Don’t EVEN Get Me Started, Mythical Bootstraps College Student

This photo’s been kicking around Facebook for the past few days. The first time I saw it, it miffed me. The second time, it aggravated me. Times three and four I was angry. And now that I’ve seen the photo posted, shared, and tagged a half a dozen times, I’m enraged; which is where this post comes from, a place of fully developed rage.

This flip little photo angers me because it’s a lie.

I’m sure those who posted it thought it was pithy and bold and really hit home the “truth” of an already much propagated agenda. But the thing that is so very offensive about this photo is that there’s nothing true about it.

Even before I set out to do my research, my educator and lawyer hackles were up; this crap doesn’t even pass the smell test. If you thought it did, you weren’t paying attention. If you didn’t think it passed muster but wanted to share it as propaganda anyway, shame on you.

Two big problems underlie this Facebook photo sharing campaign: 1) If people want to believe something is true, they often will, even when the belief is baseless, and even when faced with extensive evidence to the contrary (this is a crazy scary phenomenon; the University of Michigan did an interesting study on it). 2) We’re susceptible to self-serving bias, which means that we want to attribute our successes to internal or personal factors, even when external factors, like family support, economics, and privilege actually play a major role in those successes. In other words, most people tend to think of themselves as folks who’ve “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” and obtained everything they have through grit and determination — when, in reality, very few people fit that narrow profile. Similarly, people who’ve succeeded expect more from others than they do from themselves. A person without resources and support is expected, by the bootstraps myth believer, to achieve the same amount of success through sheer hard work as the person who achieved those things through, sure some hard work (probably… or at least, hopefully), but also a lot of inherent advantage — like the parents they were born to, the neighborhood they grew up in, the schools they attended, good health, looks, etc.

Knowing this, and understanding that, unless you already recognize that this photo that’s been circulating is B.S., you’re not that likely to change your mind, even faced with compelling facts. I’m going to break down why it’s B.S. anyway. Because I like facts. And I know that, even if the facts are skewed in the light most favorable to the photo’s agenda, they still won’t support the photo’s premise.

So here goes.

I took the information contained in this photo and put it up against the numbers. I used the stats for Seattle, Washington, because that’s where I live, and it’s also where many of the people who I’m friends with on Facebook who posted this photo live. While specific results would vary city by city, state by state, Washington is a place with strong public universities and as a state, it seems unremarkable in enough ways to provide a decent sample.

This photo suggests that a plucky someone, through hard work and austere living, should be able to graduate from college debt-free; this photo further suggests that one’s ability to do so is entirely within one’s own control, and that somehow not being able to do that constitutes a “bad decision”; the photo also suggests that this hypothetical student believes she/he is not part of the 99%, which, by contrast means she/he thinks she/he is part of the 1% (the 1% referring to the top income earners in the U.S.). I’m not going to dispute that particular 1% point, since it’s already self-disputed within the photo as the subject self-describes her/himself as a near minimum wage earner, automatically placing her/him in the bottom 99% of wage earners in the U.S. In other words, that part of the photo is especially ridiculous, too ridiculous to refute.

The rest, however, I’m happy to refute — with facts and stuff.

According the University of Washington (UW is a public university located in Seattle, WA), in-state tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year is $10,574. Over a four-year period, presuming our photo subject, a hypothetical student who refers to her/himself…wait…

Can we hit pause for a moment?

Calling the subject of the photo “she/he,” “photo subject,” “hypothetical student,” etc., is going to get tiresome. So for the purposes of this post I’m going to refer to the hypothetical student in the photo as a woman because women make up slightly more than half (51.7%) of the undergraduate student body at UW (and besides, that looks like a girl’s handwriting in the photo), and I’m going to call this female student Sally.

OK, un-pause.

So, presuming Sally completes college in four years, that tuition total comes to $42,296, at this particular “moderately priced, in-state public university.”

For a moment let’s put aside Sally’s scholarships, which apparently pay for 90% of her tuition (wowzer!), and move on to Sally’s living expenses.

Sally mentions her cheap but comfortable apartment. So I did a little apartment research of my own. I used Craigslist to look for apartments because I’m told that’s what the kids do. I don’t expect my Craigslist findings to be the gospel truth, I just want to explore plausibility.

The cheapest apartments I found in Seattle (well, Seattle-ish, I didn’t find anything near these prices in the University District, or even anywhere in Seattle proper) are as follows:

  • $480 to share a two bedroom with “Paul” (I’ll not include his picture, though he did include an interesting photo in his ad) in Federal Way (an arguably not-that-safe town located 22 miles south of Seattle).
  • $500 for a studio apartment in Bremerton. (Bremerton is an hour ferry ride from downtown Seattle.)
  • $350 for a roommate share in Tacoma (a city 34 miles south of Seattle).
  • $500 for another roommate share in Tacoma.
  • $465 to rent a mobile home in Tumwater (64 miles south of Seattle).


Let’s, for the sake of argument, pretend one of these housing arrangements is something a reasonable 18-year-old college freshman would be comfortable with (which is arguably kind of a stretch), the average rent of these five is $459. I’d like to go on record as saying, I don’t think this is realistic rent for a UW college student, and I can tell you that I one summer rented a room (one ROOM) in a shared house near UW’s campus and my rent was $400 a month… eleven years ago. But $500-600 with enough roommates might be doable in 2011, so I’ll take $459 and call it close enough. That’s $4131 for the year, assuming Sally can move home with parents in the summer, and $16,524 over four years, assuming no rent increases (because we know landlords never hike the rent up on their captive audience college student tenants).

Let’s estimate another $50 a month for utilities (again, I don’t know that this is a terribly realistic estimate for Seattle, it’s on the low side, but we’re playing a game here, and I basically grabbed this figure by taking my own Seattle Public Utilities bill and dividing it by a square foot estimate, and in case you’re wondering, I never set the heat in my house above 68, you can ask Gary Blonde). This $50 bill assumes that Sally’s water, sewer, and garbage are included in her rent so that she only has to pay for gas and electricity. That’ll be $450 for the year, $1800 for four years.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Sally doesn’t have cable TV and only uses Internet at school, so she doesn’t pay for home cable or Internet. $0 there.

I think Sally ought to have at least a basic cell phone plan for emergencies, so, choosing Verizon Wireless’s cheapest plan, which is $39.99, let’s say this student has a monthly cell phone bill of $45 (I used to have this plan, so I can represent that this total includes taxes, but excludes text messages, because we’re going to pretend that Sally, the rockstar student, doesn’t text), and this will be in lieu of a home phone. So $540 for the year, $2160 over four years.

Sally says she doesn’t have a “new car” but let’s say she doesn’t have a car at all, since we know how expensive gas and insurance can be; instead, let’s say Sally opts for the cheaper option of taking the bus to school. At the University of Washington you can get a U-Pass, it costs $76 a quarter. That’ll be $228 for the year, $912 for four years.

Food will run our college student, assuming she only eats at home and packs her own lunch, let’s say $200 a month (I used to come up with this number, the range they provided for a single person was $200-400 a month, I took the low). So that’s $1800 a year (again, this assumes that Sally has parents she can go sponge off of during the summer), $7200 for four years.

Books and supplies, based on UW’s website stats from 2010-2011, will run $1,035 for the year (oh, and you’ll likely notice that the UW financial aid office thinks Sally’s room and board will cost more than twice what we’ve estimated here), and $4140 over four years.

Hopefully Sally’s parents have health insurance that will cover her, but if they don’t, student health insurance will run $502 a quarter. That’s $1506 for the year, $6024 for four years.

All of this means that, even if Sally never goes to a movie, never buys a new shirt, never gets a haircut, never fills a prescription, and never has any sort of emergency expense, we’re looking at $81,056 for this student to go to college (at a “moderately priced, in-state public university”), $75,032 if Mom and Dad pay for health insurance.

You might be thinking, yeah, but Sally works a ton of hours! So I’m sure she can make it work!

Minimum wage in Washington State is $8.67 an hour, the highest in the country, so this will be a generous estimate for Sally. At thirty hours of work a week, which is what Sally claims she’s able to do while maintaining her course load, that’s $260.10 per week, I’d estimate $220.63 take home, you can adjust if you think this isn’t fair, but based on my personal experience as a wage earner, I feel comfortable representing that it is fair. There are 52 weeks in a year, and I’ll assume Sally works in the summer as well as during the school year. At 30 hours a week (I wasn’t able to find stats at UW about whether or not this amount of work is advisable, but I did find some info at the University of Northern Iowa that lists 30 hours of work per week as the maximum a student can work and 10-15 as the average among students who have jobs), that’s $11,472 for the year, $45,891 over four years.

Just over HALF what Sally would need to cover the bare bones costs set out above. And this is, again, at a “moderately priced, in-state public university.”

Sally said she’d been saving for college since she was 17, but frankly, I don’t know how much money she would have managed to sock away in a year of babysitting, working part-time, and collecting birthday money, so I’m not going to factor in that one year of college savings that Sally references.

Instead we’ll turn to Sally’s scholarships.

Our dear hypothetical Sally Student says she’s gotten 90% of her tuition paid by scholarships, LUCKY GIRL! Even under those fairy tale circumstances, this girl is barely scraping by on our basically mythologically good budget.

But let’s talk about how realistic Sally’s scholarship scenario is. UW financial aid says they gave scholarships to 2700 students last year. I don’t know if that includes just undergrads (of which UW has over 27,000) or undergrads and grads alike (as an educator and a former law student I can let you in on a little secret: the good scholarship money is reserved for really super smart grad students). Let’s just cut this in Sally’s favor and say that that’s just for undergrads. That means UW gave some scholarship money to about 10% of their students. How much money? Well, they said they gave $15 million to that group. If we just do an average, that’s $5,555 per student, about half of a year’s worth of tuition expenses. But it’s doubtful that the distribution was even across the board. Most universities, including the one I now work at, give academic scholarship money in steps — such as president’s level, dean’s level, etc., and they also generally reserve some scholarship money for need-based and diversity scholarships. At some universities, including UW, there are athletic scholarships as well. I don’t know if Sally qualifies for a diversity or athletic scholarship or not. In terms of academic scholarships, a dean’s scholarship generally covers somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20% of a student’s tuition. President’s– perhaps half or more. A slight few at UW might receive “full rides,” but based on Sally’s GPA as a senior of 3.8, which would qualify her for neither summa cum laude nor magna cum laude honors at the UW, I have doubts that she’d be at president’s scholarship or full-ride level. There are private scholarships available, but I’m not sure if people are fully grasping just how little grant and scholarship (especially in non-loan form) money is being given away today. And local community level scholarships are often helpful, but small, awards of $500-1500.

All that said, even in a magical world where Sally Student managed to get 90% of her tuition covered, are we suggesting that if you can’t get a nearly full-ride college scholarship, you shouldn’t go to college?! Grading curves mean that not everyone gets to be at the top of the class. If every college qualified student had to wait for a 90% scholarship, our colleges would be empty, and we’d sure be hurting for nurses, teachers, doctors, judges, CPAs, research scientists, military officers, and everybody else who has to go to college as a prerequisite for employment.

That someone would need to have a scholarship that pays for 90% of their tuition in order to responsibly (because, remember, Sally thinks borrowing money for college is a “bad decision” that Wall Street shouldn’t be blamed for) go to college and be regarded as a bootstraps darling is an ABSURD break from reality.

Sally, our hypothetical college student, is touting herself as a hard-working superstar. Well, let’s look at another kid, a real life kid who had good credentials going into college.

Your very own Buster Blonde was in the National Honor Society, had top 10% grades, was co-captain of two cheerleading squads, co-captain of a state award-winning mock trial team, captained a Management and Economic Simulation Exercise (MESE) team, was a four year letter winner, student body inter-high representative, earned third place in the state Future Problem Solvers of America competition, won a Senior Project Award, was in one musical and one play, was a 400m record holding track athlete, took AP classes and advanced mathematics, was in the honors program, was nominated class speaker, was a member of the L-Club, the yearbook staff, and who knows what other Julie Joiner stuff I’ve since forgotten (I have no links to verify this info, but you can email me for my mother’s phone number). I volunteered both in school and outside of it working as an art teacher for kids and doing highway cleanup, I took piano lessons and performed in recitals all through high school and I had an over 90th percentile SAT score, which means, to state the obvious, that I did better on the SATs than more than 90% of all the college-bound kids who took it in my year. I’m not saying this to be held up as some kind of kid awesome (because I was actually kind of a turd), I’m saying this to point out that I did plenty to be a good college applicant. You might even advise your kid that what I did, staying up well past midnight doing my homework because of my extracurriculars, was more than enough, and that kids should relax a little more than that. In any case, I don’t know how Sally Student would stack up against Buster Blonde, but I certainly did not get a 90% reduction of my tuition, I believe my total scholarship money for undergrad was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200. For which I was very grateful, believe me! It was made possible by community organizations like the Rotary, which made me feel supported and invested in by my community. But had I not had parents to rely on in funding my education, it wouldn’t have made it possible for me to go to college without lots and lots of loans.

According to UW, the middle GPA for incoming freshmen is 3.61-3.92.  That’s what it takes just to get in to this “moderately priced in-state public university.” So, being a good, or even a great, student at your high school isn’t exactly going to result in a cavalcade of scholarships at your local public uni. It might not even get you admitted.

For those of you who are now somewhat convinced that “moderately priced in-state public universities” are a) not so moderately priced; and b) potentially inaccessible to a large number of college qualified students, you might be thinking, well, the students who can’t get into or afford a “moderately priced in-state public university” should go to community college first!

And before you go down that road, I’ll ask you to review the data on how many people actually complete community college and successfully transfer into four-year universities. Environment matters. And community colleges, while valuable and appropriate for some, are ineffective for others. Data varies from state to state, and I’m not aware of a comprehensive study in Washington (the state I’ve used for my other data here) on community college attrition, but Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges–Key Findings provides a great overview of the state of community college success (or lack of it) in California, and it would give you a place to start should you choose to research the reality of community colleges further.

The two pieces of Divided We Fail that strike me as most significant are that: A) the study found that six years after enrolling, 70% of community college degree seeking students hadn’t completed a certificate or degree and had not transferred to a university (most had dropped out, 15% of the non-completers were still enrolled); and B) only 23% of degree seekers transferred to a university. Is 23% that what you want for your kids? Or is that just what you want for other people’s kids?

Beyond the undergraduate funding problem, a perhaps even bigger graduate school funding problem lurks.

In law school, where I did get more substantial scholarship money, the stakes (and costs) are even higher, making it very frequently the playground of the privileged, of which I must include myself, since my parents burdened significant costs and invested in my future, something not everyone’s parents are able to do. Friends who didn’t have a family network took on significant debt, and what no one wants to tell you is that with less and less subsidized federal funding available, that money  is loaned by private lenders with high interests rates and, in some cases, unscrupulous lending practices. So if borrowing money from private entities for graduate school sounds like a bum idea and you don’t want recent college grads making that “bad choice,” just know that, if you expect someone to “work his or her way through law school,” it will involve him or her managing to pay in-state tuition at UW of over $26,000 a year, $39,210 at Seattle University School of Law and $33,960 at Gonzaga Law School on the east side of the state. Lewis & Clark in our neighbor to the south, Oregon, will run $36,362, and $26,146 is in-state tuition at University of Oregon School of Law, $32,590 for out-of-state. By the way, in 2001, out-of-state tuition at University of Oregon School of Law was $18,000 a year; tuition has nearly DOUBLED in the last decade. Good luck doing that without loans and/or parents and/or lotto winnings.

So what are the takeaways I hope you’ll get from this angrily, but earnestly written piece?

  • If you went to college ten years ago, don’t pretend like you know what students face today.
  • If your parents paid for some or all of your tuition don’t you EVER post condescending and ill-informed posts about how a college student just needs to drive an old car and rent a cheap apartment plus work hard at a minimum wage job to fund a college education. Students of today aren’t playing on the same field you played on, their terrain is much, much tougher.
  • Whether Sally, who tells us that she’s not part of the 99, wants to be or not, she IS. Because, at minimum wage, she’s in the bottom percent of income earners. And however much she might want to protect or aspire to the top 1% of earners in this country; probability says she’ll never be part of the 1%. (Know where I learned about probabilities? In college.)
  • That moronically glib lines like “whether or not you’re part of the 99% is your decision” are complete horse manure (and, as an aside, I highly doubt a college student with a 3.8 GPA would make such a stupid claim, so let’s just say I doubt this photo’s veracity a touch too).

Here are just a few things that are not your decision and are not within your exclusive or even direct control:

  1. How successful your parents are
  2. How good your teachers are
  3. Whether you will get a scholarship (though it is your decision to apply, so take on that onus)
  4. Whether you’ll get into the college of your choosing (admissions criteria is tougher than ever)
  5. How much rent will cost in the city in which you live
  6. How much the minimum wage will be in the state in which you live
  7. What kind of access you’ll have to low-interest loans
  8. Whether or not you’ll be able to get into the major of your choosing
  9. Whether you’ll have the aptitude to maintain a 3.8 while working 30 hours per week
  10. Whether you’ll be able to get into grad school (I mean, if you want to be a 1 percenter you should go, most of them went)
  11. Whether you’ll be able to afford grad school (most 1 percenters had their parents pay for theirs, ask Donald Trump about how much student loan money he borrowed — “money trickles down” — down to rich people’s heirs)
  12. Whether you’ll be able to get a high paying job after grad school
  13. Whether you’ll be able to get any job after grad school

Finally, the main takeaway:

This stupid little Facebook photo is not only ill-informed, it’s harmful. Nothing on it has anything to do with reality. It has everything to do with a false rhetoric that’s being promoted by people who either don’t know about the realities of higher education in this country, or don’t care.

You might think it’s cute and pithy and fits some Horatio Alger ideal, but guess what, that ideal is as fake as Ragged Dick (my favorite Horatio Alger character). This bootstraps college kid is a figment of your fudging imagination.

And, by the way, it offends me TO THE CORE that most of the people I’ve seen post this sign on Facebook were put through college, at least in part, by their parents.

I’m not begrudging you parents who can afford and are willing to send you to college, I was put through college by my parents, but I have the good sense to realize how fortunate that makes me! And before I go running off at the mouth about how irresponsible college kids are today and about how it’s their fault they’re in debt, before I go ranting about some chip about other people taking what’s supposedly mine, I take a good hard look at how I got where I got. There but for the grace of God…

I have been able to be successful, in large part, because my parents were successful. I did something with what I was given, but I was given a huge amount, and to have squandered it would have been criminal. Having done what was expected of me shouldn’t warrant a pat on the back, it was, whether I want to admit it or not, the bare minimum. And to expect someone who wasn’t given a fraction of what I was given to do the same without help is wrong, and it’s senseless.

If you’re a middle class kid, or an upper middle class kid, or a rich kid, you have no right to claim that you got where you got simply because of hard work. You got where you are, at least in part, because of what others did for you, and if you hadn’t been born into a family of people who wanted to and were able to do those things for you, you would have needed someone else to do it.

The takeaway here is really a request, I’m asking you to put agenda aside and be honest. And if you still think a Facebook photo like this one is worth posting, you’re not being honest, with yourself or with anyone else.

589 replies on “Don’t EVEN Get Me Started, Mythical Bootstraps College Student”

Okay, you want to play this game? Fine. Rebuttal:

I think you’ll find it enlightening. Oh, a note:  Most, if not all, of the relevant counterarguments are in little comment bubbles attached to the original text, so you won’t be able to view it on Google Docs. Download the actual Word file, show markup, and then you’re home free.

I do hope for the best for all students struggling with their student loans with hope that they can come out of this with their own solutions and payment plans.. however, I wouldn’t take everything this person his holding up on the sign as totally literal.  I think its just trying to drive home a point in a very drastic way.  There are SOME people out there that went to expensive private schools, walked around with their laptops,..etc…rolling it out on student loans.  I had often been criticized for choosing a public school (8 yeas ago) because it was ‘boring’ and ‘too easy to get into’ by several people.  Oh well, I could afford it.  A few small scholarships and low tuition. Today it is paid off. .  Why do they even allow people to take out such bogus amounts?  I know some specific examples of people earning less than 30K in their field with 100K of student loans! Number one, its not entirely the banks fault. DO YOUR MATH. YOU CANNOT PAY THAT. If you are too young and not smart enough yet to figure this out….ask your parents or a mentor. Thats just life, survival of the fittest..hence people that go to college should be more intelligent. Putting all of this aside. Number 2, IT IS NOBODY ELSE’S RESPONSIBLY TO PAY YOUR DEBT AND IT NEVER WILL BE.  Live up to your mistakes..if worst comes to worst declare bankruptcy and pay the price. You can move on.

This is such a good, important, well-written piece that I’ve already received multiple accolades from my friends on Twitter just for the public service of posting a link to it. I only have one very small quibble.

You write: “…the photo also suggests that this hypothetical student believes she/he is not part of the 99%, which, by contrast means she/he thinks she/he is part of the 1% (the 1% referring to the top income earners in the U.S.). I’m not going to dispute that particular 1% point, since it’s already self-disputed within the photo as the subject self-describes her/himself as a near minimum wage earner, automatically placing her/him in the bottom 99% of wage earners in the U.S. In other words, that part of the photo is especially ridiculous, too ridiculous to refute.”

There is at least one other way one could read the claim in the sign. (“I am NOT the 99%, and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.”) Part of Occupy Wall Street’s rhetoric has been to try to persuade those who might not agree with their actions or motivations that they are part of the 99%, which ought to be enough to put them on Occupy Wall Street’s side. Part of that argument is that it simply boils down to wealth: if you look at the level of income required to place you in the 1% and you’re not sitting on a throne made of solid gold RIGHT NOW, then you’re not part of the 1%.

But other folks aren’t obliged to agree with this reasoning. They might object to the meaningfulness of a division between the 1% and the 99%. Perhaps we should see ourselves on a spectrum of success, where all can benefit according to how hard they’re willing to work. As such, the writer of the sign could mean, rhetorically, that she – whatever she earns – refuses to see herself as an aggrieved member of the 99%, ready to demand some of the justly earned success of the 1%. That would make this a somewhat sophisticated and coherent statement of the sign author’s position regarding Occupy Wall Street, not the ridiculous claim of someone who can’t do math.

NOTE: Though I first interpreted the last line of the sign in the way I’ve just laid out, after consideration I can’t decide whether one (mine) or the other (the author of this post’s) can be definitely stated to be correct. But I still wanted to point out the ambiguity.

I read the picture and thought it was fabulous!  Then I read your response and had to stop half way through because it was a little ridiculous.

I worked hard through high school to get good grades, earn scholarships, save money, and put myself fully through university.  I moved out to Vancouver and went to UBC.  So it was a fairly pricey education.  I worked like crazy through the summer at a slightly above min wage job, I lived in the cheapest housing I could find…and Vancouvers housing market is not that cheap, I worked odd jobs, I scrimped and saved most of my pennies…I rarely ate out or grabbed a Starbucks, never had a car, or a cell phone, or even an ipod.  Hard to imagine?  Maybe.  But had to do what I had to do to get by.  I had an old computer which I made work, I took the bus or walked, and new clothes were few and far between.

Through this, I paid for all of my tuition, housing, textbooks, food, and clothes/misc expenses on my own (with the help of a bunch of scholarships).  I graduated from University debt free…with not a single student loan.  I then put myself through a year long teaching program and have just acquired a job as a teacher.

It is not an easy thing to do.  I am not writing this to brag or anything.  But rather to say, just because you cannot fathom it or that the math that you do doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that it is not possible.  Just because you become aggravated, angry, and enraged when you can’t figure out how someone could make such a situation work…doesn’t mean that it is bs.

I assume from your quote, “I have been able to be successful, in large part, because my parents were successful. I did something with what I was given, but I was given a huge amount…”, that you have not been a situation like one in this letter.  That you have never been here or experienced anything like it.  I worked 14-16 hour days through the summer, I found odd jobs during the school year, and I fully paid my way debt free.  So if you’ve never been here, I’d stop writing a load of bs about how it is impossible…and maybe even use your ‘huge amount’ from your parents to help out a poor student that you can’t relate to!


It’s kind of telling that you make wildly speculative assumptions about what the author does or doesn’t do for “poor students” in need, but then call researched, founded, and cited information “ridiculous”. You also assume (without proper support) that the “huge amount” of support the author refers to is strictly financial. The author speaks to inherent privilege, some of that is family support (not necessarily financial), access to good schools, available scholarship funding from community members, etc. It’s really obtuse for you to assume simply that the author is just rich and can’t understand.

And as for stating that the author must not be able to relate to working students because she called out the photo as b.s., never once does the author state, or even imply, that she can’t relate to students who’ve worked toward funding their own education, in fact, I think she mentioned that she’s an educator and works with students, what she does do is sympathize with the plight of students who are expected to graduate from college debt free despite exorbitant costs. Basically, the article isn’t full of b.s., you’re applying a fair amount of your own self-created b.s. to a person you’ve never met.

Also, you admit you stopped reading the article halfway through, it’s probably not a great idea to comment on articles you haven’t read, there’s a good chance you missed the salient points.

As for your personal college experience, according to the UBC website, a year of undergraduate tuition at UBC (which you describe as a “fairly pricey education”) runs about $4288 Canadian a year (averaged across the various undergraduate programs, many are less than $4,000 a year), which converts to about $4183 US. If you’d actually read this article you might have seen that that’s LESS THAN HALF what in-state tuition costs at the University of Washington. UBC also states that they give $15,000,000 in scholarship money to FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ALONE, compared to UW, which gives out $15,000,000 in scholarships to students TOTAL, even though both schools have over 35,000 undergraduate students. UW spreading out 1/4 of the scholarship money that UBC spreads out to incoming students is a pretty significant factor, don’t you think? To point out what should have been obvious from the start, your experience in the Canadian university system is not representative of what students experience in the much more expensive US university system.

Oh, and as a fun aside, law school tuition at UBC is $10,338 a year, at UW it’s $26,000 (for in-state), so that’s pretty much like comparing apples to Buicks.

Since I’ve used the word assume so many times in this note already (and you know what they say about assuming…) I’ll use it one more time, *I* can only assume, based on your uninformed and unfounded complaints with this article, that you’re the perfect example of what the University of Michigan study cited in this article refers to — you wanted to believe this article was b.s., so you decided to believe it was b.s., even in the face of plenty of evidence to the contrary.

No, what it’s saying is: poor people are lazy as fuck, they deserve everything they don’t get and deserve the short lives, poor housing, lack of healthcare, more auto accidents, and violent neighborhoods they currently have because they choose to live like that, we could all be millionaires but not everyone has discipline or determination, some people are lazy so fuck them.

I don’t have doubts that the person in the picture could be telling the truth, they very well could be, but here’s something she doesn’t get: lots of people work just as hard as she does and don’t get to go to college. The productivity of the average American worker has increased dramatically, 400% since 1950, 20% since 2000 alone. American workers are the most productive in the world and the poorest paid in the industrialized world. For thirty years wages and median income have been stagnant only slightly above inflation, non-wage income has decreased and the percentage of American workers receiving non-wage income from employer(health, dental, child care, pensions) has decreased. The income between 1979–2007 increased 5% for the bottom 90% and the 1% increased 224 percent. Higher productivity for the same or less pay? That’s theft. Combined with the increases in the CPI every year its no wonder Americans are in debt like never before. Social mobility has decreased substantially(TIME magazine recently had a cover story about this). Welfare assistance has been being cut since Reagan. Poverty has been stagnant since 1970 and recent new corrections(adjusts for gov’t benefits and health care and other things) by the Census bureau place it higher at 16%. Not to mention the privileges this person has from being white.

Cost of education has increased dramatically and supposed alternatives for the poor(DeVry, Uni Phoenix, ITT) are traps for student loans and actually cost more than public universities! Public Universities are increasing the pay for their presidents and hiring new chancellors while hiking tuition. High school dropout rates are rising for young men and scores have been in decline for decades despite students doing more homework than ever before. High schools have stopped offering training programs in carpentry, metalworking, tool and die making and the computer classes are a joke, fucking flash what am I gonna do with that?

Combined in all of this I find it incredibly insulting that this person thinks that I’m making $8.19 and hour as a skilled laborer in a field I’ve been working in since I was 15(two years part time, two full after high school) because I’m fucking lazy. For a year I’ve been printing resumes and riding the bus out to towns with hour long commutes from where I live, to shake hands with managers and smile and tell them I’d love to work here and never get a call back. There is no other place that will hire a skilled 19yo. I can’t depend on my parents, they’re verbally and emotionally abusive people(to themselves and me) and drunks, removing them from my life was the healthiest decision I’ve ever made. I studied hard in school too, I graduated early w/more than minimum crdites, took a couple of AP classes got a 4 on macroeconomics and US history, but no way I’d get a scholarship. There’s no way I can afford college or community college even on only 30 hours a fucking week(plus my work is physically demanding and leaves me tired I get a lot of my sleep on the bus) and I’m not exactly living it up, I shop at wal-mart maybe at the clearance rack at macy’s once in a blue moon, yeah, I save the coupons I get in the mail, I’ve got a king soopers card(which works at safeway too), I’m in the public library right now waiting for the commuter bus back to my home town, (I can’t afford Comcast’s monopoly rates), there’s homeless in here staying warm as long as they can, their numbers swelled since the recession, and after closing they’ll go back out into the freezing Colorado winter night.(closing is at 8:50 now due to local cuts, and Friday now operates on weekend hours, despite local business’, including the ones owned by the mayor and our Congressman doing quite well in profits). I’m on Medicaid cause my employer provides no benefits and I’m broke and the insurance board set up for Colorado is full of insurance and healthcare industry insiders and politicians with records of being in bed with them(thanks Obama). There’s no dentists who take medicaid in my town(I live outside the town, its full of yuppies and liberals so its too expensive but its where my work is). Colorado Springs is shutting off a third of it’s street lights to save money. I read that record numbers of people applied for heating assistance and the National Energy Assistance Survey says that 37% of people who applied for heating assistance went w/o medical and dental attention to pay utilities and 19% of those denied and went w/o heating got sick bc of the cold. 90% all who applied have a vulnerable person(infant, toddler or elderly) in the household and Obama has proposed only $2.5 billion for heating assistance which is $2.5 billion less than last year. A friend I’ve made on my bus-riding-job-searching and who will be on the bus is also on a job hunt and will be heading back home to his single bedroom apartment he shares with his mom, his girlfriend and his brother – makes the barely-insulated shack I rent out from a farmer(who has me[part of my lease is 12 hours of work a week] and older Mexican men from bumfuck Mexico who don’t speak English, make less than is legal, are often unpaid, do the unskilled back aching day labor, while a densely packed trailer park that sits right by the highway, with no sound barrier, downwind, downhill and downstream from crap filled grazeland, supplies people who are derisively called rednecks to work the combines, the tractors and repair equipment and irrigation systems, despite the sunblock the high altitude means that everyone is sun spot covered and likely candidates for cancer, all the workers drive crappy old cars and carpool, the farmer[who never fucking farms] has a huge house and several incredible cars for him and his kids and never fucking works he just hires half-competent managers) sound luxurious. And this person is telling us we’re all in the position we’re in cause we just haven’t grabbed our bootstraps and pulled? Piss off. I’ve always found it hilarious that that phrase comes from a German fable where a boy pulls himself up by his bootstraps, not to walk, but to fly. Sounds about as realistic.

Gotta go library’s closing, rant over.

Note that the writer said “a moderately-proced in-state public university”.  There are more public universities in Washington State than UW.  For example, if you go to Eastern Washington University instead of UW you’ll save $3,152/year or $12,608 over the 4 years.  That drops your 4-year nut (based on Mom & Dad covering your health insurance) from $75,032 to $62,424.  And that’s the first one I looked at.

Which brings to mind a question I keep asking and no one answers.  How is it that no one is asking the question “Why are colleges and universities charging so much for these degrees?”  Seems to me that they are are either operating inefficiently, being greedy, or both.  Why is no one asking them to justify their pricing?

There are public universities that are more expensive than UW and publics that are less expensive, often times those costs are associated with prestige. While I have no qualms with Eastern Washington University, if that’s a good fit for the particular student, I do have qualms with saying, “hey, rich kids, you get to go to highly ranked research universities like UW, and poor kids, you get to go to less highly regarded regional unis like EWU,” because these decisions shouldn’t be based solely on cost. And, by the way, this is what’s happening. The expensive research universities with more course offerings and resources are full of wealthier kids, and the kids who come from less money get priced out and sent to unis that might not help them become the biomedical engineers they hope to become.

As for cost, some of it’s associated with shrinking support from state funding, and even though public unis have to provide what private unis provide with less money, they don’t get the same autonomy on how to spend it. Another cost factor is faculty salaries, especially at the graduate school level, and I’m all for a decrease in faculty salaries, but that’s a change that would need to happen across the board, otherwise top notch public universities would lose out on outstanding faculty who’d go to private tuition driven institutes instead. And I think most people would agree that our public universities need to stay competitive if we have even a prayer of keeping college education affordable.

Okay, I feel split about this. My name is Emily and I attend one of those “moderately priced, in-state schools.” My mother (broken family) doesn’t help me financially and hasn’t since I was 18 and in high school. My tuition and fees are around 8,400 a year. I can’t say I’m graduating completely debt free, but I can say that I will only graduate with about 12,000 dollars in undergraduate debt, which will result in about a 160.00 payment for me every month. . I recieve nearly 7,500 dollars in scholarships every year because I worked myself to the bone in high school. That’s 34,000 dollars I have saved myself. Aside from this, I also have FOUR different jobs on campus. I’m a tutor at our writing center, a tour guide for the university, a instructor to new freshmen in our Fresman Seminar class, and am the Vice-President of my campus’ SGA. I have maintained my 4.0 through nothing less than neglecting my family, my boyfriend, my friends to make it happen. They understand, and I’m forever grateful for that. I live off campus and try my best not to be frivolous. I would never, ever say that I did this all on my own (I get both grants and federal loans), but I will say that I have also contributed enormously to my own education. I DID pull myself up by my own bootstraps, and I believe that this has had a HUGE impact on my college debt. I graduated high school with a 4.25 GPA, a 1950 on the SAT’s, and about 10 different extra curriculars (including: Durm major of my high school band, State Band, State Forensics, and 500 hours of community service in Interact-Rotary of which I was the president). While I would never, EVER condescend to take all the credit for my college experience, I will say that I’m living proof that it can be done. I’m not ashamed to say that, yes, I did, and still do, work harder than most of my peers. I have no safety net; it’s all on me. I know that my story is in part extraordinary, but I, myself, am not. I’m no smarter, I just refuse to say no, refuse to let what could have, break me. I don’t like it that our government is not better prepared and able to assist more people in their quest for higher education; my heart breaks because I remember so many nights filled with worry before I recieved my financial aid letter, but that gives no one a pass to roll over and accept his or her fate. America isn’t perfect, but I honestly still believe that if you try hard enough, you CAN suceed no matter what your circumstance. Ultimately, it comes down to you. No victimology. No transference of blame. The second you become mature enough to realize how much of your education and sucess are on your own back, the sooner you can dig down into the core of your being and pull out the spectacular.

You are to be commended, Emily.

The problem is that some of us have been “working ourselves to the bone” for a very, very long time. When you’re younger, the sacrifices you make for work are much different than the ones you make when you’re older. The stakes change once you have a family, and that whole “working hard and refusing to be broken” thing might mean neglecting your children. When you get to be middle-aged and older, it might mean neglecting your own health. I don’t mean to crush your optimism here–I think hard work has many redeeming characteristics that have nothing to do with money–but the fact is that a lot of people who HAVE worked hard are suffering right now, either from a lack of opportunity or because of what they’ve lost.

I agree wholeheartedly with the importance of personal responsibility, but I also see a bunch of people in this country who are fixated on nothing but their personal wealth and well-being. Ultimately, it really isn’t just about the individual–we are not just responsible for ourselves, we are also responsible for each other.


While people like snkboarder are free to disagree with the Occupy movement, and free to ridicule any discussion of the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, it is laughable that the way they choose to do so is by saying that 99% is a lie.  99% is a statistic.  If you aren’t one of the 3 million people in this country who has one out of every six dollars of the wealth of the United States (see e.g. the report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office ) , you simply are not in the 1%.  You are other 99%.  That’s a fact, that’s reality.   You can’t argue with that – oh, wait.  As Stephen Colbert said to G. W. Bush during the press club dinner, “reality has a well-known liberal bias.”  Right, so when reality is in conflict with conservatism, it is clear which one has to go.

Now, as snkboarder said, let’s celebrate the winners of our economic system, which in our case is capitalism, but let’s make sure that the rules of the game are fair.  We can call all agree that there is far too much corruption in Washington, and many of the people who are rich are not those who won the game but instead those who were bailed-out at tax payer expense for their own stupidity and greed.  Thus, they didn’t win the game, they cheated.  If you feel good about being cheated, about paying for greedy fat cats’ cigars, or for their oxycodone and hydrocodone addictions, then by all means be our guests.  I’m sure somewhere in heaven God will appreciate your Don Quixote-like struggle against your own best interest.

At its heart, the Occupy movement is not about the redistribution of wealth, but rather about the redistribution of representation.  We want political power out of the hands of those 3 million who lobby their way for their own massive tax cuts while the services at schools and hospitals are cut.  We want the power in the hands of grassroots activists, including conservatives such as yourself.  If you’d like to join us, we can make a better society; if you’d prefer to ridicule us, please at least find a better tactic than making up clearly false signs and trying to paint unbiased statistics as lies.  It is most unbecoming to let reality become a victim of political bickering.

This blog post was so fundamentally moronic that I had to make an account here just to reply.

First, and foremost, if you wish to lump yourself into this mythical idea of a 99%, that’s your business.

Writing a questionable essay that essentially forces the idea of the 99% on everyone essentially makes you an OWL protester.

From a logical standpoint there is no 99%. The rich have always been a minority. Well, welcome to capitalism. If you don’t like it, there’s plenty of other forms economy to choose from. Since yer so well edmucated, I won’t droll on about such pase topics as socialism and the “Ruskis.”

I’m going to talk about the OWL movement, since that is the very basis of your unfounded rage.

There are three classes of people in the U.S. The upper class, the middle class, and the lower class. OWL is essentially the lower class, people who got a shitty lot in life, and the dregs of society. That is not the 99%. No one’s saying it isn’t unfortunate. They’re why social programs and fallbacks exist. A topic for another day is the varying successes of those programs.

Unfortunately, there are some rich people who really didn’t earn it. Some very destitute people that don’t really deserve it, depending on varying points of view. What is the point of this idealistic 99%? That we should redistribute wealth from successful capitalists to the lower classes?

Is this a realistic idea to you or anyone who isn’t on drugs? Isn’t that…socialism…? Isn’t socialism fundamentally different than capitalism?

By the way, if you watch any videos of OWL protests, it’s a freak show: a bunch of modern-day hippies doing drugs, not bathing, and defecating in public. Yes. Let’s give them all the money.

Whining and crying about capitalism and how there are varying degrees of wealth? Hah.

My thoughts on a total waste of time complete,

Just because you didn’t earn it, doesn’t mean no one else can earn it. This is America, a meritocracy, and you make your own way.

The vocal minority, claiming to represent everyone— essentially, now brings your “rage” down upon people who actually try and contribute to society?

We should be lauding people that succeed. Not showering support on people who, en masse, decided they deserved everything.

You’re a blogger, though. I’m sure loafing around, ranting and raving like a mad person lumps you into the unicorn-like 99%.

You state the wealthy are a minority – yet you turn around without blinking an eye, stating the 99% are “mythical”???  What are you smoking?

Anyway, lets get to reality, something you clearly avoid at all costs.  You did not bring up one single fact directed at this article at all.  Not a single one.   You clearly are ignoring the main message of the Occupation:  “Let them eat cake” is not good economics period.

You assume anyone who is not rich is lazy it would seem.  Just make sure you say that a bit louder when your Starbucks Barista is spitting in your Americano.

I am an engineer. i work 48 hours a week and study at college. i am content with my situation. i do not need the money from that much work but i still do it for the experience. I have never been in debt and do not intend to ever be. I believe that i should not buy what i cannot afford. This still is not an indicator of how good the economic situation is. The world economic situation is pretty fucked. ofcourse all thanks to america and the american dream of getting all you want no matter what (thats the reason for their debt crisis).

The person in the picture could very well be telling the truth. However, I think if anything, they do nothing to take into account the individual stories that those who are protesting have. From this, you would think everyone wasn’t motivated or hard working and I’m sure that’s not the case for the majority of people. And not those who are actively protesting, but those who feel the same and aren’t actively getting out there.

Great post.

The money is just not there at public universities. If you are white, male, aren’t the class valedictorian, and both your parents are married, alive, and college-educated–well, you’re pretty much out of luck. My oldest son was a 3.9 in high school, competed in two national FBLA events, was the lead in several high school plays, exceptional SAT scores, etc. He was offered the princely scholarship of $2,000/year at one of the local universities–nothing to sneeze at, but when you’re looking at a price tag of $23,000 for freshman year, that was quite the wake-up call.

Exclusive private schools are pretty much the only places that are offering substantial need-based scholarships. They are hard to get into and they can’t serve everyone.


I completely disagree with your outrage. In fact, I am more outraged by being lumped into the whiny 99%. The entire Occupy Wall Street movement is making anyone and everyone who is not extremely wealthy look like a bunch of beggars and crybabies.

Two claims of yours that truly offended me are the following:

…the good scholarship money is reserved for really super smart grad students.”

But had I not had parents to rely on in funding my education, it wouldn’t have made it possible for me to go to college without lots and lots of loans.”

These I’ll combine with another statement, to be fair.

If you went to college ten years ago, don’t pretend like you know what students face today.”

Yes, I did attend college ten years ago. At that time, I was one of your supposed mythical people who got a full ride, a completely paid for scholarship. I did not receive this grant because I had a high GPA. Nor did I work my ass off, though at the time I was also working part time to pay for my living expenses. No. I received a completely paid for college tuition from the government because both of my parents are deceased.

Granted, I will admit that I do not know the first thing about how much college costs today, but that’s besides the point. Who is to say that the person in the photograph did not also attend college 10 years ago? How many of the protestors occupying Wall Street also attended college 10 or more years ago? The people whining about the injustice of Capitalism Today aren’t all young, freshly graduated or freshly attending college alumni.

I, personally, found the photograph that you found to be so offensive to be refreshing. I’m sick and tired of all this protesting. It’s getting nowhere. What I find more offensive than anything is being lumped into a 99% that makes our entire country look like a bunch of blubbering babies. I don’t see the injustice “everybody” speaks of. I live contentedly, married for 8 years, raising my first child as a stay-at-home mom. My family is not suffering. We are not homeless. We are not starving. We manage to get by, and that’s enough for me.

Well, then. I guess we have no right to make  “lumpy” generalizations like: “Most families can no longer afford a college education for their children” or “Most people don’t get their tuition 90% covered with a scholarship of any kind–especially at state universities.” Even if those generalizations are the truth. Because, you know, those generalizations don’t specifically outline the circumstances of every person who happens to be in a tiny minority. And those folks might get offended or something.

I stand in awe of your “proof” that the rest of us are all whiners. Whoa. If it all worked out for YOU, it’s gonna work out for everyone, right? Sure thing! I feel so much better now, knowing that YOU are enjoying a good life–good enough that you don’t even have to have a job and can be a stay-at-home mom and still live comfortably.

Unless you see the whole two-dead-parents thing as a scholarship solution for the gazillion 17-18 year olds we have in this country who have the grades and the desire to go on to a college education…well, may I suggest it might be time to consider the possibility that this ain’t even about you, honey. It’s about the rest of us. So you really shouldn’t be offended.

I think the proof that OWS is a bunch of whiners is that OWS peeps don’t even seem to know (or care) who they should be occupying.  They’re too busy screaming about how unjust capitalism is like Ehzoterik said and demanding the “rich” “pay their fair share” whatever the nebulous word “fair” means (the rich already pay the vast majority of all income taxes…).

OK…college costs suck, but shouldn’t you be occupying Washington DC and college campuses across the nation complaining?  OK…banks got bailed out, but the government FORCED many of them to take the bailouts so no bank seemed “better” than any of the others.  Wells Fargo for instance was completely solid and their CEO didn’t want the bailout, but they were forced to take it so they used it to fix Wachovia (which was full of troubled assets).  OWS people don’t care which banks were good and which ones were bad…they’re marching in front of ALL banks as if ALL of them were evil.  Seriously?  The bailouts were an example of crony capitalism (not free market capitalism) as well as most of the things that CAUSED the economic collapse in the first place.  Crony capitalism happens because of Big Government.  Is OWS beating down the doors of R’s and D’s that engage in crony capitalism and demanding power be stripped from the Federal Government and returned back to the States and Counties and the people?  Nope…they’re calling for an end to capitalism and the establishment of Uber Big Government.  Is OWS looking for solutions to the the problems or are they just demanding that Big Government go confiscate ever MORE money from the “rich” to gloss over the problems (until the next crisis comes along)?  OWS can’t even get the bad guys and good guys straight, so of course we think they are whiners.

I can’t say that I’m surprised.  Statistically, anyone suffering their way through the university system nowadays is stuffed full of liberal, Marxist mush (it was the same way 20 years ago when I went through it), so I can’t say I’m surprised that the average OWS person who is a college graduate doesn’t understand that it’s the people they’re protecting (Big Government and Liberal Academia) that are responsible for 99% of the mess.

The problem with Matt Taibbi is that his writings are like staring at half worked mathematical equations.  I agree with a lot of what Matt writes, but it’s like Matt is incapable of getting to the next step and seeing that Big Government is a huge factor in the problem.  For instance in several pieces Matt states that Banks and Wall Street caused the financial crisis.  Even the left-leaning admits that the cause of the crisis was vast and includes a lot of bad guys including R’s, D’s, Big Government, Regulators, The Fed, Bankers, and main streeters who felt entitled to houses they couldn’t afford.  Corporations are in competition with each other and are out to make profits.  Don’t be so surprised and angry when they take advantage of things coming out of Washington.  Fix the source of the problem (Washington) and you’ll find that the corporations will follow suit.

Also it’s disingenuous to point to Taibbi as representative of OWS.  He may represent the more intellectual side, but when you see all the signs of the Fist and other socialist signs at these OWS rallies, you don’t get the impression of people who love capitalism, love getting rich, but just want the playing field leveled like Taibbi espouses.

Um, Kain, I didn’t “point to Taibbi” as the “source” of the OWS protests…I just said you should read his articles. Taibbi is the only journalist who has been able to explain the wretchedly complex financial mess in language that a regular people can understand and in a way that makes it clear what the stakes are.

Taibbi has REPEATEDLY stated this is a not a left/right issue–he’s made it clear the “left” is as guilty as the “right.” That’s one of the most chilling things about this whole mess.

The fact that banks were granting home loans to people who weren’t qualified is a symptom of what was going on with the default swaps–not the cause of the crisis. Not sure what you’re getting at here with the individuals “in government” who felt “entitled” to more house than they could afford. If you mean that the government was not acting to rein in the corruption because they were reaping the benefits for not doing so (monetarily and otherwise) then I am in perfect agreement with you.

So the next question is what “big government” really means. If “BG” means elected officials knew what was going on, but chose to ignore it, is that the definition of “big government?” Or are we all talking about a government that endorses the whole screwy profit-is-the-end-that-justifies-the-means thing?

Or are we talking about the “big government” that conservatives talk about–a government that is willing to provide health care and other social services while taking away individual rights?

I’ll be honest here. Were you were to give me a choice between socialism and living under a government BY the money and FOR the money, I know which option I’d pick.  I have a lot more in common with the people who work their butts off for a living than I do the folks who are running the show right  now.

As far as how people “shouldn’t be surprised and angry”….really? “Shouldn’t be…” why? Because those emotions unseemly or something? Anger and surprise spur change.. Changes don’t happen when people are content . You want change, you’re going to have to put up with angry people.


I never said “source,” I said “representative” as in a good example of the movement as a whole.  Like the guys rioting in Oakland, or the laundry list of socialist, marxist, nazi, and anarchist groups supporting OWS.

Agreed on left & right.

When I talk about BG, I mean state capitalism, state corporatism, fascism, or whatever offshoot of socialism you want to call our current system where the government is “regulating” the system and protecting the interests of corporations, politicians, and political parties FROM the free market (laissez-faire capitalism).  I mean the same BG that the Clinton Administration used to threaten banks with to lend to non-credit worthy individuals or face discrimination lawsuits or merger blocks.  The same BG that allowed CDS’s to go unchecked because the Fed chairman said so.  The same BG that runs quazi’s like Freddie and Fannie.  The same BG that keeps failing to protect us from the next bubble burst in the financial markets even though at each crisis we find that the market was virtually more regulated than at any time in the past and the BG was STILL unable to envision the creativity of the markets nor the unintended consequences of BG’s own regulations.

When I say shouldn’t be surprised, I mean this is what you get when you give the Federal Government so much power to regulate.  You end up with money buying politics and corporations forming that use regulation to protect themselves from competition.  You end up with people making wild bets in the market knowing the full faith and credit of the United States Government (and their paid for political parties) are right there to buy them out, and after all, it’s for a good cause so we don’t look like we’re racist lenders.

TP and OWS’ers all agree on the problem, that corporations have amassed too much power, but we believe BG is part-and-parcel to that problem and you guys think BG is the solution to the problem.

First off, state capitalism, state corporatism and fascism are not forms of Socialism.

Big government.  Small government.  They are spin words the media uses to make the system seem simple.  There are so many ways to perceive that statement, e.g. There are too many Government Employees; There are too many  government regulations;  There are too many laws;  There are too many Intelligence Agencies;  There are too many social programs;  There are too many taxes;  blah blah blah.  Each have their own problems, and simply saying “we need smaller government” is an ignorant approach to a complicated system.

I’m also a little confused about your definition of ‘Big government’ and ‘regulation’.  A pure Free Market is an environment where corporations can do pretty much whatever they want regardless of ethics.  Corporate regulation, by it’s very definition, is the Government attempting to limit the actions of corporations for the public good.  Government regulation is the conscience of the free market.  In many ways the financial crisis was a result of deregulation that previously had protected the public from predatory lending, and unethical derivatives trading.  By removing regulations to make a “smaller Government”, you are providing more opportunity for corporations to exploit…well, everything.  If you want the government to, “protect us from the next bubble burst”, then you want more regulation.  How else are they supposed to protect you?

OWS isn’t about socialism or redistribution of wealth.  It’s about changing the game and creating a more level playing field.  It’s about making the legislature understand we are not OK with them putting corporate interests above our own.  It’s about adding more regulation to protect us from predatory corporate actions.

Here’s the link to an article showing the Government’s role in pushing subprime.  It doesn’t exonerate Wall Street and the CDS people (as I said, there are LOTS of culprits), but it explains one of the reasons the number of CDS’s exploded from the 90’s to the 00’s as banks tried to conform to regulation and protect themselves at the same time.

Oh, those poor, poor banks–they were just trying to protect themselves from all that nasty federal regulation!

Kain, I worked as a foreclosure inspector for five years, and it’s clear (at least from my experience in a tri-county region in our state) that the unqualified/minority borrower issue was not even close to the main problem (and we are a 80-90% minority population area).  The article you linked here does have merit in showing how government played a role in the speculation–up to the point where the author says that banker’s greed “played a role AFTER the fact.'” Meaning after the “smoking gun” government lending policies were enacted, that’s when the speculation began…? Oh, please.

Why do you think the Clinton administration wrote the policy in the first place? I have a very hard time believing it sprang from the goodness of their liberal hearts. Taibbi’s whole point is that the government is in bed with the banks. There was a lack of regulation–and, apparently, actual government encouragement to throw loans at people who didn’t qualify.

But I think we both essentially agree about that. OK. So it’s clear that government and corporations/big money are firmly intertwined, so calling for “more government” is really not the solution…I’m on board with that. Now comes the next problem–figuring out a way to regulate capitalism without giving the government “all that power to regulate.” And, unfortunately, capitalism must be regulated.

I also used to be a journalist, and I’ve written stories about people who were killed as a direct result of poor business practices. Thanks to the favor big businesses curry with local law enforcement and elected officials, they faced little (if any) meaningful regulation. Sounds familiar, yes?

So what are our alternatives?  If a company stands to make money by pillaging the environment and ignoring safety regulations, then I can guarantee that will be exactly what happens.

I don’t see “market correction” as any sort of solution (i.e., Company X does bad things, and when consumers find out,  consumers stop buying Company X’s stuff). That assumes that there will be plenty of publicity about Company X’s bad practices, which assumes there is an active Fourth Estate that’s not run by the same corporate dollars that our government is in bed with.

So if not “more regulation,” what then? How do we “fix Washington” if the only people who can get elected are the ones who make promises to the people and corporations who fund their campaigns?

We have some really serious problems to deal with, and the first step is to admit there are serious problems–that’s why so many of us are happy to see the protestors. I don’t agree with all the signs I’ve seen or all the folks I’ve talked to, but I’m happy to see people asking questions, learning more about what happened, and peeking behind the curtain. The post about the bootstraps college student here IS a peek behind the curtain.

The solution is a return to the system of limited federal government concept the Founders gave us and let the 50 individual states fill the power vacuum.  That gives you 50 petri dishes to figure out what regulations work and what don’t (and allow the other states to follow suit/experiment).  It also gets us away from these uber entities that bring the whole system down when they fail or the federal government screws up.

So you’re saying that, as a loving mom (who, btw, has no business telling anyone they’re not hard working since you don’t even HAVE A JOB) you should just off yourself and your husband before your child turns 18 so they can also get a free ride.  Which also, for the record, you did not EARN.  You were UNLUCKY enough to be struck by a tragedy that, economically speaking, made you one LUCKY bitch.  You neither paid for your own education NOR do you pay for the cushy lifestyle you now enjoy via the hard work of your husband.

Free-loader says what?….

No, I’m saying that the OWS protestors should not speak for me by claiming that all of the 99% are as bad off as they are.  I’m not a millionaire, not the 1%, nor am I living a “cushy lifestyle” as you want to believe.  We have one car that my husband drives to and from work.  If I want to go out and do anything, I have to wait for him to have time off from work or call somebody else.  Do not assume  that I am not grateful for all the hard work my husband does to provide for his family.

Clearly, you have no children, or you would know that raising and caring for children is a full-time job.  If I were to take on an occupation, the income that I am likely to make would do no more than pay for the services of some other person to raise and care for my child in my stead.  I chose to be my daughter’s mother and do this job for free.

No.  What I’m saying is that being a stay-at-home-mom does not make me a “freeloader.”  You have no idea what caring for children and keeping house entails.  You, like the OP, need to stop putting words in my mouth.  Clearly you don’t know what it is I was saying at all, since you keep asking me.  What I’m saying is precisely what I have written here and above.  Read what is there, not what you imagine to be there.

I have to say that while I don’t agree with your political views, anyone saying you’re a “freeloader” for being a stay-at-home mom needs to be locked in a house with a few children of varying ages for a couple of days.  The only instructions they should be given are “keep them alive” and we’ll see how much they think you’re a freeloader by the time they’re finished.  I’ve read some pretty stupid comments on these here internets, but that one is in the top ten.  I have your back 110% (or any other large, mythological number) on this.

Woah.  You found something even more offensive than some other something that isn’t really happening.

You shouldn’t be “more outraged by being lumped into the whiny 99%.”

You want to know why? You aren’t being lumped.   “We are the 99%” is only protest statement.  Something to write on the OWS signs. You in fact sound far more whiny posting things like this than you do just keeping quiet and leaving the whole 99% thing away from you.

Gee, you “don’t see the injustice “everybody” speaks of.”  Have you ever walked in the poor side of town?  Ever?  I suppose you wouldn’t given that all the people who are on the streets there are whiny beggars.  Anyway… I’ll explain.  There are people begging for money on the streets.  Drugs in the back alleys.  Payday loan places every few blocks.  It isn’t a pretty place.  Many people are there simply because they were born into a poor family… completely luck.  Ya, some people did make a few bad choices… but so?  1 or 2 bad choices shouldn’t mean that you deserve a life time of being homeless.  The injustice is that somebody is living on the streets while some have millions.

Another thing that really annoys me is how people say that they were offended by something.  You said this…

“Two claims of yours that truly offended me are the following:

“…the good scholarship money is reserved for really super smart grad students.”

“But had I not had parents to rely on in funding my education, it wouldn’t have made it possible for me to go to college without lots and lots of loans.””

How on earth does that “truly” offend you?!?!  It’s a freaking statement.  Get over it.

It is incredibly difficult to leave “the whole 99% thing away from” me, when I am continuously exposed to it through the media and articles such as these.  Unless you propose that I become a hermit who has removed herself from the rest of the world entirely, such a concept is entirely impossible.

The poverty stricken and destitute of which you speak do not exist everywhere.  As it happens, no.  I have not “walked in the poor side of town,” because there is no poor side of town where I live.  I do not live in a big city where “back alleys” full of drugs even exist.  Though I do see plenty of payday loan places, as you mentioned.  I’ve never made the link that they exist because people are poor so much as because people are not very good at budgeting their income.  The very existence of a payday loan business implies that the people using it are earning a paycheck, because that’s what people receive on payday.

“The injustice is that somebody is living on the streets while some have millions.”

I agree that such circumstances are unfair, but that’s life.  Expecting the wealthy to spend their money on these people is ridiculous.  Why should they?  Because it’s the good, moral and humane thing to do?  Sure.  Good luck convincing them of that, though.  Human beings are selfish by nature.  Take a look around yourself.  I mean.  Here you are, typing away on a computer, which is something these poor homeless people you speak of can only dream of owning.  If your heart aches for them so strongly, sell your computer and give them the money you make from it.  I doubt you will.

Admittedly, I should have better said that the two statements I quoted bothered me.  Perhaps being offended by them was the wrong word, but they aroused strong negative emotion in me when I read them at the time.  The first statement makes the assumption that only those people mentioned, the “really super smart grad students,” are the ones capable of receiving a scholarship.  That is entirely untrue.  There are other ways.  The lack of living parents, as was my case, being only one alternative.  It’s not a pretty one and I don’t wish that circumstance on anyone.

To address the people who claim that they got through college “without loans,” I’d only point out that in pretty much every case, this was only possible because of grants or scholarships.  And, where do most financial aid grants come from at a place like UW?  Yep. TAX DOLLARS.  And how about the subsidy that makes that UW education so moderately priced compared to private universities?  Same answer.  TAXES.  So you may want to think twice before maligning the role of “big government” in helping folks get an education.


“So you may want to think twice before maligning the role of “big government” in helping folks get an education.”

Isn’t that like saying let’s not malign the kidnapper for giving his victim food and water before either collecting the ransom or killing them?  After all isn’t the problem really skyrocketing university costs which has nothing to do with Wall Street and banks and everything to do with Big Government and the universities themselves?  How in the name of reason can you thank Big Government for throwing ever more tax dollars at the university system when they are part of the reason the costs are skyrocketing in the first place?

Before you say “lets make universities just like the public schools,” let’s keep in mind that our private schools spend 1/2 as much as public and put out a better product, and home schoolers cost about 1/10 as much and put out a better product as well.  Throwing money at education for decade after decade has only proved that we can make things cost the tax payers more and still get inferior students.

So, are you saying that the government should not fund schools?

That really doesn’t seem like a good idea.

First of all, the reason private schools get  “a better product” is that the families who can actually pay for a private school tend not to be from the poor part of town.  And also, how are you measuring the success of students? Standardized testing?  That’s actually a pretty faulted way of measuring how good a school teaches it’s kids.  I remember being tested during the standardized tests.  I looked around and there were multiple kids with learning disabilities.  That’s really when those tests go wrong because they don’t factor in things like fetal alcohol syndrome and aspergers.

Also, public schools stink.  They are horribly underfunded.  Just this year I had to leave my old school and go to an independent school because they didn’t have anything in place to deal with the above average kids.  Too little funding… and that’s not because the government doesn’t have enough $.  No… the total cost of wars in America since 2001 is $1,274,959,350,000, and that number is rising by the day.  The cost of the war in Iraq (which by the way, was the wrong country. The majority  of people in Al Qaeda weren’t even from Iraq, the real reason was for oil and to pretend like the government is doing something) has been $802,310,555,000 (and counting)since 2001.  Seriously?  The American government needs to get their priorities straight.  Maybe if they spent less money killing people and more money investing in the future by actually funding schools (all schools, inner city and suburb)  then kids would get a proper education.

Oh.. another note.  How the schools spend the money matters too.  Good teachers make all the difference.  The only thing that kept me actually going to school last year (I was so incredibly under stimulated) was my thurs/friday teacher.  Good teachers, good funding, good programs and curriculum and you’re set.

So honestly, gov. funding is needed, and a whole lot more of it as well.

Private schools can put out a “better product” because they get to reject students.  Any school you have to apply to get into, and can be kicked out of, already has an advantage.  Then there’s the fact that parents who send their kids to private school tend to be more involved in their kids’ education and have the time and money to supplement their education in other ways, whether that be museum trips or SAT prep classes or whatever.  Comparing a school that has to educate every kid who comes in and do it on a budget based on property values of the area to a school that gets to charge what they feel their education is worth and reject any student who doesn’t meet their standards is complete and utter apples to oranges.

And to say that we should scrap public education because private schools say it better is saying that poor kids don’t deserve to learn how to read.

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