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View Diary: On Playing by the Rules: The Strange Success of #OccupyWallStreet (177 comments)

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  •  Amazing piece (23+ / 0-)

    I've seen this process a few times before: the small group meetings, for years, 20 and 30 people at an event, then all of the sudden thousands. It's fascinating to watch. I think you put you've identified some of the keys though -- democratic process has to rule over the "verticals", as you call them. Once regular people see that regular people like them are empowered in a movement, and can fully participate not just as a foot soldier, but as a key element of the process, then things can take off. Rejecting the whole culture around permits is also key. As soon as you get a permit, it pretty much eliminates any real possibilities for a threat to the status quo.

    I also agree that what we might be seeing is actually a sort of debt revolt. People at age 18-25 don't really have any idea or even choice in the matter, then all of the sudden they realize that they are debt slaves. They will spend the better part of their lives struggling to pay their loans. This is not only an issue given high levels of unemployment, but more fundamentally it infringes upon their freedom. They can't decide whether to work or not, or what kind of work best suits them, or struggle in their own business for years, or any number of other options. No, they have to select from the options that generate the income to cover their loans, and that basically means corporate America -- assuming they are even lucky enough to have that option.

    My only caveat though is that Wall Street is not really to blame for their student loan debt. You can blame government for failing to adequately fund education, and you can blame academia for tuition rising far faster than the rate of inflation, but I'm not sure how you can blame the banks that gave you the loan.

      •  You are aware that the Department of (32+ / 0-)

        Education has taken over servicing student loans, "saving" the interest to pay for the expansion of health care, right?
        There's great turmoil in the higher education community because local banks have suddenly been deprived of their ability to funnel students and dollars to the "training" programs that sprang up like mushrooms to take advantage of the guaranteed loan program.
        All of the nattering about the federal government "taking over" health care was actually motivated by the federal government taking over the "allocation of credit" for higher education.  They couldn't talk about the real threat banks were facing because that would have exposed an issue the public would have been irate about. So the proponents were reduced to nattering about something that wasn't happening and they lost the issue.  Then Dodd/Frank came along and they still were reluctant to talk about the money (the last taboo) and went along reluctantly in hoped that the 111th Congress would repeal it all. It didn't happen.
        While it is true that private health insurers are continuing to administer the payments to providers, the looming cap on their profits is not only curbing their enthusiasm at the trough, it is significantly reducing the stream of investment dollars insurers traditionally funneled to the banks.
        In Georgia, the insurance industry is trying to make up for it by insisting that home owners purchase insurance for replacement costs that were highly inflated by the boom and, in addition, that they include, what used to be an option, the insurance of their cars in the package. So, if you don't have a car (because you lease?), you can't insure the homestead. In addition, the state of Georgia's insurance commissioner is petitioning to have health insurers exempt from the 15% cap on profits from premiums because, when new policies are written, the salesmen expect to collect 20% of the premium for the first year up front.  That's their rule of thumb. The argument being forth for the waiver is that if they don't get it new insurance companies won't spring up. The thumb rules.

        People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

        by hannah on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 03:22:47 AM PDT

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    •  The vicious circle: (19+ / 0-)

      Government budget cuts hit universities which raise fees.  (The Koch Brothers are happy to see universities pinched because they then are able to lavish conditional donations that demand their ideology be taught.)

      Privatization of student loans means profit has to be tacked onto the cost.

      Privatization of higher education with higher tuition and fee costs is heavily subsidized by the student loan program, which although privatized, is still paid with taxpayer funds.

      Because private higher education institutions don't properly prepare students for their chosen occupation, a high percentage of their students end up defaulting on their loans because they cannot get work in their field to pay the loans.

      All of which raises the cost of a higher education and the loan programs.

      Voila!  Backs broken by debt.  Add to this the injury that with the privatization of student loans came a law that removes all hope of relief from such debt, ever.

      So yes, I do blame Wall Street for crushing student debt.  It's just one more thread in the Disaster Capitalism fabric.

      Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

      by Gustogirl on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 07:48:57 AM PDT

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    •  Your second paragraph is key. (30+ / 0-)

      I'm in my late 20's and still $50,000 in student loan debt and I will tell you: I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed those loan papers at age 20.

      One day while home during winter break, my mom sat me down at the computer and said we had to do something important.  I was halfway through college at a moderately expensive private school and my middle-income, working class parents had been paying my way so far, both directly and through loans they had taken out in their names.  I was vaguely aware of this, but was focused on my school work and college life.  I had savings from working during high school and then worked part time through most of college to cover living expenses ( though parents helped out on rent), but tuition was just not part of my perspective.  It was just paid.

      So I was pretty confused about what was going on when my mom said it was getting too much for them and she hated to do this but I'd need to take out some big loans in my name to finish school.  I understood in a basic sense what that meant, but I had no idea about the kind of debt I was being saddled with.  My mom said it was necessary.  I loved my school and only had about 2 years to go.  I was just doing what was necessary.

      It only started to become clear about six months after I graduated and the bills started coming due.  I saw the huge principle.  The thousands in interest that had accumulated while I was still in school.  The $400-500 I'd have to pay off at minimum every month for at least the next 15-20 years.

      It was like seeing my future being enveloped in a huge, menacing black cloud.  Up to that point I was temping and looking for a permanent job at a progressive non-profit.  That dream instantly went out the window.  I wouldn't make enough at a non-profit to cover all my living expenses, plus those fucking student loan payments.

      Every year that I do my taxes and see that I've paid about 10-15% of my take-home income to Sallie Mae just in interest makes me want to quit my job and go pick up a molotov cocktail.

      So I can't work in non-profits.  I have to be very careful if I ever move to another part of the country where incomes are lower than this city, as I might not be able to make enough to cover my payments (and forget about owning a car...I'll have to bike to work for miles down country lanes, hah).  I was never able to be a carefree college graduate who quits their job and road-trips across the country or spends a summer in India like some of my friends were able to do.  I will most likely still be tens of thousands in debt when I have children of my own.  Fucking FSM help me if I ever lose my job.

      All of this because I was just doing what I was "supposed" to be doing.

      And just to note, I don't blame my parents.  They were doing the best they could, too.  I was one of the first in my extended family on both sides to go to college.  They wanted a good future for me and always saw a good education as the means to ensure that.  They tried to keep those loans off of me, but eventually they just couldn't do it.

      No, I blame the predatory student loan companies and the fucking banks that profit off their scams.  I blame the schools for feeding into this frenzy by constantly raising tuition.  I blame the capitalist-serving government for allowing all this misery to happen in the name of profit.  I won't be happy until this whole fucking global capitalist system goes down in flames and we the people of the world dance on its ashes and make a new, better world for ourselves.

      The politics of direct action is based, to a certain degree, on a faith that freedom is contagious. - David Graeber

      by An Affirming Flame on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 09:26:18 AM PDT

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