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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 10, 2011

 
The 53%
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Following up on Digby's superb post below, it's worth pointing out just how delusional the conservative base that makes up 30-40% of the country really is, and why no amount of consciousness-raising will reach them or make them change their minds.

We are the 53% is supposed to provide a counterpunch to the now famous and emotionally powerful We are the 99%. 53%, for those not steeped in the conservative closed information loop, refers to the number of Americans who pay federal income taxes, to be contrasted with the supposedly lucky duckies among the 47% of Americans who don't.

The fact that the bottom 47% of Americans are too poor to pay federal income taxes doesn't bother conservatives. Nor does the fact that even if they did, they have so little income that it wouldn't do much for the federal budget if they did. Nor apparently does it bother them that by making this argument they are playing "class warfare" of the middle class against the poor, and essentially advocating for raising taxes. That was supposed to be against "conservative" beliefs, last I checked.

Most of all, the bottom 47% pay all sorts of other taxes, including sales, social security and payroll taxes that end up taking up as great a percentage or more of their income as the total tax burden for any other group. So the idea that 47% of Americans are skating by on the backs of 53% of Americans is ludicrous in the first place.

All that aside, however, the Republican activists who were responsible for We are the 53% have faced in a choice in the stories they chose to tell. They could choose to tell the stories of the well-to-do (mostly from older white males), which would come off as tone-deaf, arrogant hectoring. Or they could choose to tell the stories of hardworking people struggling to get by who still hold onto conservative beliefs about the economy.

They have chosen to do a little bit of both, which is smart from a messaging point of view. But the irony is that in doing so, they put the lie to their website, because many of the people in the photos aren't in the 53%. They're part of the 47%.

Unless she's making a heck of a lot off drawing cartoons, this person probably pays no income taxes. As an unemployed homemaker seeking work, this person is part of the 47%, not the 53%. This person either pays no income taxes, or has a higher-wage job than he admits. And there are others besides.

These are people so steeped in their own conservative bile that they call themselves part of the 53% without even knowing what the "53%" means in context, to say nothing of why the statistic is bogus.

As for the rest of people there who believe they accomplished everything in their lives on their own and thus have no need of that outdated concept called empathy, I would refer them back to this. Not that they would listen, of course. They, like those who imagine themselves to be part of the overburdened 53%, are impervious to progressive arguments and consciousness-raising. And they will fight our movement with every breath of their being, right alongside the plutocrats.


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