While members of the so-called 99% take part in Occupy Wall Street protests, a new website lets some of the wealthy 1% declare their support for the movement.
The site, called "We are the 1 percent, We stand with the 99 percent," lets people post photos of themselves pronouncing their solidarity with the Occupy protesters in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere.
"When I was 18 my father won $9 million in the California lottery," one person posted on the site, along with a photo of him holding his message written on two pieces of white paper. "With that money I now have no college debt. When my father dies I will inherit a 3rd of his money. I am committed to using it to help those less fortunate. Due to sheer luck, I am the 1%. I stand with the 99%."
The posts contain no names, but similarly show people holding up handwritten notes on pieces of paper, index cards or cardboard explaining why they back the movement. (Although there is a link to a YouTube video of singer Willie Nelson publicly backing the protests).
Organizers of the site identified two of the people with posts on the site, including Carl Schweser, who created a study program that now is part of Kaplan Schweser, a company that helps people prepare for financial exams.
"I made millions studying the math of mortgages and bonds and helping bankers pass the Chartered Financial Analyst Exam," Schweser wrote on the site. "It isn’t fair that I have retired in comfort after a career working with financial instruments while people who worked as nurses, teachers, soldiers, etc. are worried about paying for their future, their healthcare, and their children’s educations."
"They are the backbone of this country that allowed me to succeed," he continued. "I am willing to pay more taxes so that everyone can look forward to a secure future like I do. I am the 1%. I stand with the 99%. (Which equals 100% of America.) Tax me.”
Many of the posts are from children of wealthy parents or people who have inherited money.
"Being born to the right family at the right time made me a millionaire," one man writes. "Giving most of the money away made me happy."
A woman posted that, "I can afford to work my dream job at an arts non-profit because my husband works for Google. We should all be able to afford following our dreams."
The site was created by two organizations: Resource Generation, which organizes wealthy young people to work for social change, and Wealth for Common Good, a group of wealthy people and business executives that advocate for what they call fair taxation, such as higher tax rates on millionaires.
The groups said they were inspired by the “We are the 99 percent” blog, which posts similar declarations from people participating in the Occupy protests.
“Those of us with more than we need and who believe in a more just distribution of resources can stand up and tell the truth about how the deck has been stacked in our favor," said Elspeth Gilmore, co-director of Resource Generation. "We need to say that we think it’s wrong too.”
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-- Jim Puzzanghera
Photo: A wealthy supporter of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Credit: Westandwiththe99percent.tumblr.com