October 16th, 2011

I Am Not a Statistic

photo credit: pameladrew212

It’s hard to put a finger on the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that has been increasing in numbers and attention over the past month. I’ve been asked many times my thoughts on the group, and my general response is a simple shrug of the shoulders; how does one put a label on such a diverse, unorganized, self-contradicting band of protestors?

From what I can tell, the broad movement is comprised of varying “factions” of ideologically opposed individuals. That means it won’t last long without purging the minority and ultimately coalescing around a specific set of principles, ideas, or demands. It appears that the end result is moving towards a class warfare-based revolt against the wealthy—hardly an inspiring, principled, or moral stand against injustice.

While the group yet lacks cohesiveness, it is perfecting its propaganda in order to create a unified identity. Shortly after the protests began, a campaign was launched and a slogan created: “We are the 99%!” The campaign’s central website, with posts from a few hundred individuals, describes the meaning behind the slogan as follows:

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

It is both arrogant and absurd for this group to speak for the masses. Besides, the main focal point of their rallying cry—"we are the 99%" fighting against the 1%—is completely fictional. The Atlantic‘s Daniel Indiviglio explains:

  • Foreclosure activity may affect somewhere in the ballpark of 10% of U.S. households. That’s a tragically high percentage, to be sure. But it’s no where near 99%.
  • 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. That’s clearly far too high a percentage, but again, it’s a small minority.
  • Before last year’s Affordable Care Act, about 30 million Americans were uninsured, which is roughly 10% of the population. Of course, with the new law in place that number should approach zero.
  • I have no idea how to quantify how many people are suffering from environmental pollution, but I strongly suspect if you got 100 people in a room and asked them, 99 would not say pollution is a huge problem in their lives.
  • Wage growth certainly has been weaker than would be ideal, but 87.5% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, according to Gallup. The underemployment rate is 16.2%.

The collectivist mentality manifested in such an absurd assertion—that these disgruntled few who have made poor choices or find themselves in challenging circumstances not of their own making somehow represent over 300 million Americans—is hardly exclusive to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is likewise a tactic employed by the supposed 1% themselves, especially evident when politicians claim to know and represent what a diverse body of individuals want, and speak on their behalf.

It was George Orwell who correctly concluded that “collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamt of.” That so many among the Occupy Wall Street masses demand that the wealth of the financial elite be forcefully confiscated and given to the poor “99%” is the only evidence needed to demonstrate the accuracy and fulfillment of Orwell’s words.

I am not part of the 99%, and I reject their attempt to speak on my behalf. I am an individual. I speak, think, and act for myself. Though they might claim to do so, nobody else represents me.

I make decisions based on available options, and where those options are limited or undesirable, I work to change them—either through persuasion or, if the situation merits it, direct (but moral) opposition. I do not shift the blame for my mistakes or unfortunate circumstances to others; I understand the law of the harvest and accept the consequences of my own actions. I respect the agency of others, and though they may use that agency to cause me harm, I do not vindictively seek vengeance.

Though I am regulated, legislation, and mandated against at every turn by a police state on one hand and a nanny state on the other, I refuse to be a victim. When I am told that I cannot fly without being molested or irradiated, I drive. When the government wants to steal my 401k and erode the value of my hard-earned wealth through an inflation tax, I abandon the dollar. When large companies collude with government to profit at my expense, I deny them my voluntary commerce. Where such institutions are given my confiscated earnings through coercive taxation, I work to politically punish those responsible and alert others to the theft.

I envy no man’s wealth—especially when accumulated through immoral means. Despite having made their millions through the aid of lobbyists, political favors, and bailouts, I do not consider the tainted money of bankers and Wall Street fat cats worth stealing back. Asking the institution which stole it in the first place to then steal it once more hardly seems like a good idea.

I, too, protest income disparity, economic injustice, and crapitalism. I do so through moral means such as persuasion, education, and the free market. I make no demands of the government other than those which would allow myself and others to fully and peacefully enjoy our lives, liberty, and property.

I am not a statistic, lumped together into a faceless aggregate by those who arrogantly wish to speak on my behalf. I am not the 99%. I am just one individual who acknowledges that nobody—whether the 99% or the 1%—represents me.

25 Responses to “I Am Not a Statistic”

  1. Jessica preston
    October 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Connor…Jay and I were in SLC last night, saw the “rally” at pioneer park…We decided to stop and question some of those about what they were doing and why they were doing it? After asking about eight people…we came away thinking that the people that we asked really didn’t know ” why” Just that they were disgruntled and entitled!! It was sad that such a large group would form with such a lack of purpose…in general I felt like most were blaming others for there own circumstances.

  2. Phil Burns
    October 16, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Connor – As you know, I don’t always agree with your assessment of things and have argued your points in the past. On this, I agree with you 100%. I’ve spent too much time reading the content this group is producing and watching the videos their posting – all trying to figure out exactly where they stand and what they’re about. While countless people are looking from the outside and agreeing vocally with them, the irony is that the group itself has no cohesive intent whatsoever.

    How can anybody stand up and say they support this group? The group can’t even support itself. After researching it as much as I could stand, the only conclusion I could come to was that they were simply a bunch of entitled individuals who are uneducated to process and are unable to connect simple dots.

    They certainly don’t represent me!

  3. James Cappuccio
    October 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    I don’t think that a struggling people, no matter how incoherent or illogical their methods of self-assertion are, should be mocked, condemned, or criticized if the person believes the people to be ill-informed. Had every one of those protesters been given the childhood you had with rich endowments of spiritual and secular knowledge, perhaps they would have the amount of self-determination and resilience that you do. Had they all been blessed with interests in occupations that allow flexible hours and satisfactory pay-scales such as yours, maybe they would be less desperate than you in their efforts.

    Just like I don’t exactly know your circumstances, you do not know these people’s exact circumstances. It’s easy for me to make up a stereotype about your life based off of limited information and seem completely justified. I may have labeled you correctly, I may have not. The point is this: we have a group of people that are clearly lost. They feel hurt (to any degree of the definition) because of the actions of others. You mentioned you share some of those sentiments. However, I would suggest that people with influence and intellect such as yourself should not consign these people to the pages of “failed, incompetent protests” but should instead look for ways to help these people.

    On your mission, you met plenty of people that wanted happiness but had used various ways to get at it, some of them less than honorable. In those instances, you helped them find the true way to happiness and eternal life. May i suggest a similar aspect to this issue? To the best of our knowledge, your political ideology offers a much better life for each and every one of these people, if they choose. So, in the spirit of goodwill and charity to all men, I feel that your outreach to help others understand a better way to achieve justice and equality would offer a greater utility to all then a self-detaching, scorching testimonial against the movement.

  4. Jeremy Nicoll
    October 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Side note: look up what the “poverty line” is. One of the qualifications is that the person does not own a TV. Hey, I live in poverty! Please forget that I don’t care to own a TV at this point…

  5. Kelly W.
    October 17, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    The Occupy Wall Street Movement has already been a huge success. By finding a broad approval among many people who are used as cattle by the Powers That Be in Wall Street, they have effectively shifted the politicians’ and Media’s talking points beyond deficit reduction and debt ceilings to issues that have previously not seen much print, like Wall Street profits, the Fed’s role, and a system that favors corporations, not the public.

    The fact that they have grown exponentially and remained a force to be reckoned with for a month now, shows that they are representative of a great number of God’s children upon the earth.

  6. Clumpy
    October 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    @Kelly Good points. It’s hard sometimes to strike that line between using a movement to advance legitimate points of conversation and identifying with the unsavory elements of that mass-movement. For example, the Tea Party, any “populist” movement that is eventually co-opted by corporate interests with the ability to get their messages out.

    This one is unified only around anger and frustration, and I can’t identify with its silliest demands at all (absolution of all debt!). But the fact that America is angry about bailouts and corporatism is something that no media source will devote their breath to, and the Obama administration just won’t be able to sidestep. I’m in an odd position myself – glad at something that strikes a voice against a terrible status quo, but not comfortable allying myself with the movement itself or its message.

  7. mark
    October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    You are spot on with this assessment Connor. I just don’t think this “movement” has any legs. Soon the snow will be flying, then we will see just how committed this group is. My guess is they will soon head back to their parents basement.

  8. Steven Wilbur
    October 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Where to start….? First, hard to put a finger on this?? SEIU (Service Employees International Union) takes credit for having started the Wall Street movement by paying people to protest. This movement has been in the planning for quite sometime, however, and is all part of the “day of rage” movements that are occurring throughout the world. Now, as to who is behind the “day of rage”, there are many who are calling for the destruction of the U.S. and the world as we know it chomping at the bit to bring the Western way of life to a horrible, brutal, grinding halt. George Soros (multi, multi billionaire one world government orchestrator), the Communist Party of America, the Communist party of China, the Nazi Party of America etc. etc. These are the groups that are throwing their support behind this movement and are providing cash, goods and pot to all those who are participating. The “movement” has been provided with $300k so far and sleeping bags etc. The goal is to destroy the nations economy and ultimately the U.S. as we know it. Now, of course the movement is calling for anyone and everyone that has a gripe to join in because ultimately chaos is the goal and a totalitarian government will be the solution. That is the designed plan and the radical left’s goal.
    Now, as far as “Tainted bank money” I take extreme exception to this statement. Nobody forces you to put your money in a bank. As far as I’m aware no bank asked for a bailout. It was FORCED on them by the Obama administration. The money has been paid back with interest and yet the banks are still vilified. Ultimately, the government has created the destruction of our way of life through regulation and then demonizes the institutions that have made our nation great. Did you know that the government (under Clinton) forced 50% of mortgage loans to be made to the “poor” and lower middle class (ridiculously bad credit risks)? How do you think the whole packaging of loans (with a mix of bad and good loans) ever would have been a mix at all if it hadn’t been for the Feds forcing the banks to make bad loans?? The bank’s goal is to make money just as it is mine and every other working person in this great country. I begrudge them nothing. If they provide a product that people are willing to invest in or pay for then all the more power to them. The government through Barny Frank and Chris Dodd have orchestrated the collapse that we currently face, have made millions of dollars off of payoffs, and not only walk away unscathed but turn around and blame the banks! Liberals are wonderful!
    You’re last statements regarding “I, too, protest income disparity, economic injustice, and crapitalism.” is absolutely painful to read…but to hear others second it is truly disturbing. Has everyone decided to buy into Obama’s themes? His communist, Marxist themes?? The opposite of income disparity is everyone making the same wage regardless of what they do. That is communism. Who dictates what who makes?? Economic injustice?? Where is the injustice and if there is supposedly an injustice who defines it and decides what is just?? Evidently, according to you and others who have posted on here, not the free market. Crapitalism?? Not sure that was a typo or a truly hateful play on words. However, capitalism has been responsible for giving you more than my great grandparents could have ever dreamed of. I won’t go on and on about this but could you do me a favor? Walk in a grocery store and look at everything. Look at all the choices. Look at the fresh fruits from all over the world. Then dig deep into the gracious part of your heart and THANK CAPITALISM. Liberalism = entitlement and selfishness. Conservatism = independence and gratitude. Which side are you all on??

  9. Kelly W.
    October 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    It has gone beyond capitalism, and has now morphed into fascism. Corporations control and rule governments. We little guys are just cattle to them.

    I think Crapitalism is cute.

    I think everybody should pull all their accounts with banks, and do their finances through a Credit Union.

  10. Kelly W.
    October 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    And yes, they are trying to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the same way they co-opted the Tea Party Movement, but they sure were able to get people asking the questions that Government and Wall Street don’t want them asking! But since the OWS Movement is growing so big, so fast, in so many places around the globe, they will have a hard time co-opting it all the way. Many of God’s Children are upset and asking questions.

  11. Steven Wilbur
    October 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    I have know idea what you’re talking about with co-opting the tea party? What exactly do you have against “Wall Street”? Most everybody’s retirements (401k’s etc.) are tied to Wall Street…why would you want to destroy or punish those that work on Wall Street? What questions are you talking about that people are supposedly asking?? The only question I’m asking is how anyone could possibly support the Marxist revolutionary, Barack Obama, who is hell bent on bringing down this country and transforming it into a Marxist regime. He has done and continues to do all he can to destroy our economy and dollar (including calling for revolution throughout the world and supporting it here) and yet you as well as others play right into his rhetoric like you don’t even know you’re being played. It’s incredulous. Btw…Hitler was one of “God’s” children as well as so many other horribly destructive, evil people. So stating that many of God’s children are upset and asking questions as a validation that this movement is good is like stating that many of God’s children supported Adolph Hitler in ridding Germany of those evil, tightwad Jews. Ya…what a great point you make.

  12. yossarian
    October 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    I find it humorous that Soros, Marxist, etc are thrown out about this movement by people who know very little to nothing about how it began. Much of its beginnings are from the hacker group anonymous and it began specifically as a complaint against the fed, demanding bernake’s resignation, the end of the federal reserve system and other inter nation banking cartels. It is specifically non-partisan and against both parties. Yes there are people joining for a variety of reasons but don’t think because you read something on fox news or worldnetdaily that you know how this began. This is a movement against the feds, crony capitalism, and its collusion with govt. The complaints are the same as many who follow Ron Paul. There are many Tea partiers in this movement as well. Some do have solutions that are more socialist but others are seeking a truly free market. Both sides agree that the govt and money are in collusion and that the monetary policy is at the heart of it.

    go watch operation empire state videos by Anonymous and tell me that this is some partisan, George Soros movement. Im sure he’d love to coopt as would many democrats (just as the tea party movement was coopted on the other side) but those behind this know the truth. Democrats/Republican division is an illusion. They are both corporate whores beholden to a statocracy and plutocracy. You want some good libertarian stuff to read on this since this seems the persuasion of many here than go see dailybail.com where you can learn what this is actually about and not what some talking head told you.

  13. yossarian
    October 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    And steven, Obama is not a marxist. A real marxist would know that. he’s just another corporate whore. Same as the last one.

  14. Clumpy
    October 18, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    @yossarian I also can’t abide what Steven is doing – completely ignoring the terrible abuses of governmental influence and power by corporate interests (most definitely NOT capitalism) by appropriating the most incendiary, conspiratorial language in condemning the protesters. I think what the most extreme of the protesters and those who greatly fear them both need to realize is that issues are a little more complicated than “Which group is part of a sinister cabal to destroy America, bankers or college kids?”

  15. JJL9
    October 18, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    The rational mind would recognize that seeking to punish Wallstreet or blame “them” will not solve anything. The abuses of the capitalist system are caused by the governemnt. Whether you call it crony capitalism, crapitalism, fascism, or otherwise, when government intervenes in an otherwise free market to impose restrictions & regulations, to tax, to favor certain individuals or entities over others, and the like, capitalism itself is not to blame, nor are the capitalists operating within the framework mandated by the government. It is the government itself that has caused undue suffering, higher than average unemployment, higher numbers of foreclosures, higher poverty rates, etc… You cannot change the rules of the game by attacking the other teams playing the game. You have to go directly to those that make the rules.

  16. Clumpy
    October 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    @JJL9 “Corporatism” is a good word for it – I don’t like “crony capitalism” because it sounds like a variation of “capitalism” when in reality it’s a different system entirely. But people like Steven and many others who I’ve seen aren’t interested in hearing about corporatism, or anything else that uncovers our broken system and the flawed “riches equals success and drive, poverty equals laziness and probable evil” narrative that demonizes people for even noticing these problems.

  17. JJL9
    October 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Clump, I agree that we should recognize the unintended consequences of government interference in an otherwise laissez-faire environment.

    But in my opinion, to blame “capitalism” would be worse than not recognizing it at all.

    The OWS crowd should be occupying Washington DC and they should be championing Ron Paul. His “plan to restore America” is the only recognizable solution to the problems that our country faces. No other politician has the courage to truly embrace true principles and to act with wisdom and faith.

    It’s one thing to give lip-service to a given principle. It’s quite another to actually govern based on princple.

    The OWS crowd is attacking pawns on a chessboard that have no control over the rules of the game.

  18. Clumpy
    October 18, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    @JJL9 You may be right – protests are probably in order, but the protesters seem to occupy the same toxic discourse that keeps the nation at large from examining certain issues. Hoping for real change within such a continuum is probably a pipe dream even if a few libertarians of various stripes identify with the movement.

  19. SJ
    October 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    This article has helped me gain a better understanding of what exactly this “occupy wall street” thing is that appears to be taking over the world.

  20. marcus
    October 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    I don’t disagree with some points in the article…however, the problem, I believe, with the protestors, and ultimately, with many left leaning protests are, simply, the people….How can you hit the middle class with your anti-wall street message with hippy looking individuals that don’t look like anyone from the middle class. It’s hard to appeal to the masses when the most vocal, in the group, and I am not generalizing just making an observation, have nine earrings, several body markings, wild hair like Bob Marley, and sometimes really really smell (this is the truth).
    In the world of cognitive science, particularly in regards to our unconscious mind, people make unconscious judgments, when encountered with a stranger for the first time, which automatically assign values to that particular individual. For example, a person that comes into an interview with a un-tucked shirt and wholes in his jeans suggests (without even doing the interview, no matter how qualified he is on paper) a personality of laziness, and automatically the interviewer has made up his mind not to hire, and pushes to conclude the interview, just because our unconscious assigns values and those values help us make decisions.
    With that in mind, I cannot take seriously, maybe you can, some person that has a brown vest jacket, with Vietnam logos, hair like they slept in a car, and are dancing to “I am the Walrus” from the Beatles…Sorry protestors, but you are not going to appeal to the masses without actually looking like the masses you are trying to change…THIS IS MY BEEF WITH THE PROTESTORS…work on the PR, then you will see more followers…JUST MAYBE YOU WILL!!!!

  21. Kelly W.
    October 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    @ Marcus – you bring up a good point.

    I find the following to be sadly true: The people who are bold enough to fight for change often look like the Wall Street protesters. But, the people who are trying to look like the actual 99% are too proud and concerned about their looks and what their friends would think if they openly protested.

    So, I will begin by making a comment I think most everybody will agree on – that Wall Street, the Fed, and a government that exists soley to further themselves and their cronies really does need to be protested against!

    So, if you agree with my statement, and you really want to see some change happen in this high world of financial corruption, why are we instead trying to bring insult on a movement because the only ones daring enough to actually do the protesting look like hippies?

    I think those who try to keep pointing out why the Occupy Wall Street Movement is bad, are actually, by default, supporting the corrupt Fed, Wall Street and Government.

    I am ashamed for the people who are insulting the movement because by doing so are supporting the continued status quo.

  22. Jo
    October 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Protesting is considered to be a political action by some – but in reality, real power in a republican democracy lies in civil dialogue, campaigning, and votes. Crowds are easily swayed by demigogues, and looking at the sources of funding (like Soros) and training (unions), etc. is important… and telling. The point is that any crowd claiming to represent 99% of Americans is already not believable: the only representatives of Americans are legitimately elected. Ignore the people occupying parks – it is time to be involved in campaigns and elections!

  23. Clumpy
    October 31, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    @Jo You say Soros, I say Koch Brothers. You say unions, I say lobbyists.

  24. Joseph Price
    November 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Until we unpack it and un-program conservatives the term “Free market” is not just empty, it’s dangerous.Corporatism is what added all the baggage to the term “free market” and sold it to us using the media so that corruption could run rampant. It is what has kept our eye on the government thinking government is evil when the government is actually us – so we wouldn’t do our part, again so collusion could proceed as usual. Real freedom takes into account the corrupting nature of scale, for instance, that requires the destruction of the planet and the poor. Real freedom lovers participate in their government at every level so it can fulfill it’s most basic role that of protecting freedom by rejecting bribes. As it is now there’s actually no free market to return to because we’ve never not externalized the costs of associated with rampant centralization of power and resources.
    Right now “free market” means “government get out of the way of corporations” – pure poison – and the poison that got us into this mess in the first place adminstered via the PR of the AM Radio goons serving – you guessed it – corporations.

  25. Joseph Price
    November 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Please read my conversation with Rebekah Jacobi Whyte on FB about why she (and other LDS conservatives and libertarians) should join the Occupy movement. It’s THE revolution and it is also brainstorming and modeling a post-corporate dominated world which is the only hope of restoring the constitution and our wasted republic.

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