‘We Are The 53%’ has good stories, bad math

One story from the 53%.

Just as every famous person eventually gets a novelty Twitter account spoofing them, so too does every political meme get an equal and opposite countermeme. Thus, after supporters of the Occupy Wall Street protests started sharing their stories on a tumblr called We Are the 99 Percent, it was only a matter of time before the opponents got their own meme as well. And now they have!

The strikeback comes from the tumblr We Are the 53%, in which anonymous people share their stories of how they were able to succeed in life with hard work and determination. It’s named after the 53% of Americans who pay federal income tax, with the unspoken implication that the protesters camping out in America’s cities are freeloaders who not.

(That 53% is a handy statistic that’s often bandied about on the right, but it’s one that obscures more than it illuminates. The 47% who don’t pay federal income tax still give a share of their money to government in other ways; they pay excise taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, as well as state and local income taxes. When someone uses the words “federal income tax” and tries to get you to believe they mean “all taxes,” that is a good sign not to trust them.)

Math aside, the stories by themselves are generally hopeful and inspiring, painting a portrait of an America where anyone can be a success with some hard work and a little ingenuity. Taken together, of course, they also play into the conservative narrative that our country’s main structural problem is that people simply aren’t working hard enough. (As Max Read says, “This is where the best of American values meet their most masochistic applications.”) Can it be both? Argue about that in the comments!



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Man dies trapped in elevator shaft at Bronx…

A man in his twenties died after being trapped in an elevator shaft of a Bronx building early Monday, police said.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…