A picture has started circling of a woman who is quickly becoming everyone's favorite Occupy Wall Street protester. She's pretty, which can immediately catapult any woman to a certain level of visibility, she's not defecating on a police car which is a welcome change from the last most-circulated OWS photo, and more than any of that she wants to give you her money. What's not to like?
In fact, though, she has become a symbol for me of the misguidedness of the protests in a way the car-defecator couldn't. She is an anomaly, a girl who's started a mini-following of fellow 1 percenters. She is exactly the lucky American girl I imagined all American girls to be as I grew up in a poor immigrant enclave in Brooklyn.
Here is a woman announcing her luck in life. She inherited money at 21, she has never gone without health or dental insurance, she is a self-proclaimed "rich kid." How marvelous for her. That she wants to be taxed more shows the kind of abundance she has had. Instead of donating her money to charity, or finding another way to help those truly in need, she is counting on the government to give her money away.
The government. The people who are running the US postal service into the ground despite having a monopoly on first class mail, the people who spend our money on a "Cowgirl of Hall of Fame" or a museum dedicated to teapots, and who try to build bridges to nowhere. Or, perhaps the girl in the photo is a staunch supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the not-a-war war in Libya, and just wants her money to go toward that.
The fact that she could send a check to the government, essentially taxing herself as much as she'd like to be taxed, is only a side point here. The bigger point here is that of course she didn't earn the money herself. Few people, excepting Warren Buffet, can be naive enough to want to hand over money they earned to an ineffective, wasteful government to spend on their behalf. And of course she has always lived in plenty. Few who were ever poor can be that silly.
The girl's sign has given her prominence. It's given people the ability to point at the protests and say that it's not just students and hippies and bored baby boomers wistful for the protest culture of the 1960's, it's people like this rich girl, standing with the 99 percent. But it's really not. The 53 percent of the country who pay 100 percent of federal income tax are already paying far more than their "fair share".
Most of them didn't have the luxury of inheriting this money, they had to get it the old-fashioned way -getting a job and earning it. Many of them didn't always have health insurance, I didn't for the majority of my 20's, and few could breezily afford to pay more and not have it affect their families.
This girl is so lucky, more than just in the 1 percent she's in the .01 percent of lucky people, and instead of being thankful for her accident of birth and using that luck to really be the change she wants to see in the world, she's protesting in a park and letting people pat her on the head for parroting the right words. Only in America, kids, only in America.
Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 Baby. She can be followed on Twitter.