been in college off and on since I graduated 8 years ago. I’d love to start my own business and say to hell with school but my desire is to teach. So I continue to struggle to juggle work, parenthood, wifehood and school. Let me tell you a story. When I was born I was missing a growth plate on my tibia which resulted in my having my foot amputated when I was four. I have worn a prosthetic device ever since. My leg costs 10,000 to make. When I was 19 I broke out into hives and discovered I had was in chronic kidney failure. My kidneys will not survive past my 50th birthday. When I was 21 I found out I had lupus. I need $200 of medications monthly to function. When I was 25 I started having seizures which hospitalized me and took my off of work for a while. I got back to work, and worked no matter how poorly I felt. I had a job that covered my insurance and I worked my ass off. When I was laid off I was left not only without a way to support my family financially but also without my medication. I applied for assistance to only be told I make too much money. I quickly started working at another job only to discover that I could not afford to pay for their insurance and feed my family. I work each day knowing I might have another seizure and kill myself, my son or someone else. Or that I may go into acute kidney failure from this uti that I’ve got going untreated. Or maybe I’ll just give in to my pain and my heart will give out. An early American wrote to his friend that one of the most beautiful things about this country was that it was equal. People worked, lived, and there was no ruling class. No one who had much while others had little. I wonder what he would write to his friend today. Say what you want about ambition because I have it. I also have a really fucked up life that I was BORN into.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your story. I respect the movement’s desire for a voice. It just has to be more focused, and with some better direction and leadership because they are making a mockery of the very people they are trying to represent.

      Despite your troubles, you were able to find a man and have two wonderful kids. Some folks go through their entire lives never being able to have one or find love in the first place.

      Do you blame me for your problems? With the work ethic you described, I find it hard to believe you’d ever lay blame on someone else. There has always been a “ruling class”, since the Byzantine Empire and earlier.

  26. jeff says

    you certainly have good points that i strongly agree with! and you know its not our fault that were manufatured that way. hard wired from a world where you see commercials more than you see your family members! electronics that those are means of communication, its embedded in us to eat at franchises, or buy cell phones to communicate….etc

    congradulations!

    you love being a wage slave.

    your not looking at the big picture here. when our value of our currency declines and our taxes rise, oil prices rise, the cost of living rise, students are in debt due to misinformation then are forced to work for a living paying that debt off at a job paying less than what they were expected…all with no job skills then quality of work declines…but hey they have that expensive piece of paper saying they were smart man! this paper was expensive man!!!
    then you walk outside your door and there are for sale signs everywhere, you drive down the street and there are pot hole everywhere…but you are paying your taxes essentially to fix infrastructure…then you find yourself paying taxes for this thats supposed to go there…or your paying taxes to for that supposedly going to there…and then it doesnt and find ourselfs wondering why our economy is crapping out!!! you dont question becuase its govt. you dont question. just live your life spend more money take on more debt. ahhh my mind is fried!!!!

    then your forced to work longer hours for what???? a better life? please your lying to yourself

    if working 12 hrs a day is ideal and your children grow up with issues and then you seek medical tx and from their perspective it makes more sense financially to make more by treating vs. actually curing then we really do have something wrong with this world.
    if our elected officials are being pressed on by special interest groups corporations in turn filling their pockets to not even address real issues…

    then yes these people that are protesting have some ground. and yes its the 99% who actually have the power. its the 99% who drive, serve, protect, this society and for the these elites who gamble tax payers money for whatever reason like puting them in forign markets and so on. or walstreet giving false info to people to invest in toxic stocks to only see them plumet but knowingly make money of the debunk stocks leaving families bankrupt or actually fooling society into believing into a systm of boom and bust is outreageous!!!!!

    and to piggyback on how people comment about they are going about it all wrong!!!!!!!

    wake up!!!!! that is why we elect officials to represent us correct? this has been going on so long that it has to be done this way…regardless for what reasons they have.

    im sorry for the longest time i have had a problem of the notion of forclosure becuase of not able to pay. for whatever reason…

    especially if someone has lost their job…or had an emergency or was irresponsible a few months…who cares thats life!

    we all have lost touch of what life is about…pursuit of happiness…

    the 30 year or 15yr obligation is there. except they rather forclose keep people in the streets…like a bad year and a half is that hampering for thier business….please!!!!

    these bankers thrive for forclosures! defaults etc…or people who take credit and have a hard time repaying becuase they make more money that way!

    yes there are issues in this society, system, and the people who we elect are not doing what they are supposed to.

    it comes down to whats in it for me and forget everyone else…

    so i say to the protesters who are doing it their way becuase business people do not want to listen to them on a 1 on one basis becusae they know they have people by the $^$^$ you know what i mean! keep going becuase our nation needs to finally realize that all we are geared up to be are corporate slaves!!!! and we are all pissed and tired of the daily grind for what to keep getting beat like a street dog or sheep or cattle!!!!!

    to the banking system and elitest you have created a best that you cant control eventually people who are protecting you know will see or realize that its their mothers, their brothers, fathers, sisters, family friends and finally once the illusion of duty is gone and thier humanity restored they will too turn and what happens one day that you give a order and nothing seems to move forward. who will you look to them military!!!!beg other governments to help.

    your afraid and we all know it! your desperation has not even surfaced but we feel its comming!!!!!!

  27. nathan james says

    Hi, Sam!

    My name is Nathan and I came across your article above this morning. Thank you for all the things you said in this.

    I, too, worked my butt off to try to make something of myself. I remember working for minimum wage at a grocery store for $3.55 an hour when I was younger. I also remember thinking how I wanted to be a cashier at that grocery store because they made a LOT of money at $5.05 an hour. Now that amount seems laughable.

    I am on the board for Austin’s Gay Pride celebration, an event I helped start 21 years ago (when I was 21). The first year I volunteered; the second year I booked all the entertainment, paying $1000 of my own money to bring in a special guest; and the third year I gave a few bucks to assist with rental of a venue. I stopped after three years to focus on other things in my world, figuring other people would step up to the plate.

    In 2010, a new organization was formed to put on the Pride event and took an event I had helped to create straight down the toilet. To say it was a PR nightmare is an understatement. This new org publicly stated all kinds of foolish things, leaving members of our community to feel left out and the new org created a debt of over 30K. The end result? The president and treasurer resigned and left a board who had no desire to make reparations.

    In 2011, I decided to get back into the trenches to see what I could fix. With the help of a few friends who joined, we were able to pay off the debt entirely, change the face of the board through old board members resigning, pay all current bills and donate surplus to the community–something that had not been done before.

    So what does all of this have to do with Occupy? As you may know, there is a new branch of Occupy protestors calling themselves OccuPride who want to go after our sponsors who assist in making this event happen so that we can raise funds for other non-profits, three of which lost over 150K in funding over the weekend.

    It’s very aggravating to me that the hard work that 6 people put into this event for 9 months of the year goes unnoticed by the protestors. Instead they see that Wells Fargo is in the parade and they want to disrupt everything. They don’t take the time to put a face to the board who they think get paid for putting on the event. We are all volunteers. I handle roles in sponsorship, treasury duties, entertainment and marketing. My boyfriend is VP and handles web marketing, non-profit outreach and the parade. Our President handles sponsorships, the festival and trade agreements. Again, all volunteer.

    I am not in the top 50%, nor the top 56%. I just made it into the 57%. I have survived layoffs and cuts in pay (one time, making 40K on a Friday and after the weekend, making 20K). I have been on unemployment. I have worked two and three jobs at a time to make things happen. My highest salary has only been 40K and that was over 10 years ago (I make 23% less now) and I don’t make bonuses. I sell collectible things from my collection to make extra money and sometimes I eat cereal for dinner to eke out food in the pantry/refrigerator.

    I am tired of being seen as the enemy by these protestors when I am up off my ass trying to actually change things. It is really hard to keep going sometimes to help a cause you believe in when all you ever hear is negative comments from people who sit on their asses, behind their computers, and whine.

    BUT I keep going because I know that the people this event will benefit far outweigh the naysayers, whether it’s someone in hospice care, a gay youth who has been abused by his/her parents, or a person who can’t afford their medications.

    I may make small change (paycheck) but I am out there trying to make big change….in my community.

    • says

      Hi Nathan!

      Great to hear from you and good job on all your initiatives with Austin’s Gay Pride Parade! San Francisco, where I’m based just had our annual Pride parade last month and it was HUGE! A couple hundred corporate sponsors and I think 40,000 people or something like that.

      Don’t give up man! Keep on going and get motivated by the naysayers!

      Best, Sam

  28. Not just a reader anymore says

    a lot of opinion passing as facr here so can I suggest you read the book The Two Income Trap, that book more than anything changed my financial point of view.While there are some points I quibble with, overall she does a great job of destroying the myth that people are responsible for their own fate due to laziness (yes that sentence sucks big time which is why I quick blogging

    rob

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