Sign From Cheap Labor Conservative Doesn’t Add Up

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A friend shared the image below and it caused me to question the authenticity. The text in the image claims it was written by a college senior who will graduate this year with no debt, has no electronics like an iPad or smartphone, and only works 30 hours a week on barely above minimum wage. Maths is not a good subject for the cheap labor conservatives and their arrogance is one of the reasons the “occupy wall street” movement started.

One of the side stories of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement are the story signs. People hold up signs with their personal stories about how they have been negatively impacted by the corporatism pervasive in our government. Some cheap labor conservatives co-opted that expression and use images of story signs to forward their wrong ideas about “Occupy Wall Street” and the people protesting.

Here is one image I saw today. A friend shared it on their Facebook page. It was originally shared on the page for conservative radio station 640WGST in Atlanta (you can also find it on the conservative response site “We are the 53%”):

image of someone holding a sign that tells their story

In case you can’t or don’t want to see the image, here is the text in the image:

I am a college senior, about the graduate completely debt free.
I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hrs a week making barely above minimum wage.
I chose a moderately priced, in-state public university & started saving $ for school at age 17.
I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships which cover 90% of my tuition.
I currently have a 3.8 GPA
I live comfortably in a cheap apt, knowing I can’t have everything I want. I don’t eat out every day or even once a month. I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone – and I’m perfectly ok with that. If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St or the government for my own bad decisions.
I live below my means to continue saving for the future.
I expect nothing to be handed to me, and will continue to work my @$$ [ass] off for everything I have.
That’s how it’s suppose to work.
I am NOT the 99% and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.

Text from image found on 640WGST radio’s Facebook page

Nothing else is known about the author than what is in the text but even that information is suspect. Just do the math.

The author claims they work 30+ hours a week at barely above minimum wage.

If the wage where they work is the standard $7.25/hr then the gross of say 35 hours is $254 (rounded up) a week that is $1,016 a month. It’s possible to eke out a decent living on that as long as the person has no car, no insurance to pay, and needs no books for school.

The tax rate today is conservatively 20-22% (Federal and state and local combined for a single person) so this person would have approximately $800 a month after taxes. I assume they are single. The author could have a family and their spouse pays for everything outside of school which would undercut the story on their sign. But for the sake of argument we’ll assume they are telling the truth.

An average in-state college tuition is approximately $7500 a year and the author has two scholarships that cover 90% so that leaves about $750 a year. It’s possible the person doesn’t need to spend too much more but what about books. College text books are very expensive new and not much less expensive used if you can find them.

They also mention they started saving for school when they were 17 years old. I doubt they could have saved very much and buy a car new or used and all the costs for a high school student based on my experiences. Before one turns 18 you couldn’t work very much during the school year and they would need at least $7500 for school. Just seems fishy.

The author also doesn’t mention health insurance and if they’re working less than 40 hours a week then more than likely they have no employer insurance. Hope they don’t get sick…

The author says they don’t eat out so they spend probably $20-30 a week on food at the store. That leaves them $700 a month.

What is the rent? I don’t think it could be lower than $400 a month unless the author is living with others in a house like I did in college. But what about utilities?

Then we have the last part where the author claims the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters are blaming Wall Street for their own “bad decisions” – whatever that means. The author of this sign has no clue what the protests are about and many cheap labor conservatives use the same lame talking points.

Cheap labor conservatives think that the bankers and others who crashed the economy shouldn’t be blamed for impacting negatively on people who had no control over the situation. People lost homes, retirement funds, and jobs because some bankers and their Congressional lackeys gamed the system to enrich themselves. And none of them did a perp walk to jail. NONE.

This sign story just doesn’t add up. It uses some buzz words and dog whistles for other cheap labor conservatives to hear and “applaud”.


*Update*

I added a link to the sign story project “We are the 99%” in the second paragraph. When I first published this post I couldn’t remember what the site was called or where I had seen the sign stories.

Cylinsier posted a response image on Reddit on 10/13/2011. Below is the image and I wanted to highlight an important point:

image of text in response to example of we are the 53%

I have been fortunate enough to not make many bad decisions in my life, but unlike the other guy who keeps posting this rant, I do not operate under the delusion that my life is the default template for everyone who was born in this country….

I work my ASS off and expect nothing to be handed to me but I also wish for a world where the opportunities and advantages I had will come to others as a result of their hard work, not as a result of ethnicity, gender, connections, or simple good fortune. THAT’S how it is suppose to work.

Text on image posted by Cylinsier on Reddit on 10/13/2011


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  • JessH

    Its never do it yourself. No one, anywhere, has become rich solely on their own efforts. Nicole is in her situation thanks to a great many people besides herself. One thing I noticed she *didn't* say was what was her major and where she was looking to work. She might be doing everything right now, but her situation now could end up being her life, until Starbucks decides to close because people do not want to spend as much for coffee anymore.

  • ProudMOM

    This girl is for REAL! I am proud to be her boyfriend's mom! Everything she says is TRUE! I would like for everybody to get over their own egos & judgements and just leave her alone to continue with school. Nicole comes from a large (one income) family that has taught her what's most important in this world. (Your clue- "Things" are not important!) She works very hard, can pinch a penny and streach a dollar. Anybody who WORKS hard can make IT happen for themselves also, its not a case of "making many other less fortunate people feel as if they were failures"! I feel sorry for you people who find calling names or being rude is your 'right'. This is a wonderful 'down to earth' girl who has made hard work her motto. I did school this same way… Nicole is my HERO! We are very proud of her.

  • ProudMOM

    ps…"Progressive Jones"… it really is her handwriting and really HER hands! And "Alex" regarding your comment…. "self righteous poster"….. you have got to be kidding! Some of you people posting here are toooo much!