DEAR MR. 1%
by, 10-06-2011 at 01:39 PM (1962 Views)
I spoke with you for a moment when you were waiting to cross the street to the Chicago Board of Trade on Monday. I wonder if you are the one who put the now infamous message in the window up there announcing your membership in the 1%. I overheard you telling your friend that none of us had jobs. I leaned over to assure you that you were mistaken, you'd be surprised how many of us do have jobs. I told you that someday they would sell you out too. You turned red-faced, tense, and said no, you were the one that sells people out. So you are in the 1%? I asked. You nodded. That must be why you are getting so defensive. The light changed and off you went to work for the day.
Work. I'm sure you are 'busy' at your job, but the truth is that you produce nothing of real, material value. You steal the value of other people's work. In truth, you don't actually do anything.
You think we are jealous. That is a typical reaction of a 6th grader who is way too proud of his new brand-name shoes, as though they demonstrate his superiority of character. We may envy the feeling of security you have that you will never be homeless, your kids will be educated, and you will never struggle to feed yourself in your old age, counting pennies to pay for medications or heating bills in cold winters.
Rest assured, we aren't jealous of those products of conspicuous consumption, thousand dollar shoes, cars that cost more than a modest house. See, greed is not built in to human nature, it is the result of the conditions in which we live, a consequence of the capitalist economy that requires us to be competitive, greedy and soulless in our scramble to make it in this world. It is so deeply ingrained in you now that you may not be able to understand this anymore. All we want is the peace of mind of knowing that we have meaningful work for those who are able, and housing, food, health care, education, and other basic necessities within reach for everyone.
You think we are lazy. In reality, many of us are working 2 or 3 jobs just to keep our homes and feed our children. We work harder than you will ever know to make ends meet. The worst part is that the harder we work, the more you suppress our wages, shrink our benefits and skim off the top to fill your own pockets with the profits you make by exploiting us along with workers around the world.
But you have made a mistake. You have become too brazen in your insatiable greed. You've forgotten that you need to perpetuate the myth of the American Dream and throw us some crumbs once in awhile. You have forgotten to play us against each other based on irrelevant social issues, you've neglected to nurture the divide and conquer game to keep us apart. Your worst nightmare is coming true. The peace-loving environmentalists are discovering that the ATV driving deer-hunters are not their enemy, and vice versa. We have more in common than we ever realized, and YOU are the enemy to all of us. There are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of you.
The top 1% held 43% of all financial wealth in the US as of 2007. The bottom 80% of people held only 7%. Fewer and fewer people are controlling an ever-expanding, obscene amount of the wealth and resources in the world and it is moving even further in that direction.
The facade is gone. We are unlearning all the lies we were taught in school about freedom and democracy. The only freedom in capitalism is for the rich to get richer. We aren't falling for your slick marketing or your election campaign distractions anymore. You are the ones who have gotten lazy.
We are talking to each other now, and we are realizing we are not alone. We are learning a new language and developing a class consciousness out there while we hold our signs and talk to each other and march through the streets. We are connecting the dots to workers' struggles around the world. Every time the cops crack down on the protesters on Wall Street to protect your wealth our numbers grow and grow. We are on our way to achieving solidarity.
No wonder you are getting so defensive.