Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We Are the 99%

Reading the stories of the 99% has shown me just how lucky I am. I have a job that allows me to pay my bills. I have a wife who is also employed and together we make enough to live in our apartment, save up a bit, and our credit is good so that we can get a loan for the new car I need. My parents are retired and don't have to worry about being laid off. They may not live extravagantly, but they live comfortably. My brother is in college, and it's him I really worry about. My family can help pay for him to go, but I fear what will happen when he graduates. Will there be jobs? Will he be lucky enough to find one? Will he further his own education instead of entering the work force? And what about the debt he will have? How will he work to pay that off?

I am lucky, very lucky, when compared to those who are posting to the website above. It makes me somewhat embarrassed at my good fortune. I wish that I could give to each of them and help to ease their suffering and stress. But I am one of the 99% as well, and their stories make me realize just how close I live to financial distress.

Suppose I lose my job, or my wife loses hers? Suppose my car breaks down before I get a new one and I have to repair it even as I am looking to trade it in? What if winter comes and the fuel we now have to pay for to heat our apartment costs more than we can afford? We are still one misstep away from trouble.

I am the 99%. I am one of those who sees the greed of the wealthy, the power of Wall St. and am concerned that the future of America is at stake. I fear that a day will come soon when we see the creation of a permanent lower class, one where the people starve and are exploited, where the masses are uneducated, uncared for, and forgotten by a government that only works for the wealthy. I see a world where the government has been gutted of everything that helps the less fortunate, leaving them to fend for themselves as more and more of them starve in the streets. I see a world where money is the only thing that matters, where wealth is the only rule of law, and power comes to those who can afford it.

I know it sounds melodramatic and crazy, but when I listen to how some of the conservatives talk, even those running for President, I can see this being the end result. Right now, there is a movement to dismantle the EPA. Bachmann has talked about doing away with the Department of Education. They want to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They want to give tax breaks to the wealthy and press more costs onto the poor. They do nothing to help with our jobs, they do nothing to help with the cost of living, and they do nothing to make this a better country. These plans they have outlined may not be the end of these programs, but it's a start. Bachmann may not want to limit access to education, but I have read at least one person's comments who has said that if you can't afford to educate your children then they don't deserve to be educated. That kind of mentality is what leads to pervasive inequality, persistent alienation, and a condemned lesser class of citizens whose wealth and voice and freedoms have been stolen.

I have heard conservatives speak about altering our voting system so that your vote is equivalent to the amount of money you pay in tax. Considering that the wealthy pay more absolute value in tax, their votes would automatically count more. Even if you taxed the poor at 100%, their votes would count for many times less than those of the wealthy. These are not the ravings of lunatics. These are thoughts from intelligent human beings who honestly believe them. That is what scares me about the future.

We cannot let this go. We cannot allow our future to be hijacked by corporate greed and private interests. We must, as part of the 99%, stand up and demand a change in direction. Occupy Wall St. is a beginning. It is an awakening. It is the founding of a new movement, a movement that places the value of human life before corporate power. It is a movement that celebrates freedom and voice in our Democracy, without the shameful influence of lobbyists. It is a movement that desires to break free from the chains of an economy and a government that has sold itself to the rich and forgotten the poor majority.

We must stand, whether you do so at home or in the streets. We must be heard, whether you write a blog, comment on news sites, write articles, update your Facebook status, talk to your friends, or walk in the demonstrations. It is our time, and our last chance. We must, we can, and we will prevail. We haven't been silenced yet.

We are the 99%.

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