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I Am The 53%: Tea Party continues War on The Poor (Erick Erickson, Josh Trevino, Kevin Eder)

The latest sociopathic effort from the Tea Parties is "I Am The 53%" (#IAmThe53, the53.tumblr.com), a response to the Occupy Wall Street ("OWS") protests. The 53% is a reference to the fact that just 53% of Americans pay federal income tax, and it features pictures of those in the 53% holding up signs describing how they became successful (per them) on their own. The effort was co-founded by Erick Erickson of Redstate (see those links), Josh Trevino, and Kevin Eder.

Their 53% statistic appears to be accurate, and there's nothing wrong about pointing it out. What is wrong is what this is actually about:

* Their tag line is "Those of us who pay for those of you who whine about all of that... or that... or whatever." That's not accurate: those who don't pay federal income tax pay a multitude of other taxes, directly or indirectly: property taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, and so on. And, many of those contributing to the site are probably not paying that much in taxes; when all is considered their net contribution if any to any of the protesters is probably very small. Note that some who aren't familiar with politics might be confused into falsely thinking that the 47% don't pay any taxes at all, when that's not at all true.

* Those involved pretend that they became successful on their own, when that isn't true: all of them had the benefits of (as Elizabeth Warren [!] might say) the common infrastructure: roads, schools, bridges, educational institutions, communications, police forces, military forces, and on and on and on. Put those involved in #IAmThe53 down in Somalia with just a knife and the outcome for almost all of them wouldn't have such a happy ending.

* The effort puts those involved in the position of apologists for the banks and Wall Street. For an example, see Erick Erickson's image: "I have a house I can't sell. My family insurance costs are outrageous. But I don't blame Wall Street. Suck it up you whiners." That and other images would enable those who actually have large amounts of money to skate on malfeasance. The OWS people would blame everything on the banks and Wall Street; #IAmThe53 would blame nothing on them. They're the mirror image of each other, and both are wrong. According to #IAmThe53, people should just ignore large-scale attempts to rip them off, and instead blame everything on themselves.

* None of the images that I looked at are hopeful and helpful; all that I saw are accusatory. All of those basically accuse others (the 47%) of being lazy welfare cheats mooching off their betters in the #IAmThe53. OWS is anti-American to the extent that they're blaming everything on 1% of the U.S.; #IAmThe53 is anti-American with a much larger number: they have little or no regard for 47% of the country. The #IAmThe53 are implying that the millions of unemployed are simply unemployed due to their own personal failings.

* If one thinks that OWS whines, the correct response isn't more whining. Those accusing OWS of being whiners are themselves whining about their lot instead of counting their blessings and trying to improve the situation in the U.S.

* Those involved are minor functionaries in the Republican Party sphere, and it's very bad politics for the GOP to be associated with a group of sociopathic Randroids who are demonizing almost half of the country. Most of those in the 53% will no doubt be sympathetic to those in the 47%; efforts like this are a good way for the GOP to reduce themselves to using the #WeAreJust20Percent tag.

* Ironically, the parents of many of those protesting probably pay more in taxes than some #IAmThe53 leaders. Or, at least they would if not for all the loopholes that those in the #IAmThe53 leadership sphere have carved out for them.

* Many of those submitting photos are smart (or at least attended college or graduate school) and are entrepreneurs. They pretend that everyone can be like them, despite that obviously not being true. Only a small percentage of Americans have what it takes to attend graduate school, and only a small percentage are cut out to be entrepreneurs. Their effort is not in touch with reality: most people have to be employed by someone else. The #IAmThe53 present that as a moral failing, when it's everything but that. The #IAmThe53 think everyone can be like them, when they can't. They simply aren't in touch with reality and they don't have grown-up policy proposals that will work for the wide spectrum of Americans.

* With millions of Americans unemployed, it's un-American to demonize those in dire financial straits as lazy welfare bums. Those involved in #IAmThe53 aren't working night and day to try to free up jobs for Americans, they're just implying that they're less worthy than those in the 53%. That's bad for the U.S., and it's also bad politics. Especially since the plan at the last link would not only help get many Americans working, it could also be used to make the Obama administration and the Democratic Party look bad. Instead of doing that, #IAmThe53 has no solutions other than smearing their fellow citizens. Instead of pulling together and helping free up jobs, all the "53%" can do is demonize their own fellow citizens who are struggling through tough economic times. Theirs is a foreign spirit, not a pro-American spirit.

Unless the GOP wants to reduce their appeal to millions of Americans even quicker than they have over the past few years, they need to disassociate themselves from sociopathic, blame-Americans-first libertarians and Randroids.

ADDED: Several other points could be added, but it needs to be noted that large numbers of those in the 47% are poor or close to it. In September 2011, the Census Bureau announced (link) that 46.2 million people were below the poverty line. That's 15.1% of the U.S. population, highest since 1993. And, in 2009 10.4 million U.S. residents were "working poor" (bls.gov/cps/cpswp2009.pdf). Instead of helping them, Erickson et al demonize them. On a sidenote, when I posted about this issue at RedState (before I was banned, see the link) I got no help at all and pushback from their contributors such as "Vladimir".

10/14/11 UPDATE: The current top tweet in a search for #IAmThe53 is this:

@kesgardner Conservatives don't think that unless government provides charity, people will starve. We are generous, benevolent people.

Not all conservatives support ending government "charity" as do the libertarian/teaparty sociopaths. And, that's also incredibly bad policy as I briefly discussed in the third paragraph in the post about another instance of their sociopathy: Teaparty shouts "yeah!" to just letting the uninsured die. Another point that could be added is that what "kesgardner" and those of his ilk support would lead to "free riding". Many people who can afford it don't give much to charity, but under the teaparty/#IAmThe53 plan they'd benefit from the social impacts of those who do.

10/18/11 UPDATE: Somewhat scarily, rightwing hack Jazz Shaw partly agrees with me, and at Pajamas Media no less (link):

Another conservative effort seeks to beat the drum of “We Are the 53%.” This misanthropic effort allows for a clear distinction between barely more than one half of the public and another massive segment who not only get to vote, but might have otherwise sympathized with you... When it comes to the 47% of people who pay no federal income tax at the end of each year, it’s difficult to think of a worse target to select. I’m not sure what Erick Erickson was thinking when he cooked this up, but a significant majority of these folks are either students, the infirm, or - to a vast degree - seniors on fixed incomes. If there is a worse demographic soup to pour political poison into, I’m at a loss to name it. This ignores the fact that these same voters enjoy these benefits largely because of initiatives primarily sponsored by the GOP to begin with. Further, pretty much all of those people pay other taxes at various levels. Nobody is getting off for free. The less said about this the better.

Wed, 10/12/2011 - 20:52 · Importance: 4