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I don't know what % I am

I'm not the 1%, but calling myself one of the 99% doesn't seem specific enough. Here are some other possibilities.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 2, 2011 8:46AM

This guest post comes from Andrea at So Over Debt.


I think I'm the only blogger on the planet who hasn't posted about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Mostly, that's because (1) I don't think most of you care about politics and (2) I don't want to start a donnybrook. 


But I will say I've been intrigued by the handwritten stories popping up all over the Internet -- the ones that say things like "I've been unemployed for five years. I live in my parents' basement and eat cat hair. I am the 99%."


I really wanted to make a sign of my own, but I couldn't figure out which percentage to identify with. Obviously I don't belong to the 1%, but there are lots of ways I could describe myself other than "not wealthy." The 99% thing just doesn't seem specific enough.


I pay income taxes. I am the 53%. Even though I'm broke right now, I generally make enough money to owe income taxes. I have enough deductions to get a small tax refund each year (I think I got $800 this year) but that's not much compared with the amount I pay in. Personally, I don't get too upset about taxes, especially since I have always worked for agencies who are at least partially funded by tax dollars.


I'm a divorced single mother. I am the 38%. Thirty-eight percent of single-parent homes exist because of divorce (as opposed to death of a spouse or parents who were never married). The statistics say I'm supposed to be living below the poverty line in an inner city somewhere, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Luckily none of those things are true for me, but I know lots of single moms living that way.


I have a graduate degree. I am the 9%. This one was kind of surprising. I had no idea so few people had completed grad school. I'd like to think that this makes me special, but it's just another expensive piece of paper. I haven't achieved all the great things I thought I would with my degrees. Which brings me to my next point.


I borrowed more than $50,000 to attend college. I am the 12%. The OWS crowd is on a kick about student loan forgiveness. For everyone. And as someone with a ton of educational debt, I have to say I think they're nuts. Don't misunderstand -- I'm mad about my student debt. I don't think I understood the implications of borrowing the money when I was 18 years old. I think schools owe it to college students to explain EXACTLY how loans will affect them in the long run. Post continues below.

But I took out the loans, and now I keep deferring them because the payments are ridiculous, and I'll be leaving the balance to my grandchildren when I die. Is that anyone else's fault? Nope. It sucks, but I can't blame anyone else.


I am a dog owner. I am the 44%. I have three wonderful dogs -- Bentley (a Pekingese/Shih Tzu mix) and Apollo and Bella (both Shih Tzus). They are like my furry children. I love them to pieces and I'll be devastated when they're gone. I've always loved dogs, and I will probably always have at least two.


I prefer crunchy peanut butter. I am the 40%. This is kind of arbitrary, but so is all the other stuff people are raising such a fuss about. My son only eats creamy peanut butter, so I'm forced to buy both kinds. It hurts my soul that I've raised a child who likes weird incomplete peanut butter with nothing to break up the texture.


What percentage do I choose?

I still feel kind of left out because I haven't made a cool sign with my percentage on it. I could come up with percentages all day long, but none of them really grasped who I am (or who I think I am). Finally, as I was typing this post, I figured it out. I worried that the 99% wasn't specific enough, but I think it was actually too specific. Here's what I came up with:


More on So Over Debt and MSN Money:

Nov 2, 2011 9:23PM
I grew up in a family where you looked at successful people and asked questions like, "how can I become as successful as they are, what can I do to achieve their level of success"?  Now it seems like we live in a world where people look at success persons or businesses and just say, "give me some of what you have".  Sad.
Nov 3, 2011 12:38PM
Thank you, thank you for writing this. I am a generation Y who believes in personal responsibility and hard work, as well as gratitude for what we HAVE, rather than anger over what we do NOT. Sometimes I think I'm one of the few, but then I read posts like yours.
Nov 2, 2011 10:26PM
You're a big fat ZERO percenter if you actually blame everyone else for your lot in life.  I'm not rich but I don't EXPECT anything either or blame people who are more successful than me due to their hard work. 
Nov 3, 2011 10:18AM

So, I have $130,000 of student loan debt after having graduated from law school.  I was supposed to have a job making $150,000/year.  Which I did have, but after the economic collapse--I actually lost it.  last in/first out.  So, I was unemployed for a year.  Thankfully, a nice government agency gave me a job for less than 1/2 of what I was making before.  I do not own my own home.  Having lost it, when I lost my job.   So, I pay a mortgage in student loan payments--just yesterday, I noticed that I actually owe 20 dollars less than I borrowed on one.  After making payments for 5.5 years.  I'm just so EXCITED.   But guess what, I'm not sitting on my **** protesting in Occupy Wallstreet.  Nope, I'm working--and happy to be.  AND I'm paying taxes.   I don't know how going to college went from something that you earned to something that you were entitled.  Why should successful people who didn't go to college or law school have to pay for my student loans?  That said, would I be grateful if they were forgiven, OF COURSE I would.  But, in the meantime, I'm going to work and contribute to the economy. 



I do want to point out that no one's grandchildren will be paying for their student they die when you die. 

Nov 14, 2011 2:01PM
I feel lucky to have a $8/hr job and my wife a $9/hr job.  We are making rent and our bills (but nothing extra)...  We will be part of the 53% who pay taxes to support all those who don't work (particularly the 38% single mothers who think the country owes them because they popped out a kid.)  We cannot afford to have children (mainly because we would be homeless before the 9 months it would take to have one.)  Taxes keep going up and pay keeps going down...  and the people who advocate higher taxes DON'T PAY ANY!!!  (NOT THAT IT WOULD FIX OUR ECONOMY ANYWAY)    I would like to end the Federal Reserve and the tax code (they're unconstitutional anyway) and end foreign aide,  de-regulate businesses and END WELFARE!!  What % does that make me???  WHO CARES--- I AM A HARD WORKING AMERICAN WHO WANTS AND DESERVES MORE (not by getting a welfare check) but by letting our economy function on its own and by leaving my paycheck alone!!!
Nov 14, 2011 2:50PM
I fall in the 99%. I do not agree with the protests at all. I am a single father that has got no help from my daughters mother since she was born. Since she is in prison for using drugs and stealing. I worked for the first 4 years of my daughters life very hard to support her. In June 2010 I was layed off becuase of the recession. I looked for 8 months for a job to no avail. In 2011 I got my tax return. Instead of spending this money on material items or useless items. Instead I decided to invest this money in my daughters future as well as mine. I started my own buisness as a mobile detailer. Where I am going with this is; that in America because of Capitalism we have these opportunities. If you want to be lazy and not work or make a 100% effort to make your life better, thats on you! Dont give me excuses of why you cant make it in this country, its your own damn fault and dont blame the rich. Just GET TO WORK like our ancestors did and dont look for the goverment for hand outs.
Nov 3, 2011 12:24PM

Loved your sign.  I can't confirm the accuracy of the following figures but I find they are fairly consistent internet wide.  The numbers state that the typical high school graduate could expect to earn a lifetime income of $940,000.  A typical college graduate could expect to earn $1.8 million or almost twice as much.  Seems to me to be the best return on investment in America today.  So  if I borrow $50,000 to go to college and have the potential to double my income for life or borrow $35,000 for a new car and have it paid off in 5 years and it loses 80% of it's value, which is a better return on my dollar spent.  Another one of the choices I have been given the freedom and responsibility to make.  Not to mention, a college education enhances and expands every other area of your life.

Nov 3, 2011 2:09PM
actually that wouldnt make you 100%. In fact far from it because most people out there dont think they are responsible to face the choices they made.
Nov 3, 2011 3:51PM

I also have yet to see any evidence that the people in OWS are angry about the cost of education.  I have yet to see Occupy SUNY or Occupy Harvard.  They don't seem to be mad about how much the universities are charging, they just seem to be mad at the people who provided the opportunity to pay that over-inflated price and expect the money returned to them with interest (because that's how loans work). 


If they are mad at how much universities are charging for their services, I'd love to see them occupy a few of them.

I am poor , I am jobless . But I am just one man . I have made a life for myself and my family . Regardless of rich or poor we are all part of this world . We all are stuck on this rock together . There is no escape from this . We all have needs we all have wants . Lets stop fighting about this and make life on this rock better . Lets all find some common ground and do what needs to be done . 
Nov 14, 2011 4:27PM
The folks who are getting the free stuff, don't like the folks who are paying for the free stuff, because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff.
The folks who are paying for the free stuff want the free stuff to stop, and the folks who are getting the free stuff want even more free stuff on top of the free stuff they are already getting!
Now... The people who are forcing the people who pay for the free stuff have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff, that the people who are PAYING for the free stuff, are being mean, prejudiced, and racist.
So... The people who are GETTING the free stuff have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free stuff by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free stuff, and giving them the free stuff in the first place.
We have let the free stuff giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free stuff than paying for the free stuff.
Now understand this. All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them.
The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 235 years ago. The number of people now getting free stuff outnumbers the people paying for the free stuff. We have one chance to change that. In 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.
ELECTION 2012 IS COMING A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!
I'M 100% for PASSING THIS ON!!!
Let’s take a stand!!!
Obama: Gone!
Borders: Closed!
Language: English only
Culture: Constitution, and the Bill of Rights!
Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare!
NO freebies to: Non-Citizens!
We the people are coming Only 86% will send this on. Should be 100%. What will you do?------------------------------------
Nov 14, 2011 4:24PM
Most of the people who have large amount of student loans paid for  their new car loans, apartment  furniture, clothing, and  partied on that money, it was not ALL of the money was used to pay for their education, If you borrowed it, you pay it not us, it should not be forgiven, you make choices in life and you have to be responsible for them.
Nov 3, 2011 11:24AM

If the OSW'ers put as much effort into starting their own companies they would be a big help to the economy!  You want to make a change, get off you're butts and do something constructive (literally) for a change!!!


Nov 14, 2011 2:52PM

People keep running around saying that the government should pay for their college, or pay for their home, or pay for their health care. When do those of us who pay taxes and support all these people get a break?


I worked my tail end off to get money to send my children to college, will I get the money back if we forgive student loans? If not, why? I pay my mortgage and property taxes, will I get the money back if we forgive loans? I pay my health care and I also pay taxes that pays for others health care, yet the initial effects of obamacare has increased dramatically what I have to pay.


Why don't we try something new, lets get the government out of everything and quit worrying about what people think is "fair" and "equal". Lets get out of everyone's business. Lets eliminate all the idiot regulations. Lets reduce taxes so that we don't have to pay for others mistakes and life choices. Let reduce corporate tax so companies want to do business here and employ Americans. Lets get rid of illegal aliens that have no place in our society and are a growing burden. Lets get rid of most of the Federal and state agencies that over see our lives. Lets get rid of the drug laws and allow us to treat ourselves.


In short, less government is better.

Nov 14, 2011 3:23PM
We can not keep rewarding people for bad decisions.  I am not saying that everyone that took out a student loan made a bad decision, the reason a person goes to college is to gain an advantage in the workplace and make more money.  If they chose not to get  a degree that helps them earn more, why should we, the people, pay for their mistake?  Remember, if the loan gets forgiven, then the taxpayer picks up the tab.

I worked two jobs while attending school so that I could pay for my room & board.  I worked hard to graduate in four years.  I got a business degree.  I went to work in my field (Marketing).  I got a job after a dozen or so interviews.  I started at $12,000 a year.  I worked my way up.  I own a house (no mortgage), I own a couple of cars (no loans), I have zero debt.  If people get their loans reduced, do I get a rebate?  I would have enjoyed the college experience a lot more if I didn't have to work two jobs to pay for it.  I could have partied and taken longer to graduate.  I went to summer school, I even took a 1 unit class during spring break.  No trip to Cabo for me, I went to class.  

I do not feel that others should be given a free ride.  I paid my own way and now you want me to pay for others as well (if we forgive their loans, I will pay for it....I am in the 1%).  I have paid over $5 million in taxes during my working life.  I have been paying taxes since I was 16.  I pay way more than my fair share.  I should not be punished by having to pick up the tab for those that made poor decisions.

I will help (and do help with several charities) those that can not help themselves.  I will not help those that choose not to work.  I dug ditches, I worked in fast food outlets, I moved furniture, I painted houses, I delivered newspapers, I umpired little league games, I raked the neighbors leaves, I cleaned pools, I mowed lawns, I babysat, I bounced at bars, I worked security at concerts, I went door to door selling newspapers, I washed cars and other jobs to make money to pay my own way.

Stop the madness and take personal responsibiltiy.  My children graduated from college with no debt and are working hard.  They have bought themselves houses (that are underwater).  They pay their bills.  They are contributing to society.  They pay taxes.  Should they pay more as well to support those that failed to make good decisions?  I don't think so.  They should be able to prosper with their hard work and dedication.

I graduated high school in 1973 and college in 1977.  My parents provided me with great support, encouragement and love.  They didn't provide me with any money.  My father died when I was 20 years old.  I made it and have been fairly successful.  I worked hard and deserve the success I have.  So do you and so do the Occupiers.

However, they need to do it on their own.  The complaints about student loans is silly.  It was a personal choice.  Live with it.  Pay it off and move on.

Nov 14, 2011 2:48PM

While I am certainly not in the 1%, the OWS who claim the 99% do not represent me at all. I support their right to protest and demonstrate as a part of our constitution. But when it comes to Setting fires and destroying private property, I draw the line. Actions like that destroy whatever good they want to get out of their protest.


From what I'm seeing these days, it's more about class envy than anything else. Students who signed loans for their education now want the government to bail them out of that debt? Now I can putting an extension on them if needed. With the economy the way it is, giving the student a longer time to start paying them off. But to relieve of them entirely? NO WAY!!! They signed the note, they are due to pay for it.


The world isn't Fair? Who ever told you it would be?


I am recalling a time of class warfare in the past. During the depression in Germany Adolph Hitler proclaimed to the German people that the Jew was the cause of all their problems. That the Jews owned the banks and the business' that the average German worked for for peanuts. He called upon the public to hate the Jews, to protest against them.


The Jews in Germany, at that time were roughly 1% of the population. 


Just something to think about.

Nov 14, 2011 1:46PM
I just wish that they putting their effort towards campaign reform, term limits, insurance reform, tax reform, & few other things that need to be fixed.  I am neither for this movement or against this movement, but I feel that they would have better success if they had one common goal 
OWS has lost track of the main issue......................Our highly overpaid REPRESENTATIVES believe that they are "free agents", able to sell their services to the highest bidder........while collecting the incredibly high pay, absurd perks and crazy high pensions that we provide as IF they were really representing US!
Nov 14, 2011 4:39PM
I personally feel the author has missed the point of this movement, or perhaps I have missed the point of  the protests.  The main argument this movement promotes as I understand it, is to remove and separate the 1% from having ANY influence on the laws that the 99% must abide by.  Currently, we have a 'bought' Congress.  It needs to stop now, or with our children's generation...We make the choice.
Nov 14, 2011 3:30PM

One of the key issues that the “Occupy” crowd tries to justify is increased taxes on 1 percent of the rich in this country.  Their thought process is that since the 99 percent shared in the payment for the roads, bridges and infrastructure that allowed the rich to do so well then the 1 percent does not really deserve all that money.  And, that the rich need to be taxed more.  However, what I have not heard addressed is where the 99 percent got the money to pay their taxes in the first place.  They think they worked to earn it but there is another way to look at this issue that makes more sense.  I will use Larry Ellison as an example in explaining my position.  For those who do not know who Larry Ellison is, he is one of the founders of and runs the company known as Oracle.  Larry is a billionaire and makes millions a year in compensation for his effort but in the process he employs 100,000 people.  Just a rough estimate but those 100,000 people pay 3 billion dollars a year in income taxes.  Oracle also, through its products, makes it possible for millions of other people to make a living and pay taxes.  So, although Larry is one of those evil rich who pay roughly 40-50% of all the taxes in this country he also makes it possible for millions of others to pay theirs.  You might be one of those people who say that I’m all wet…or worse.  However, imagine if you will, that there were no computers, no software, no light bulbs, no cars, no furniture, no bricks, no steel products or ships.  I could go on but if it were not for the creative people in this world who were willing to work their ever-loving rear ends off and get rich in the process, the rest of us would be living in caves.  They deserve all they make and more.  The ones who should pay more are the ones who would rather sit around and do nothing while complaining all the while that the world isn’t fair but then they don’t have any money do they.

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