Oct 17, 2011
Martin Kelly - See all 164 of my articles
There is a lot of praise and condemnation of the Occupy Wall Street group and other groups like them springing up around the country. Even in my small middle America town there is a group, although they go home at night and to their jobs on week days. There is a lot to like and dislike about them. They are not the demons or saints that the various bloggers, reporters and talk show host make them out to be. They are typically law-abiding people with a complaint that they do not think is being addressed by our governmental leaders.
First, the name of 99%ers. The right wing complains because they have defined that label as a claim to represent the views of 99% of the population. This claim and accusation are equally absurd. The people have identified themselves as part of the 99% of people below the highest wealth group of American society. This is an accurate description.
Second is the message. They are mad about the bailouts of companies that have outrageous bonus and pay structures for their executives. They are also complaining about a lot of other perceived injustices that can hardly be considered a cohesive or comprehensible message. I agree with the complaint about the bail outs. A lot of our tax money was spent to save failed businesses. If you are rewarded for taking risks with large salaries and bonuses, then why are you rewarded when there is no risk? A risk is an action that could result in loss. In these cases, the “risk” was to spend someone else’s money, but get paid whether you succeeded or failed.
I find it interesting that the targets are just some of the executives, not all, and that the decision makers, our elected officials, are not the targets. These protests are very similar to the Tea Party protests last year, only the identified enemy is different.
I have seen signs complaining about large loans. Why did you take out the loans in the first place? I have seen signs complaining about large debts from college. Why is that the fault of the banks? I agree that there is a problem, but the problem seems to be in our own ability to identify the root cause. If you are deeply in debt, it is you fault. You never have to take out a loan. If you college education cost a lot and you can’t get a job, blame the university, not the bank.
I was lucky, I got an education back when it was reasonably priced. I lived in my parents’ home, went to the state college, and got a degree that had the potential of resulting in a job opportunity. I have kids in college right now. Both my wife and I are working to help keep the final debt to a minimum, but it is not easy. The cost of a college education has gone up many more times than the potential income boost of having that education. Since we do not live near the state school that has the career degrees that my kids are perusing, they live in a dorm. They do not have cars, TVs, IPods, IPhones, IPads or spending money. They work every summer and some during the school year. They have cell phones, the cheapest on a family plan. They do not have texting or unlimited anything.
We own a home. We did not spend anywhere near the amount of money that the bank suggested, instead we looked at what we could afford. We own a car, but we did not start off with a new one and we drive our cars until they are too expensive to repair, not until they are out of style.
So I do agree with the 99%ers. We should not be bailing out the banks, car companies, investment firms, or governmentally sponsored mortgage organizations. I disagree with them in other ways, and I cannot tell how many I actually disagree with because of the confusion of demands. I do not believe that we should forgive any loans. I was distressed that I had to explain to my youngest child why that was a bad idea. I believe that I will repeat it here, since many of the protesters do not understand how basic banking works. If we forgive the loans, we are stealing from every depositor to that bank. That’s right, stealing. Every dollar that is loaned out comes from the pool of money that depositors have put in the bank. Apparently, the protestors think that the banks just have the money from some magical source. So if we forgive the loans, grandma suddenly has no savings.
I do agree that college costs too much. I do not agree that this is the fault of the banks. The only people you can blame are the colleges themselves. The banks do not set tuition rates. I am especially aggravated with state schools, which take tax dollars and still raise the rate at more that inflation. I am not in the business of education, but there seem to be a lot of courses and degrees that do not lead to employment. Sure you may feel good about yourself for delving into some niche group study, but if it forces up tuition that much, is it worth it?
To keep my message at least somewhat coherent, I will not even address some of the other complaints.Share this article via email Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin. Like this site? Subscribe via RSS, Subscribe via Email, or Follow us on Twitter or Facebook. The permanent URL for this article is: