The 99%

Whenever I check out We Are The 99%, I think about whether or not I am part of the 99%.  The definition from the website is:

“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.”

What I conclude, when I read through the site is, I am not “part of” the 99%, as I have money for both groceries and rent, but I am one bad medical problem, car accident, or layoff away from being part of the 99%.  Despite the fact that I went to law school, passed the bar, and was sworn in nearly a year ago, I am still unable to support myself.  My husband supports us.  If he lost his job, we would probably have to move, or spend down our savings.

And yet, and yet.  We are the lucky ones.  We have our health, except that my heart condition has been acting up lately and I’m afraid to go to the doctor, because I pay out of pocket for my health insurance, and I know that the possibility of having a pre-existing condition that won’t be covered once I have a salaried, full-time, benefits bearing employment is high, and that I don’t want to be paying out of pocket for the rest of my life.  So I don’t go to the doctor.  I haven’t been to a “lady-doctor” in two years (but I have an appointment for next month),

And yet, and yet.  We are the lucky ones.  I managed to graduate from undergraduate with not one, but two useless degrees, one in History, one in English (useless except they taught me a hell of a lot more than any current Republican candidate will ever know about American History), and I graduated from law school with a Juris Doctorate degree, without any debt.  So the fact that it took me nearly six months to find a job, and nearly a year to find one that paid more than a checkout cashier at Costco, the fact that I was in a position where it was easy for me to be taken advantage of, all of this makes me lucky.  

I graduated in the top 12% of my class.  I may very well be spoiled, entitled, elitist, and lazy (but does anybody really always put their socks in the laundry bin?).  I’m also lucky, smart, and hardworking.  I have been resourceful enough in this economy to get enough work for me to be able to get by.  I got the luxury of taking a job I wanted, a job that was good for the long term, a job that makes me happy, because I don’t have debt and I have a husband that supports me.

I’m not really sure what my point is here.  It isn’t that I don’t get the 99%.  It’s that it’s complicated for me.  Because I think I’m part of the 99%, in that I’m not a bazillionaire, but I don’t feel like I’m actually part of the 99% because I’m lucky, and have been lucky, and will hopefully continue to be lucky.  And it’s not that I don’t identify, but that I think the movement which is supposed to be inclusive is having some trouble well, including people.

Do you share my questions about the 99%? Or are you unquestionably sure you are part of the 99%, or sure you are part of the 1%?

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3 Comments

Filed under Unemployed

3 responses to “The 99%

  1. I agree with you here. I felt the same way reading through the post before I even got to your part about not feeling a part of the 99%. About feeling lucky. And frankly, that is SAD.

    I have a full time job with good benefits and healthcare coverage for me and my husband. He, however, is unemployed as his company went completely out of business a few months ago and there went his awesome benefits. We have a decent apartment in a decent area, we live paycheck to paycheck, but are lucky that he is able to collect unemployment right now to help bridge the gaps between what I make and what we need to keep living. We are lucky that we have not yet missed payments or had trouble paying the rent.

    But just like you, we are just one bad event away from a financial catastrophe, because even though we have money in savings, today’s circumstances most likely will mean going through that money before we can bounce back. So much to be thankful for, yet still so depressing.

  2. Rachelle

    This is why I dislike the way the movement has been framed. We are definitely in the 99%, but I don’t see myself in We Are The 99%. In my opinion, it shouldn’t just be about the people who can’t make ends meet these days, it should be about everyone who makes up that not crazy rich 99%. Most of the opposition is coming from people who are also part of that 99% and I suspect this is partially why.

  3. I keep writing comments and then erasing them… I’m not sure how to say what I want to say… I’m not even sure what exactly I want to say, except: I feel much the same way. Sometimes I really wish we could have these discussions in person!

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