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.
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
nathan james says
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.
Financial Samurai says
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!
American Debt Project says
This is the best Financial Samurai post yet. Inspiring.
Financial Samurai says
Thx. Love to hear your story too!