Guest Post: 'This Is What Is Happening Around Us'

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The post below is from Michael Jones, a successful tech-world figure in California. When I asked whether he should be identified as part of "the 1%" -- which is relevant, considering the argument he makes -- he said, "more likely the 0.1%."

He also said, about his larger political perspective, that when it came to the current Occupy movement, "I have no political bond with them, disapprove of the sit-ins, see the claimed angst against Wall Street as mutually destructive, and so on." But, he said, "the motivation is so powerful that everyone in power MUST take appropriate heed. To do otherwise is 'let them eat cake.'" His professional and creative life involves understanding the ways in which networked communication and "big data" allow us to see the world in new ways. That is the background for this dispatch, which he stresses is his personal view and not that of any company or organization.

Blood and Sweat and Tears
By Michael Jones

Mr. President, you are not leading this Nation--you're just managing the Government! We're in trouble. Talk to us about blood and sweat and tears. The rallying cry of Occupy Wall Street? No, comments heard by then President Jimmy Carter and shared with America in his Crisis of Confidence speech of 1979. Now, years later, these words echo loudly and inspire urgent questions. Why have Americans young and old taken to the streets in anger, despair, and righteous indignation? What moral strength empowers their stoic endurance of baton beatings and pepper spray assaults? In less than fifteen minutes you will understand the answer and that knowledge will change you forever.

Hundreds of thousands of hard working, educated Americans--the "can do" types you want your children to be--stand on the precipice of the pit of doom. Many thousands of them have bared their soul in an autobiographical  paragraph on the Internet where you can understand the issues behind Occupy Wall Street. Their dread has stripped them of pretension and given their words the profound honesty of a deathbed confession. Visit http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com to experience the people and stories of thousands who inspired Occupy Wall Street. For the next ten minutes, click each of the following. Spend a minute in their life, then click back to continue:
If you still don't understand, perhaps one the 3,000+ other stories will help you realize that Americans just like you, your parents, children, and neighbors, are living a life of fear for their parents, old age, hunger, children, economy, debts, health, and future. Their blood, sweat, and tears send them to the streets. Facing a life of shattered dreams and lost faith in our country hurts them more than the pepper spray and batons. Yet they survive. They quote Wael Ghonim's "the power of the people is much stronger than the people in power."

This is what is happening around us. It is indeed a crisis of confidence. A crisis that deserves our humanity and assistance. A crisis undeserving of political posturing, blaming, and denial. This widespread problem is more important than the bad behavior of some protestors. This is the sound of our own tired and the poor desperate to survive the gathering gloom. Ultimately, those who are our future are seeking a path out of darkness, or as Jimmy Carter said in that speech 32 years ago, If you lead, Mr. President, we will follow.

I know that Michael Jones's main hope is to draw attention to real-world testimony like that now accumulating at Wearethe99percent -- and remember, this from someone neither by circumstance nor by political outlook a part of that group. Worth reflecting upon.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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