An Open Letter to the Self-Proclaimed '99%'

Self-delusion is no way to go through life, but it's clear from perusing the "We Are the 99 Percent" web site that self-delusion has become an epidemic. Anyone who believes that they represent 99% of Americans, without any supporting evidence, doesn't. Deluding yourself that you do leaves you unprepared for opposition and rejection.

The 99 percent site reminds me of the "Sorry Everybody" site, on which liberals posted photographs of themselves apologizing to the world for the re-election of George W. Bush. Perhaps many of the 99 percenters still haven't quite come to grips with that defeat. Regardless, common themes emerge from the photos posted there -- excessive academic credentials that are mostly unrelated to producing anything in the real economy, high personal self-regard, massive personal debt, and shattered dreams.

For those whom those terms above describe, and it's a heavy majority of the 99 percenters, it's evident that they hold to a certain political world view in which abstract credentials entitle you to a comfortable life, and that the fact that you dream something entitles you to have it. In the real world, neither has ever been true. The world doesn't care about your credentials. It doesn't care about your self-esteem. It doesn't care that you chose of your own free will to rack up a mountain of debt. It doesn't now owe you a painless way out of that debt. And it really doesn't care about your dreams.

That's not an indictment of the times in which we live. In fact, if you take the sweep of human history into account, these times are obviously the most accommodating of our personal aspirations, by far. The Hobbesian world of short, brutish, and nasty lives still exists all over the world, but mostly far outside the America that has so disillusioned the 99 percenters. America is not a dark Dickensian place where wishes can't come true, it's a free land where anyone can succeed if they have enough determination, some useful skills, and a little luck. And of the three, luck is probably the least relevant. This was true at our nation's founding, and despite the efforts of some, remains true today.

The self-proclaimed 99 percenters say they want jobs, and they cast blame hither and yon for why they don't have them. Some seem to have replaced faith in God with faith in the state, faith which the state has never earned and will not live up to. But I'm not here to blame the unemployed among the 99 percenters. It's a tough economy out there, the toughest in a very long time, and once you lose your job for whatever reason, it can be very tough to get another one. Anyone who has ever been unemployed, and most of us have been at one point or another, knows the terror of waking up each day without the dignity of work and the expectation of future gains. You feel the anxiety in your gut and in your chest. I don't wish that feeling on anyone.