We Are the 99 Percent

From here:

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

43 Comments

  1. I don’t get it? Spent all that money on school and house instead of health insurance and savings. And now she’s… worried about the bills? Am not sure what the point is. I’m all about school, but if you have student debts, why would you buy a house on top of that?

    1. Im in the same boat as this woman. I graduated college and built up savings while living with my parents and working. After 3 years I bought a house. 8 years later that house is worth 70k less than what i bought it for. Im paying $700 a month for healthcare for my wife and kid as my employer doesnt provide it. No retirement, no 401k, no pension. Ive been a contract worker for the last 6 years. This country is so F#@!$ and no one gets it.

    2. Do you not understand how common this is?

      90k in debt is not an exceptional cost for a Masters degree. A lot of professional careers are hard to break into without a higher degree or the magic “five years experience”. The expectation is that a future employer will provide health insurance.

      80k underwater on a house is actually pretty goddamn good from where I’m sitting, as I apply to be more than 200k in debt on a cheapass condo.

      I don’t see how her situation would be improved if she had no school, did not own a home, but had savings and insurance. Does insurance feed you? Would the job a 38-year-old woman with no college education could get provide enough money for her to retire and continue to pay rent? Hate to burst your bubble but it isn’t very practical to think so.

    3. You have a short memory… at one time, all the experts were crowing about the infinite growth of housing prices and how we were finally in a bubble-proof economy. So of course it made sense to buy a house. And If you couldn’t afford it, just sell it a year later for more money and keep the profit.

    4. In some cities now (Los Angeles for example) people are finding rent to be more expensive than buying a house. So now what do you do when you lose your home?

    5. Look, we all have to take chances in life, but investing in an education and a home have traditionally been safe chances to take. This woman followed conventional wisdom, along with millions of others in the US, and she feels betrayed by the result. She’s not asking for advice, especially about what she should have done. She’s putting a face on a huge societal problem that is not being talked about enough.

  2. Woj, that sounds tough. I genuinely hope it works out in the end.

    I don’t own a house, so I’m not sure how those market changes work. And you are covering your family’s healthcare, that is great!

    Retirement/401k/etc you can set up yourself. And it might save you some taxes?

    “This country is…” I agree. But plenty of people are aware of the flaws. Question is, what are you doing to change it? What are YOU doing to change it?

  3. If the system screws 99% of the people, then something’s wrong with the system.

    Sadly I don’t think that’s a great enough critical mass for political change. It has to reach 99.9% before people start changing their life-long voting patterns.

    1. I assume this is a US girl. It would be awesome if they had a better way for covering school costs. And medical.

      But they don’t. And she borrowed heaps of money in the existing system. And she is educated (one would hope, considering her costs).

      How is it the systems fault? If you lent me $10, and I didn’t pay it back, is it a problem with the system? Or did I not manage my finances properly?

      Maybe you’re right. It’s just frustrating seeing people complain about their bills when they are the ones that borrowed in the first place.

      1. It’s a problem with the system if 9% can’t find a job and the economy is tanking, yet you have jokers like Donald Trump flying around in gold-plated jets!

      2. Passerby, how does this involve Donald Trump?

        I don’t see the connection between someone who chooses not to pay their bills and someone who does?

        If you can’t find a job, don’t borrow money. And if you are unsure about the economy, don’t run up more bills then your savings allows.

      3. This argument over contracts is very old. It goes generally like: “If you agreed with it, it is your sole responsability”. I don’t think it should be necessary to demonstrate why it is flawded, but yet many people use it anyway. It is sad.

      4. Nikky said:

        If you can’t find a job, don’t borrow money.

        But in order to get a good job you pretty much need a higher education. And without loans, few people can afford that. Catch meet 22.

      5. // how does this involve Donald Trump? //

        Just an example: we could raise taxes on the top 1%, to provide free or subsidized university education to the bottom 99%.

      6. Well, in some way it is the system’s fault. Wages have remained flat for many people while medical costs have soared. People are working to pay bills but they are swamped.

        What are the options? College gets one a better paying job, so people take out a loan in hopes that they will make a decent enough living. People graduate and the salary does not match the demands that come with the cost of living.
        Not everyone is in the same boat. There are good paying jobs after graduation.

        But I can say this- I know top students who are passing on excellent private colleges and heading for state schools because they are choosing between “debt” and “crushing debt”. I also know newly minted engineers who headed straight back to the university in hopes that a master’s degree might open doors. The majority of engineering jobs are asking for several years experience and it’s a shame because the people I know are eager to work.

      7. passerby! that’s a great idea with the taxes. but until that happens, is this woman not responsible for her debts? she received an education, and the teachers who educated also want to buy groceries. should they call the system for payment of their work? or donald trump? or you?

  4. The 99%- particularly the young adults- are in an awful spot. The costs of health care, education and housing are so high few can afford all three.

    Something else is making me grit my teeth on behalf of a young relative. I had never heard of a 1099 contractor before.

    Companies aren’t calling them “employees” but “contractors”. The difference? No health care, no unemployment, no overtime.

    And people are desperate for such jobs that they will take the 70 hour, 7 day a week job without benefits or overtime because they feel damned lucky to have a job. But then they get sick. And then they have big medical bills and no job.

    I don’t know how things can continue like this.

    1. YES! This is me! My whole department at work is made up entirely of contract workers. Only our boss is full time.

      At my previous employer it was the same thing. All contract workers except for those in the corner offices. What doesnt make sense is that since we are contract workers we are hired through a payroll company and the payroll company charges roughly 30% on top of our hourly wage. So for example, if you make $30 an hour the payroll company is getting paid $39 an hour from the company we actually do the work for.

  5. What are the laws on bancruptcy in the US. Here in the UK, I know two people who’ve declared themselves bancrupt ( one young family and one OAP ), as it was their only chance to start again. In the UK its pretty straightforward, no baliffs or removal of personal belongings or anything in most cases, and in 5 years you are cleared, ready to borrow again.

    1. But in order to get a good job you pretty much need a higher education. And without loans, few people can afford that. Catch meet 22.
      Join unionized labor. Granted starting pay might be 10 – 17 dollars an hour, but without the college debt, that’s manageable.
      Just an example: we could raise taxes on the top 1%, to provide free or subsidized university education to the bottom 99%.
      Still some people will not benefit from a university education, e.g. women’s studies majors.

      1. Instead of joining unionized labor SWPL college graduates fight over min-wage stock-clerk positions at Barnes and Noble.

        Should of focused on their MRS instead of their MBA. Maybe with gay marriage legalized these soft neckbeards can marry into wealth.

  6. PopMonkey says:

    should they call the system for payment of their work? or donald trump? or you?

    The answer is: they should call the people who have excessive amounts of cash.

    I really don’t know why people love the rich so much. They’re basically parasites, sucking wealth out of the system and giving nothing back.

    1. I doubt even Obama has the gall to start forcing the rich to pay higher taxes. He’d be skinned alive and this is a man who is unlikely to be re-elected.

  7. Passerby, wow. if that makes you feel better, run with it.

    Am not sure if you’re trolling, but how much is “excessive”? Just more than you, or an actual number?

    i’m 36 and spent most of my 20’s getting out of poverty. Paid off debts, no credit, no borrowing, married a nice boy, investing properly, etc. No offense meant, but it sounds like your in a “they have more money then me, they must be jerks” attitude.

    More taxes? No problem. We support things like fire departments, health care, etc. We’re happy to pay for these things, we’re at %36.5 income taxes because of our income level. Are you paying more? If not, should you be a parasite in our eyes?

    1. The attitude, “They can’t have it better than me!” only ensures that the world will, by definition, never improve.

      You crawled through a tunnel of shit to get where you are? Good job. But it’s frankly misanthropic that all you can think about is making sure everyone who comes after will have to suffer in the same ways.

      Education is not nearly so deeply debt-creating in other countries. Health care in the U.S. is obscenely high. Effective income growth for everyone but the top of the top earners has stagnated for decades. These are objective faults with the system that, when remedied, would make life objectively better for everyone in the country. Meanwhile, you have nothing more to contribute than, “Hey, it was hard for me–it should be hard for her too!”?

  8. “allright then we are two nations”
    — John Dos Passos

    One nation believes in the sacredness of super-exploitative contracts that the 1% impose on the 99% with the free choice of ‘sign or starve’. Then use the full power of a corporate police state to enforce every jot and tittle right up to the grave and beyond.

    The other nation thinks the first nation is shit and wants to live a decent life free of the dead weight of the rich holding them down.

    I don’t see where there is any grounds for discussion or debate between these two nations. The issue must be decided by other means.

    All accounts will be settled.

  9. I just got off the phone with my lender.
    I bought my first home in 2006. 5 years later it’s 110k underwater. I can afford the payments, but cannot justify throwing good money after bad on an investment that will not recover. (This is Florida, condos are fucked here)
    Fannie Mae is the investor on my mortgage, so they get to set the rules on how my loan would ever be modified or refinanced. Since I haven’t taken a pay cut or become unemployed I don’t qualify for any of their programs.
    I have a comfortable income, little debt outside my mortgage, and an 800+ credit score. I COULD qualify for a 2nd home mortgage and get a nicer place for less money than my first mortgage (with all these foreclosures there’s so many good deals to be had). It would be possible for me to then mail the keys back to the bank and say “smell you later!” They would rather let me do that than refinance me to a rate that would cut my monthly payment by a third.
    I heard FICO is coming up with a new product that predicts borrowers like me – people with good credit who might “strategically default”. There’s a need for banks to identify people like me, but they aren’t doing anything to entice me to keep current .

  10. Im a little perturbed with the baby boomer generation. It seems like they took and took and in most cases are still taking, while leaving us nothing. Us being generation X.

    They road high on the hog. They used their credit cards recklessly. They enjoyed full benefits, pensions and 401k’s. They will be able to eat up the last of the social security. When the dinner party is all done it will have looked like a trough after the swines had their fill. They didnt even care to tidy things up for us. We are left to clean up the mess and fight for the scraps.

    Am I wrong to feel disgruntled? Am I generalizing too much?

    1. I don’t fault people for taking benefits that were available to them. I’m miffed at half (or more) of the 99% that have been convinced they should vote with the best interests of the 1%.

      1. “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
        -John Steinbeck

  11. There’s a huge grey area on this matter.

    I, luckily, took advice from my grandfather went through the great depression. He told me to never buy anything I don’t already have the money for. I do not live beyond my means; house paid off (A very very very modest 2 bedroom house in a cheap city), car paid off (used car), and student loans will be paid off next month. I’m in my late twenties and in comparison to my peers I have sacrificed so much. I worked all through-out college, made sure the loans I took out were practical for my job, and I’ve squirreled away money to go to graduate school.

    I’ve got an earful for anyone that targets me as a rich asshole or wants to tax me more because of everything I’ve done to get where I’m at (BTW I’m an engineer not a salesman or banker). I have not had my life handed to me. In fact my shoes soles are almost falling off, and I’m not buying another pair until I square off my student loans.

    I don’t think there’s a graceful immediate solution to the problem at hand. I empathize with the 99%er’s and I understand my efforts were extreme. The bottom line is education: people getting economic degrees at Harvard were (are) learning corrupt methods of creating contrived financial products and a major of American hadn’t learned that you cannot live beyond your means. To put it another way, no one would have sold it if we wouldn’t have bought it. It being the problem, we being the American people.

  12. This is not even true. 99% of the population is NOT in this situation. Why is she 38 years old and still has $90,000 in student loans? Has she not been paying them in the last 15 years? It is a crappy situation for many people, but to say that it is the 99% against the 1% is just not true. I’m just waiting for the occupy wall street movement to get a corporate sponsor, with t-shirts and hats made. Its only a matter of time. Obama supporters, why has nobody from GS, LB, et al. even been indicted? Bush was all buddies with oil, right? But ENRON guys went to JAIL!!

  13. My husband and I are in the 99% i guess…

    We both graduated college without school loan debt except for a $5k loan that my husband had. We paid it off in 2 years before we got married and bought a house in 2006. We had excellent credit. We got great 100 % financing on a $120k home- 30 year fixed @ 6%. We had a little money in savings but foolishly chose to hang on to it rather than sink it into our down payment. Our house is now 20 K underwater.

    I left my decent- paying job in late 2008 in fear of a layoff and took a job that paid 5k less per year. My husband got laid off in early 2009 and remained unemployed for 14 months. We went through our savings trying to keep up with our mortgage. We lived off of less than half of our 2008 salary and almost lost our home. We had to use credit cards for things like groceries, gas and sometimes even to pay bills. It eventually got to the point that we were late on pretty much every payment/bill we had but we somehow kept our heads (barely) above water. Our credit score is now shit and we are still having a terrible time keeping up w payments.

    My husband got his job back, and we are now living paycheck to paycheck and eyeball deep in debt. I had a birth control failure (after 12 years with my husband- crazy right?) and we also now have an 8-month old to take care of on top of everything else. FYI…daycare costs an arm and a leg.

    Its scary. Its hard to keep up and I fear for my family every day. Its hard to even think about the future. We both have very modest retirement savings. Most of our investments were drained and we lost tons of money when stock prices fell.

    All we can do is take it one day at a time and hope that we can make it work. It sucks.

    Rant over.

    1. You probably can’t rent a place for less than you’re paying on your mortgage, so a short sale probably wouldn’t be helpful for you. Have you applied to all of the loan modification programs that are available? Without being mountains upside down on the mortgage but still having reduced income it seems like you should have some options.
      Hang in there Jessie, good luck.

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