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Ear to the Ground

OWS, The American Dream and You

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Posted on Oct 14, 2011
Flickr/david_shankbone (CC-BY)

A demonstrator pauses for a snap at the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York on Oct. 8.

Taking a cue from the 99 percenters, some conservatives are hoping to make their own play on demographics by redirecting the national discourse about class struggle and revising the cherished American story of meritocracy for these, our troubled times. Here’s a take on “We Are the 53%” from across the Atlantic.  —KA

BBC:

But not everyone is angry at Wall Street. Conservative reaction to the movement has resulted in counter-protests and new memes, like conservative columnist Erick Erickson’s new site, We Are The 53%.

The site is a reaction to We Are The 99 Percent, a website that allows citizens to upload photos of themselves holding a sign with their story - such as too much student debt, trouble getting a job, or no health insurance.

Contributors claim they stand in opposition to the 1% of Americans who control the majority of the country’s wealth, as well as the big business and government systems they say allowed the economy to flounder.

Character test

The counter site doesn’t defend any of those institutions. It’s doesn’t defend bonuses for bankers or justify the rich’s low tax rate. The 53% refers to the percentage of Americans who currently pay federal income taxes. The unifying theme of the site is of a rejection of entitlement.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, October 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

mr freeze, i never take MSM’s word for anything. i go to the source. I absolutely refuse to defend the straw puppet that your MSM and ‘progressive’ website wish to attack.

If you want to criticize “53%”, read their website instead of linking to your own!

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By gerard, October 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Speaking of the “American Dream”—we have brilliant evidence of the best of its goals in Occupying Wall Street this very minute.  Thousanda of people who have been/are being “disenfranchised” of their homes, livelihoods, futures begin to realize what is happening and why. They see that democracy is being killed, more or less deliberately.
  They don’t have any detailed plan or creed or slogan—thank God!—but are opening themselves to cooperative decision-making and a deeper understanding of possibilities beyond hatred, resentment, ignorance and fear.
  If Wall Street and government were halfway smart, they would also open themselves to these creative voices representing hope for the future.  They would not be holed up in their offices, cranking out more of the stock lies and denials and donating to police forces and empty-headed, empty-hearted candidates.
  Dylan’s old song is still right on the point:
“Something is happening ... and ...”  Tomorrowo is being born—with as little violence worldwide as possible, since violence has exhausted whatever
moral resources it may have had in the past.

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By carl quinlan, October 16, 2011 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The next few years should be very interesting. There is a real struggle going on. I can’t predict how this will all play out.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, October 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael - You probably need to read this article which points out the hypocrisy of Erickson’s phony 53% movement. He’s typical of the new bourgeois (wanna-be uber-rich) who think that Americans are all out here avoiding paying our payroll, SS, sales, excise, property, state/local taxes…..along with all those “gotcha capitalism FEES” that the corporations pile on us every minute of the day. Ya, we’re all deadbeat citizens who are always trying to “game” the system, pay no taxes and shed our burdens onto someone else…..oh, wait….I think corporations and the wealthy (or wanna-be wealthy) were those people…..


http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/10/11/304642/erickson-whines-53-percent/

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 15, 2011 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

You’re hilarious Krazo.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, October 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

I am against crony capitalism. I will not defend crony capitalism.

cpm is trolling me for it and that must mean cpb is a shill for crony capitalism.

cpb, are you just a troll or are youreally a corporate shill?

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

Wrong about what Krazo?  This is more troll-like behavior you are exhibiting.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, October 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Dear cpb,

unfortunely, yet predicably, you are completely wrong

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 15, 2011 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

“.....“53%” is not a defense of crony capitalism, or bank bailouts. “53%” is not a defense of TARP. It is not a defense of the current tax system. “53%” are those of us who pay for those of you who whine about all of that.”

- OM

So nobody from the 53% that pay federal income taxes are ticked off about crony capitalism, bailouts or TARP presumably.  Hmmmnn.  How profoundly absurd.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, October 15, 2011 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Taking a cue from the 99 percenters, some conservatives are hoping to make their own play on demographics by redirecting the national discourse about class struggle and revising the cherished American story of meritocracy for these, our troubled times.

Truthdiggers dare not mention that “53%” is not a defense of crony capitalism, or bank bailouts. “53%” is not a defense of TARP. It is not a defense of the current tax system.

“53%” are those of us who pay for those of you who whine about all of that.

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By BrliTsari, October 15, 2011 at 1:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The American Dream had largely devolved into White flight to suburbia three generations ago. Characterizing the fundamentalist ‘baggers as anything else is fantasy. They’re subliminally terrified by the nation’s demographics and peak oil (it does not MATTER that Fox and now CNN simply feeds them the LIES they wish to hear, the preceding 30yrs has robbed them of any power or impulse to resist.) Theocratic kleptocracy and feudal peonage are Traditional Values to a very sizable percentage of the American electorate. It’s what they understand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3uvzcY2Xug
http://www.truth-out.org/climate-change-often-unacknowledged-contributor-increased-violence-and-authoritarianism/1318276701
http://www.truth-out.org/top-ten-giveaways-big-oil-rick-perrys-jobs-plans/1318611574  http://www.texastribune.org/m/story/32668/
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/10/2011109112727162598.html
http://www.fox8live.com/news/local/story/Longtime-seafood-businessman-says-hes-closing-shop/1SJ5ibQrP0WZsQqTe6ypbw.cspx

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

“I am so sick of hearing about “the American Dream”!
It is an overblown delusion of grandeur for the vast majority of the population now.  Perhaps it had more validity in the earliest days of the country’s development…..”

- Gerard

The American Dream, for the most part, and speaking broadly, has always been a delusion.  That there was a new world to exploit, and that the exploitation of that world offered new and in many ways previously unimaginable opportunities to build wealth is certainly true.  It is also true that many of those who built significant wealth upon arriving here came from humble beginnings, and many have built great wealth from humble beginnings since that era.  These facts do not lend much credence to ‘The Dream’ however, unless one is willing to overlook the context and manner in which much of that wealth was created, and contrast this with the reality of the multitudes to whom ‘The Dream’ has been and continues to be sold.

Those that came across the Atlantic to harvest the riches of this unspoiled land brought their class structure with them, and the extent to which the general populace does not have a clear understanding of this is simply a misrepresentation of history.  The ‘Classless Society’, a wonderful idea to be sure, has always been a myth.  The sheer scale of the project (of conquest, genocide and exploitation) was responsible for the opportunities that allowed some fortunate, motivated and entrepreneurial individuals to break through the traditional class divisions and make wealth for themselves despite humble beginnings, a transition that would have been next to impossible in the ‘Old Country’ (economy of exhausted resources).  But these opportunities were limited nontheless; those that “made good” may have moved up a few levels in what was effectively a caste system, evolving it somewhat, but nothing fundamental was ever really changed.  The most prominent early examples of those who overcame humble beginnings only to wind up as Titans?  We don’t call them “Robber Barons” for no reason. 

For the rest, those that were shipped here as cargo, for profit, sufficiently motivated to risk their lives to be among the fraction that didn’t die during the voyage, indentured servitude awaited them upon arrival. 

Exceptional anecdotes aside, the “American Dream” has never really been anything other than a sales pitch, and an obfuscation of reality.  It is the 1% telling the 99% that nothing is holding them back, when nothing could be further from the truth.

A People’s History of The United States - Howard Zinn - buy it or borrow it or steal it, read it, quote it, pass it along.

Paraphrasing (The Great) George Carlin: they call it a dream, because you’ve got to be asleep to believe it.  Occupy Wall Street?  Perhaps a critical mass of people are slowly, finally, (angrily) waking up.  Dog I hope so.

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By gerard, October 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

I am so sick of hearing about “the American Dream”!
It is an overblown delusion of grandeur for the vast majority of the population now.  Perhaps it had more validity in the earliest days of the country’s development, but since well before the Civil War it has been a myth to at least 3/4 of the population, the vast majority of whom have consistently worked hard, done the best they could, scrimped, saved, remained under-educated, lived from hand to mouth, fought inflation, recession and depression and barely made it to a decent funeral!  Think of the possibilities lost—the creative abilities squelched, the diseases that could have been alleviated or cured, the advances in homane social goals that could have been established, the kindnesses and understandings that might have been engendered!  The losses are irreparable, unfortunately.
  Let’s talk about reality here.  The 99% are victims of an unjust economic system which permits a few people to “engineer” the financial system in such a way that they are almost the sole benefactors.
Yet the country insists upon perpetuating the illusion that it is a “democracy.”  It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.
  Let’s talk about peaceable readjustment of a system that is out of control.  Let’s talk “fair sharing of the world’s resources.”  Let’s talk about “fair trade” and “adequate education” and “liberty and justice for all.”  Let’s talk about getting rid of war, the single most ravenous of all social activities.  Let’s grow up!

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By Pierre Grimes, October 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Control of society by the wealthy is nothing new, oligarchy always defends itself with resort to the police-military and it finally submerges itself in the most evil of systems dictatorship, or the dreadful face of tyranny. Take the walk, show yourself as you march to protect democracy.  Your own destiny will turn on this issue, so, too, our culture. so, take the walk.

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