Watch CBSN Live

Occupy Wall Street: 'We Are the 53%' Counter-Protestors Are in the Same Boat

The most interesting thing about the clash between the "We Are the 99 Percent" movement (which is outraged that their economic fortunes have been trashed in the recession) and the new "We Are the 53 Percent" movement (which is outraged that only half of Americans pay any income tax) is that from a personal finance point of view they appear to be the same people.

The "53 Percent" monicker is an excellent counter-slogan to Occupy Wall Street's 99 Percent tagline. It non-ideologically divides viewers into a notional majority of strivers versus a minority of moochers. The 99 Percenters, by contrast, are trying to suggest we're all in the same boat.

The 99 Percenters may have the upper hand: Although the messages on the 53 Percenters' Tumblr blog urge the protesters to get off their lazy asses and get back to work, their economic situations seem frequently to be just as dire as those of the demonstrators they disdain.

Founder Erick Erickson, who also founded, began the blog with his own message (click to enlarge, above) which states that he works three jobs and has a house he cannot sell -- "But I don't blame Wall Street." It's an odd position, considering that the collapse of the real estate market was triggered almost entirely by Wall Street's demand for unsustainable subprime mortgages. He also seems to be suggesting that it's OK if the American Dream turns out to be composed of dead-end jobs and real estate debt.

Once you've looked at both blogs, the impression you come away with is that the recession is as devastating to conservatives as it is to liberals, but that conservatives regard their misfortunes as their own fault whereas the liberals see structural forces at work -- lack of health insurance, student loans -- that they cannot overcome.

Here are 9 more 53 Percent messages »

"I have no pension or retirement fund"

She believes God will take care of her.


"The cancer still grows. That is the American Dream"

Her family lives paycheck to paycheck and her father returned to work as a laborer even though doctors advised him to take it easy.


"Health insurance costs for my family are skyrocketing ..."

His house is also worth 60 percent of what he bought it for, yet, he says, "it doesn't matter what Wall Street or anyone else does."


Two jobs, no health insurance, no vacation in four years

But God bless the USA!


Got off welfare and food stamps

A number of people on the 53 Percent blog, such as this woman, admit to having received checks from the government as employees or benefit seekers in the past, but as taxpayers they seem to resent the other end of the deal.


"I didn't protest, I got to work ... this year I'll take home over $200,000"

This is more like it: If you're arguing that work, not protesting, leads to success then you need some success stories to demonstrate your point.


"I am thankful for the low paying job I do have"

He doesn't have health insurance either.


"I work over 70 hours a week. I don't have health insurance."

Yikes: This guy runs his own business, employs others, yet still doesn't have medical care or "much money to show for my accomplishments." And he hasn't had a vacation since 2009. And this is a good thing?


"I work 60 hours a week on a salary that pays me for 45 hours"

And his job doesn't have healthcare benefits either. This seems to be an argument against hard work and personal responsibility, not one in favor of it.