The 53% don’t get it

You may have already heard (I’m usually a little slow on the ball) of a movement that’s spring up in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests called “We Are the 53%,” referring to the number of Americans who pay income taxes–they can basically be summed up as a “quit whining and try harder’ movement. They post pictures of themselves holding up sheets of paper with their stories of hard work and ‘success’. Someone on tumblr decided to point out the flaws with many of the stories and started Actually, You’re the 47% in response.

There’s a few glaring problems that crop up in some of these stories. One is that some tell of an older generation who started out with opportunities that no longer exist. One young lady mentions her parents both dropping out of high school and working in factories. That used to be possible. Today, even finishing high school means little–it takes thousands of dollars and  four years to have the same opportunities that a diploma used to give you, and even that is losing value as more people go to college. When I was in journalism school, I had teachers that started their journalism careers straight out of high school, which begged the question–why the heck do I need to be here?

Following from that note, several people talk about how much student loan debt they have/will have after graduation. To which there’s really just one response–THAT’S THE PROBLEM. Primary and secondary education is supposed to prepare you for life as an adult, but that’s no longer the case–it just prepares you for college (and not always well at that). It takes money to have opportunities, which is what public education is meant to fix to begin with.

The most ridiculous thing, however, is how many of those stories are from people just getting by, if that. One story is from a man who is going to lose his job soon because the plant he works at is closing–if anyone knows how hard work can prevent that from happening, I’d love to hear it. Several young adults talk about how it was hard for them to find a job right out of college, which has the same response as the above point–that’s the problem. Not to mention I suspect many of these people graduated before the recession, and thus had better prospects (as bad as they were) than today’s graduates.

What Wat53% would have you believe is that liberals are against having to work hard to succeed. That’s not true–I believe hard work should be rewarded. The problem is, it isn’t. Hard work will keep you fed, maybe, if you’re lucky. Americans believe they live in a meritocracy, but they don’t. What people like me want is to make effort matter–level the playing field so that those without have the same prospects as those with.

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