The 53%: We are NOT Occupy Wall Street

The 53%: We are NOT Occupy Wall Street

@CNNMoney October 26, 2011: 9:50 AM ET

occupy wall street

Frank Decker has a message for those at Occupy Wall Street.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Occupy Wall Street protesters might say they represent 99% of the nation, but there's a growing number of Americans who are making it clear they are not part of the dissident crowd.

They call themselves the in the 53% of Americans who pay federal income taxes. And they are making their voices heard on Tumblr blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages devoted to stories of personal responsibility and work ethic.

The number originates in the estimate that roughly 47% of Americans don't pay federal income tax, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The 53 percenters stress the fact that they are paying the taxes that support the government assistance the protesters say they want.

Kevin Eder was among the first to galvanize those who wanted to differentiate themselves from the thousands of people rallying across the nation to raise awareness of the growing economic gap between the rich and everyone else.

In early October, Eder created the Twitter hashtag #iamthe53, which has since been posted in hundreds of tweets as the backlash to Occupy Wall Street mounts.

"I would never identify myself with those occupying Wall Street," said Eder, 26, a business analyst in Washington D.C. "The frustration was born out of people claiming to speak for me who don't."

Meet the Occupy Wall Street protesters

Many of those tweeting share the belief that the protesters need to stop complaining about the government and financial institutions and start looking for work. Ken Gardner, an attorney in Dallas, joined the conversation because he opposes government handouts.

"We don't want to be the 53% who carries the 47% on our shoulders," said Gardner, who thinks more people should pay federal income taxes.

Eder's hashtag helped inspire Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the conservative website and a CNN contributor, to set up a Tumblr blog called "We are the 53%." It mimics Occupy Wall Street "We are the 99 percent" site.

The 53% site gives a voice to those who reject the contention that most Americans are victims of the system, said Josh Trevino, "quasi-official spokesman" for the blog.

"What the 99% is missing is the element of personal responsibility," said Trevino, who is also vice president at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. "The 53% want to bring that into the conversation."

More than a thousand people have sent in entries to the 53% site, which generally features their photo next to a piece of paper that outlines their views, as well as their struggles and work histories.

"I am responsible for my own destiny," writes one 34-year-old father of three. "I will succeed or fail because of me and me alone."

"I took jobs I didn't want. Why don't you?" says one poster to the protesters. "Suck it up and become part of the 53%."

As Frank Decker read through the posts, he felt he could relate. A public school teacher in Vancouver, Wash., Decker and his wife lived below the poverty line until they decided to go back to school to become educators. He sent in a post because he wanted to share his story.

"We didn't go through all that struggle while raising three kids to support people who don't feel they need to work or people who feel they are entitled to something they haven't earned," said Decker, 44.

At this point, neither Keder nor Trevino plan to shift their 53% efforts from the online world to the physical one. But they are both surprised at how popular the backlash has become.

"It's lasted far longer than we thought and it's become much bigger than we thought," Trevino said. "It's not over yet." To top of page

Views: 1108

Comment by Atheist Exile on October 29, 2011 at 3:36am

@Sassan K.,

I do understand Republican/conservative suspicion of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  But if you look at the actual 8 proposed demands, they're all reasonable and necessary ones.


Comments from some of the replies here indicate that some people think you're automatically a conservative Republican if you don't side, 100%, with the poor by default.  It's this kind of simplistic, leftist, drumbeat that makes some people suspicious of the movement.

The best remedy is to actually read what the demands say.  I'm a moderate independent.  I agree with the 8 demands but, at the same time, want to ensure that the freeloaders of society (whatever their numbers) don't get a free ride or a hand-out or any other undeserved benefit.  If they want to opt out of society, let them opt out properly.

It is essential to me that everybody who is physically and mentally capable of taking care of themselves do so.  Those who want to work just so they can later collect unemployment; those who drag down productivity by goldbricking and abusing sick days; those who try to beat the (welfare) system; those who leech off friends and family; those who make poor decisions based on apathy and laziness . . . these folk deserve to live poor.  It's the earnest, hard-working, people in poverty that we should concern ourselves with.  And, of course, those who can't care for themselves.

The 8 demands only deal with the corporate side of the equation.  I'd also like to see the movement address the responsibilities of employees as well.  I'd like to see the movement acknowledge that prosperity is not a one-sided coin.

Comment by Dylan Sloboda on October 29, 2011 at 4:20am

"Talk about Major Fail!"

The more you talk about something you do not understand, the more your lack of understanding becomes apparent. Unless you want to actually explore communist philosophy, I'd recommend against commenting on it. You'll only be spreading the ignorance that marks the current uphill battle in elevating the general public's understanding of economics.

"ensure that the freeloaders of society (whatever their numbers) don't get a free ride or a hand-out or any other undeserved benefit."

This was actually a concern at the creation of the "welfare" system. Describing it as a welfare system that allows freeloaders refers to a problem that never really existed. Each of the programs were designed with a very specific purpose that did not include allowing people to freeload. Unemployment for example acts as a stability mechanism to prevent small economic setbacks from creating a domino effect on the economy. Unemployment is only temporary. People collecting unemployment must prove that they have been looking for a job. If the social services office has one available, you MUST respond to it or will no longer retain eligibility for unemployment. It is designed to payout at most just less than what is needed to make ends meet.

Comment by Atheist Exile on October 29, 2011 at 5:19am

@Dylan Sloboda,

I just love it when when somebody comes onto a website, like this one, with so many educated people . . . then pretend to know what we do or don't understand.  Any further engagement with you would obviously be a waste of time.

Comment by Gaytor on October 29, 2011 at 5:20am

This is ridiculous. Let me explain why in real terms. I'm going to use personal income numbers. I know, we can talk about which hole we like to have sex with, but not income on the internet. But this is really what is going on as my experience.

I reached the top of my field in construction. I was making 10k a month. A crane accident happened, it was clear that the industry was about to shift to inspection. I took my saved cash and started a biz. I built the biz to averaging 20k per month. Then big biz decided to wreak havoc on my aspirations. My insurance went from 17k in year one to 36k in year two. My primary insurance provider CNA couldn't get what is called reinsurance to cover themselves. As a result, they wouldn't sell me insurance so I had to go to bigger fish. Year two, Lloyds of London. Year three, Lloyds wouldn't cover it, so I had to deal with a monopoly, Evanston. At the same time, banks had fucked the goose and the economy was about to tank. As a result, no building was about to hit America due to no credit lending. My government tried to shore up the industry. Banks just pocketed the cash and paid out dividends and bonuses to top 10 to 1 percent instead of lending. True story bro. My customer base disappeared, my lending options to survive disappeared, and the insurance industry had me undressed and in the backroom. 

So I was limited to dealing with literally a monopoly in insurance. If it wasn't for the protracted recession, I would be back at making great money and living the "American Dream" today. Instead, At 3 grand per month and with only 9 tower cranes up in my state from 105 at the high, I'm a washout in my industry. I'm going back to making way more than most households, so don't think that I'm a lazy unable to make it kind of person. I'll still out earn most self-righteous Republicans whom look down upon the poor. So as a guy who took myself to the top of my field faced with the Herman Cain position that only those who are lazy aren't rich, much like this blog, you have no idea what false generalizations you are espousing. You post pictures of people and draw conclusions as to their job. The height of self-righteousness. My nails get dirty and with two engineering degrees you'd envy my paycheck. I'm going to Europe for the second time this year next month but if you took a picture of me going to work in dirty looking clothes with messy hair you might draw other conclusions.

OWS is upset with doubling worker output over the last 40 years without being compensated for this growth while income for the top 1% has more than doubled. Does this position make them lazy or detailing a legitimate point? OWS is saying that people without money have an equal voice to those with money. Take Initiative 1183 in Washington. Costco just donated 22 million to the initiative. This will influence opinion in ways that I as a average joe can't. Why does Costco's opinion get more weight in Washington than mine? A citizen and a voter gets less say that a corp? How about 1125 which is Tim Eyman (Wiki) being paid by Kemper Freeman (very rich dude) to confuse the public with a BS initiative. Our democracy is being bought not only privately, but overtly and you would have us shut up.

John Boehner admitting that votes are bought and paid for.


Let's illustrate how bad it is. BP destroys the incomes of 1000's of small businesses. They wave 75k in front of businesses for their signatures on contracts when they clearly owe much much more. But waiting for the 200k will kill the biz and unemploy people as well as cause boats to be lost. Is this not coercion? This is the world that we live in. It's too bad that you don't recognize it. If we could agree on these types of problems alone, we could make progress. 

Comment by Atheist Exile on October 29, 2011 at 5:28am

Interesting article, Kris Feenstra,

It's interesting that the majority appear to be politically independent.  The on-the-ground survey show NO Republican respondents in the crowd.  I think some Republicans would respond well to the 8 proposed demands if they actually read them.  But overall, the movement disagrees with most Republican ideals.

Another interesting statistic is that 33% of on-the-ground respondents were unemployed.  That's a powerful motivator for those actively seeking employment.

What matters to me is the righteousness of the proposals.  They're all good and would benefit the U.S.  It's long past time to reform our democracy to ensure fairness to everybody.

Comment by Atheist Exile on October 29, 2011 at 5:42am

@Kris Feenstra,

We have communism as a socio-political ideal or philosophy and we have communism as actually implemented by (most notably) the former U.S.S.R. and China.  I'm talking about the communism we've actually seen in action.  The other forms are just talk.

Comment by Sassan K. on October 29, 2011 at 5:50pm

Occupy Madison loses permit

By Taylor Harvey

Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011

Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 03:10

The Daily Cardinal

The Daily Cardinal

City officials temporarily denied Occupy Madison a new street use permit Wednesday after protesters violated public health and safety conditions and failed to follow the correct processes to renew or amend a permit.

The permit, which expired Wednesday at noon, required Occupy Madison protesters to relocate from their current space at 30 West Mifflin Street, also called 30 on the Square.

A neighboring hotel's staff alleged voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, from street protesters.

In addition, officials agreed further occupation should not be allowed to continue without restrooms on site to avoid further public health violations.

"You can't be affecting the safety and health of other people around you," Madison Fire Prevention Officer Jerry McMullen said. "With the public health violations and the complaints I've heard, I don't believe it meets the spirit of the ordinance to a street use permit."

Occupy Madison representative and street use permit holder Paul Streeter said he hopes to use the 30 on the Square space again as soon as possible after Freakfest.

"[The protest] is indeed a work in progress," Streeter said. "We will continue to address issues as they come up."

Madison's Parks Division requested a written form stating the dates and location where members wish to occupy.

"You can tell us what your proposals are, but we have no idea what you are doing, how you are doing it or what your safety and security plan is," McCullen said. "We have nothing in writing to back it up, and we usually require that all events have [written plans]."

Occupy Madison is relocating onto Olin Terrace until Monday when Freak Fest is over, and they can request a new permit for 30 on the Square.

Comment by Sassan K. on October 29, 2011 at 8:13pm

Those surveys cited were deeply unscientific. They are not much better and reliable than television polls or website polls - pure conjecture.

Comment by Sassan K. on October 29, 2011 at 11:48pm

Definition of conjecture: "a guess, supposition, assumption" or to "hypothesize, guess, surmise, infer, speculate".

So yes, they are conjectures as they are attempting to explain a phenomena without the proper facts, validity, and reliability. They are not based on the scientific method/scientific methodologies and were not based on random samples. Therefore, they are meaningless.


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