Colin Nederkoorn's Blog

We are the 99 percent

If the pundits on the 24 hour news networks read the posts on the tumblog We are the 99 percent , it would be impossible to dismiss Occupy Wall St and similar movements as merely a bunch of pot heads too lazy to get a job. So what unites the 99 percent?

Everyone bought the American dream.

We are the 99 Percent

Someone sold them the dream, and they bought it. The American dream, for most people, is a lie.

  • The company that guaranteed you a comfortable retirement if you worked a job for them for 30 years? They lied.
  • The college that guaranteed you a great job when you finished your degree? They lied.
  • The people in real estate who told you property can only go up? They lied too.

Not that they lied deliberately. They all probably perpetuated the lie with good intentions, and in pursuit of their own American dream, sold the dream on. If they didn’t, they’d have to question their own beliefs. But as a result, we’ve ended up building a society of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1%.

I’m lucky in comparison. I’ve read many of the stories of the 99% and I feel sad for them. I am the 99%, but I’m in the upper part. I’m well within the top 10% of the country in terms of income. I have health insurance. I don’t have debt. My job is great.

But, I’m almost 30 and I have no savings. Most of my income goes towards my rental apartment and food. I travel a few times a year and I don’t spend a lot of money going out drinking or to night clubs. I take public transport or ride my bike to get around.

For being within the top 10% of income earners in the United States, I’m hardly living large. It’s unsurprising to me that the American Dream is failing to deliver for most of the dreamers. It’s unsurprising people can’t make ends meet and spiral further and further into debt. I was there for a little while, and at that point I still made more money than most people in the country.

People should help themselves as much as they can. But what do you do when the game changes? High jobless rates aren’t a result of increased laziness. What do you do when someone promises you the American Dream? All you have to do is trust them. What do you do when the things you based your livelihood on turned out to be false?

I’ve made my own path since college and earned the jobs I’ve had including my current one. But when you look at things in real terms, if I’m in the top 10% and I can just make ends meet, how in heck does the bottom 90% make it?

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