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Oneabees—Way to Represent!

October 18, 2011

1-minute read

There’s a splinter group in the 99% movement.

You know the people I’m talking about—those who, in the midst of the excitement generated by a growing demand for systemic change, persist in disavowing their membership in the 99%.

Perhaps you’ve read their rantifesto. It usually begins with "the 99% doesn't represent me", sails into “get a job!” and concludes with some or all of the following:

    <li>If you are part of the 99% it’s your own fault.</li>
    <li>I have three part time jobs—and I’m okay with that.</li>
    <li>I paid my way through university working 20 hour weeks at minimum wage—and I’m okay with that.</li>
    <li>It will take 10 years to repay my student debt while I live in my parents' basement—and I’m not only okay with that, I’m <em>proud</em> of that.</li>
    <li>I am responsible for my own destiny; any debt I accumulate is as a result of my own bad decisions.</li>

There’s a fairly obvious flaw in the argument; 99% is not simply a state of mind. Perhaps it’s easier to think of it not as a socialist plot, but rather as a numerical equation: $350,000/yr (households)> 99%.

But given the vehemence with which certain “Oneabees” insist the 99% does not represent them, there must be something more to this self-identification than mere math. After all, why would people who are by their own admission struggling with stagnant incomes and rising levels of household debt, the realities of part-time labour and student loans, a lack of meaningful financial supports, and an increasing sense of instability resist identification with so many others in the same boat?

If the 99% does not “represent” them, as they claim, do they honestly think the 1% does? Or are they simply trying to represent the 1%? You know, kind of like those kids in high school who think that if they act like a duck, and walk like a duck, and do the duck’s homework, and say nice things about the duck, and make fun of fellow non-ducks, and take the fall when the duck is caught plagiarizing or stealing lunch money, and keep electing the duck's friends to student council, the duck will eventually accept them into the duck club and stop treating them like crap.

It’s as if the “Not 99ers” or “Oneabees” or whatever they prefer to be called think that poverty or injustice is merely a state of mind. If you embrace these realities, internalize them and take personal responsibility for not stumbling into an inheritance, you too can shrug off the (mental) shackles of economic insecurity and apply for a membership in the 1% club.

Or at least apply for a job holding the door. (I hear they sometimes tip well.)

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