The 99%

By Felix Salmon
October 4, 2011
Ezra Klein has a great post on Occupy Wall Street and the 99%:

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Ezra Klein has a great post on Occupy Wall Street and the 99%:

These are not rants against the system. They’re not anarchist manifestos. They’re not calls for a revolution. They’re small stories of people who played by the rules, did what they were told, and now have nothing to show for it. Or, worse, they have tens of thousands in debt to show for it…

This is why I’m taking Occupy Wall Street — or, perhaps more specifically, the ‘We Are The 99 Percent’ movement — seriously. There are a lot of people who are getting an unusually raw deal right now. There is a small group of people who are getting an unusually good deal right now. That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium…

What gives their movement the potential for power and potency is the masses who just want the system to work the way they were promised it would work. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans are really struggling. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution. It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead — has been broken, and they want to see it restored.

Ezra makes the perfectly reasonable point that the stories here aren’t of people in the 85th percentile, say — the point at which you start earning more than $100,000 a year. But even if the 99% are more like the 60%, or the 50%, or even the 40%, their name is apt, if only because the upper-middle classes have little to fear from this movement. The target of Occupy Wall Street is not middle-class journalists on six-figure salaries like Ezra Klein: it’s the plutocrats running institutions like Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan Chase.

“Look around,” says Ezra, “and the reality is not everyone is suffering”:

Wall Street caused this mess, and the government paid off their debts and helped them rake in record profits in recent years. The top 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income and 40 percent of its wealth. There are a lot of people who don’t seem to be doing everything they’re supposed to do, and it seems to be working out just fine for them.

This does handily explain the anger you see at Occupy Wall Street. And if you look at the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, it’s targeted at “they” — and “they” is very much the 1%, not the larger group of people who aren’t suffering.

Ezra asks whether reducing the political power of the 1% would bring wages up for the rest of us, but this isn’t some kind of organized-labor march, demanding more money or higher salaries. It’s just a large group of concerned and responsible citizens who feel that the social compact has been broken, and who want to see it restored. They can see who has benefitted the most from the breakage, and they’ve gathered at those people’s symbolic home.

It seems to be working, too. The press has started to take them seriously, and at least one bank CEO is “clearly concerned” about the movement. Good. People without money have seen their political influence decline dramatically in recent decades. It’s time that trend is reversed.

45 comments

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unfortunately, Klein doesn’t back up his claims. Most of his stories are about people who accrued excessive student loans. Who says that’s “doing what you’re supposed to do?”

Look – if you want to spend $120k to get a degree in a less-than-useful field from a private liberal arts college (Klein didn’t detail the degrees held by any of his complainants, and I won’t further slander everyone by naming specific useless degrees), go for it – but don’t borrow money to do it.

That people thought this was “the right thing to do” isn’t anyone’s problem but their own.

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

ps – college tuition costs are a bubble that has to pop.

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

Campaign Finance seems to be at the heart of almost every issue coming out of Occupy Wall Street. That is, corporate influence, big money lobbying, billionaire donors and–to be fair–union influence are the problem and the symptoms are the the various demand or grievances fueling Occupy Wall Street.

How doe the 1% exert control? Campaign Donations, aka bribes

I’m a little surprised the the money in politics seems to be skating by relatively unscathed…

Posted by AlexUD | Report as abusive

While I have more than a little sympathy for the protesters, and scepticism too, I think we are now in a time where I hope people will be careful what they wish for, just in case their wish comes true.

Posted by wpw | Report as abusive

As always, the quality of the principles is compromised by the quality of the principals. We have got to do something about inequality, and even more importantly, we need to do something about the usury that is tearing the “american bargain” apart. Especially since the usurers are doing it with our money.

Posted by midasw | Report as abusive

@KD: why all the onus on the borrower? Aren’t there people on the other side of the ledger writing these loans out to 18-yr kids?

I am generally getting tired of people making it out as if it’s just the borrowers who are at fault for all the bad loans made. And in the student loan market, just like the credit card market, it’s especially true because there is no way that one can make a claim that the borrowers are “sophisticated” and should therefore look after themselves, caveat emptor, etc. That whole industry is obviously rigged: lenders provide nearly free money thanks to federal guarantees and the no-bankruptcy rules, colleges take advantage of that liquidity and lack of their customer’s sophistication to sell them the product that is no good. Recession hits, college grads can’t find a job, but instead of the lenders getting hit, Sallie Mae picks up the tab, while the nominal debt of the defaulted student continues to pile on ad infinitum.

Long after the deleveraging of no-recourse mortgage debt is complete, and long after the deleveraging of the recourse debts dischargeable through bankruptcy is complete, the student loans will remain a crushing burdent on the 20-somethings that were unlucky enough to have graduated in the middle of a generational recession.

Posted by Y.Alekseyev | Report as abusive

21/2 yrs ago: retired, 2 million $ portfolio. 2nd home on Greece island – idyllic? Today working 2 jobs, renting home, debt free, no savings. F****d!

Posted by valhon | Report as abusive

“How doe the 1% exert control?”
Partly by seamlessly moving between Wall St., K Street, and Pennsylvania Ave., writing the rules by which they play in a way that privatizes their gains and socializes their losses.

Posted by aquacalc | Report as abusive

…about that “clearly concerned” link..

Hilariously, Sorkin investigates OWS at the prompting of an anonymous bank CEO. Names of various unemployed people, Code Pink activists, and everyone else are easily typed, but somehow Sorkin never gets around to saying who his worried CEO caller was.

Needless to say, Sorkin also never bothers to say what principle of journalism he is following in granting anonymity to the public figures he is purporting to cover.
And, to my knowledge, this is the best coverage of OWS that the NYTimes has managed to date.

Posted by tinbox | Report as abusive

Ask O’bama how he feels the system worked out for him after next election. He did absolutely nothing for the average Joe while in office. Unemployment & food stamps don’t count – they’re just a macro-subsidy disguised as a social program. Health care? We’ll see who really comes out ahead in that deal ..

Posted by Woltmann | Report as abusive

@Y. Alekseyev – at first my reaction to “why all the onus on the borrower” was “are you for real?” but I understand your point – which, unfortunately, is that we probably should NOT loan kids $30k a year to study ancient french literature at *insert your favorite small liberal arts college here*… of course, I don’t think that would go over too well if that were the policy – that students were only given loans that some agency deemed to be “worthwhile”

so instead, we give everyone the opportunity to make their own decisions and take responsibility for them – even if they are a young 18 year old pup – that’s why the onus is on the borrower. Just as one should not open an ice factory in the frozen plains of Antarctica, one should not accrue massive debts getting “Education” which is unlikely to pay off. And that is precisely the lesson we should learn from this, and which we should be preaching going forward…

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

This may end up being an important political movement, but I want to comment about Ezra Klein…

Mr. Klein has a political agenda to which he is wedded. In my opinion, he does not have the same commitment to our society as a whole. I do not trust his offered facts; I am sceptical that they are distorted, manufactured or otherwise spun. I often feel he is attempting to manipulate rather than inform. He can be arrogant and insensitive too.

Posted by PhilGrimm | Report as abusive

KidDynamite, the essential problem is that most teenagers (and most people in their 20s and 30s) are not prepared to make their own decisions. They have an especially poor understanding of financial matters.

Either we need to do a better job of educating our children, or we need to raise the age at which you can enter a legally binding contract to 40.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

Re: College Debt

The entire system is broken. I think at least 75% of white kids (myself included) go off to college because it’s just assumed that’s what the next step is in their life path. And these are kids who have such little real world experience that there isn’t any ability to step back and look at the cost / benefit. While most colleges aren’t intentionally doing this, they are taking advantage of a subgroup that doesn’t have the ability to make an informed decision.

There is very little opportunity for a teenager to grow these days. The only two options seem to be working minimum wage or going to college. I would love to see more apprenticeships available for those that want to explore a career immediately without going through the debt charade of college. This could be relatively cheap labor, but the life experience from that kind of opportunity would trump the value of the college experience any day.

College was great for partying and learning how to think critically (a skill that can be gained for free just by being presented different opinions). The fact that I was more refreshed in Math leaving high school than college (econ major) should be an indictment.

And I lucked out and was fortunate enough to have my parents pick up the tab.

Posted by djiddish98 | Report as abusive

@TFF – I don’t disagree – but we have to understand how that conflicts with the “we should make loans available to everyone for every reason” mantra that we seem to want to also perpetuate…

I guess what I’m saying is, just IMAGINE if there was a Student Loan Czar in charge of saying, “Wait a second – you want me to lend you $35k a year to study Ancient French Literature (sorry, gonna just keep picking on that one) at XYZ College? Are you f’n NUTS? No way.”… do you think that would ever fly?

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

“It’s just a large group of concerned and responsible citizens who feel that the social compact has been broken, and who want to see it restored.”

It’s more than just the “social compact.” It’s the rule of law itself. More to the point, the rule of law applied to the plutocrats. The credit/housing bubble was blown up on endemic fraud, from loan fraud all the way up to CDOs stuffed with bilge. Then, to cover their tracks, the banks engaged in widespread document forgery. As Bill Black reminds us, after the S&L crisis, there were a thousand criminal convictions. And today? None. Today, the DoJ stands for the Dept. of Obstructing Justice.

Posted by Moopheus | Report as abusive

Agreed, KidD…

But I do think we need to do more to educate students in high school. Teaching them English, History, Science, Math, and Spanish simply isn’t sufficient in the modern world. Personal finance is MUCH more complicated than it was 30 years ago, and education hasn’t kept up.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

“An inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”

Joseph Stiglitz, anyone?

http://goo.gl/Vs1GA

Posted by GRRR | Report as abusive

KidD – While I’m somewhat sympathetic, there are societal benefits to having an educated population, even if they study Ancient French Literature.

Not that many years ago, several states (CA and NY, most notably) offered high quality college educations at no cost to residents just for this reason. I would argue that a large portion of the tuition inflation you mentioned above has more to do with shifting the cost of public education from the taxpayer to the student and not so much with the cost of actually providing that education. So, if you do believe there are societal benefits, do you prefer higher state taxes ex ante or higher federal taxes ex post?

Posted by framed | Report as abusive

The whole point of this movement is to elect Mitt Romney or Rick Perry our next President. We (I) lived through this before in 1968. Left protests against the incumbent. Self-indulgent criticism. Turns off most of middle America. The incumbent (or almost, HHH) falls way behind a mediocre candidate who he cannot catch at the end. Do the protesters get an early end to the war? No, they get an invasion of Cambodia. These protesters today do not want to work to help Obama get re-elected, they want to indulge themselves with a fantasy that evil people are the cause of all their problems. So they sabotage Obama’s re-election and what will we get? More tax breaks for the really rich. Thanks a lot.

Posted by bwickes | Report as abusive

@framed: you wrote “there are societal benefits to having an educated population, even if they study Ancient French Literature. ”

Sure – I never argued the contra-side of that – I’m just saying that if you want to study Ancient French Literature, you should either 1) do it with your own money – not borrowed money, or 2) if you have to borrow money, as we know many people do – don’t study it at a college that will cost you $40k/year.

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

Nothing says that THIS new movement has to be THE movement – many others could well arise in the worsening financial, economic, political and social environment in America.

The important thing to take note of is that fat, self-satisfied, spoiled and clueless Americans are FINALLY getting off their asses and doing something out in the streets. That’s a watershed – and you all damn well better recognize that fact.

Where it goes from here is greater anger and frustration, greater civil disorder, and greater losses of civil liberties as the police and other security forces deal with the phenomenon. Changing the system is next to impossible – just ask the Egyptian youth. So this ‘Occupy’ movement is a signal for all who pay attention to where the Republic is really heading – down the road toward a loss of democracy.

For, finally exercising your democratic rights in the streets in a democracy that is in this much trouble and that has been perverted to serve the greedy interests of the 1% is going to be a very unwelcome development from the standpoint of that 1%.

That 1% is going to wage a furious fight to hold onto what it has, and even increase its grip on the Republic. Get ready for it.

Posted by NukerDoggie | Report as abusive

@KidD: If you want to be a commercial bank you should either 1) do it without expecting the government to bail you out when things blow up, or 2) stick to passbook savings and Christmas accounts.

Personally, I would rather subsidize the intellectual indulgences of youth than Lloyd Blankfein’s art collection. The former provides social benefits at a relatively low cost, the latter doesn’t. Maybe you feel differently, I don’t know.

The protesters, however, notice that while large, politically-connected financial institutions are being saved from default and bankruptcy, very little is being done to help individuals and households who are experiencing their own financial problems due largely to the profligacy of the banks. I guess I don’t see what’s so hard to sympathize with here, even if they can quote Jean Bodel.

Posted by framed | Report as abusive

@TFF and KD: In many cases, it’s the parents who have the “money is no object” approach to higher education, but have their children take out the loans in order to help game the system. If they can be demonstrated to be independent adults (whether or not they are), they can get more financial aid, which today means a lot of loans.

The point is that it’s not the 18-year olds, but rather the parents who are not tempering expectations of that Colby degree in Attic Greek. No parent wants to tell his/her child not to pursue their dreams, and that’s where the debt comes from.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive

“No parent wants to tell his/her child not to pursue their dreams, and that’s where the debt comes from.”

No *American* parent, you mean. Except for those American parents who didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury and privilege and who realize that dreams can be melded to reality more easily than reality can be shaped to dreams.

As for those parents, it isn’t that hard for a middle-class family to save $200k for education over 20 years. You just have to downsize your lifestyle from the beginning instead of trying to ratchet back expenses when your kids are already in high school.

I work with families and children from the 10% to the 90%ile. Some who have lived in the US for generations. Others that are “fresh off the boat”. I see a diversity of attitudes. Some families with money, who expect that their children excel in an economically valuable career (math, science, finance are favorites). Some families without money, who are fighting for scholarships and loans to establish their children in successful careers. (You can bet they aren’t studying Ancient Greek!!!) Some families with money, who encourage their children to pursue their interests.

There are many paths through the system. Some work better than others.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

Some might even argue those who study Ancient French Literature (whatever that is) contribute more of value to society and the economy than those who study Finance.

Posted by wpw | Report as abusive

Look, I think the question is not whether students were foolish to take on 6-figure debt for degrees with no remunerative prospects. And it really isn’t “why didn’t their parents see the problem?”

When you live most of your live inside a 30 year debt bubble, who exactly DID see the dangers of toxic debt burdens? Precious few. And when the bursting of that bubble also takes down the professional ladder for middle class aspirants, was everyone supposed to have foreseen THAT too?

These kids are trying to work out what the hell happened to the dreams they were promised. Fair enough. Their elders are trying to figure out the same thing. Our career ladders are smashed to pieces as well, many are buried in debt, and government solutions are as much ponzi schemes as anything Madoff cooked up.

Fed up? You bet we are. But these protesters need to keep their message simple, and the message is that too many of us are now debt slaves with diminished opportunities. Our crisis is one of CRONY CAPITALISM, and only a thorough ass-kicking of Washington AND Wall st will help. When is the march on Washington power brokers?

Posted by LadyGodiva | Report as abusive

@KD:

Subsidizing higher education is a great idea. We should and we can strive to a more educated society with higher college completion rates than we have now.

Subsidizing higher education through full recourse, non-dischargeable loans, however, is a terrible idea. And, obviously, the goal should NOT be to make LOANS accessible to everyone; the goal should be to make EDUCATION accessible to anyone. Let’s not confuse the two. Just like in healthcare, we’ve set up the system so that the benefits of subsidies accrue much less to the students, whom we are happy to make into indentured servants for life, but more to lenders and the execs that are running our glorious “not-for profit” educational enterprises. It’s messed up.

By the way, non-dischargeability of student loans is not the way the system has worked since time immemorial, but a rather new development pushed through by bank lobbying Thus far, it has proved to be completely unhelpful in boosting college enrollment or completion, but entirely too helpful in pushing education services inflation into the startosphere and boosting profitability of student loan lending.

Posted by Y.Alekseyev | Report as abusive

@Framed: you wrote: “If you want to be a commercial bank you should either 1) do it without expecting the government to bail you out when things blow up, or 2) stick to passbook savings and Christmas accounts.”

again, I don’t disagree. It’s important that you realize that.

@Y.Alekseyev – I’ve been wondering to myself why private institutions with endowments in the billions or tens of billions of dollars have to charge such insane tuitions in the first place. but that’s probably an issue for another day. Look – I’m a free markets capitalist, but if there’s ever a sector where “free markets – if you don’t like it, don’t pay for it” isn’t a good answer, it’s probably higher education.

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

“@Y.Alekseyev – I’ve been wondering to myself why private institutions with endowments in the billions or tens of billions of dollars have to charge such insane tuitions in the first place.”

KidD, there are only a handful of institutions with endowments of $10B+, and they offer some of the most generous financial aid you’ll find anywhere. Forget the sticker price — if you come from a household earning less than $100k, you’ll pay less at Harvard/Princeton/Yale/Stanford than you will at a state school.

And unless you want to spend down the endowment, only a small percentage can be used each year. If it costs $40k to provide a top-notch education, then it would take at least a $1M endowment to cover tuition for all students. Even if that is the ONLY thing the endowment were spent on.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

As the fourth quarter begins the market dive continues…….

One can only conclude that a majority of companies and consumers are on strike.

Got money in the bank?. Save it. Got equity in your home? Keep it Got an operations budget? re-examine it and contain costs…

Guess what America, that’s what is happening. Consumers, Banks, and Corporations are not going to bail the Obummer administration out. Encouraging class warfare and crushing the individual entrepreneurial spirit won’t work. Suing the banks and sending the NLRB out as your Trumpka in-your-pocket attack dog won’t work either.

So we are just going to vent our rage online, vent in the lame scream media, vent to our friends on Facebook and YouTube, and most importantly we are going to WAIT while we vent…………………

As we wait we will save. Save money, save on expenses, save on reduced costs, save on postponed purchases, save with store brands, save with Amazon, save with Ebay, save with Craigslist, save with the local flea market, save with the sale of our “garage clutter”, save with roommates, save with a downsize in autos purchased, save with the brown bag lunch, save by cutting cable tv, save by tele-commuting, and finally save with a downsize from the McMansion if it can even be sold.

Someday soon someone will come to the forefront to run against our current Clown in Chief.

When this person arises from the ashes of the current “felony stupid” administration (kudos to Rep. Issa) we will focus laser like on electing this person to undo this nightmare…….. Money will pour into this challenger’s Pay Pal connected coffers and the internet media will take center stage getting the word out. Internet enabled persons will continue to be at the forefront of the “new media” with their Smartphones, I-Phones, and other yet to be named on-scene live streaming capabilities. The new internet news reporters will surpass the traditional media in their raw unfiltered “truth of the moment” audio and video moments. This new norm is also a warning to all to be careful since NOTHING is off the record in these unscripted moments. YouTube is a blessing and a curse depending on which side of the screen you are on.

The punditry tells us we are scared, we don’t like uncertainty, and we lack leadership.
Bulls**t………..we are enraged, we are certain, we are going to get real leadership in 2012 and it will not be coming from the Democrats.

November 2010 was a trickle, November 2012 will be a tectonic shift.

Posted by Nobama2012now | Report as abusive

It’s easy to make fun of fictional people with “degrees in French literature” (another way of finding anything to blame the poor for their poverty – when it’s not possible to blame their “work ethic”, it’s what they decided to study.) But the idea that college education is an expensive mistake misses the point. The B.A and B.S. are no longer enough to get you into the middle class, but they are still necessary. The people who are getting jobs aren’t the ones without a college degree, their the ones with masters, professional degrees, and PhDs. Which are even more expensive, accrue more debt, and will still eventually result in market saturation.

That’s the real point: when productivity per individual improves, in a market-driven society, we get the kind of situation we see now. Easy to afford manufactured goods, but the costs of health, education and housing place increasing pressure on those who aren’t in the comfortable zone.

And this is another point about the 1% and the 99%: the working and middle classes don’t really care about the luxury of the rich when their own needs are being met and they aren’t running scared. People who know they can pay their rent and mortgage, who know they can send their kids to a decent school and get treatment without bankruptcy if they get ill, don’t begrudge the super-rich their yachts, mansions, art collections, etc. But when the prosperity of the few is accompanied by the increased pressure, stress, anxiety and pain of the poor – well, that’s another story.

Posted by LemmyC | Report as abusive

@KD and Y. Alekseyev and everyone else,

I expect banks and lenders to exhibit a little bit more wisdom than 18-year olds. And if they don’t, they will (should) face losses on those loans. Most of the kids who get French Lit degrees will pay for their choices, anyway, if they graduate and can’t find jobs.

But I don’t think there’s really a bubble in college tuition prices. Charts like these show the increasing importance of education in the US:

http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
http://cr4re.com/charts/charts.html#cate gory=Employment&chart=UnemployEducationA ug2011.jpg
http://heavylifting.blogspot.com/2007/01  /why-you-want-to-get-education.html

I’ll agree, sure, tuition costs have risen, but this doesn’t mean we need to cut education. We just need to push kids towards more useful careers, and make it clear to them that their future is in their own hands; that if they f*** this up, they might be paying for it for decades. They need to take their education seriously, or not go to college at all.

Posted by Windchasers | Report as abusive

LemmyC said everything… middleclass usualy don’t care until the problem knock the door…
Protest?
More interesting then watch how the protest evolve, is that americans simply don’t know how to protest… so long since the last time they did it…
Well… The Simpsons series actors are facing some pay cuts of 45%… i wonder: would the Simpsons protest?
Bart and Lisa?… noo… they are going into high school adolescent limbo enjoy life in hormonal transformation, with trash pop culture, music, media, reality shows, etc… then to college enjoy the more adult version of the same thing; night, drinks, women and sex… during this best time of life they wont protest at all… hmm maybe Lisa…
Homer and Marge… Marge would say… -why protest? there are still so much to lose of the american dream by protesting.
We live in this wonderful financed home, we have 2 nice financed cars, our kids go to good financed school and college, we buy everything else that the credit cards limits can buy, we have limited health ensurance, but nothing to worry about with the gov benefits, retirement funds invested in shares and bonds of God knows what kind of companies or govs, and a job that barely but still allow to roll all this foward.
Homer watching the protest on TV would say… -Now is the chance i was waiting… then rush to the bank and say:- i came because of the commercial: “Why donate plasma or blood for some extra hundreds? We are opening a new multibillion oportunity recreating the whole microfinance market: Now you can refinance even your dog and cat”.

Posted by VonHell | Report as abusive

Y.Alekseyev, so people have no responsibility for their decisions? These people CHOSE to take out the loans.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

framed, when exactly did you subsidise GS?

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

To be honest, I would like to see some numbers that show that graduates of Ancient French literature at a 30K+ liberal arts college do so poorly.

Yes, I know there are broad stats on the median salaries for various majors, and that the humanities and arts tend to rank much lower than STEM majors. But is that for the average english or history major at the average college, or for elite LA colleges which maintain a strong elite selection process?

Studying Ancient French literature at Swarthmore or Sara Lawrence means having already shown oneself to be a high-performer academically (eg 1600+SATs) with strong critical thinking skills and the ability to synthesize large amounts of abstract data. It provides significant advantages in graduate school admissions and connects one to an elite network of alumni contacts, many who are already in the upper echelon of business, government, or universities. Yes, they often are very poor at preparing students for a standard BA-level work-a-day career, but that is not their purpose – they are feeder schools for graduate-school bound students.

I think the bigger problem is not the elite liberal arts colleges, but the larger pool of mid-level colleges that are essentially gate-keepers for BA level jobs, (as well as the for-profit college scams). The days when there were inexpensive state schools in which one could get a decent BA are largely a thing of the past. It is almost mandetory to expend 30-70K for an average-quality degree, most of which will be funded by student loan debt, to be able to get on any sort of median-income track job or career. That is a huge albatross to hang around the average 20-somethings neck.

Posted by Ragweed | Report as abusive

I know the wall street protesters are being organized by Move On.org .by George Soros caused this financial problem just like he manipulated the financial crisis in England in the 80s. Obama hasnt talked to his cabinet members one on one yet but George Soros is is in his office every day. The only way to bring this country down was to slowly destroy the foundation or constitution from the inside. Illiterate peole say thatcapitalism has failed, we have been living in the first stages of socialism for many years.When we quit printing pur own gold backed dollars and abdicated financial resposibility to the privately owned federal reserve,we started our downward spiral. Thats the real reason why President Kenedy was assasinated. He started to print mpney in the name of the USA just months before. There are some bad people who have alot of money out therebut they have way too much money to bother with showing up on wallstreet. Soros works at the White House.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

I, for one, think it’s refreshing to see the media covering protest that isn’t being waged by a bunch of loons in tricorne hats with pistols strapped to their legs… though I see a likely member of that species a few comments above.

Posted by JimInMissoula | Report as abusive

Most of your people’s minds are so small that you can’t think outside of your own experiences. Everyone comments on the way the US education system is set up and everyone thinks that the US method is the only option. You all think that a person has only two options; go to school in exchange for $100,000 or don’t go to school.

However, most developed countries see education as a right and as something that benefits society as a whole. (When I say education, I mean educations that are actually valuable…not Phoenix University). They want their populace to be able to think critically and they want their populace to be productive. There is no other country in the world that charges these ridiculous tuitions.

So you small-minded folk can keep pretending that the educational system is ok in the US and that it is fine to charge people $100,000 to become better and more productive people. Meanwhile, the rest of the developed world will continue to increase the gap between itself and the US.

Posted by Achille | Report as abusive

One of the beauties of America is that “It’s your own fasult” will always fly as an excuse. Whether it’s an excuse to do nothing, as in the case of Hurricane Katrina, or an excuse to do something like invade Iraq, blaming the victim seems a paragon of logic to ‘them what has’ in the USA.

‘Self-made men’ may claim to have ‘pulled themselves up by their bootstraps’ but that is something that rarely happens without assistance from, and often the exploitation of, others

Posted by Popsiq | Report as abusive

“However, most developed countries see education as a right and as something that benefits society as a whole.”

That is an excellent point.

Ironically, the US was a leader in public *primary* education many years ago, yet has been reluctant to fully support *college* education despite economic shifts that demand such.

I strongly feel that education should be a gift from the older generations to the younger generations. (Perhaps a self-serving gift, since our comfortable retirement rests on the backs of those younger workers.) We need to reinvest in our state universities and state colleges.

That said, the complaints about education costs typically focus on private schools and out-of-state tuition. Most of which offer questionable cost-benefit returns. I don’t see why the public should subsidize privately-operated institutions.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

I wrecked a motorcycle, the CHP put me on a ambulance. Two hours later I walked out of the Hospital with a bill for $6000. Not a band aid, nothing what so ever indicated a need for all that to be spent without my permission. I now head for bankruptcy because I live on SS at 65yrs old. I have been robbed of everything by those people.

Posted by whiteyward | Report as abusive

What is “Occupy Wall Street”……

Two great generations fought world wars and gave the next generation the opportunity to live peacefully and grow their families.

That generation gave their children the best education available.

My generation produced technological advances. Everything from cordless telephones to iphones to military drones.

This generation is highly educated and they have an endless supply of information available to them on the Internet. They can communicate openly with people in several different countries and share their experiences in videos. It all happens within minutes and it’s all free.

In the 60′s we had muscle cars and everyone wanted to drive 120 miles an hour. This generation has the power of communication and they deserve to travel at light speed.

Each generation goes through their “what do I want to be” phase. This generation is going through it together as a connected, world generation. They’re watching famine, war, corruption and all the other inequities that we heard about but were never allowed to see. They see it live, uncensored, unedited and without media commentary on Facebook and Youtube as it’s happening.

Some say there’s no clear message with “Occupy Wall Street” but if you listen carefully the message is as clear as any Facebook page… one day they’re sad, one day they’re angry, on Monday they comment about hunger in Africa, on Tuesday it’s the financial crisis, on Wednesday it’s nuclear weapons.

As the older generation, we need to listen to everything they have to say, let them ramble, let them scream, let them dress and act out in ways we don’t understand. We should be on the sidelines bringing them coffee and donuts, giving them blankets and letting them say what’s on their minds. We need to encourage them and we need to listen.

In the end, they will realize there are no easy answers but they can and will make a difference. We need to support them no matter how crazy it seems to us. The most important thing is they are trying to do something and they sincerely want to make a difference. We know they have the technology and the ability to do it.

The news media should go to these events and just listen. Don’t ask questions, let them say what’s on their minds, let them vent, let them express their opinions, let them jump up and down. Sure, there will be silly comments and unreasonable suggestions but in the end they will find their way… just like we did.

We should all be Watching with our Ears.

Posted by wiseoldman61 | Report as abusive

The angst of the ‘occupy’ group is legitimate but misdirected. The root cause is government. Government which attempts to bring about social change without regard for economic reality.

Yes bankers made bad loans and the bad loans turned into failed mortgages which we know as foreclosures. But the bad loans were the result of government edict which stated that it was the ‘right’ of every American to own a home.

Yes, people should go to jail; the people from HUD and from Fanny and Freddy. Sen Dodd, Barney Frank and Bill Clinton should do jail time, but unfortunately they will not go to jail.

Posted by colnszgprnts | Report as abusive