RePost: Letter From A Liberal To A Young Marine (That 53% Guy)

Rarely do I ever like to just repost someone else’s work, but this one… this one… is simply a magnificent liberal response to an “anti-99%” letter from a young and hard-working Marine. The understanding the original author presents is an example to me — and I hope all of us, liberal or conservative — of how to respond to those who disagree with us. I am humbled and awed at once. Great response Max Udargo. You reset the bar very high.
Hello,

I briefly visited the “We are the 53%” website, but I first saw your face on a liberal blog.  Your picture is quite popular on liberal blogs.  I think it’s because of the expression on your face.  I don’t know if you meant to look pugnacious or if we’re just projecting that on you, but I think that’s what gets our attention.

In the picture, you’re holding up a sheet of paper that says:

I am a former Marine.
I work two jobs.
I don’t have health insurance.
I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college.
I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.
But I don’t blame Wall Street.
Suck it up you whiners.
I am the 53%.
God bless the USA!

I wanted to respond to you as a liberal.  Because, although I think you’ve made yourself clear and I think I understand you, you don’t seem to understand me at all.  I hope you will read this and understand me better, and maybe understand the Occupy Wall Street movement better.

First, let me say that I think it’s great that you have such a strong work ethic and I agree with you that you have much to be proud of.  You seem like a good, hard-working, strong kid.  I admire your dedication and determination.  I worked my way through college too, mostly working graveyard shifts at hotels as a “night auditor.”  For a time I worked at two hotels at once, but I don’t think I ever worked 60 hours in a week, and certainly not 70.  I think I maxed out at 56.  And that wasn’t something I could sustain for long, not while going to school.  The problem was that I never got much sleep, and sleep deprivation would take its toll.  I can’t imagine putting in 70 hours in a week while going to college at the same time.  That’s impressive.

I have a nephew in the Marine Corps, so I have some idea of how tough that can be.  He almost didn’t make it through basic training, but he stuck it out and insisted on staying even when questions were raised about his medical fitness.  He eventually served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has decided to pursue a career in the Marines.  We’re all very proud of him.  Your picture reminds me of him.

So, if you think being a liberal means that I don’t value hard work or a strong work ethic, you’re wrong.  I think everyone appreciates the industry and dedication a person like you displays.  I’m sure you’re a great employee, and if you have entrepreneurial ambitions, I’m sure these qualities will serve you there too.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, even though a guy like you will probably need luck less than most.

I understand your pride in what you’ve accomplished, but I want to ask you something.

Do you really want the bar set this high?  Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week?  Is that your idea of the American Dream?

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week?  Do you think you can?  Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

And what happens if you get sick?  You say you don’t have health insurance, but since you’re a veteran I assume you have some government-provided health care through the VA system.  I know my father, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, still gets most of his medical needs met through the VA, but I don’t know what your situation is.  But even if you have access to health care, it doesn’t mean disease or injury might not interfere with your ability to put in those 60- to 70-hour work weeks.

Do you plan to get married, have kids?  Do you think your wife is going to be happy with you working those long hours year after year without a vacation?  Is it going to be fair to her?  Is it going to be fair to your kids?  Is it going to be fair to you?

Look, you’re a tough kid.  And you have a right to be proud of that.  But not everybody is as tough as you, or as strong, or as young.  Does pride in what you’ve accomplish mean that you have contempt for anybody who can’t keep up with you?  Does it mean that the single mother who can’t work on her feet longer than 50 hours a week doesn’t deserve a good life?  Does it mean the older man who struggles with modern technology and can’t seem to keep up with the pace set by younger workers should just go throw himself off a cliff?

And, believe it or not, there are people out there even tougher than you.  Why don’t we let them set the bar, instead of you?  Are you ready to work 80 hours a week?  100 hours?  Can you hold down four jobs?  Can you do it when you’re 40?  When you’re 50?  When you’re 60?  Can you do it with arthritis?  Can you do it with one arm?  Can you do it when you’re being treated for prostate cancer?

And is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?

Here’s how a liberal looks at it:  a long time ago workers in this country realized that industrialization wasn’t making their lives better, but worse.  The captains of industry were making a ton of money and living a merry life far away from the dirty, dangerous factories they owned, and far away from the even dirtier and more dangerous mines that fed raw materials to those factories.

The workers quickly decided that this arrangement didn’t work for them.  If they were going to work as cogs in machines designed to build wealth for the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Carnegies, they wanted a cut.  They wanted a share of the wealth that they were helping create.  And that didn’t mean just more money; it meant a better quality of life.  It meant reasonable hours and better working conditions.

Eventually, somebody came up with the slogan, “8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep” to divide the 24-hour day into what was considered a fair allocation of a human’s time.  It wasn’t a slogan that was immediately accepted.  People had to fight to put this standard in place.  People demonstrated, and fought with police, and were killed.  They were called communists (in fairness, some of them were), and traitors, and many of them got a lot worse than pepper spray at the hands of police and private security.

But by the time we got through the Great Depression and WWII, we’d all learned some valuable lessons about working together and sharing the prosperity, and the 8-hour workday became the norm.

The 8-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek became a standard by which we judged our economic success, and a reality check against which we could verify the American Dream.

If a family could live a good life with one wage-earner working a 40-hour job, then the American Dream was realized.  If the income from that job could pay the bills, buy a car, pay for the kids’ braces, allow the family to save enough money for a down payment on a house and still leave some money for retirement and maybe for a college fund for the kids, then we were living the American Dream.  The workers were sharing in the prosperity they helped create, and they still had time to take their kids to a ball game, take their spouses to a movie, and play a little golf on the weekends.

Ah, the halcyon days of the 1950s!  Yeah, ok, it wasn’t quite that perfect.  The prosperity wasn’t spread as evenly and ubiquitously as we might want to pretend, but if you were a middle-class white man, things were probably pretty good from an economic perspective.  The American middle class was reaching its zenith.

And the top marginal federal income tax rate was more than 90%.  Throughout the whole of the 1950s and into the early 60s.

Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Anyway, do you understand what I’m trying to say?  We can have a reasonable standard for what level of work qualifies you for the American Dream, and work to build a society that realizes that dream, or we can chew each other to the bone in a nightmare of merciless competition and mutual contempt.

I’m a liberal, so I probably dream bigger than you.  For instance, I want everybody to have healthcare.  I want lazy people to have healthcare.  I want stupid people to have healthcare.  I want drug addicts to have healthcare.  I want bums who refuse to work even when given the opportunity to have healthcare.  I’m willing to pay for that with my taxes, because I want to live in a society where it doesn’t matter how much of a loser you are, if you need medical care you can get it.  And not just by crowding up an emergency room that should be dedicated exclusively to helping people in emergencies.

You probably don’t agree with that, and that’s fine.  That’s an expansion of the American Dream, and would involve new commitments we haven’t made before.   But the commitment we’ve made to the working class since the 1940s is something that we should both support and be willing to fight for, whether we are liberal or conservative.  We should both be willing to fight for the American Dream.  And we should agree that anybody trying to steal that dream from us is to be resisted, not defended.

And while we’re defending that dream, you know what else we’ll be defending, kid?  We’ll be defending you and your awesome work ethic.  Because when we defend the American Dream we’re not just defending the idea of modest prosperity for people who put in an honest day’s work, we’re also defending the idea that those who go the extra mile should be rewarded accordingly.

Look kid, I don’t want you to “get by” working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week.  If you’re willing to put in that kind of effort, I want you to get rich.  I want you to have a comprehensive healthcare plan.  I want you vacationing in the Bahamas every couple of years, with your beautiful wife and healthy, happy kids.  I want you rewarded for your hard work, and I want your exceptional effort to reap exceptional rewards.  I want you to accumulate wealth and invest it in Wall Street.  And I want you to make more money from those investments.

I understand that a prosperous America needs people with money to invest, and I’ve got no problem with that.  All other things being equal, I want all the rich people to keep being rich.  And clever financiers who find ways to get more money into the hands of promising entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their contributions as well.

I think Wall Street has an important job to do, I just don’t think they’ve been doing it.  And I resent their sense of entitlement – their sense that they are special and deserve to be rewarded extravagantly even when they screw everything up.

Come on, it was only three years ago, kid.  Remember?  Those assholes almost destroyed our economy.  Do you remember the feeling of panic?  John McCain wanted to suspend the presidential campaign so that everybody could focus on the crisis.  Hallowed financial institutions like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch went belly up.  The government started intervening with bailouts, not because anybody thought “private profits and socialized losses” was fair, but because we were afraid not to intervene –  we were afraid our whole economy might come crashing down around us if we didn’t prop up companies that were “too big to fail.”

So, even though you and I had nothing to do with the bad decisions, blind greed and incompetence of those guys on Wall Street, we were sure as hell along for the ride, weren’t we?  And we’ve all paid a price.

All the” 99%” wants is for you to remember the role that Wall Street played in creating this mess, and for you to join us in demanding that Wall Street share the pain.  They don’t want to share the pain, and they’re spending a lot of money and twisting a lot of arms to foist their share of the pain on the rest of us instead.  And they’ve been given unprecedented powers to spend and twist, and they’re not even trying to hide what they’re doing.

All we want is for everybody to remember what happened, and to see what is happening still.  And we want you to see that the only way they can get away without paying their share is to undermine the American Dream for the rest of us.

And I want you and I to understand each other, and to stand together to prevent them from doing that.  You seem like the kind of guy who would be a strong ally, and I’d be proud to stand with you.

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COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED FOR THIS POST. Thank You!

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88 responses to “RePost: Letter From A Liberal To A Young Marine (That 53% Guy)

  • S Urbach

    I’m a Marine and I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Udargo. This 53% stuff is just nonsense, and totally misses the point.

    • mediocre mind

      sadly; the most important thing is to have the support of the ones you exploit. If a slave thinks he is free, then you have the ultimate, best slave to serve you. Most people do not realize they deserve better. this is why they write little notes to say they do not blame wall street or they work hard so everybody else should do the same. Colonized consciousness.

    • Daniel Law

      I have served with Marines, I have many friends who are currently civilians after their Marine service, they will tell you that “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” and I have never met one who will say they are a former Marine! So, I have to surmise by his one statement proclaiming he is a Former Marine tells me that he is lying and was either never a Marine or he was given the boot out of their brotherhood with a “Dishonorable Discharge”. I earned three honorable discharges (two for active service & one for reservist duty), I then worked another 29.5 years as a Navy civilian overhauling military aircraft and now at 56 years of age and retired, I will still proclaim myself as a Sailor, I am Navy and I am the 99%. Now, being retired does not mean, I no longer work. Since I retired 20 months ago, I’ve been offered about 24 job opportunities and I did not apply for any of them, I turned them all down because I have another dream. So currently I work for free as a Writer, Reporter, Proof Editor and Production Editor for a small monthly newspaper and I do this because I’m rebuilding my writing skills which became very rusty during the 36.5 years I worked for the Navy. My dream is to become a novelist and work at that until I die! Living the American Dream!

      • John

        I understand what you’re saying, my father served as a Marine in recon unit during Vietnam. However, I wonder if he’s trying to draw the distinction between having served and being in active service.

      • Scott

        Yes, once a Marine, always a Marine (in most cases), but, former Marine is also proper terminology for someone previously serving in the Marines.

  • Dan

    Its funny how almost every 53% comment illustrates the point of the 99%. They just fail to understand that.

    “I work 70 hours a week with no health care to support myself”. Yeah, so do we, and that’s what we are trying to change.

    • bill

      AMEN! I think that almost every single time i read one.

    • Kris

      That’s not what he said. He said he worked that much to get himself through school. A point continually missed in this letter and many comments. Never does he say he works that much now.

      College kids that are responsible work hard to get themselves through school. If not, they either have parents that have worked hard to do so for them, or they take out a loan. If they have loans, they work to pay them off and it becomes a “condition of play” in life. Like snow at a football game.

      Wall Street is the wrong group to be mad at when it comes to college loans. With tuition rates climbing at many times the rate of inflation, they should picket outside of these institutions. The banks don’t decide your college tuition rates, colleges/universities do. Another point missed continually.

      No one owes you anything because you chose to go to a school that costs $50k+ a year for a political science degree. When did we become a country of “give to me because you have more than me an and that’s not fair?” Whether you like this guy or not, the whining does have to stop. I’d argue that every time the 99% open their mouths, they contradict themselves. Especially whilst tweeting on their iPads. It’s getting old. And crazy.

      • Tia Pirkl

        Seriously, the only thing they are unified about is the desire to complain. I agree with Kris (above). There is no American “right” to go to a massively expensive school and get a useless degree. Those are choices. I made the decision to go to a school that I could afford and get a degree that has need and purpose. Maybe thinking ahead is a great idea. Don’t they have guidance counselors anymore??? We teach our children that there are consequences to behaviors. Why should our country mop up there problems? While I agree that some of them have some pretty sad problems we just can afford to fix everything. And doesn’t everyone have problems? The country can’t fix it all!
        I hate politics. :(

        • Scott

          Another point many miss, many served in the military to put themselves through college. I’m amazed at people still going to school today, putting themselves in deep debt, with nothing lined up for after. Sure, stats show you have a better chance of employment with a degree. But, a wiser choice would be to get employed now, start paying off that debt, while getting the degree. Don’t wait until you have the degree, then complain that you can’t afford your student loans.

        • Erica

          I’m pretty sure the guidance counselors were fired due to state budget cuts.

        • Becky

          Tia – I am a high school teacher working at a public high school in California that serves 1800 students. We have 4 guidance counselors. That makes 450 students per guidance counselor. They are responsible for scheduling, direct support for individual students, groups, and teachers, working with parents, advising students on scheduling, college and career paths, providing information on college programs, visits, admissions deadlines, SATs, PSATs, ensuring students are on track to graduate, supporting administration with behavioral issues and scheduling, participating in the development and implementation of IEPs (Individualized Educational Plans), maintaining accurate records, and working with the administration, to name a few.

          These 4 guidance counselors should have 180 days to work with their 450 student case load. However this year, due to budget cuts, we have had to take 6 furlough days. That is 6 full days less to get our jobs done. Doing the math (why not?), that gives us 174 days of school. There are about 6 hours a day at school (though please understand that anyone who works in public education works many more hours than that), so that gives each guidance counselor a total of 1,044 hours in the school year to work with his/her case load. At about 450 students per counselor, that means that the counselor has 2.32 hours in the entire year for each individual student. How much guidance, support and help do you think a guidance counselor can give a young person who is trying to figure out how to choose a career, how to afford the education necessary for the career and how to transition from childhood into the adult world in 2.32 hours per year? And this, of course, assumes that the counselors can dedicate every single minute of their job to working directly with students, which, if you reference their duties as listed above, is clearly not the case.

          I would love to say that as a teacher I am able to help fill in the gaps left by the insufficient number of guidance counselors we have at school. While I do my best to make sure I connect with my students, discuss options for their lives after graduation and make myself available to them beyond the classroom, I also teach classes that have on average 38 students in them (my largest currently has 40). I also teach 4 different levels, which means that I have to prepare lessons for, teach and evaluate four different classes entirely. I generally spend 12 – 15 hours a day working (this includes in the classroom work, grading and planning) and leaves me with little energy and little time to fill in for guidance counselors. I went into education because I am passionate about supporting the youth of our nation and I put everything I have into doing my job well. But, as disheartening as it is to me, the system I work in has made it next to impossible to do what I consider a good job.

          Now, I realize that this is a rather lengthy response to your rather short question, but I want to make it very clear that NO, students are not being provided with the education, the preparation or the support that they need to really be prepared for the harsh economic realities and responsibilities of adulthood. The education system, the lack of guidance counselors, the increasing strain put on teachers and schools, the dwindling budgets and increasing demands being placed on educators in the United States today are a problem, and that problem is in no way shape or form the fault or the responsibility of the students. They are children. They are in a system that they have not created nor do they get a say in how that system works. The consequences they face are not a result of their own behaviors or thoughtless decisions. These consequences are the result of the behaviors of people who have prioritized war and corporate welfare over the education of the youth of our nation.

          So sure, we have guidance counselors. And I certainly wish that having them was enough to assure our students a safe passage to adulthood and to assure a healthy, stable future for this nation. But the problem is systemic. The problem is bigger than an individual student’s decisions or willingness to participate in the educational system. It’s bigger than how well a student does on her SATs or how many extra curricular activities she does. It’s bigger than how much content a teacher can cram into a year. It’s bigger than how well one, two, three or four guidance counselors can do their jobs. It is so big that it is crushing us. It is crushing the students, the guidance counselors, the teachers, and the future health and well-being of this nation.

  • donald

    Game set and match.

  • Mike Gleason

    While I have some reservations about the #OWS movement, I’m surely not against it. Even though I disagree with the singular mindset of where the blame is being placed (Rawr at Corporations while we Purr at government) for the collapse. It’s bringing debate and discussion, re-igniting the fire of vox populae. How this can be demeaned in anyway is beyond me. Personally, the only way truly forward that I see is the end of governance and a stout boycott of corporations to their doom. Anything less than this is hitting the rewind button of time only to hit play and watch us end up back where we started in about 50 years or less.

    • Tim

      What you have failed to recognize, Mr. Gleason, is that the corporations are the government, money is politics. Another thing I might add is the idea of deregulating corporations and industry is like having a garden and never tending to it. I think we all know what an unkempt yard looks like. If that doesn’t do it for you may I remind you that since 2004, Goldman Sachs had been lobbying to deregulate the financial industry on the basis that “self regulation is in the best interest of the individual companies”. The SEC bought this, and thanks do to the drastic drop in enforcing regulations, Goldman Sachs was able to let billions of dollars worth of toxic assets flood the market and help perpetuate the collapse of 2008. They got away without being charged and still got their billions of dollars worth of bonuses. So no, the idea of deregulating will bring prosperity is a myth, if not a terrible lie whose only purpose is to see the proliferation of proprietary and greed.

      • Mike Gleason

        Tim, I realize these things that you have said. However, if tax monies did not exist because of no government, Goldman Sachs would not exist today. For that matter many corporations would not exist today because they are solely dependent upon government making things cozy for them at 99%’s expense. The last 10 years easily make this case and this is exactly why we have #OWS happening. Money was taken from them in the form of taxation and this money is assumed by most people (though history states contrary to this belief) to be collectively all of ours, used for the betterment of all of us. However it is used for the betterment of the 1% and the government itself and the rest of us are told to tighten our belts. So in effect the 99% have been robbed, which is exactly what libertarians and anarchists have been saying for, oh I don’t know, hundreds of years, that taxation is theft. I’m know many are shocked that our government would do what they have done. I am not. Your answer and many others is for government to have more power or same amount of power and use it the way you want them to, which is against greedy corporations. They just might, and we will get a reprieve but as long as this government exists it will go back to doing things the way they always have and cozy up to big greedy corps again, making more wars sacrificing our children on top of the taxes extracted, and lining their own pockets. As I said before, hit the rewind button and hit play will be the only effect, if that is all #OWS is about is the short sighted goal of just getting government to do what they want (for now), then all I can do is shake my head and watch the bone be thrown, the 99% snatch it up and wag their tail and I will wait for when we really have learned our lesson about governments. Then again if history has proved anything, we never do learn.

  • msgamgee

    I love this essay; I just wish the author didn’t call this self-sufficient grown man a “kid” all the time. This is an example of the kind of patronizing tone that drives people who disagree with liberals absolutely crazy.

    • Krissby

      I completely agree. It was a well-crafted essay, but the tone made even me defensive.

    • Hello

      i know lots of people that use the word kid to describe everyone. Maybe its a regional difference?

    • yumitori

      My response exactly.

      In fairness to Mr. Udargo, I don’t know his age, and I think it’s safe to dismiss his ‘bio’ on his website as fiction so there’s no help there. But more and more these days I find myself thinking of folks the age of our former marine as ‘kids’. It’s not because I’m a ‘patronizing liberal’, but because I’m getting old enough to easily be their parent. I try not to let such thoughts slip out, but perhaps sometimes I do. Perhaps it’s a natural consequence of becoming older. Perhaps it’s the same case with Mr. Udargo.

      So I would suggest that Mr. Udargo revise his response, or follow up with a mea culpa apologizing for the unnecessary tone. And reiterate his desire to see our country continue to be a place where everyone can achieve the American Dream. Not just the 1%.

    • Kaleigh

      The fact of the matter is, with age comes experience. So even though using “kid” does set a certain tone, it’s true. The boy clearly looks no older than about 20. This is nothing he should be ashamed of but wouldn’t it be a bit nieve of him to try and take offense to this because it’s true.

  • jaivin

    i don’t know if you noticed, but hes working 70 hour weeks to put himself through school. I’m kinda betting on the fact that once hes done school he will have a better job. able to afford health insurance, work less hours to spend with his family. Also, he probably WONT be 10′s of thousands of dollars in dept cause hes working his ass off to pay for his schooling now instead of borrowing from the bank and assuming he’ll get a job that can pay off his loans… this guy has his shit together.

    • gmnightmare

      Yeah, just like the rest of the millions who thought the same thing until they got their degree and nothing changed.

      • CC Boyok

        Ya, and half of those millions decided to go to college and major in “communications” or “general studies” (a lot with daddy’s money) and half-ass their way through school skipping class and going to parites while earning Bs, Cs and D’s, not getting involved and not taking care of business assuming they will be able to pay off their debt and make good money after college. All the while there are a some kids (like myself) who busted their a$$ in college, skipped countless parties, worked for free to earn networking connections and experience and earned As and Bs and because of it were able to get a job after college because we had priorities. I can’t tell you the number of students, including friends, who just used college as a giant party instead of a career investment and now I see the same kids who smoked pot for four years and stumbled upon a “general business degree” on Wall St. complaining its not fair.
        Im not saying their is not flaws and Im not saying their are not major flaws, I am sorry to all the hard working Americans with families who got laid off, or unfortunate post-grads its not fair and they don’t deserve that. However, I would that around HALF of the people on OWS are a part of the “too lazy to be successful” group, the “I decided to have 9 kids even though I don’t have job so I will just live off of welfare” group or the ” I don’t know what we are yelling about but
        I want to be a part of something and free money sounds good” group.
        The CEOs and presidents on Wall St. are nothing short of brilliant and are the BEST at what they so. Most got to where they are because of a sickening work ethic that is inconceivable to most. Most deserve what they make. They employ hundereds to thousands of people personally with money that would otherwise be profit (an example of “giving it back” or “paying it forward”). Yes they may own 6 houses around the U.S. but they also probably pay more in property taxes off of those houses than most of OWS combined (another major contribution back to the government). These guys pay about HALF of what they earn back to the gov, in taxes so do not ask them to pay MORE. If you ask them to pay more, they will make much less profit on their business and may decide to just sell that business (costing hundreds to thousands of people their jobs and those property taxes to go away because they can now only afford 3 houses).
        I am all about change when it is necessary but as you say this is Amerca and the land of opportunity, and that means that the strong survive because their dream is bigger than everyone elses. I respect and appreciate the protestors, it not for people like you this country wouldn’t be as great as it is today. We have flaws that need to be fixed but realize what you are doing before you decide to join the movement and set up shop in Wall St.

        • Gordon

          Not everybody has such a cut and dried view of education (or the utility of different fields or different people) as our wise friend CC Boyok. It seems to me that it’s too tempting to confuse profitability with happiness or justice and usefulness of a person to society with the amount of money they’ve amassed instead of acknowledging our place in the grand scheme of things: We all are all the common benefactors of the bounties of our planet. Even the most ardent athiest must admit: no man created that.

          There are some pretty good reasons we outlawed slavery in our nation. Our system has been moving from one that exploits the people who don’t know any better to treating them like humans for about 250 years (in fits and starts). If anything, we need more psychology majors, more communication majors, more sociologists, more economists, and more critically-thinking people in general. Thought and rationality should be prized above exploitation. Democracy was created by the thinkers, not exploiters. Many of our most-prized inventions were created by individuals working out of their garages with odd personalities and strange interests with a less-than-cut and dried view of the world. That is the prized possession of the United States — its innovation.

          To me, if a person spends all night working in his garage building some device that will benefit mankind, that’s fantastic. But people who have to work hard just to eat don’t make inventions. People who are treated like crap by employers lose faith in themselves. And people without healthcare die before they get the chance to invent anything.

          For the most part, companies have a lock on valuable intellectual property rights (along with a bevvy of lawyers). Inventors are beholden to their bosses, which is a massive disincentive to do anything innovative.

          Finally, the “brilliant,” best and brightest CEOs and wonderful beneficient companies that Boyok mentions. Maybe some CEOs at some companies are great at being the dictators of money factories. But for what? For whom? For their own benefit? When the Marine puts on his uniform, is that what he should think of — how little his life is worth when compared to that of a Wall Street CEO? Is that really what you want your grandkids to all be doing? How prosperous! How greedy… how utterly lacking in broader perspective, critical thinking and respect for other people.

        • English Prof

          For CC Boyok: Most of those CEOs were the pot smoking half ass kids who majored in BS degrees and got AWESOME jobs because of their daddy’s connections. Like a certain president I remember who made gentleman’s C’s all the way through Yale, stayed stupid, and ran this country into the ground, like all those Frat brothers who continue to help each other instead of creating real jobs and using BROTHERHOOD and CHARITY, ideals of fraternities and sororities, later.

    • Kat

      problem is he will also be working off his ass to even find employment when he finishes school (hopefully the occupation he is going to school for has a lot of jobs available that don’t require previous experience), and then he will be working off his ass to repay those school loans…most entry level jobs are not sufficient enough to repay the loan debts.

    • Terry

      Being a veteran myself and knowing that the post 9/11 GI bill pays a lot of money to the service member this guy is probably working 70 hours a week and that is incuding school, which is being paid for by the government.

    • Rob

      If he’s a former Marine, he shouldn’t have had to work 60-70 hours per week to put himself through school. That’s what the GI bill is for. And he will have a lot easier time finding a job, regardless of his education, because many employers (especially state and federal) give preferential treatment to former military. I am 45 years old, unemployed and due to the fact that I wasn’t in the service, I can’t find a decent job with decent benefits.

      • Scott

        I agree with you, kudos to him for stepping up and serving his country! Not knocking you, as I don’t know why you couldn’t or wouldn’t serve. But since he did, and he earned that benefit, glad to see it going to use. Dito on the “preferential treatment”, or as we like to call it, earned benefits. Don’t know his career, but it wouldn’t be far fetched to assume he’s done some time in hostile environments. And it’s also likely that during that time, he was working 60-80+ hrs a week, with no overtime pay.

    • Casper

      dont forget the “former Marine” part….we are paying for his collage education most likely with our taxes through his G.I. bill…which i think all military people have earned…but point is he isnt having to work that hard to pay for school…

      • Scott

        It depends on the classes he’s taking. GI Bill doesn’t pay everything. And even if it did, he may be doing something wise, like working his tail off to pay for his school, and saving his GI Bill for dependents. It’s an benefit he earned, and can do that if he chooses.

  • Todd

    Why does he need to work 70hrs a week to put himself through college when as a veteran he gets the G.I. bill?

    • Natalie

      Good Point…

    • Kay Day

      GI bills very per case. If you are 100% disabled or are a dependent under 26 of a vet who has 100% disability,(chapter 35) you get 100% tuition fee reimbursement and a monthly allowance of $935.53. That is what I get.

      If you are post Iraq or active duty you are under chapter 24 I believe (don’t quote me though) and you get the monthly allowance only unless you are a dependent under the age of 26 of a disabled vet, or your are yourself over 50% disabled then you get the full tuition wavier as well. So if this guy is the bare minimum of VA allowance then he gets $935.54 a month to help out.

      I live very comfortably off the monthly allowance and work roughly 20 hours a week to support myself, as well as going full time to classes.
      soooo……IDK about his message to the world, unless he doesn’t claim the GI Bill as part of his fin aid.

      • Kay Day

        Also, he qualifies for food stamps…all vets and dependents do, at least in my state.

        • Kay Day

          Also, he should have CHAMP VA health insurance, its standard, and this should cover his wife and his kids until they re 26 years of age if he has any of them. Unless he was not really a former military man, or he was dishonorable discharged, these things should have been given to him.

        • Scott

          He qualifies for food stamps because all vets do in your state??? What state would that be? Not all states do that. No many states do that. And honestly, I doubt ANY state does that.

      • marcia

        If he served one term, honorably, as a Marine, there are not “conditions” to be met. My husband is 27. He has 8 years in the Corps. (4 AD, and 4-IRRL/Reserve-after trying to go back AD after getting out, and the corps not taking PSEPS because of the economy, he transfered to Reserve from IRRL) He began using his GI Bill immediately after he EASed. Under Post 9/11 veterans get 100% tution reimbursement. Plus he qualifies for full FAFSA. ($5500 a year) And, he will get up to $1000 for books a year, and a housing stipend based on e-5 WITH dependants in his zipcode. And, depending on the state he lives in, he may have additional benefits through that state with their own GI Bill. Under the Montgomery, veterans currently recieve around $1400 a month. They pay for their school, books, etc with that money. It depends where you live, but in most cases the Post 9/11 is more financially beneficial for veterans. You also have the options of using your kicker if you paid for that when you signed your enlistement paperwork (or is it discharge paperwork?) That’s another 150.00 a month.

        The only times what you rate with the GI Bill vary, is how you served. Reservists who’ve never served AD, get a lesser percentage (75%, I think?) Thngs like that.

        And, my husband currently works for a program funded by the VA, he is a case manager for homeless veterans. There isn’t a VA provided healthcare, VA only provides healthcare for combat related injuries. (Unless, you are 100% disabed-then there is an option for healthcare for the sponsor, their spouse, and dependant children.)

        Not

        • marcia

          I should clarify they 100% tution reimbursement under the post 9/11 is based on the average ‘in state’ tuition. : ) But, we’ve never even come to close to that max.

  • Todd

    cause you cant read it say worked (past tense there cupcake)

  • Jamie

    Exactly, Todd. Either he’s just trying to prove a point – that the OWS movement is null and void in his eyes – or he was dishonorably discharged… which is the only way our service men cannot obtain the G.I. Bill. OR he’s just too lazy to apply.

  • helenerickson

    A great essay. I wonder, is there a posting/response from the original author?

  • Robyn Sheppard

    At the tender age of 61, I have returned to college because the original college education I got in the 80′s is now useless and outdated. It turns out that I really didn’t need an education–I needed training. And I will forever curse the memory of the high school guidance counselor who wouldn’t let me take the wood and metal shop classes I wanted, because “You’re going to college! Those classes are for the dummies.” Right. The “dummy” who charges me $65 an hour to fix my leaky sink? Or the “dummy” who makes $35 an hour (while the shop he works for charges $125 an hour) to fix my car, right?

    And why am I going back to school? Because I’ve been unemployed since 2008, and have no job prospects at all. Under-qualified for a good-paying job, and overqualified for a minimum-wage job.

    • Stephen Savard

      I took shop AND home economics in High School… and I went to college. I think I use those “high school” skills more than my college skills on a daily basis.

  • Amy

    I’m pretty sure the 70+ hours per week was in reference to his service to the country. He served the country, and part of the exchange is his education benefit.

    I’m also not fond of the “kid” references. Quite demeaning.

    I think the tea party and the OWS have more in common than they’d like to think. We need to stop calling each other names and start LISTENING. There is greed in big business. There is greed in government. They feed each other. And we are the victims.

    We continue to elect all these greedy jackasses with “experience.” We’re afraid to give up seats on the Ways and Means committee or whatever. But that’s a HUGE part of the problem.

    The tax structure is another large part of the problem.

    We need to cap a CEO’s pay to x% of the lowest paid person’s annual wages. This would not provide an absolute cap, but would ensure that corporate leaders wealth grows WITH the little guy’s wealth.

    Congress needs to earn MEDIAN income. I think they’d be working harder to end this unemployment business if they had something to gain.

    We need to stop buying crap with DEBT. This is OUR part. The 99% part. Because we aren’t entirely innocent, either. There is some HARD work that should be expected of each of us.

    ADDITIONALLY, we need to GIVE. I’m still not sold that it’s the government’s job to handle charity. There are so many wonderful private programs to help people. Granted, there are great public programs, too… and we DO need some public programs, but why not foster community? Why not foster togetherness and relationships? Why do we depend on the government to do FOR us what we should be doing on our own? Let’s design an infrastructure to support some private measures as well! I’ll tell you, I was BLESSED to have been able to serve in a food bank. It was an honor. I knew it would be a good experience, but I cannot communicate with words the absolute honor I had to serve people in my community. Everyone should be able to experience this once in their life!

    Big business and government are in bed with each other. There’s no use trying to pick a bad guy, or hail some hero, because there are none to be found. Wall Street = Congress. We need to VOTE (for “less experience”)and stop buying stuff on credit. And most of our problems will be solved.

    • Herpa Derpa

      My view is that we don’t have to fight the way they are in Chile and Greece, we have enough privilege (not a dollar a day lifestyle as a whole) to volunteer, and lots. For those working 70 hour weeks, there are ways to do this without time commitments, such as having a google number people can call or text for advice (lawyers, handymen/women, everything), just be creative to do what you can. Serving in a soup kitchen or a food bank is very rewarding, but if you are an engineer, maybe you should be optimizing the food bank. If you are nutritionist, maybe you should be changing the foodbank policy (The only foodbank I’ve volunteered at in Houston looked like a giant candy store, not what little kids need to be eating if they are expected to think critically all day in school. Anyways, this message is to those that do have more time to give than the marine above: if you help the community by doing what you love, and you do it for free some of the time, you are having a powerful, practical, effect on your communities. Go ahead, make a flyer, put your software code online as open source, contribute to wikipedia, organize your apartment complex to buy groceries in bulk to save costs.
      I am proposing we change things with not by picketing (all though keep it up guys) but by putting in hard valuable work and not getting paid for it. In order to reduce human drudgery.

      Voting is nice, and lots of people fought for that right, but until we are voting through our iphones or public ATM machines several times a day based on your selected priorities, then I won’t feel as though voting is enough. Right now what we need is to be doing more legwork. With regards to technology, never before has an individual been able to have so much effect on the community/world. All you need is a Twitter or the internets in general. Starting a facebook group is kind of like volunteering, much easier that canvassing, and probably less effective, but people who work 70 hours can still find a half an hour to do it. And if that facebook group organizes an action where people show up in real life, then it IS kind of like canvassing.

      • cambojournalp1

        derpa thats a terrible idea. i know at least in the city i live in no one has enough of a sense of community to do anything else accept for talk to one another.

      • Amy B.

        And please check out Buddy Roemer….he’s a republican candidate for President and he’s saying all of these things! People need to get to know him. Super smart and super nice guy!

    • Amy B.

      Amy, AMEN!!!

    • Justin

      Amy, the only issue I see with your claims is with the not using credit part. While I agree that it is best to not use credit, I feel that many people are forced to go into debt nowadays due to rising cost of living while wages are staying about the same. At least, that is the case here in Michigan. Even when trying to live within one’s means, wages just aren’t enough to cover rent, gas, groceries, car and health insurance (each set at the bare minimum of coverage), phone (basic plan), and other minor incidentals without using credit for some of them.

  • Michael Bee

    Either he was not a former Marine, or he was dishonorably discharged. No other reason why he doesn’t have health insurance. Show the VA your DD214, and you are golden. I’ve been using the VA for 10 years now, and have minor complaints. It is just as comparable to an Aetna PPO plan that I used to have before going to the VA…

  • Manny

    Too uninformed to know he’s being shit on……

    Just what we need to get out from under oppression.

  • Mich

    “…not everybody is as tough as you, or as strong, or as young”

    Or, I might add, as white, or as male. Not everybody can get a job that pays well enough to cover tuition, or even a job at all.

  • Jackson

    not your life, not your problem. you are blinded by your own labels. the only thing that matters is that the government is corrupt and leading us straight to, not only the collapse of our economy, but the world as we know it. stop trying to force your views on others and tell them what they should think is right. focus your energy on correcting the blatant corruption and failing of our entire government, because when the melted ice caps rise above the statue of liberty’s flame and crash into new york city, liberals and conservatives will be washed away one in the same. its not about you, its about us.

  • Gus

    I agree, across the pond with a third of the onshore wind energy in Europe and situated on a global wind energy hotspot the British government, are acting like the corrupt asses they mostly are and ignoring the fact that we could power ourselves and instead opting for dangerous, unnecessary nuclear energy and destroying any incentive for micro generation. Grrrrrrr.

    At least your media in the USA covered the OWS, the BBC wouldn’t touch the stuff, probably tying to stop the same thing happen here. Oh, but wait, we heard about it, via the INTERNET and now look at what’s happening. St Paul’s is being surrounded and the BBC is looking like fools, using month old material.
    I had no Idea about the history of the American dream, being from England. so that was interesting. I was blown away by the essay, well structured, beautifully executed, but with the only hiccup of the use of the word “Kid” all too often.

  • Pamela

    Why aren’t the 99% DEMANDING “CAMPAIGN REFORM”. If politicians, both Democrat and Republican were not controlled and defined by big business corporations and Wall Street, many of the problems we are facing right now would be solved. The way elections happen has to change. I appreciate this strong young man and his ethics and commitment and service to our country but he isn’t facing the realities that growing older and losing everything you have worked your ass off for your entire life in a matter of years because of banks, big business, politics, outsourcing or jobs and the continued greed of the rich that started during the Reagan years. Our system has failed us and the government will eventually fall if the “People” don’t demand and scream at the top of their lungs for reform and change. I am sick of our political system and I’m frustrated to see all my family and friends struggling to make ends meet and not having affordable health care let alone a job. The “American Dream” is not real any more and unless the people join together and demand change in every aspect of government, I fear we are doomed.

  • Scout0352

    A lot of what the guy says makes sense. However, he goes into immediate “entitlement-upon-conception” crap with the healthcare for everyone no matter what and takes the tone of “If people don’t want to work, fine!”. The American Dream was n…ever “Everything Handed To You On A Silver Platter, or Work If You Want To”. The American Dream was a free, wide open market from which you could blaze your own trail and achieve your fortunes if you possessed the desire to try. Nothing was ever guaranteed, and nothing is in life in America as designed – EXCEPT for the ability to try. He’s also arguing a case for unions without saying it, which years ago, yes private unions were a good thing, but these days most have grown far beyond their worth. He also doesn’t address the reality of the situations:

    1) People WILL take advantage of an entitlement giving system that rewards laziness to the point it breaks (Greece) and
    2) At what point does a Union need to eat a piece of humble pie and say “You know what? We’re good now”, and do they ever, have they ever? Do I think teachers should be clearing six figures, or become just about non-removable despite incompetence? Hell no I don’t, but they’re protected by the unions. I don’t belong to a Union, and if I fail at my job, I lose it in a heartbeat, that forces me to ensure I’m good at what I do and stay on top of my abilities. It’s called work ethic, and if you don’t have it, then America as it was formed isn’t for you.

    These are topics that upon inception meant well, but the human desire for getting more for less (money for work) will eventually crush that concept completely. Republicans are just as guilty of it as the Dem’s, and yes I do agree that corporate entities can indeed have too much power regarding political influence – and again, both parties are guilty of manipulating the economy for their own well-being. So yes, in that regard I can agree with SOME of the Occupy Wall Street people…. SOME.

    I say SOME because MOST of those involved have no idea what they’re saying nor the basis behind it. All they know is, “I’m angry, I don’t know why, and I’m too lazy to figure it out myself because it’s too overwhelming because I haven’t been paying attention all along like I should have been – so now I am going to make a snap decision and throw a shit-fit.” That is the category as to what most all of the protesters involved with Occupy Wall Street seem to be fitting into, at least from what I’ve read and seen in interviews.

    THAT being said, there are some spot on intellects caught up in the midst of it as well, who actually DO see the big picture and I agree with much of what they have to say. (End the Federal Reserve, Audit the Fed…etc.)

    Unfortunately, what most of this movement seems to be like to me is a large group of people who have a large part of our Nation’s problems in their sights, but they’re mis-identifying it’s actual form and function – due to their lack of knowledge regarding it’s workings.

    And for the record I don’t care if the 53% guy was a Marine or not, it doesn’t make him universally right at all. Anyone who uses that as a crutch is a turd in my opinion. You served your country, thank you, I’m proud to have served mine, but it doesn’t make my economic opinions any more valid than any of my civilian buddies. I think he’s just as mislead, just happening to take the other side of the fence in this argument than the author of the article.

    • Amy B.

      Scout, I agree with you!
      You: “I say SOME because MOST of those involved have no idea what they’re saying nor the basis behind it. All they know is, “I’m angry, I don’t know why, and I’m too lazy to figure it out myself because it’s too overwhelming because I haven’t been paying attention all along like I should have been – so now I am going to make a snap decision and throw a shit-fit.””

      That’s funny and true. AND there are people like me who feel the same way, but have been paying attention and have felt slightly helpless to do anything. I vote, but the candidates have all been the same and made more of a mess. Its been like watching a train wreck happening in slow motion.

      I’ve recently come across Buddy Roemer – who is running for President and he is saying the very same things you , the tea partiers and the OWS people are saying. Check him out.

    • Adam Hansen

      Nonetheless, that the proletariat is mobilizing in any fashion is a positive sign. Sure, most of it is bandwagon effect; the people are angry, so they’re following other angry people. Misdirected? Yes. Ineffective? Yes. Anger incites activity, though. The important thing to remind these people of, when their anger dies down and things are still a mess, is that their actions had A impact. Not the one they wanted, but when they move, the world moves too.

      Let’s forget all this party nonsense between the left and right and the which percent is which. Our society was decaying and just about done for until 2008. Money, sex, and image had taken over politics and culture in America. The wonderful, truly wonderful attribute about large scale problems is that it causes even the most thick skulled blind men to open their eyes and think about what it is that sits right in front of them. The only extended problem we’re going to have from this economic turmoil is due to it not having been severe enough: the shock didn’t wake everyone up from their dull and lifeless existence. The short burst of prosperity will come again, people will shut their eyes again, and corruption will tear it down to the ground again. Let’s pray there’s not a coward at the helm with the bright idea of propping up a corpse with a stack of cash the next time around. Then again, he was probably just afraid of losing his job, too.

      Oh, how sad a nation is when men and women fear losing things they’d be better off without. It’s a real shame not much of anyone believes in their talents any more…I guess it’s easier for some people to get stuck on the stairs than find out what’s on the landing. I have a friend that’s a wonderful musician-adores it, excels at it. With some effort, he could have lived his life performing his craft for the world, He works in IT, though. Not that IT isn’t an honorable line of work, but he hates it. Complains, is miserable, and shuffles from company to company, afraid of pursuing his craft anymore because it doesn’t offer the stability IT.

      Apparently, daily access to, but getting kicked in the shin every time you have a cookie is a better option than having to go without one every now and then. :)

      Sorry for rambling, but there was a point to that. I pray you see it.

      -Adam, the .00000000014286%.

  • Ed

    Term limits, no government pensions for elected officials. They have to use the same health care network the common folk use. Once they realize they cannot be “career” politicians then they might start making decisions that they and their families must live with.

  • James Rogers

    Mr. Udargo – The “American Dream” is that every American has the opportunity to become whatever they want to be – if they’re willing to work for it. Does the Marine in the picture above need to work 70 hours? Did he need a college degree? Did he need to join the Marines in the first place?

    Presumably not. But he’s willing to put in the sacrifice today to reap the rewards tomorrow.

  • jakeroy

    I’m not sure if the 53% guy can would read a letter this long, we’re talking about the people who criticize legislation if its more than three pages.

  • Dennis Lombardi

    I’d like to suggest that any person who thinks they have it all figured out, especially early in life, is a “kid”. It’s one thing to develop a world view that informs your own decision making and quite another to determine that everyone who doesn’t live up to your standards is a “whiner”.

  • JB Mason

    “I am the 53%, and when I get the shaft, I take it with a smile!”

    It’s hard to believe these people are for real…

  • Mitch

    I think the use of the word “kid” throughout the essay is very effective. The author is a human being with emotions, and the usage of the word helped set a tone in his piece. Repeating kid does not take away from his well expressed thoughts.

    The “kid’s” angry face in the photo helped him express himself. His “Suck it up you whiners” comment was worse than using the word kid so often. So why should the liberal have a smiling tone when writing about such a serious topic? His tone should be one to cause a reaction.

    I would also like to add that his usage of the phrase “God bless the USA!” to me implies that liberals are godless or non-patriotic. If God were blessing America, I’m sure that we wouldn’t want to only bless the 1%! Let me not expand on the God topic, that’s a whole other essay.

    There are many discrepancies in the “marine’s” short, double-spaced, hand-written note. Perhaps it’s bullshit, perhaps he is lying or exaggerating? In any case, should he be saying the truth; I find that Max did a great and fair job in responding to such an attack to his point of view.

    Personally, I don’t ever want to work so many hours a week, just to get by or complete college or pay for a doctor. I think he should hope for better in his life.

    Max, I appreciate your thoughts and thank you Coronare for re-posting.

  • Clockwork Gypsy

    A guy pretending to be a marine is automatically a turd in my opinion.

  • functional

    Yes, yes indeed. Well put.
    Stand for something or die for nothing.

  • Exo

    I can see why the frustration, but I’ve never thought of the American dream as getting all those things. The things are things after all and values of them have and will continue to change as history repeats itself. Saying everyone should have all that wealth 100 years ago would be ridiculous, and it might be ridiculous again in the future because of the extremely volatile nature of the human society over the the long-term generations and generations.

    What I have always thought of as the American dream is the ability to go out and believe what you want, to have faith in what you believe, to say what it is you want to say, to start any sort of innocent venture you’re mind can crank out, to do whatever it is you want to do that does not trespass against the freedom of others. And to do all this without being thrown in jail because the people in charge don’t like it. Honestly, the American dream is a phrase much older than the 1950s, and it seems to have been rewritten to something else since what it was when people revolted against the European nations centuries ago.

  • The cat in the hat

    Wow…. Sounds like some economics classes are in order. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

  • Chris

    I don’t know how many of you know a young marine, but that is pretty much the expression they all wear, I too an former military. I now own a business and know that money does not come from nowhere, it takes a plan, man-hours, and more money coming in than going out. This is where our government and businesses nationwide are failing. Vacation, benefits, salaries are all expenses to a business. And not to say that employees shouldn’t get them but the money has to come from somewhere, an increased cost of doing business = increased cost of products. If you want benefits like vacation and health insurance, it not only will raise the cost of the products or services the company you work for offers, but compromise it’s competitiveness in a global market, and/or drive the cost of everything around you up (and although we can implement fair standards at home in America we cannot do it globally which is why it is cheaper to have products imported/services outsourced). Healthcare for all means increased spending for all, means that for all the great decision I have made and where I have gotten in life, I will have to give up much of it to take care of the druggie in the hospital (so to speak). That is just one form of taking consequenses and responsibility away from the druggie and punishing the successful businessperson who has made good decisions. Where do we end? Do we tell the succesful businessperson he gets nothing so that the druggie can live a good life with no consequenses other than a hospital visit every now and then pro bono? And don’t let the druggie in the hospital narrow your vision, the analogy can be used broadly. The american dream is that each and everyone of us has a choice to be a cog in the wheel or driving the machine. Some are born into money and some work their way up as I have done, but either way the dream is the freedom of choice that we all have. Also, if more money goes out to China or the Middle East than comes in to the US year after year after year, we will eventually have none. It is common sense. Budget cuts need to be made pretty much everywhere, and we as a nation (every citizen up to the top) need to make decisions how we spend what money we do have. We as a nation need to be exporting more goods and services than importing from other countries. In the economic hole we have gotten ourselves into as a nation, it will take planning, many man-hours (that means hard work and compromises!), and educated spending decisions. Good luck to all!

  • Extreme

    My nephew is in the same unit as the “former marine” who posted on the 53% site. The problem with his tumblr post is that he is still in the corp, does not put money into the Montgomery GI bill, and has no intention of going to college WHEN he gets out of the marines in 2 years. He also likes to shoot at afghan civilians while on patrol, he is upset that he hasn’t managed to hit one yet. His post with his letter is a complete fabrication, he also brags to the guys in his company about beating up liberals when he is home on leave, and is a tea party member AND is proud to be a klan member as well.

  • brandeehasonetoo

    To CC Boyok. Your lack of grammatical accuracy leads me to believe that maybe you are unintelligible and this is why you required extra study time and skipped parties and whatnot to get your As and Bs. Normally I would agree to disagree, but it is this haughty, competitive attitude which most Americans carry that renders us as such a shallow country. The beauty of America is that you can be a progressive person yet still have fun. I work forty hours a week and attend a local University, meanwhile taking care of a sick grandparent and father. With that being said I enjoy partying with friends here and there. So I smoke pot occasionally, I still make good grades and contribute to society and my family. Have you ever read 1984 by George Orwell? Would you want such a society where there were no reward systems and no tolerance for natural slip ups or individual desire? It is important to keep a good balance between productivity and leisurely activities. To believe everyone can accomplish the same things as yourself is not only selfish, but ignorant. Acceptance is a rarity.

  • Jesse Olson

    Wow, okay so what one thing that people forget is that the crash caused a ripple effect on the economy. So even hard working people who already have no debt, people who own small businesses, and kids who want to go but cannot afford college are affected.

    So my husband and I owned a business with no credit and was doing very well, it took 2 years for the ripple to hit us. It was a storm that knocked us out of our house(the only thing we had on a loan) and into a camper, where we had to move 1000 miles away from any family.

    So really those who claim they are the 53% just need to wait and see what happens in a year when the dollar crashes, we are already dealing with a 30% deflation of the dollar and a 50% inflation on food. So this 53% crap will not last when their butts are facing homelessness and losing the second job that barely keeps them afloat and when food to expensive to buy.

    We are all the 99% and the 53% is a lie that was created rearranging numbers to make the protesters look bad. When they say some do not pay taxes, it is at the end of the year. Everyone pays taxes all the way through the year to stay ahead of them instead of paying a bunch at just one point. We lose 35% of our money to just income taxes. But we pay more in so we do not have a bill at the end of the year. Point.

  • Joy Lynskey

    This is incredibly well written. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  • Nick

    As a Navy Veteran you are very right about VA Care, it’s available for all Veterans who have served Honorably, sometimes for free. And if that young man served in Iraq or Afghanistan, he is eligible for 5 years of free care regardless of if he has a Service Connected disability, odds are good though he is Service Connected if he did go into combat so the health care is free.
    I don’t know why he is paying for school if he served honorably. There is the Post 9/11 GI Bill that he should be eligible for which pays tuition, reimburses you for books, and also gives a fairly good stipend to live off of, at an E5 rate for your zip code area. In my area it’s about 1900 dollars a month, tax free. That’s so we don’t have to work 70 hours, or even 40, it’s we can focus on school.
    I kept saying honorably because without an honorable discharge you get none of those two things I just mentioned. And if he got a discharge other than honorable and is not eligible for those then he can’t complain about the situation he put himself in.
    My source is me, a Navy Veteran with an Honorable Discharge, and a current Federal Employee at the Department of Veteran Affairs. For awhile I was part of the 47% but I kept my nose clean and got back on my feet. Now I can be considered a part of the 53% but prefer to be part of something greater than myself, like the Military. So I am the 99&

  • Vicki

    The problem is that most people have too much stuff or want too much stuff. I am a high school secretary and make poverty level pay. Do I get federal anything? No. I just pay my bills, I’m not in debt. I still watch cable, have internet. I keep my electric bill low by having it at 62 degrees in the winter. When I’m not in a room, I turn the lights off. I’m happy, I’m loved and satisfied. Do I go shopping every day like some of my fellow married secretaries do? No. I can fill up my car and have it last 3 weeks before needing another fill up. I drive it to water aerobics each morning, to work and to church. I know if I have a desire to pay for a “want” not a “need” or have a bigger house or new car, I will need to get a second job. But why? I’m content.

  • Eric

    I’m former military. The GI Bill alone allows me to not work at all if i wanted to. 100% tuition – up to the max tuition of a public school in your state. 500 a semester for books. 1250$ a month for “housing.” It’s insulting, because no one – and i do mean NO ONE- can work 70 hours a week while in college and a. graduate on time or b. make good grades. Unless he was at mechanic “college.” People like this piss me off. I saw another 53% sign of some guy who i knew. He went to a 12,000$ a year highschool, but claimed to work his way through college. Anyways, the point is that any university that had decent academics would not be passable if you were working 70 hours a week.

  • Martina Dinale

    My land. The bending over backward to be all tenderly respectful of this imbecile ! The PUSSYFOOTING around lest we , what ? ..bruise his feelings ? When in point of fact what he is outright saying is that if you are not HIM : a soldier or vet with all manner of needs taken care of ( as a number of other posters pointed out …medical care being one of them ) , a male , a white male and young and strong ; then fuck you . Just die .
    There is absolutely no vagueness here , that IS what he is saying regardless of wether he ADMITS it or not , regardless of wether he is CONSCIOUS of it or not . He is an ignorant and hateful young man and I for one will save MY admiration for the huge numbers of vets who , since they are not as plain country stupid as this fellow ; come home and speak the truth and protect those who are trying to pull our beloved country out of the appalling mess Wall Street , the banks and foolish and greedy and shortsighted pols got us into….backed and voted for by people like this jackass right here . Yep , I’ll save my admiration for those men and women , thanks , you know , actual patriots doing the hard work this guy has SUCH contempt for , the work explicitly mentioned in the oath he must – if he actually IS ex-military – have taken : serve and protect the people of the United States of America .

  • frank

    Of the thousands of Truck Drivers that weekly work 60-70 hours a week, many of those over-the-road drivers do not get paid detention time while waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Slavery or work for no pay…..an accepted business practice since Trucking was de-regulated. Mileage pay continues to decline as the cost of most everything goes up. People are still fighting to keep the Mexican border closed to the cross-border trucking program that would possibly grant full operating authority for Mexican trucks. Will the haul rates decline further? Probably. We’ve spent un-told millions or billions on “The drug War”. Would it be easier to smuggle drugs and or illegal immigrants? Probably. Will Corporate big-business push to open that border ( since They’ve moved so many Companies and Corporations w/the corresponding jobs to Mexico)? Probably. There is a whole mobile community that works 60-70 hours a week without full compensation that most Americans know very little about. Gas at the pump, milk and bread on the shelf, etc. etc. etc. We’re fighting too!!!

  • Chris Olson

    A quote from Mr. Udargo:

    “We should both be willing to fight for the American Dream. And we should agree that anybody trying to steal that dream from us is to be resisted, not defended.”

    Sounds like this young, former Marine is a) willing to fight for the American Dream as demonstrated by his work ethic and educational endeavors and 2) resisted those trying to steal that dream as demonstrated by his committment to his country and service to the US Marine Corps.

    This is the sine qua non of his position. Those occupying parks and cities across the US are demanding reform, not making it. They want change, but want someone else to instill it. Perhaps they, and you Mr. Udargo, could learn a thing or two from this young man. Instead of simply glamorizing his work ethic and committment, use it as an example that others should follow; as opposed to just saying that he is above average and that we could not reasonably expect others to act in such a way.

    Being a liberal and an enabler is not mutually inclusive; one must earn what one has. The Occupation will earn nothing, and quite simply, one’s time could be much better spent cleaning those parks and cities.

  • Abby

    I agree with most of what is said in this essay but as others have pointed out, I take issue with the patronizing, ‘holier than thou’ tone set throughout. For example, calling the marine ‘kid’ repeatedly and especially this sentence: “I’m a liberal, so I probably dream bigger than you.” I too am a liberal, but I would never compare or degrade someone else’s dreams. You lost me there, Mr. Udargo.

  • doc savage

    Marines are not taught to think they ate trained to follow orders, work hard and fight till there is no more breath to fight with. Expecting them to have understanding beyond that is like expecting an alligator to go against its nature.
    My dad was a marine who taught me well about those things he knew well, but he could never rise above that and admitted to that before he passed. Every person must know their limitations, once the understand them then they can exceed them. Someone just needs to instruct this young man

  • Kris

    I suppose when a blog greats me with a quote from Krugman, I shouldn’t be surprised with what it consists of. In this case, perhaps you can judge a book by its cover. Ugh.

    The high-level thought that liberals and conservatives, or military, or independents, should be able to discuss the issues our country faces and at least understand each other is a good one. Unfortunately, this letter begins with a condescending statement and passive insults, and then ends with the desire to stand together. If you get to the end. Which I did, only by skipping there after reading the first half, and then going back through out of a feeling of obligation.

    The young man looks pugnacious, apparently, and the writer isn’t sure if he did this on purpose or not. Nice opener. Or maybe he’s taking a photo of himself and that’s his face when he’s not trying to have an expression. Good word, though. Kudos for the vocab. More to the point to say he’s looking to piss people off. But that wouldn’t be nearly as nice.

    Then Udargo goes on to call him “kid” throughout the letter, with a tone that says, “when you get to be my age, you’ll understand.” Something tells me that, if this young man served in our military, protecting our freedoms, he may understand more than the writer of this letter ever will.

    “I’m a liberal, so I probably dream bigger than you do.” Except when it comes to where the bar is set for what you expect out of yourself. It’s rare to find an elder that will say to a young person, “lower your bar a little, kid. No need to shoot so high.” I certainly won’t be raising my kid with that idea. Maybe this young man enjoys being self-sufficient. Maybe he hsa pride and likes knowing he can do it without asking for handouts. Oh, the horror! The thought that society owes you more because it’s “fair” is ridiculous. And the idea that if we’re all given what we think we need, the world will be a better place makes no sense. If everyone was given a million dollars, no one would work. Why would you?

    Human nature is that of an instinctive desire to challenge ourselves. To achieve goals and then set new ones. And – crazy! – achieve them and set more! There will always be those that have more than we do. Some deserve it, some don’t. That’s life. But looking at the world with a “missing tile” mentality is not what America is all about.

    I hope to be part of the 1% someday. I may never get there, but I’ll work my ass off trying. In the meantime, I’ll take comfort knowing I’ve used the talents and abilities God gave me to be the best version of myself I can be. A contributing member to society. And someone who will never want to campout against capitalism, tweet about it on my iPad that I bought at Apple and pay for every month with Verizon, all while enjoying my Venti Cappucino I bought at Starbuck’s. Hypocrisy at its best.

    More power to you, 53%. And 1%. God Bless.

  • mark

    I did what he did for 2 years found out college is a big conspiracy so i gave up and went trucking…. Hey anyone need a job mention stymar to a c.r. england recruiter u get a cdl after 2 weeks of training..

  • Erik

    Erik
    Well, I suppose life’s experiences and mostly the influences of our upbringings have separated most comments in this thread from mine. I was raised in a pretty conservative household. One of the themes that was ‘brainwashed’ into me by my parents was to aspire to become a responsible, contributing citizen. Here’s how I explain what that means to me; 1. Earning lots of money wasn’t engrained, just the notion of working hard to take care of ourselves so others won’t have to. 2. My parents gave us the gift of compassion. However I believe most of you disagree with my view on what that means. My compassion means that I take some of what I earned and decide (voluntarily) to give to others in need. It is I who decides how much, when, and to who I give the fruits of my labor. 3. Through church or other non-governmental venues is where charity is best handled. 4. It is not what you do for a living that is important (assuming it is legal and moral), but rather that you do a good job. As a worker, YOU work for someone else’s money. That someone else’s money isn’t yours unless you have earned it according to a voluntary arrangement between you and that person who has the money. That person likely has that money because he or she took a gamble at some point or worked hard for it, or both. 5. Love this country for the many opportunities. If you are not happy with your job or lifestyle, do something about it rather than asking for the fruits of someone else’s hard work. That is rightly theirs, not yours. You steal when taking something from someone who has earned it. 6. Even though you aren’t really responsible for taking care of those who wont work as hard or live as responsibly as you, you must accept that unfair distribution from your hard earned money, to those who haven’t sweated at all, is reality. 7. You should be compassionate as a human being and give. If YOU give, it’s charity and that’s a good human trait. If the GOVERNMENT or other entity takes from you involuntarily and gives it at their will, that’s an atrosity. 8. One way to encourage members of society to be responsible citizens is to enforce that contributing, rather than taking, is THE option. Remember what one of our most famous presidents said “Ask not what your county can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country”. 9. Last, as for organized labor, we all know the pros and cons. But one major point- take it too far, dictate to those operating in a ‘free enterprise’ system too much, and we’ll see another France where workers can enjoy themselves and be nearly worry free from negative consequences of acting irresposible. And we’ll see the drastic slowing of growth in the economy as those with money have fewer reasons to invest in new jobs. There’s the conservative perspective. Hopefully the objective readers will enjoy another vantage.

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