Thursday, October 13, 2011

If you're not the 99%, what are you?

I have not said anything about the Occupy Wall Street movement yet.  Part of the reason for that is that in a movement so expansive, it is hard to make generalizations about the participants or their motives.  We don't know what path the protests will end up taking, and so I can't really take a stance yet.  But I encountered this picture online and it made me really sad.

I applaud this young woman (I'm going to guess it's a woman based on the handwriting) for her wise financial decisions.  But what I can't applaud is the lack of any kind of sympathy for the situation that many of her classmates are about to find themselves in.  Not everyone has parents who are able to give them sound financial advice.  It's very easy for a 17 or 18 year old to sign the dotted line and go to their "dream school" without understanding the consequences.  Then, once they get to said dream school, they are inundated with credit card offers driving them further into debt.  How hard is it to see that that is predatory?

Another flaw is that this person equates working their "@$$" off with results.  Those of us who bought into the law school scam know that that is not necessarily the case.  Education and hard work are not the surefire recipe for success anymore, if they ever were.

I agree that people should not go into debt for higher education.  But that was not quite so clear cut when many of us were going to school, and it is vitally important that the word get out there about the pitfalls of student loan debt, so young people graduating from high school now do not become victims of the same mistake.  If Occupy Wall Street manages to convey that message, it will have accomplished something.


  1. She's the exception that proves the rule. Uh-oh.

  2. this image has many supporters on social networks, which makes me fear for the future of income based repayment

  3. When she graduates, she will have wages suppressed by those that went into debt. Employers don't care that she is responsible because a healthy amount of desperate people exists for them to exploit. If I can exploit a desperate indentured debt slave who will accept shit wages, no benefits, and crazy work hours, then why should I hire someone not in that situation that will not tolerate the same?

    Idiots like this had better wise up. This is coming from a person with no student loan debt because of working and schollies, and who is currently employed

  4. Education is the part to getting a knowledge and get a perfect decision power. it is vitally important that the word get out there about the pitfalls of student loan debt.

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  5. What an ignorant buffoon.

    Her in-state school is subsidized by the people around her. The scholarships are paid for by her more immediate peers. She hasn't realized yet that money doesn't just show up; her behavior is contributing to other entities being driven into unsustainable debts, and yet she blithely acts like she did this all on her own Randian do-it-yourself power. And she says all of this even though at this time next year, she'll probably be working that same minimum wage job because her degree from butthole state isn't going to take her anywhere.

    Maybe the only thing worse than an exploiter of the naive is a naive person who just doesn't get it even when told directly. Fuck her (actually don't, since frugal Frieda probably avoids the expense of birth control and STD tests).

  6. J-Dog has all the answers! J-Dog knows an "ignorant buffoon" when he sees one. Most of all, he knows that his lack of success is everyone else's fault. Bravo.

  7. I used to think like her. I worked for a few years before I went to undergrad because I didn't want to take loans out for it. I didn't go out, party, etc. - I lived like a pauper for YEARS in order to go to college without getting into debt.

    And then something happened. I decided I wanted to go to law school after getting an undergraduate education that I had completely paid for without going into debt. But guess what? No matter how hard I worked on $12,000 a year (my salary after getting a college education), I couldn't pay for that law school education - it was just too high. I calculated and would have had to work until I was 60 on the salary I was making (no need to think it was going to increase) until I would have enough to pay for law school upfront. On $12,000 one can't save that much for an education - it's limited to about $100 a month and at that rate, I would have been 60 before I could pay law school tuition without going into debt, assuming that the tuition stayed the same as it is today - yeah, right! That's the problem. You could do that in the past, but tuition has risen so astronomically in just the last few years, that it virtually precludes individuals from being able to earn that money without taking loans.

    So to her, I say, "good for you." You're lucky. You didn't get in a car accident through no fault of your own that resulted in medical bills. To her, I say "keep it going." We need more people like her. Because this nation is going into debt and hell in a handbasket. And if it keeps up, she will be the only one to be able to bail us out. A word to her: "Just don't go to grad school. It will destroy you!"

  8. @732:

    "J-Dog has all the answers!"

    Never have claimed to.

    "J-Dog knows an "ignorant buffoon" when he sees one."

    I know that this person is an ignorant buffoon. Do you disagree? If so, why?

    "Most of all, he knows that his lack of success is everyone else's fault."

    I actually don't have a "lack of success," and I've never claimed it's absolute. That notwithstanding, people who can't see that good fortune comprises a great deal of success for everyone, and that systemic factors contribute significantly to the failure of others, are big-league idiots.

    Anything else, troll?

  9. J-Dog, I think it's the same troll who slammed me a few posts back when I defended Rose, and guessed (it turned out correctly) that the same person had been extraordinarily rude to her twice within that post. I also went to grad school, graduated with little debt in 2006 due to a leg up, have paid off that debt due to more good fortune and the luck to graduate in 2006 instead of 2008 or 2009. Part of my help came from my employer and more came from an assistantship. I didn't respond to the slam because this troll's opinions really don't matter in any sense of what I see what matters in life, that is caring about other human beings outside of ourselves. Having money is fine but it is not what makes a person into a successful human being. I work with children and their parents, many of them hard working and poor. I want to see them be able to have things like reasonable wages, access to affordable health care and maybe even a little home of their own. Like you, J-Dog, and Rose and most of her readers, I want to see the tide raise all boats, not just for the few who have been given the advantages by a moneyed political and banking system that has sold everyone else out. Despite what that college student thinks, none of us gets anywhere all on our own. -- Kim

  10. Higher ed aint possible for most people without debt. They system has to change, not the debtors.

  11. She forgot a few things on her sign...

    "Lucky for me, my parents raised me in a neighborhood with a decent public school system that actually taught me what I needed to know to do well in college. Unlike some kids from shitty schools, I didn't come to college and find that, despite my "good grades" at my lousy school, I was actually totally unprepared for college work, and lose my schaolrships.

    Lucky for me, I didn't have any other people I had to take care of. Unlike some teenagers, I could take the money I earned and put it towards college, rather than have to contribute it all to household expenses. Other people should pick families like mine, not families that are dirt poor or unemployed or sick.

    Lucky for me I was able to beat out the other kids to get good enough grades to win schoalarships, and didn't have to struggle against a disability, or just lack of aptitude to get the best grades. (Because obviously, being disabled or simply not very smart is your own damn fault - you should have picked better genes, like I did!)

    Lucky for me, some commie-pinko-socialists made the government tax other people to subsidize my entire public school education, for 16 years.

    Lucky for me, someone, somewhere, saw to it that I had health care growing up, so that I was healthy enough to take advantage of all of the opportuntites given to me.

    And that's how I did it all by myself!"

    There, I think that fills it in a little better.

  12. Yeah! If you are poor or can't find a job in this economy, then it's yer own damn fault - says the Baby Boomer legion. Fuck the compassionless, fuck the baby boomers.

  13. Life is a zero-sum game, for the most part. For someone to win, someone else must lose. In a world where everyone gets a 3.8 or higher GPA, a 3.8 GPA is nothing. For a 3.8 to mean anything, most must get less than 3.8. Success of this young woman, in other words, necessarily depends on the failure of many others. It can be no other way.

    The strong will usually throw the weak off an overcrowded lifeboat. The strong will usually kick the weak to the bottom of the pile as they clamber towards the top. And I can understand that. I'd do the same. But I find it poor taste to boast of such behavior.

  14. Somewhat sad really. I graduated with no debt as well and a 3.74 GPA in undergrad. I wonder what she is going to be saying when she realizes that she is only worth the minimum wage hours anyways. She may not have incurred the debt, but time wise you would like to think that piece of paper meant something. In the better economy I went back to school because I was never going to make more than 15.00/hr with my degree, the economy tanked I am lucky I have some work experience so I have had some work at barely minimum wage. Good luck to the optimists may they either show the majority wrong and give me hope or they suddenly realize it sucks and make me feel less shitty about my future.

  15. Wow. Just wow. If success is only found through random chance and/or exploitation... what is the point? This young woman might not be showing the proper awareness of the situation she finds herself in, as the more rational posters have pointed out (i.e. that she is a product of her environment to some tangible degree), but aren't you all suffering from a similar myopia? Insisting that no one gets anywhere on their own is akin to saying everyone is carried everywhere by vagaries of fate, or by enslaving others to lift them forward, is just as inane as insisting on having done everything by oneself. If she got a leg up because of her upbringing... isn't that what parents work for? If she got sound financial advice to go to school through hard work and scholarships... isn't that a good thing? This doesn't make her success a burden on anyone, or take away from anyone else. Sympathy and awareness are great, but they cut both ways.

    To the original poster, I absolutely agree. I will certainly be checking this blog often. The system of higher ed is flawed, and those entering it need to be MUCH better informed. Especially about law school... I'm also a derelict attorney, pretty deep in student loan debt.

  16. Good points @ 11:43. Quite a number of people, however, think they receive no government help because this help is hidden; remember the famous Tea Party sign about "keep the government out of my Medicare." I don't think that this student has managed to get through as she did without debt is the issue. She completely doesn't get that SHE IS part of the 99 percent, as expressed by her very words. The condemnation that is expressed in the sign, contains the idea that if you are one of those who are deeply in student loan debt, you are completely responsible for your situation -- that debt is somehow a moral condition. That it has nothing to do with sharply rising education costs and declining wages and jobs. This student did receive help, but doesn't recognize that the help she received was help -- no she accomplished everything all by herself. And by extension the implication in this sign is that when she graduates, she will go find herself a job that is wonderful too.

    An excellent commentary about the dilemna we are currently in can be found here. Student loans/law school scams... are part of the picture.

  17. To add to my above link @ 12:43, this is on Occupy Wall Street from the same source. Contains a lot of outside links.

  18. Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah!!!

  19. what's silly about her posturing is that the bankers on wall street who ultimately did great harm to our economy probably also worked their asses off, maybe even more so. it wouldn't surprise me if some of them were putting up occasional triple digit hours a week this isn't just about "hard work." it's about the government rewarding, protecting, and insulating incompetence.

  20. I wonder what post graduation will bring for this person when he/she no longer has that student only job, or that student only cheap apartment. I wonder if anyone has told her/him that getting 90% of tuition paid for with scholarships is not the same as studying hard for a test and getting an A, but more like winning the lottery. I hope that this person has family and friends to count on when reality hits.

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