The 53% Want You To Occupy A Job

My BFF, who is a girl, who is in HR and who loves cats – yep – that Cynical Girl, Laurie Ruettimann – wrote a post today about an article I sent her yesterday – CNN Money – The 53%: We Are NOT Occupy Wall Street.  The article is about this great group of American’s who pay taxes – no that’s not 99% of Americans – it’s about 53% of us.  Us 53% allow for our non-paying 99%ers to go sit in a park and attempt to speak for all of us not making as much as the richest 1% of Americans.   From CNN Money –

They call themselves the 53%…as in the 53% of Americans who pay federal income taxes. And they are making their voices heard on Tumblr blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages devoted to stories of personal responsibility and work ethic.

The number originates in the estimate that roughly 47% of Americans don’t pay federal income tax, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The 53 percenters stress the fact that they are paying the taxes that support the government assistance the protesters say they want.

I’ve already said in a post (Occupy Your Cube) I don’t understand these 99%ers – it don’t support or not support their cause – I’m indifferent.  Not indifferent to those out there looking for a job – I feel their plight.  I’m indifferent to how the 99%ers are going about voicing their outrage  – and choosing to go after rich people as their target.  The problem with our economy is not rich people – we’ve always had rich people, and G*d willing America will always have rich people.  I mean seriously – The Lotto – is the last great American Dream we have – everybody wants to win the Powerball – $173M this Saturday -I already bought my ticket – so this is probably my last post after Saturday – sorry suckers – but I’ll be Rich! Just ordered my “I’m in the 1%er cube get off my lawn!” hoodie.

Here’s what I know.  Last night after sending this article to Laurie – I drove home in my SUV.  As I drove up various busy streets I counted 7 Help Wanted signs – 7! – in about a 2 mile stretch.  In Michigan – Help Needed!  I just left my desk where I have over 100 openings I’m trying to find talent for – got off the phone with companies planning to hire many more in the coming future.  I spoke to one company in my area who could hire as many people as I could find – good jobs – potentially making $40K a year.  He can’t find people who are willing to do the work.  I then drove by a small park in downtown Lansing, MI less than a mile from the State Capitol building and saw 25 or so 99%er protestors and their camp.   Are the jobs all white collar jobs, paying $65K a year, sitting behind a desk? – no they are not – I’m sure most of the Help Wanted signs have some manual labor involved, starting at the bottom – but all have some potential.

Here’s what HR has taught me over the last 20 years.  Not everyone wants to be out of a job – the vast majority of people want to be employed.  There is a percentage of the workforce that puts as little effort as they can to keep their job and still get paid.  Under 5% unemployment is pretty much 0% percent unemployment – because not many of us HR Pros – want that bottom 4%.  Of the 15 Million Americans who are unemployed – out of 300 Million Americans – 3 Million of those don’t want to work to support themselves – that’s reality.

There are a lot of numbers out there – and everyone has their opinion – but I’m in HR – so I’m not sharing mine – being on the fence is where I’m most comfortable!


9 thoughts on “The 53% Want You To Occupy A Job

  1. Both sides of this blogbate make good points. I really don’t think we want to be coming from a downtown park that smells like a zoo making intellectual accusations about what’s wrong with the suit and tie crowd lodged within the high tower that gives shade to this same park! You’ve got to be kidding, who’s going to take this seriously that really matters or has any power to affect change. This whole movement has only conjured up images from Hollywood films like “escape from….” or “planet of the …..”
    Money talks, mass fallout gets attention, make your voice ring out through your wallet. Boycotts have always had a certain credibility that got through to their targets, and parties and corporations usually sit up and take notes. Let the tie-dyers keep their park for MJ law protests, shower and shave, slap on the Old Spice put your Dockers back on and go shopping, just be deliberate about where you spend your real political clout.

  2. I think you’ve either intentionally or unintentionally grossly oversimplified what OWS is about. They don’t hate rich people — they are raising awareness of a rigged system that increasingly puts all of the economic and political levers in the hands of a powerful elite who work the system for their own gain only. They aren’t looking for a government handout from those of us with jobs who pay income tax — they are looking for a change that will un-rig the whole system so that it works again for the middle class. The fact they their movement has such a high favorability rating in poll after poll shows that this stand resonates with the general population, including those of us 53 percenters.

  3. Tim, thanks for taking this to your blog. It’s easier to discuss here versus Twitter.

    We’re still not on the same page. First, you reference the help wanted signs you saw driving around. How many of those are for jobs generating enough income to owe federal taxes? I know plenty of displaced workers with multiple jobs who still aren’t scraping together 24K. They are paying other taxes, of course…gas, property (rent or mortgage), sales, etc. The way you mention the signs makes it sound like the jobs are there for people willing to keep all options open. Nice theory, but I will tell you I personally know several individuals who have applied for things like Burger King, Meijer’s and the like who have gotten no where. For the displaced worker with extensive experience, it’s been my personal experience companies are finding them to be more flexible than they are comfortable with. The “overqualified” rejection is very common. Do you not agree? It’s easy and cliche to keep the focus in debates like this on the lazy amongst us who will always be unemployed and more interested in loafing. Are they the face of this current crisis…NO. I think it’s so important to not jump so quickly to taking jabs at the unemployed because the digs intended for those we are all frustrated with come off as sounding applicable to the masses.

    Though it’s true working members of the 99% aren’t likely in a position to sit in a park all day, I don’t think it’s awful if those who have been unable to secure work after years of trying find a way to do so. Their voices certainly haven’t been heard from the confines of their homes.

    Overall, I am mixed on the OWS effort. I’m definitely down with the belief Wall Street has too much influence over our government, the strength of our country and our citizens’ access to opportunity. It’s not about being anti-rich. It’s about leveling the playing field so this devastating imbalance of assets can be corrected the old fashioned way…by the American dream. We are a country dependent on consumerism, particularly Middle Class spending, to thrive. The Middle Class is running out of money with no clear means of solving the problem. Meanwhile, companies like Goldman Sachs can get what is practically free money from the government and sell it back to the government for a profit. How is that not insane?

    That said, the movement is still chaotic and without focus. I think it would be much better to take a stand by boycotting Wall Street big businesses. I refuse to hold any money with a big bank and support small to mid-sized local businesses whenever possible. Banks think it’s okay to take federal bailout money and not share the recovery with Main Street by allowing reasonable access to affordable credit. Well, it’s not and that is why my money is with a credit union now. I also think citizens have to unite to get the notion corporations are individuals out of our government. They aren’t.

    I think a lot of people whose hearts are with OWS, mine included, are tired of seeing big businesses stomp on the small to mid-sized family owned businesses who make our country so great. Businesses like your family’s, quite frankly. I’m happy for you if your company hasn’t been adversely touched by this, but too many others are on life support or have already died. There is no question smaller companies have suffered a devastating blow as a result of this economic crisis that was largely inspired by the reckless, and amazingly legal, habits of Wall Street. The bailouts worked, to an extent. The big businesses of Wall Street recovered and then some. They just haven’t shared it with anyone else.

    At the end of the day, we have 15M unemployed and millions of underemployed Americans who can’t contribute to our tax system because there aren’t nearly enough jobs available that pay at a taxable wage. They can’t force profit hungry, bailed-out businesses to show some patriotism and create American jobs, but they can sure change their habits to ensure the money they do have control of goes to local businesses more inclined to support their community. I’d like to see every OWS person take a serious look at their spending habits and protest that way.

  4. I wish Occupy Wall Street was as simple as envy of the rich. But, let’s face it we love the rich…we want to be the rich (e.g. Powerball ticket purchases), and joblessness

    However, I think it is much broader than simple jealousy. It is a broken system with unfair rules. Jamie Dimon can borrow money from the Fed interest free (and loan it out for profit), while ordinary Americans don’t have the same opportunity.

    Its the ordinary American getting screwed in an overload of fees for using the ATM, debit cards, and overdrafts, while Citigroup gets the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program that allowed them to get better credit than before they screwed up.

    Its “too big too fail” and getting rescued over and over again, while ordinary Americans are getting attacked for wanting “something for nothing.”

    Its the thousands of improper foreclosures due to robosigned evidence. If the banks order foreclosures, the police get involved and it is a criminal matter, but try to reverse it by claiming improper involement, and it becomes a civil one.

    OWS isn’t about just income inequality or joblessness, it is about accountability as well as procedural and distributive justice.

  5. Those 7 “Help Wanted” signs? How many were for minimum-wage jobs pumping gas or stocking shelves? How many were for jobs with no opportunity for advancement? How many were for work that pads the pockets of the 1% while giving nothing to the worker? How many were paid at below a living wage because the 1% have spent the last 30 years systemically destroying unions, demonizing organized labor and creating false-equivalency “Right-To-Work” states?
    7 “Help Wanted” signs means companies want to grow to meet demand, but their 1%’er masters won’t take even a penny’s loss of profits to do so.

  6. Pamela –

    Do you think the 53% believes an article from a UK paper! 😉 All that I have to say is – I wish I had an employer who allowed me to spend all day sitting down on Wall Street and not making! Or are the all self-employed – and BTW – who comes up with these statistics – oh, yeah a pool of 200 people who would answer the question.

    Do you really believe that 87% of the 99%ers are employed? Really?…I’ll give you 85%, but 87% just seems a bit high.

  7. I get replies when I post these types of articles on twitter that I am insensitive to all the unemployed out there. I have been unemployed (very briefly) so I understand what a lousy position that is to be in. But I can also tell you when I was unemployed I wasn’t going to a protest in a park for weeks on end crying foul on the system. I busted by tail getting out there to find another job. I even interviewed and looked at jobs that were “beneath” my experience level. You know why? because they still paid better than unemployment and they would keep me productive. I like to think I found something right away due to my good decisions in life and my work ethic. I went into a field where people are needed, I stayed up with technology and new trends in my field to make sure I am still valuable. I think when people express their frustrations with the occupy movements it is not with those who are doing all they can to find a job, I think we are more frustrated with those that are not making the effort. There are those who are just sitting down complaining and not taking action to better their situation. I stood in line behind someone here in Lansing this summer who complained to the cashiers that he was not going to get laid off and that he was still having to work. I can not muster sympathy for those who do not want to help themselves or that do the minimum to just get by and expect the 53% of those doing it right to fund their lifestyle. If you want what the 1% have then go after it with everything you’ve got. It will not be given to you.

  8. No, the 53% want you to be as miserable as they are. The 53% – those who have given up their hopes, their dreams, largely because of mistakes on their part in their pasts – don’t understand how the other 46% could possibly do what they’re doing because the 53% has compromised. They’ve given in, taken those jobs they didn’t want for kids they didn’t – and probably shouldn’t – have had. I’ve read that article, and you can’t tell me that poster man looks happy. I look at that man and I see a down-trodden, burnt-out individual who is plain pissed that the 46% have the chutzpah and the hope that peaceful protest can have an impact. I see a man who regrets his decisions, and has let those bad decisions form and mold his life into something a lot less than he had planned. I see a man who, at the core of his being, is thinking, “Why couldn’t that be me?” In his envy, he lashed out at the 46% who refuse to compromise, who refuse to believe the American Delusion (nee Dream) that all it takes is hard work and the right attitude to succeed, who believe that the current system is broken and favors a certain part of the citizenry of this nation.

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