“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.