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The 99% Answer the 53%

| October 15, 2011

The 53 percent Guy.

By Max Udargo


I briefly visited the “We are the 53%” website, but I first saw your face on a liberal blog.  Your picture is quite popular on liberal blogs.  I think it’s because of the expression on your face.  I don’t know if you meant to look pugnacious or if we’re just projecting that on you, but I think that’s what gets our attention.

In the picture, you’re holding up a sheet of paper that says:

I am a former Marine.
I work two jobs.
I don’t have health insurance.
I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college.
I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.
But I don’t blame Wall Street.
Suck it up you whiners.
I am the 53%.
God bless the USA!

I wanted to respond to you as a liberal.  Because, although I think you’ve made yourself clear and I think I understand you, you don’t seem to understand me at all.  I hope you will read this and understand me better, and maybe understand the Occupy Wall Street movement better.

First, let me say that I think it’s great that you have such a strong work ethic and I agree with you that you have much to be proud of.  You seem like a good, hard-working, strong kid.  I admire your dedication and determination.  I worked my way through college too, mostly working graveyard shifts at hotels as a “night auditor.”  For a time I worked at two hotels at once, but I don’t think I ever worked 60 hours in a week, and certainly not 70.  I think I maxed out at 56.  And that wasn’t something I could sustain for long, not while going to school.  The problem was that I never got much sleep, and sleep deprivation would take its toll.  I can’t imagine putting in 70 hours in a week while going to college at the same time.  That’s impressive.

Click On:

I have a nephew in the Marine Corps, so I have some idea of how tough that can be.  He almost didn’t make it through basic training, but he stuck it out and insisted on staying even when questions were raised about his medical fitness.  He eventually served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has decided to pursue a career in the Marines.  We’re all very proud of him.  Your picture reminds me of him.

So, if you think being a liberal means that I don’t value hard work or a strong work ethic, you’re wrong.  I think everyone appreciates the industry and dedication a person like you displays.  I’m sure you’re a great employee, and if you have entrepreneurial ambitions, I’m sure these qualities will serve you there too.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, even though a guy like you will probably need luck less than most.

I understand your pride in what you’ve accomplished, but I want to ask you something.

The Live Commentary

Do you really want the bar set this high?  Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week?  Is that your idea of the American Dream?

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week?  Do you think you can?  Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

And what happens if you get sick?  You say you don’t have health insurance, but since you’re a veteran I assume you have some government-provided health care through the VA system.  I know my father, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, still gets most of his medical needs met through the VA, but I don’t know what your situation is.  But even if you have access to health care, it doesn’t mean disease or injury might not interfere with your ability to put in those 60- to 70-hour work weeks.

Do you plan to get married, have kids?  Do you think your wife is going to be happy with you working those long hours year after year without a vacation?  Is it going to be fair to her?  Is it going to be fair to your kids?  Is it going to be fair to you?

Look, you’re a tough kid.  And you have a right to be proud of that.  But not everybody is as tough as you, or as strong, or as young.  Does pride in what you’ve accomplish mean that you have contempt for anybody who can’t keep up with you?  Does it mean that the single mother who can’t work on her feet longer than 50 hours a week doesn’t deserve a good life?  Does it mean the older man who struggles with modern technology and can’t seem to keep up with the pace set by younger workers should just go throw himself off a cliff?

And, believe it or not, there are people out there even tougher than you.  Why don’t we let them set the bar, instead of you?  Are you ready to work 80 hours a week?  100 hours?  Can you hold down four jobs?  Can you do it when you’re 40?  When you’re 50?  When you’re 60?  Can you do it with arthritis?  Can you do it with one arm?  Can you do it when you’re being treated for prostate cancer?

And is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?

Here’s how a liberal looks at it:  a long time ago workers in this country realized that industrialization wasn’t making their lives better, but worse.  The captains of industry were making a ton of money and living a merry life far away from the dirty, dangerous factories they owned, and far away from the even dirtier and more dangerous mines that fed raw materials to those factories.

The workers quickly decided that this arrangement didn’t work for them.  If they were going to work as cogs in machines designed to build wealth for the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Carnegies, they wanted a cut.  They wanted a share of the wealth that they were helping create.  And that didn’t mean just more money; it meant a better quality of life.  It meant reasonable hours and better working conditions.

Eventually, somebody came up with the slogan, “8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep” to divide the 24-hour day into what was considered a fair allocation of a human’s time.  It wasn’t a slogan that was immediately accepted.  People had to fight to put this standard in place.  People demonstrated, and fought with police, and were killed.  They were called communists (in fairness, some of them were), and traitors, and many of them got a lot worse than pepper spray at the hands of police and private security.

But by the time we got through the Great Depression and WWII, we’d all learned some valuable lessons about working together and sharing the prosperity, and the 8-hour workday became the norm.

The 8-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek became a standard by which we judged our economic success, and a reality check against which we could verify the American Dream.

If a family could live a good life with one wage-earner working a 40-hour job, then the American Dream was realized.  If the income from that job could pay the bills, buy a car, pay for the kids’ braces, allow the family to save enough money for a down payment on a house and still leave some money for retirement and maybe for a college fund for the kids, then we were living the American Dream.  The workers were sharing in the prosperity they helped create, and they still had time to take their kids to a ball game, take their spouses to a movie, and play a little golf on the weekends.

Ah, the halcyon days of the 1950s!  Yeah, ok, it wasn’t quite that perfect.  The prosperity wasn’t spread as evenly and ubiquitously as we might want to pretend, but if you were a middle-class white man, things were probably pretty good from an economic perspective.  The American middle class was reaching its zenith.

And the top marginal federal income tax rate was more than 90%.  Throughout the whole of the 1950s and into the early 60s.

Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Anyway, do you understand what I’m trying to say?  We can have a reasonable standard for what level of work qualifies you for the American Dream, and work to build a society that realizes that dream, or we can chew each other to the bone in a nightmare of merciless competition and mutual contempt.

I’m a liberal, so I probably dream bigger than you.  For instance, I want everybody to have healthcare.  I want lazy people to have healthcare.  I want stupid people to have healthcare.  I want drug addicts to have healthcare.  I want bums who refuse to work even when given the opportunity to have healthcare.  I’m willing to pay for that with my taxes, because I want to live in a society where it doesn’t matter how much of a loser you are, if you need medical care you can get it.  And not just by crowding up an emergency room that should be dedicated exclusively to helping people in emergencies.

You probably don’t agree with that, and that’s fine.  That’s an expansion of the American Dream, and would involve new commitments we haven’t made before.   But the commitment we’ve made to the working class since the 1940s is something that we should both support and be willing to fight for, whether we are liberal or conservative.  We should both be willing to fight for the American Dream.  And we should agree that anybody trying to steal that dream from us is to be resisted, not defended.

And while we’re defending that dream, you know what else we’ll be defending, kid?  We’ll be defending you and your awesome work ethic.  Because when we defend the American Dream we’re not just defending the idea of modest prosperity for people who put in an honest day’s work, we’re also defending the idea that those who go the extra mile should be rewarded accordingly.

Look kid, I don’t want you to “get by” working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week.  If you’re willing to put in that kind of effort, I want you to get rich.  I want you to have a comprehensive healthcare plan.  I want you vacationing in the Bahamas every couple of years, with your beautiful wife and healthy, happy kids.  I want you rewarded for your hard work, and I want your exceptional effort to reap exceptional rewards.  I want you to accumulate wealth and invest it in Wall Street.  And I want you to make more money from those investments.

I understand that a prosperous America needs people with money to invest, and I’ve got no problem with that.  All other things being equal, I want all the rich people to keep being rich.  And clever financiers who find ways to get more money into the hands of promising entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their contributions as well.

I think Wall Street has an important job to do, I just don’t think they’ve been doing it.  And I resent their sense of entitlement – their sense that they are special and deserve to be rewarded extravagantly even when they screw everything up.

Come on, it was only three years ago, kid.  Remember?  Those assholes almost destroyed our economy.  Do you remember the feeling of panic?  John McCain wanted to suspend the presidential campaign so that everybody could focus on the crisis.  Hallowed financial institutions like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch went belly up.  The government started intervening with bailouts, not because anybody thought “private profits and socialized losses” was fair, but because we were afraid not to intervene –  we were afraid our whole economy might come crashing down around us if we didn’t prop up companies that were “too big to fail.”

So, even though you and I had nothing to do with the bad decisions, blind greed and incompetence of those guys on Wall Street, we were sure as hell along for the ride, weren’t we?  And we’ve all paid a price.

All the” 99%” wants is for you to remember the role that Wall Street played in creating this mess, and for you to join us in demanding that Wall Street share the pain.  They don’t want to share the pain, and they’re spending a lot of money and twisting a lot of arms to foist their share of the pain on the rest of us instead.  And they’ve been given unprecedented powers to spend and twist, and they’re not even trying to hide what they’re doing.

All we want is for everybody to remember what happened, and to see what is happening still.  And we want you to see that the only way they can get away without paying their share is to undermine the American Dream for the rest of us.

And I want you and I to understand each other, and to stand together to prevent them from doing that.  You seem like the kind of guy who would be a strong ally, and I’d be proud to stand with you.

Originally posted to Max Udargo on Wed Oct 12, 2011.

45 Responses for “The 99% Answer the 53%”

  1. Liana G says:

    So beautiful and well said. Thank you Max Udargo. I’m heading to OccupyDaytonaBeach today 10/14 @ the corner of Nova and International. Bike week is my rain this weekend. Still going though! Hope to see you there! Parking is behind the Stake and Shake if you plan on attending. Signs will be available.

  2. We live in a country no longer represented by the people but by the interests of major corporations and the money they use through lobbying to pay off our elected officials. These politicians no longer voice the opinion of the voters who put them in office but instead speak for the special interests which pay them more and more money to turn a blind eye to the destruction of our environment and the extinction of the middle class. How long will the occupations have to last before a SINGLE government official asks what WE the PEOPLE want changed? Visit my artist’s blog at to see my art for the movement and also see videos of the protests and police brutality as well as get other sources for coverage of the movement.

  3. Bill says:

    What a great thing to see and read!!! I mean the 12 lines by the former marine not the junk by Max.

  4. rickg says:

    Thanks Mr. Udargo. You have articulated the issue quite well. Hopefully other lumpen proletariats like Mr 53 percenter will get the message as well. Its a life long dilemma for me to see people vote against their own self interests.

  5. NortonSmitty says:

    That was absolutely effing beautiful! If I could leave behind all my usual anger and Snark I use to bait my philosophical adversaries to try to get them to think, I don’t think on my best day I could possibly put it better.

  6. Liana G says:

    @ Brandt Hardin, great site. I read an article recently that made we somewhat pleased that OWS is costing the gov’t money with all the exta public safety police officals on alert.

    I got back of OccupyDaytonaBeach a little while ago and the turn out was impressive. Got a lot of honks, waves, and thumbs up. We did get a few thumbs down, even from a postal worker driving his mail truck. That irked me a little, but then I really cannot blame him. He is exactly the kind of citizen our public education system is designed to produce.

  7. Geraldine says:

    I was also at Occupy Daytona Beach, and was amazed and grateful for, first of all, the amazing turn-out, and secondly, all the thumbs up and honks. THANK YOU BIKERS, we were there for you TOO!!!
    And I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Udargo: “Do you really want the bar set this high? Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week? Is that your idea of the American Dream?” and all the rest. I admire work ethic more than anything else – and thus anyone who works that hard deserves MORE.
    And to that biker shouting “get a job”, you can choose from the following two options:
    a) it’s a Saturday, how the hell do you know I do not have a job?!? I’m a concerned, engaged and informed citizen!
    b) I’m a well-educated and expereineced expert in my field, and f it wasn’t for this Wall Street (and government) cock up, I *would* have a job!

  8. Kip Durocher says:

    Some of the most eloquent thoughts I have read in a long time.
    Both statements are powerful. Time will temper the young former
    Marine ~ hope he catches a break soon.
    @Bill – pencil out some of your hopes ~ no one will call it “junk”

  9. Knightley M says:

    This response letter’s fundamental tenets are flawed. What you are talking about is communism and it doesn’t work. A place where everyone “gets by” and the “bar isn’t set too high” is a place where nobody works. The marine pointed out that people are protesting for the 99% but actually only 53% of Americans pay taxes and its a fact that the so called “1%” pays a significant portion of all taxes collected in this country; which means many people aren’t paying any taxes and still receiving significant hand outs from the 53% at large and the 1% in particular.

    America’s “underprivileged” need a reality check and they can do it by coming out of their bubble. An “underprivileged” American is still much wealthier than many who are OK with having less globally. And yes this is a global age: deal with it. To deny this would be its own kind of disgusting entitlement: that all Americans deserve better than everyone else in the world.

    “So, even though you and I had nothing to do with the bad decisions, blind greed and incompetence of those guys on Wall Street, we were sure as hell along for the ride, weren’t we? And we’ve all paid a price.” What a ridiculous statement. There was definitely a huge element of greed on the part of the financial sharks that created products like subprime mortgages – one of the big “decisions” that almost ruined everything in 2008 but it takes 2 to tango and there was demand for them. Subprime mortgages were devised because people who had no business owning a home wanted one. They didn’t care if they couldn’t afford it they needed to gratify their sense of entitlement. The 99% definitely benefited from the bullish run that came to a screeching halt but now it seems they are not willing to take any of the blame and in fact are being quick to point fingers. In the end, both sides willing to screw the other side and point fingers is the basic reason why communism doesnt work. That and the fundamental tenet of scarcity – its a FACT that can’t be changed that resources are scarce and to the victor goes the spoils, there are no free lunches and there is no way “everyone can do well if we all share”.

    Moreover, the 50s are NOT a case in point. The 50s were characterized by a period of rising productivity from a much lower base and the middle class still had much less real disposable income and had a higher rate of savings despite that relative to NOW.

    The difference between the 50s and now is that everyone, not just Wall Street, EVERYONE has a stupid sense of entitlement and are more willing to go pointlessly cry about hardship and bother everyone else than boot up and get back to work. We all reaped the benefits when things were great so too bad if things are hard now – go back to work. I think in the end the marine was pointing out that complaining is pointless and counterproductive and ironic and I heartily agree.

  10. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you Liana and to all here that write in support of ” No more slavery and the 99%”. Too bad that the so called 53% shown here and “if genuine” are so short sighted and brain wash blinded, that can’t foresee their bleak and pauperized future. These individuals 20 or 30 years from now may not be in the streets rallying for their usurped rights but instead and unfortunately using their guns and dragging us in an internal civil war against the same Wall Street vampires and the politicians that they buy today. Instead we show that we are peacefully demonstrating against those abuses now hoping and for a change before our patience runs out..

  11. Frank says:

    How great is when you can explain the problem by ignoring the facts. Forget that on three separate occasions the Bush administration tried to reign in Fannie & Freddie only to be blocked by Frank & Dodd. Ignore the fact that many banks were forced to make dumb loans and to take bailout funds that most have paid back with interest. Ignore the fact that the auto industry bailout pushed aside the rule of law and rewarded unions and shoved secured creditors to the end of the line. I could go on but why bother. Those great day you talk about back in the 50’s, those were the days if you had a good idea or a little cash you could start a business or a retail shop with out jumping through a hundred government hoops. And the marine, he may or may not be working 60 hours a week when he’s 50 but one thing I do know he will be earning six figures and living the good life. WHAT YOU LIBERALS DON’T UNDERSTAND IS THAT THERE IS NOT ONE PIE AND WE DON’T NEED GOVERNMENT TO DIVIDE IT UP…..NO…..THE PIE KEEPS GETTING BIGGER AND WITH HARD WORK YOU GET TO MAKE YOU OWN PIE JUST ABOUT AS BIG AS YOU WANT IF WE COULD JUST GET GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE WAY.

  12. Layla says:

    Mr. Udargo, you say you don’t mind paying for lazy people, those who won’t work. There are now more not working than working. Why should they? We have people in this country who have never even applied for work because they receive: food stamps, free housing, free day care. Why should they lift a finger?

    I think we all know who played a part in this mess and you conveniently left out Dodd, Frank and the Congress.

    In the meantime, I’d like you to remember we are a free nation but we have laws you must obey. We have freedom of expression in this country and freedom of speech. But that does not entitle you to camp out, take over anything or damage property.

    And the last thing that bothers me about all this is that it has been instigated by MoveOn.Org, SEIU and other political causes. You are demonstrating against the very companies that provide the jobs.

    This is NOT about the people, Mr. Udargo. It IS about your political ideology. I’ll stand with the kid in the picture.

  13. Outsider says:

    I couldn’t make it to the Occupy Daytona protest, not that I would have. Right now I’m out on a company (corporate) training event. Yes, that evil corporation I work for allows me to earn a living that doesn’t put me in the 1%, but provides a very comfortable living. There are many others here that also make a good living, working for one corporation or another. No, it wasn’t always that way either; in my quest to gain the experience needed for my current position, I also worked 7 days a week for a number of years, in my own business. My best 1040 showed $21,000 at that time. Yes, I feel blessed that I have what I have now, but the route here was not easy. I’m sick of hearing 22 year olds complaining they don’t have that home and car they want; when I was 22 I just left the house for the first time. I’m tired of hearing about their student loans; I left school with a $1500 loan balance, because I worked, painting houses, mowing lawns and the like throughout school. Gotta cut it short; back to work for the evil corporation.

  14. Nancy N. says:

    Outsider, have you looked at the skyrocketing cost of college lately? “mowing lawns and painting houses” won’t pay for it anymore like it would 20 years ago. A year of college tuition alone (forget living expenses) now costs more than most college graduates make as their starting salaries in professional positions in the first years after they graduate, let alone what they can make working part time while they go to school!

  15. Christie 2012 says:

    As the fleabaggers stand in the streets wanting the government to destroy more corporations and lose more jobs in this country, they now want us to lower our working standards also. “Do you really want to set the bar this high?” CLASSIC QUOTE! Maybe that’s the real problem in this country, we keep lowering the bar to make everything fair.
    Just as Layla said, congress made the the banks lower there standard lending practices to make it fair for all Americans to live the American dream. If you want everything to be fair, lets start with everyone paying into the tax system. The top 10% now pay 70% of all taxes..
    Now we learn that the big banks and wall street are going to lay off thousands of workers,any fleabaggers hiring?

  16. Layla says:

    Nancy N, not only have we looked at the skyrocketing cost of education lately, we are paying it. More government is not the answer, less government is.

    Those corporations who have gone offshore, including GE, the one belonging to our Job’s Czar, is because they can do business cheaper over there, with fewer regulations.

    Those not wishing to live in a capitalist society in this country still enjoy the freedom of being able to move to one that isn’t, a country like China.

    We are now in hyper inflation, which is why these protests are being so carefully staged, to take the public’s eye off the administration that has made all this much worse.

  17. Outsider says:

    Yes Nancy, I have noticed that. Have you ever wondered WHY it costs so much? Who is in control of those colleges and universities? Is it liberal professors and academics, who want nothing more than to continue their high paying, tenured positions so they can continue to brainwash young minds into believing socialism is the way to prosperity? Could it possibly be that liberal government programs flood the system with easy cash in the forms of grants and loans which allow the universities to take more and more money at the expense of the students? What about those book scams, where students are forced to by hundreds of dollars worth of new books every year, claiming the ones published last year are no longer useful. Yeah, like math changes that much every six months. And you and the like complain about Rick Scott, who is exploring the idea of a $10,000 bachelor’s degree. The universities continue to suck students dry, forcing them to mortgage their futures while they hoard billions of dollars in endowments all the while sucking every dime from the government they can get their hands on. Yes, of course, with all these facts in play it’s no wonder education costs so much.

  18. 2 cents says:

    Thanks to soc security and welfare, we have come to believe that the government owes us a living and should take care and pay our bills. whether it be food stamps or free health care, it is the govt responsibility to take care of us and bail us out if we make stupid choices that wreck our careers. What hogwash! When did we stop taking responsibility for our own lives? Get out of occupy wherever and go to work and quit complaining that others have all the toys. Own up to your own mistakes. We are mad at corporations because they have it and we don’t. They have no obligation to share it with us. If you want it, go out and work for it.

  19. Layla says:

    Palmcoaster, how disappointed in you I am. Brainwashed? Please never forget the opportunities this country provided to you and it was not slavery.

    Are you now joining those socialists advocating revolution? If your patience is running thin, show up and vote.

  20. Kip Durocher says:

    Divide and conquer

    Such a simple concept to see through~
    and yet it has worked so well for so long.

  21. I. M. Agoste says:

    Good Lord, some fools above equates OWS with Socialism? Really. The people protesting come from all walks of life, from all political parties (yes, even Teabaggers and Libertarians are participating), out of the employed and unemployed, Gay/Straight, Black/White/Brown/Red, all religions running the gamut from Catholics to Wiccans. They are protesting WALL STREET GREED and the DECIMATION of the MIDDLE CLASS. Try not to be such a diehard FOX dupe, m’kay?

  22. Sara says:

    Geez Max-A little respect for a man that put his life on the line for you and your country. Kid? really?

  23. palmcoaster says:

    Layla I am sorry to disappoint you, but we believe in the same goals as I can see, but getting there thru different ways. Example; you and I are aware of our jobs taken overseas your example GE and others, but you are led to believe they do that because over regulation here and the unions and the overpaid workers…and all that fake BS. Those false reasons that you believe in, is what with disagree. These corporate greedy barons just take our jobs overseas simply because the deregulation we have in America allows it “and slavery is very profitable” and the only thing will stop it wether “imports taxes or us in America boycotting and not buying imports…just like I do in as much as I can” And excuse me, but I vote every time and since 2004 I did and will always vote “other than Republikan”, now more than ever and also most of my friends and family do as well.

  24. Robert says:

    How can 50% of the people pay no taxes and then complain that it isn’t fair? What about the people taking advantage of government handouts in the tune of $62,000 per year.

    I don’t get how the Tea Party is evil, yet the Wall Street protesters are encouraged, and supported by our President?

    If rich liberals want to pay more taxes then by all means pay more taxes. Mr. Buffet can always contribute more than his 15%. It’s actually an option when you file, but 50% of you wouldn’t know that.

    Yes I think pay and bonuses can be excessive, but how a company decides to pay its employees from its PROFITS is up to the company, and its shareholders. My problem is with how our government spends my money. And yes, I pay taxes so I have a say.

    I agree with getting the lobbyist out of Washington, but all lobbyist groups. Not just big oil and Wall Street, I mean all of them. Including the liberal political arms that massacred as not-for-profit groups, groups like Acorn, Green Peace, and unions.

    How about Congressional term limits and reduced, or no life benefits. We’d have more people going to Washington for the right reasons and not for a cake walk. Of course Al Gore encourages the Wall Street Protesters, he has had his governmental handout for a while now.

    You want fair? It’s your turn to go work 50+ hours a week, so I can sit on my rump and collect $62,000 a year from your hard work.

  25. palmcoaster says:

    That the rich gotten richer is no doubt as much as the middle class, workers and the poor gotten poorer.
    New creations will always come up with items to satisfy their egos and deep pockets…like the one next:
    Robert, is your rump sitting in one of the above?
    I agree with at least one of your reasoning’s about Congressional limits, but I will add to have them pay for their own health care, reduced time off and pensions to the minimum possible, and pay their own trips back home while serving in DC.

  26. NortonSmitty says:

    What a bunch of self-pitying fact twisting right wingers we have here!

  27. Layla says:

    Palmcoaster, whichever way you look at those corporations, corporate greed under Democrats seems to be fine with you.

  28. Kip Durocher says:

    While you are dumping Acron etc. how about we dump all the family values, christian right, Americans for Progress, all those bull-shit non-profits.

  29. mara says:

    @Frank and others like you–what you fail to understand is that you are being USED as foils for the one percenters, to divide all of us. You yell about “liberals” or “conservatives” as if those labels MATTER.

    They do not matter, those labels. Not one bit.

    Start looking at your friends and neighbors as people instead of labels and be honest with yourself about yourself and about your own loved ones–ask yourself some simple questions and be prepared with some simple answers.

    ” Are you ready to work 80 hours a week? 100 hours? Can you hold down four jobs? Can you do it when you’re 40? When you’re 50? When you’re 60? Can you do it with arthritis? Can you do it with one arm? Can you do it when you’re being treated for prostate cancer? And is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?”

  30. mara says:

    @layla, I feel sorry for the idea that you cling so stubbornly to a pre-packaged ideology sold to you as “news”, that you feel compelled to defend it when it has obvious holes in the story.

    It’s simple, really. Be honest with yourself when you answer these questions:

    “Why don’t we let (someone else) set the bar, instead of you? Are you ready to work 80 hours a week? 100 hours? Can you hold down four jobs? Can you do it when you’re 40? When you’re 50? When you’re 60? Can you do it with arthritis? Can you do it with one arm? Can you do it when you’re being treated for prostate cancer? And is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?”

  31. another voice says:

    The best explanation yet for all the protesting is as follows:

    The investment banks are being targeted because they deliberately gamed the system, not because they “made a profit from investments.” Making a profit from investments is an awesome aspect of capitalism. It’s lending money to businesses, carefully and with full responsibility for the risk that the businesses might fail, and **you might lose your investment**.

    That you might lose comes with the territory. It’s supposed to .

    These Wall St. investment banks were not doing that. They were creating “financial instruments” that consisted of bundles of home mortgages, car loans, and other kinds of debt. That was the product they were selling: PACKAGED DEBT.

    They made a killing on commissions for these packages.

    What did they create that had value? Nothing. Why in God’s name should these unregulated “business men” pay themselves tens of millions of dollars annually, to create NOTHING? There are a lot of names for such a practice and none of them are names you as a decent, tax-paying American would want to be referred to as.

    The other half of the equation is when those mortgages all went into default at once and the investment banks were exposed with tons and tons of useless paper–because these “products” had by now been exposed as the sham products they were–the taxpayers had to step up to help them and make sure the country still had a banking system.

    And did the bankers show one speck of gratitude for the government and the people stepping in, to avert catastrophe? No. The bankers took their usual millions in bonuses at the end of every year since the bailouts–and then they used some of their “earnings” to pay lobbyists to swarm the congress and make sure there would never be accountability or any meaningful regulatory change, and the party continued on.

    For a few, at the expense of the rest of us, this party has continued since 2008.

    That’s the problem. Their line of “products” were designed to achieve nothing except their own commissions. Their asses were saved by taxpayers. Instead of thanks, they went right back to “work” and paid off our representatives to let them.

  32. Robert says:

    Palm coaster: I have a stinky suspicion I’ll be buying one of those for one of our great patriotic 99ers. As for me, I’ve broken my cold hard plastic toilet seat in just fine.

    I did say get rid of all lobbyist. They were never intended to be there.

  33. Kip Durocher says:

    @another voice says
    Don’t forget the “credit default swaps” invented by Wall Street so they could play both sides of the trade. They bet their AAA mortgage backed securities would fail!!
    While the 99% argues over fictitious dicotamy created by the 1% they are too busy to notice everything going out the back door.
    While. WE. prattle. THEY. win. Divide and conquer is as old as sand c

  34. devrie says:

    Well, I see that we “don’t want to pay for the lazy people,” but can we at least agree that something has to change? Can we agree that working 70 hours a week perpetually for no health insurance is not the American Dream?

    Some of you are talking about food stamps and welfare, but the original author of this letter was talking about healthcare. Food stamps pays money to corporations, not to lazy people. Many working people get food stamps. Food stamps, welfare, energy assistance and housing assistance do not end poverty. That is well agreed. We could agree that something’s amiss here.

    I think people who don’t favor liberalism think liberals are fighting for the lazies. I think we’re fighting for the people who work hard! At what point will we say, “This doesn’t work, either?” When people are jogging 5 miles to work with their kids strapped to their backs, tying their kids to a chain at a factory because they can’t afford childcare and the factories can’t hire anyone unless they let them tow their kids to work? When 50% of Americans are camped in communal areas under sheds and tents and the 53%-ers are living in travel trailers (because they’re the upper middle class folks)?

    My grandfather was a machine operator and my grandmother was a seamstress. They raised four kids on mostly just his income. They had their own home, complete with in-ground swimming pool. They had enough money to go on an occasional trip, or to eat out. They didn’t live like a doctor’s family. They had their basic needs met. They had a meager pension that had to be supplemented with Social Security. They lived an honest, decent life with no government assistance (save for Social Security).

    Today, they’d be the bottom feeders of our country. A family of six couldn’t live on a factory worker’s wage alone and still have their own house (and yes, it was a modest but nice home).

    We liberals are seeing this decline. We see corporate pay rise, profits rise, and we don’t see how those tax cuts could increase the rest of our lives.

    We’re not fighting for welfare moms, even though we have empathy for them. We’re fighting for the middle class!

  35. Bill says:

    Love the “new math” or is it just a liberal thing to add 50% AND 53% and have it = all of us?

  36. palmcoaster says:

    Layla could you please clarify where I wrote that I am okay with corporate greed under this administration? I totally dislike the GE Inmelt appointed by Obama as well as any corporate CEO that transfer our manufacturing plants overseas to profit from slavery including Apple and others. I am even disappointed at the President, this Congress and Senate for not imposing import taxes, not stopping these wars and not enforcing the rules in Wall Street barons that are bleeding our middle class 401 K’s and our savings and robbing us of our homes.
    I despise any greedy corporations under any administration so please do not hang a banner on me. Thank you for your cheers but no matter what the GOP preach now, will vote whatever but Rep again for whatever life I have left. Mi family and friends ditto.

  37. Layla says:

    Palmcoaster: “These corporate greedy barons just take our jobs overseas simply because the deregulation we have in America allows it “and slavery is very profitable” and the only thing will stop it wether “imports taxes or us in America boycotting and not buying imports…just like I do in as much as I can” And excuse me, but I vote every time and since 2004 I did and will always vote “other than Republikan”, now more than ever and also most of my friends and family do as well. ”

    You criticized Republicans, said nothing about Dems. It is this administration that has been busy bailing out Wall Street.

    Did I misunderstand you? My saying you’ll never again support GOP, I have to assume you are supporting whatever the Dems are busy getting away with. What other conclusion is there?

    Reelecting Obama is not the way to stop this. Voting them all out is.

  38. Layla says:

    Devrie: I think we can agree on many things, but blaming one party over another is exactly the kind of politics that put us here.

    Do I have empathy for welfare moms? Definitely, but not for those who are proudly 2nd and 3rd generation and have never even tried. They brag openly about it. To them, it is something to be proud of. It is also the reason millions of illegals have been drawn to our shores. Come to America for free healthcare, jobs, citizenship, credit cards. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

    The federal government is years behind on legal immigration applications with no end in sight for fixing this. And they have no intention of doing so. They would rather sue the states.

    Just as your parents did, I believe in a strong work ethic. And over the years I have seen that level describing “the rich” drop lower and lower until it is now infringing on the middle class. The rich are already in the 65% bracket. Just how much more do you think they should pay? What would be a fair amount to pay for their success?

    You want us to find agreement, which I am more than willing to do, but you don’t want to place the responsibility for this where it belongs, on Congress, BOTH SIDES.

    I’ve watched decades of Democrats as well as Republicans not tackle these issues, all the while enriching themselves. So while I will agree with many of your points, I will NOT agree as to the cause.

    The American people have become the pawns of the political class. We vote for empty promises. And now we have a President doing everything he can to endorse anarchy instead of accepting any of the blame himself. In my view, President Barack Obama is Bush on steroids.

    I want them all out, but not at the risk of accepting the socialist agenda which many are now attempting to cram down our throats.

    My dad was the son of immigrants who came to this country from eastern Europe. He and his brothers worked hard to put themselve through law school, to build a life.

    I believe that all should share in the building of this country, but I also believe you should earn your keep. We are not all meant to be the same. Some will be successful, some will not. But please don’t attack me because I was on one side or the other. I am simply trying to share a viewpoint and to help you understand why I feel this way. There are some excellent points being made here.

    If we are to ever fix this problem, we must work together honestly, without malice. But I will never accept a socialist agenda without a fight because socialism does not allow you to succeed, but to keep you the same.

    Here is a question for you: What would you do if you heard that next week, you would lose the right to vote? Two Democrat politicians have recently made the remark they would like to see elections suspended until we solve our financial problems. Do you and Palmcoaster realize what this would mean? Do others who have no time to vote understand what this means? You would think we all would know what this means, but apparently not.

    I am fighting for us all. And in my view, these protests are sending the wrong message. Most don’t even know who their elected officials are. They are looking for a short cut, no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

  39. palmcoaster says:

    Layla I said “I will vote whatever but Rep.” I didn’t say I will vote Democrat…as a matter of fact I would love for Independent Bernie Sanders to run for President and I will vote for him. We have also the Independent candidates as far as I know. A third choice will be the best for our country right now.
    Look at what I just learned…in Afghanistan we are done with Al-Queda right? but now General Allen under this administration found one more excuse to keep this useless war alive for the profit of the war suppliers…and the bankruptcy of America. Now are the “Aqqani” as no more “Al-Queda” excuse….
    And we keep on borrowing to pay these wars. Do you think I agree with this Democrat administration on this?
    This partisan BS rift is what keep us financially defeated (since the civil war) and is the best weapon utilized by special interest profiteering from it, as “divide and conquer” always wins.

  40. palmcoaster says:

    Not only the 99% are enduring the losses of jobs and health care provided by those past jobs and their homes. We have to endure the gouging at the pump that is even endangering with bankruptcy one big provider of jobs in our country , American Airlines
    Meanwhile this multinational oil barons have green light from Reps and Dems to continuo gouging us by not imposing trade regulations on the oil future contracts within Nymex and Wall Street. Deregulation rules and is destroying our economy and well being.

  41. Layla says:

    Mara, I have never had to work 100 hours to earn a decent living, healthcare benefits and put some money away for retirement. I have done with is expected of most adults in this country and earned, paid my own way. It’s called responsibility and I’ve never found it to be all that difficult.

    Try it some time, teach it to your children. You might like it and you will never want for anything. It’s called planning ahead.

  42. jay says:


    I only agree on one thing you said, and that’s Universal Health Care. Yes we most definitely need that for everyone.

    As one of the 53%, thanks for explaining what the 99% stand for, which is Socialism. That’s not the way we want this country to go. This country is great for one main reason: Free-Market economy (Capitalism). Unfortunately, this means everybody rises (or sinks) to their own level of competence. This includes corporations, non-profits, governments (state / federal / local) and people. But its a good system because it basically is the most efficient way of running a country. And we need that in order to compete with the rest of the world. If we go Socialist (or more towards Socialist), we will no longer be an Economic powerhouse, but will stagnate, not be at the level we’re at now, and our Economy will shrink over time, yes even more than it is already. But will it mean people lower on the totem pole get a bigger piece of the pie? Yes. But at a huge cost. Economic power is why this coutry is great, and it stems from being a Free-Market economy. Without it, we will no longer have $$ for a Military force as it is today. Even less jobs as our economy will shrink since we’re less competitive in the world marketplace. And certainly no $$ for Universal Health Care, “Green” initiatives to help build sustainable energy and the like. And we’re already in the hole for $15 trillion and counting as I understand it. We don’t need to add to that deficit, and that’s exactly what Socialist initiatives will do. And don’t say you didn’t mean Socialism, because most of what you describe (not all, but most) is exactly that.

    We all are responsible for this Recession, not just the banks or Wall St., but everyone, especially everyday people who bought houses they couldn’t afford and they knew it. This Recession will not last forever, things will get better. It may not happpen as fast as we’d all like, but it will happen at the pace our Free-Market economy dictates. In closing, please remember America is not a bubble, we are part of the World Economy and we compete against all other countries for jobs, $$ and natural resources. That’s a fact. And the only way to compete well is to stay the course, take responsibility for our careless actions, and do not induce Socialist tendencies that would add to Government or redistribute wealth. That would help some individuals, but hurt our contry as a whole.

  43. jay says:

    Another rant I have, lots of people like to blame politicians for everything, which I agree with 100%. They are a huge part of the problem. However, no politician in their right mind would do what is necessary these past 2 decades to get rid of our deficit or fund Social Secuirty, like cut program funding, lower pay for government employees who earn excessively, or raise taxes. They haven’t been doing any of the above until right now, at the last minute. Why wait so long to fix it? Because we, the votors would vote them out of office faster than you could blink an eye if they ever dared cut funding for programs we use (bus routes, state college funding, cut benefits for police, etc.), or raise corporate or income taxes. If they tried doing that in small increments over the last 20 years like they should have to avoid our deficit, we would have put them right out of office. And coporations would stop funding their campains. So who’s to really blame? Us. Individual people like you and me. Our neighbors, the people we see at church, our co-workers. Everyday ordinary Americans. Politicians were just trying to protect their jobs by not embarking on the equivalent of political suicide by taking measures to shrink the deficit.

    A good analogy is who do you blame when someone gets sued excessively? The lawyer? No, he’s just the guy working for the real bad guy, the person who hired him to sue and who tells the lawyer to sue for the highest amount possible. Ordinary average Americans. We are to blame. I know, doesn’t feel good to admit guilt, better to blame someone else, but at some point we really need to point the finger where it belongs, at ourselves.

  44. jay says:

    Also, no one should be compaining about the US loosing jobs to Indian and China. Low-level jobs are going over there, like factory workers, customer service jobs, etc. Doesn’t make sense to pay someone $30 / hr to turn a wrench, better for a US company to pay someone $5 / hr to do that and save a bundle and invest it in the company so it can be more competitive in the world marketplace, plus our government can make more tax money off of them then because of their increased revenue. Besides our country will be more competitive if we have more high skilled workers, not low skilled. Let the 2nd & 3rd world countries have those ones.

    For those of you who unfortunately have one of those jobs, there is nothing that can be done about it by anybody except you. Retrain yourself or go back to school or move out of state to find work. But unfortunately its going to be very tough for you, I know. All I can say is the world is constantly changing, and we all must change along with it. If we don’t we suffer because we’re not competitive anymore for jobs. For all of those who fall in that unfortunate category I beg of you . . . MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS DO NOT FOLLOW IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS, BECAUSE OUR COUNTRY NEEDS THEM TO FILL HIGH-SKILLED POSITIONS!! Michael Dell put it well, said if Dell Computer has 100 job openings for Software Engineers / Computer Programers, its hard to fill those high-paying positions, it would take months because there’s not many out there who are unemployed. They’d have to steal them away from other companies. But if they open a new warehouse they’ll get a line of 10,000 people long applying for 100 low-skill jobs. Maybe not much you can do about yourself, but you can make sure your kids end up in the “grass is greener” side of the pasture. Just make sure they become something we need, like computers, engineer, finance, accounting, nurse, truck drivers (yes there are still positions like that we need), etc. Don’t let them major in English (unless they become a teacher, we need those too) or do Social Work or work in Manufacturing! Thats the kiss of death for their job prospects, income potential, and the future of our country.

  45. palmcoaster says:

    Jay, America has been doing and enduring what you support above since 1987 and at even a faster pace since 2001…and look were we are today. So please do not give me that Socialism finger pointing because only an ignorant can be sold that. In one thing you could be right is about the brain washing that make the voters to put in office the officials that associate to benefit the 1% on the backs of the rest of us. Regarding computer engineer graduates for Dell, let me tell you that instead of funding all these useless wars for suppliers benefits, we would fund some universities like most countries in the world have, then if education on the professions would not be a luxury, we will have all the trained professionals we need and for export as well. Education is a for profit business here and not focused on real teaching. This is why these greedy corporations hire foreign graduates that went to their government university for free, in their countries of origin, and they hire them for a fraction of what they would have to pay and American graduate with a 100,000 or more on a college loan to be repaid. Jay you are totally detached from the sad reality the 99% experiences now. Can you please document to us with a copy of that Dell engineers wanted add?

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