A Cunning Misdirection

A friend of mine posted the attached picture to his Facebook wall, and I felt the need to comment on it. Click it to embiggen. Or I could just tell you what it says. Okay fine, be lazy.

“I am a college senior about to graduate completely debt free. I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hours per week making barely above minimum wage. I chose a moderately priced, in-state public university & started saving $ for school at age 17. I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships to cover 90% of my tuition. I currently have a 3.8 GPA. I live comfortably in a cheap apt., knowing I can’t have everything I want. I don’t eat out every day, or even once a month. I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone – and I’m perfectly okay with that. If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St. or the government for my own bad decisions. I live below my means to continue saving for the future. I expect nothing to be handed to me, and will continue to work my @$$ off for everything I have. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I am NOT the 99%, and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.”

For the most part, I agree with the sentiments in this statement. Personal responsibility is everything, and the sense of entitlement that many possess from all ages and walks of life is unacceptable. I also believe that it is important to understand the personal responsibility each of us holds for our financial situation. I won’t bother boring you with the details of my finances (which are a mess) because it is none of your business, but I do not blame Big Business for the bad choices I have made any more than I praise them for the good choices I have made.

Yes, this is a student who is a success thanks in large part to hard work and self control. But not all students have it this easy. For starters, not everyone can get scholarships. A university education is not only for the 3.8 students who did well in high school, though they may wish it to be. Many of us sucked in high school. That hardly means we should be prevented from going on to post secondary education. Hell, my graduating GPA in college was nowhere near as good as this person’s GPA, and I taught there a couple of years later.

I had no scholarships, and between my then-wife and I, at the best of times we were both working two full time jobs. I had student loans for my tuition and books, but what we could scrape together from our two full time jobs covered the cost of scraping by. I didn’t go out partying. I didn’t own nice clothes. We shopped at stores with names like “Meat Liquidators” because that was the only way we could afford meat. We didn’t drive, in fact neither of us even had a learner’s permit. The one stupid financial burden we had was smoking, a stupid burden for sure and one that cost half as much as it does today. For most of my time in college, only one of us was working. The other was hitting pavement trying very hard to find work, usually me, and it was exceedingly difficult because the jobs available to people with my level of education didn’t want someone who was in college all day and who was ugly as sin. And I was. Nobody was going to buy clothes from me.

But the bigger issue is that this is not what the 99% are complaining about. This is what the smug 1%, a category this person does not yet belong to but clearly wishes to join, want you to think this is about. It’s a misdirection. Nobody is asking for a free party life. If you look at the demands of the protesters, you will notice that none of their points are even close to what appears on that image. This image is all about the here and now of college life, missing out on the broader picture being pointed to by the Occupy movement.

People are angry not because they feel like their lives should be way more cool. People are angry because their futures look dimmer and dimmer no matter how hard they work. These futures look dimmer because, no matter how many scholarships you get, your job could be outsourced, your house foreclosed, your tax dollars given to the rich, your politicians owned by corporate interests directly opposed to your own, and on and on and on.

While this person’s statement is completely valid and represents the frustrations of someone who no doubt deals with a lot of fellow students full of vitriol and much less full of actual information, it has nothing to do with the 99% and everything to do with the life of a hard working and lucky university student feeling frustrated by their peers.

Jim

This entry was posted in cutting through the spin, economics by biguglyjim. Bookmark the permalink.

About biguglyjim

Like a caterpillar that spins a coccoon and emerges as a walrus with a mohawk, Big Ugly Jim has become something unexpected. Raised a fine young Christian boy in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jim began to question his teachings, first evaluating the wisdom of other religious and eventually realizing that none of them seemed any more accurate than any other, and not a one of them made a lick of sense. Today, Big Ugly Jim is a musician, a Business Analyst with Large Oil Company Whose Name Is Not Important, a music promoter with the Calgary Beer Core, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a prick, an atheist, a father, an ex-husband, a role model, a horrifying vision in a red speedo (or at least he would be, if ever that happened which IT WOULD NOT), an announcer, and soon to be an officiator of weddings. Also, he's nice and does dishes. Madly enamoured with his partner, The Lovely Lady, Jim continues to live in Calgary, spreading his filthy doctrine of free, critical thinking and appreciation for music. His turn-ons include and are utterly limited to all that is The Lovely Lady. His turn-offs include people being shitty to each other, fundamentalism, and zebras. Who the hell do they think they are, really?

8 thoughts on “A Cunning Misdirection

  1. The main problem I have with this sign is that it’s a fake.  That’s not a handwriting; it’s a font.  And, although the person who put this together found a font that looks like a girl’s handwriting, the hands holding the sign are male, not female.If people who object to (or don’t understand) Occupy Wall Street want to post anti-protest signs, they should at least go to the trouble of finding a genuine person with genuine gripes, instead of fabricating one.

  2. Here’s my problem with this.   They say two things that contradict each other. First, “ I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships to cover 90% of my tuition.”  And then later, “I expect nothing to be handed to me, and will continue to work my @$$ off for everything I have.”Now here’s my problem.  This person may have no expectation of getting assistance with college.  But they have applied for and received at least two scholarships!  Even if those scholarships are based solely on academic merit, it really doesn’t matter, scholarships are by definition FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE WITH TUITION!  You can’t be claiming that you did it ALL on your own while receiving 90% of your tuition in scholarships.   It’s not a very grateful view of those scholarships.  And not very realistic one either.

  3. Also, thought it funny that in current world if they don’t get a credit card, car or loans they will have no credit history and find it near impossible to get a mortgage in future. Prudence is not actually rewarded so they would be joining the 99% in time if they were real.

  4. Pingback: RadarLake » Poor does not equal lazy

  5. I very much like your approach on this one, Eric. Well done.

    As for the question, I don’t think there is any way we could possibly know. It definitely went viral and was used to show just how lazy anyone who wants a better tomorrow really is. ;)
  6. Isn’t the point we need to make, regardless of the verity of this poster, that the sense of entitlement he/she is accusing the 99% group of having, really what we are protesting. The 1% have that sense of entitlement! It’s how we got into this mess. Greed is the belief held by these bankers, financiers, billionaires that they deserve to bilk the rest of us for as much as they can finagle.I expect that this person will discover soon enough, that they are truly in the 99%. Just takes some people an awfully long time to wake up.

  7. So I am in a pretty similar position to this person.  I went to University on multiple scholarships and therefore have graduated with no student debt.  I am very responsible fiscally, and I am comfortable with the way that I live.  I even got a GREAT job out of college, one that I am very fond of and am never bored.  Nevertheless, I find myself extremely frustrated with our current economic structure in this country for several reasons.  One, I am living comfortably, but not that comfortably, and for all of the success I have had in school, I feel that I should be much more highly compensated or at least have the potential to be.  I make a reasonable salary, but not nearly enough to start a family anytime soon, (unless I wanted to float around the poverty level).  Two, not everybody could possibly have the same opportunities that I have had.  I fear for my family and friends of my generation who are unemployed, future unemployed or making less than 30k/year, which are numerous to say the least and all of them are college educated.  This wouldn’t be such a fear to me if I hadn’t seen the post college life that so desperately requires a steady cash flow.  Three, and my greatest fear of all, is that the cost of becoming educated is going to cause trepidation for young students about going to college.  Education is the key to prosperity for the people, and the country as a whole.  It is the foundation of a true democracy, and to me, development of the mind is the most enjoyable facet of life.  So I can’t understand where this person is coming from, perhaps a sheltered world view.  Either way, you are part of the 99% if you are in that financial bracket, and understand that there’s no way of getting out.  Perhaps this person feels that they are going to be a multi-millionaire someday, or perhaps they lack the compassion for the millions of suffering people in this country.  

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