Occupy Wall Street: The 10 Best 'We Are the 99%' Messages

Last Updated Oct 6, 2011 7:29 PM EDT

Occupy Wall Street appears to be solidifying around a slogan that defines the movement, and it's a doozy: "We Are the 99 Percent." The phrase's origin comes from economic data showing that the top 1 percent of Americans earn 23.5 percent of the nation's wealth, a level of inequality not seen since 1929.

The tagline blew up in social media recently due to the popularity of a Tumblr blog which asked people to write their stories on a piece of paper, photograph themselves and upload it. The blog was started in August but in the last few days hundreds of photos have been published.

In the same way that in the 1960s the personal became political, "We Are the 99 Percent" makes personal finance political. The visual effect on the blog's archive page is impressive: An army of unemployed, under-employed and economically pressed people venting all at once, often with impressive penmanship. Each entry ends with the phrase, "I am the 99 percent." A typical example reads:

I make $50k a year and have to live in my parent's basement to afford child support and my continuing education student loans.
Four themes have emerged from contributions to the blog:
  1. Even people with jobs are finding they do not make enough to get by.
  2. Student debt is crushing the well-educated.
  3. The difference between poverty and success often depends on the size of your medical bills.
  4. Their complaints are non-ideological.
As a piece of advertising, the blog is effective because it debunks the notion that much of OWS is composed of anarchists and students. (No one cares if those people get arrested; the sign held by woman above says "I am a nurse without health insurance.") And Although OWS has been compared to the Tea Party because of its leaderlessness, the 99 Percenters' appeal is wider because they aren't talking about party politics.

Begin gallery of 10 best "I am the 99 percent" statements»