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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We Are the 99 Percent

A few weeks ago, I had a quick discussion on Twitter with a journalism friend about Tumblr.  She was trying to convince me that Tumblrs are great.  I didn't really see the point.  Up until yesterday, all of the ones I had seen had been...silly.  Compilations of strange signs or fashion faux pas or hamburgers.  Basically, a way for people to blog (using pictures and relatively little text) about their own idiosyncratic passions.  Kinda clever, but (like a lot of blogs), not terribly important

Then, yesterday, I found this one, and I cannot stop looking at it.

If you don't know what the Occupy Wall Street protests are, you must not be watching or reading ANY news. 

Look at the images and stories in this Tumblr. They are an amazingly effective way of communicating the complete *structural* brokenness of our economy, our health care system, and our educational system.  There is a common thread in many of these diverse stories:  people worked hard, went to school, played by the rules AND STILL ARE NOT MAKING IT. 

This Tumblr expresses as well as any article I've read exactly what the *human* toll is of our broken systems.

It raises many questions for me:  if the system is so broken, what do we need to be teaching our kids, other than "work hard" and "stay in school"?   Is it really even effective that they do the latter?  (Could they avoid a lot of debt and find success via another avenue?  If so, *what* is that avenue? How do we advise them? Is that avenue even structurally obvious, the way educational paths are?)

Is the proverbial 1% paying attention?

Herman Cain, commenting on the Occupy Wall Street protesters yesterday, claimed that "if you're not rich, blame yourself".  The man lacks a sense of how history is intimately tied to personal biography.  *He* grew up in a time of unprecedented prosperity -- meaning that if one had ambition, it *was* relatively easy to "make it".   Need a little evidence?  The current unemployment rate in the US is nearly 10% (and that's just the official statistic).  The *average* unemployment rate from 1945 (year Cain was born) until 2010 was a mere 5.7% (it went up to a high of 10.8%  in 1982 and was at a low of 2.5% in 1953).  Though there are plenty of historical fluctuations -- the cite I linked with the unemployment rate has a great interactive; just plug in different years and months to see unemployment statistics in great detail -- it is still true that for most of Cain's life, those who "worked hard" and "went to school" found that they were successful.  (In fact, lots of people who didn't particularly work hard and didn't go to school STILL found jobs in manufacturing, with salaries that allowed them to own a home and have a decent standard of living; we've lost nearly all those jobs, and with them, the middle class.  This has been happening globally, not just in the U.S.)  

Cain's arrogance in telling Occupy Wall Street protesters than their misfortune is due to *their* choices tells us that he is *not* paying attention to the stories and the evidence of exactly *who* is out of work, who has lost their homes, who is living with their parents.  In far too many cases, it is precisely those who *have* played by the "rules". 

The rules no longer work.  What are the new ones?

A lot of people would like to know. 

1 comment:

  1. Elaine: Thannk you for this. After reading all those signs, I said YES to every opportunity this year to make extra money proctoring SATs. One never knows...


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