This post by thecountessofclockwise makes a good point: not everyone who works hard is going to be rewarded for that hard work and your level of compensation for that hard work depends on your class and social privilege.
We all know that women’s hard work is not remunerated as well as men’s hard work. Same goes for Blacks vs. Whites, immigrants vs. citizens, unattractive vs. attractive, etc. Saying that success is the result of hard work suggests that success is solely determined by the individual. Anyone who is paying attention knows that’s not true.
My brother and father are both smart, educated men who work hard. My brother has a job that forces him to work 60+ hours a week. My father has been holding down two jobs and working 60+ hours a week for the past thirty years. My brother has described his highly-paid, white collar job as easy enough for a monkey to do. My father spends most of his spare time sleeping because he’s so tired from his physical, labor-intensive work.
My brother has an apartment in a posh neighborhood, drives a fancy car, and has savings and a 401K. My father doesn’t have health insurance, little savings, and no investments besides my parents’ home. If he were to lose his job (he’s already survived several downsizings) or be injured (::knocks wood::), my parents wouldn’t be able to afford the mortgage payments on their house. One bit of bad luck and they’d lose everything.
Both my brother and father have done everything ‘right’, but only one of them enjoys any real security and comfort. Don’t tell me that working hard is enough to be successful.
When your arguments start from an extreme minority position, how do you effectively market your idea and form coalitions?
The key number to get to in a Democracy is 51%.
Their answer was to change the target markets. You’re probably familiar with a few ways the monied interests have re-targeted the market:
Look at the recent fight in states like Wisconsin and Ohio.
- Republicans vs. Democrats: In this target segmenting, the segments are roughly 50/50.
- White vs. minority: The most frequent segmenting here is black vs. white. By crafting a message that appeals to whites, you shift the target markets in your favor by roughly 88 / 12 %
- Straight vs. gay: Don’t know exact numbers, but it’s clear who’s in the minority.
- Religious vs. non-religious: According to a 2008 survey, only 15% claim no religious affiliation. Target the religious.
Governors like Kasich and Walker have introduced legislation to break the strength of public unions and limit their freedom to bargain so that management is effectively in control of decisions.
This was not a popular viewpoint. It is, in fact, a viewpoint of the 1% and originally had large majorities against it.
So what did they do?
They reframed the debate to divide the market differently. They reframed the fight as unions vs. taxpayers.
Because union members represent a minority (about 15% of the workforce in Ohio), you claim to be fighting for a majority, the taxpayers.
This is how conservatives fight when they have unpopular arguments.
Richard Lawson on that dumb “We Are The 53%” Tumblr:
This air of the nobility of the underclass is so sad and, cornily enough, eye-opening for me. It’s quite a feat that the oligarchs (for lack of a less sensational term) really have convinced these people that their poverty is noble and righteous and, in this life or the next, will somehow deliver them. You think about that 16% of African Americans who are living in poverty, or the insanely high number of single women and children living as such across all races and ethnicities, and you realize how fully they’ve taken to heart the persistent message they’ve been fed, in ways both subtle and profoundly grand, that theirs is a necessary suffering, one endured so the country can continue to function in the supposedly just and impartial way that it does….
One day you will discover that rich people do not spend their millions buying freelance cartoons…that will be a very sad day for you :(
Until then congrats on being the only person in America who feels empowered by juggling shitty minimum wage temp jobs and living without health insurance.
This Tumblr makes me happy.
[T]he top 400 taxpayers — who have more wealth than half of all Americans combined — are paying lower taxes than they have in a generation…
A lot of these 53% folks don’t seem to realize their own exploitation…why should working two jobs or being forced to attend a lesser-quality college be treated as acceptable choices?:
I understand your pride in what you’ve accomplished, but I want to ask you something.
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?
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?
Framing the OWS protests as being about demands plays right into the hands of the elite:
I’m fascinated by how many political operatives seem keen to tell the participants in OccupyWallStreet that they are doing lots of things wrong, and really should shape up and follow traditional lines, like issuing demands and seeking to apply pressure in more conventional ways. Given that the movement is getting lots of free and mainly favorable PR and is mushrooming all over the US, there does not seem to be a lot of empirical support for this view.
As numerous readers have pointed out, and the folks in Zuccotti Park recognize all too well, using those strategies now would play into the hands of the existing power structure. Per Richard Kline:
What I found disconcerting about the media’s quest to find the demands motivating the Occupiers was just that single word, ‘demands.’ That together with the rapidity of the media’s insistence that there must be demands. By itself it said everything about the media strategy anti-occupation while also ignoring the substantive statements of individuals at the occupations and the process of the occupations. ‘Demands’ are what disgruntled extremists ‘agitate’ for, in common, anti-popular media presentation of the last twenty years. Demands for ‘special’ pay; demands for ‘special’ treatment. Demands for ‘scapegoats’ to be dragged expensively into court. Demands for ‘acknowledgment’ from the politicos ‘at the top.’ You know: labor ‘demands,’ and all that stuff. The point was/is if demands can be elicited, than those in the occupation _must_ be agitators, which means that they must be malcontents, which means that they must be ‘unrepresentative,’ which means that they must be selfish interests; bums looking for handouts and blood, because that’s who the media presents as having ‘demands’ rather than ‘negotiating’ stances, or operational ‘missions’ like Serious People.
What the occupiers have had are questions. “Why aren’t there indictments for fraud and worse?” “Why are we firing nurses and teachers when corporate profits will hit a RECORD this year?” “Why to the richest pay no tax while state and local governments are crushed with debt?” “Why does the Beltway do absolutely nothing about employment?” “Why have student grants disappeared to be replaced by predatory loans without which we cannot get the education employers and the System demand from us?” These questions may _become_ demands, but they aren’t, yet. They, and most of the rest of us 99%, would realy like to have answers. But the media have done everything possible to exclude questions of this kind, to push them to small, late, interior paragraphs in turgid pabalum articles and to exclude them from the broadcast media altogether.
The most visible controversy has surrounded “what do these people want?” As we’ve argued, “We are the 99%” more than suffices as a high level answer. It is a VERY powerful message. It says “We don’t need to negotiate. This is our country and we want it back from the top 1% which has been selling us out.” The 1% know damned well what the 99% want, which is a more just society.
Here’s Matt Labash and the Weekly Standard trying to mislead you about taxation and the income distribution:
"You’re either part of “us,” the “99 percent” (as all the surrounding signage identifies us), or you’re part of “them” — the rapacious 1 percent, who are purportedly strangling our nation by holding roughly one-third of its wealth, even if they also pay 38 percent of all federal income taxes while the bottom 47 percent of the population pay nothing (a Revolution is no place for facts and figures).”
You might as well say that the 20 percent of Americans who smoke cigarettes regularly pay 95 percent of federal tobacco excise taxes while 70 percent of the population pays nothing. Does 70 percent of the population really pay nothing to maintain public services? Of course not. They pay income taxes and payroll taxes and property taxes and sales taxes and alcohol taxes and all the rest.
…[T]hrough sleight of hand, you can convince many more than 53 percent of the people that they are part of the put-upon “53 percent” forced to bear the burden of a nation of slackers. It’s clever. But don’t fall for it, and don’t let your friends and family fall for it either.
"[C]ollege graduates’ problems should be kept in perspective," writes Josh Barro. “The unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees or higher is 4.3 percent.”…
College graduates have certainly had an easier time of it than, say, high school graduates. But simply looking at the unemployment numbers can understate the damage the recession has done to college graduates. After all, even the employed can suffer.
What you see on ‘We Are the 99 Percent’ […] is underemployment paired with debt. You spent four years in college and took out $80,000 in loans and now you’re…working retail? Or waiting tables? Or doing something else that doesn’t pay much, doesn’t require a college degree and certainly wasn’t worth racking up tens of thousands in student loans for. That is not what you expected. That is not what you were promised by your parents and teachers and mentors.
It’s not as bad as being unemployed, of course. But so what? Being unemployed isn’t as bad as being terminally ill. The fact that there are worse fates doesn’t relieve the anxiety of working at a dead-end job that’s not moving you any closer to an appealing future and certainly isn’t chipping away at the mountain of debt you amassed on society’s advice. Megan McArdle captured this nicely in a post last week. “No matter how inflated your expectations may have been,” she wrote, “it is no joke to have your confidence that you can support yourself ripped away, and replaced with the horrifying realization that you don’t really understand what the rules are. Yes, even if you have a nose ring.”
(Source: Washington Post)
Even though I’ve read quite a bit about income inequality in the U.S., this graph is still startling.
You see that flat red line aaallll the way down there at the bottom of the graph? That’s us, that’s the America that the 99% have been living in for the past 30 years.
A calculator that gives you a better grasp of the magnitude of federal spending on the military. You can plug in your city, town, or county in order to get estimates of how much your area contributes and what that money could have bought instead.
It’s incredible. Can you imagine what things would be like if we poured as much money into our own country as we did on the war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq? But, of course, spending money on Pell Grants, public school teachers, housing, and healthcare doesn’t make billionaires even richer.