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We are the 53%
October 11, 2011 6:38 AM   Subscribe

We are the 53% - the conservative response to We are the 99%. Every American has a story and an opinion. Amazing diversity on display. The LA Weekly looks for commonality.

FWIW, the 53% site was created by conservative activists Erick Erickson, Mike Wilson, and Josh Trevino. Expect to see the 53% narrative grow as the protests continue and national elections get closer.

While obviously heavily slanted toward a conservative worldview, the 53% and 99% stories are remarkably similar on themes of struggle, overcoming adversity, and a desire to have a better life.

As Gandhi said, "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress."
posted by Argyle (476 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's nothing honest about this.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:40 AM on October 11, 2011 [50 favorites]


Better title: "Things Worked Out for Me". Wonderful that you had such success. Wonder if you would have with another person's life experience. It's nice to know you can succeed in this country without the least bit of self-reflection.
posted by yerfatma at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2011 [115 favorites]


I guess what they really don't get is that their 53% are included in the 99%.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 6:42 AM on October 11, 2011 [70 favorites]


Wait, so is this 53% of the 99% or 53% of the 1%?
posted by SyntacticSugar at 6:43 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


These people are in the 99%, and they just don't realize it. Maybe if they lose their jobs or get cancer they'll figure it out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:43 AM on October 11, 2011 [96 favorites]


I don't get why you can feel (however rightly or wrongly) you are a self-made man and still object to enormous corporate giveaways and a see-no-evil, if not outright captured, regulation environment.
posted by DU at 6:44 AM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


For some reason, this reminds me of the text printed on the CD release of Karma Police by Radiohead:

IN AN UNDERGROUND WHITE AUDITORIUM THERE IS
A COUNTRY SINGALONG WITH TAMMY WYNETTE. THE
AUDIENCE ARE ALL OIL SHEIKS AND SULTANS. THEY
SING ALONG WITH BEAMING FACES 'WE CAME UP
FROM BEHIND, FROM BEHIND'.
posted by robself at 6:44 AM on October 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


I like the ones where their parents/grandparents are the ones who laid the groundwork, especially in eras like the 30s, 40s, and 50s known for very hefty government programs meant to help people out.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:45 AM on October 11, 2011 [84 favorites]


Maybe if they lose their jobs or get cancer they'll figure it out.

No kidding. "I am a college senior about to graduate completely debt-free"- but no mention of a job post-college. Good luck with that. My siblings that graduated in the past few years have not had great luck with that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have so many issues with the first post I read. "Things Worked Out For Me... two decades ago" would be a better title. I don't see how any of that would be workable in today's economy.
posted by Maaik at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Those people need to talk to Elizabeth Warren.
posted by ghharr at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, I feel so bad for these people. They are such a clear case of MISSING THE POINT.
posted by yeti at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [40 favorites]


Maybe if they lose their jobs or get cancer they'll figure it out.

Neither of these strategies have worked so far.
posted by swift at 6:48 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


The 53% number comes from the conservative talking point that "only 53% of Americans pay taxes". Markedly misleading in numerous ways, but this 53% number narrative continues to be brought into the national political discussion.
posted by Argyle at 6:48 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Things worked out for me...just barely, so far" would be a great alternative title, yes. Also I never get what's supposed to be so wrong with collecting unemployment -- we're paying into it. Employers pay into it.
posted by sweetkid at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


That's a whole lot of white people right there I tell you what.
posted by mightygodking at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2011 [57 favorites]


I like the one about how she's a single mother who's never collected welfare or child support. Good on you for not pursuing the money that belongs to your child, I guess? I don't get how those two things are the same but I guess they count as "unearned" somehow.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


That's an awful lot of editorializing in that there FPP.
posted by kmz at 6:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


Classic conservative smugness: hey, I overcame difficulties and succeeded, anyone else who can't is a loser/slacker/lazy/bum/spongeing good-for-nothing and furthermore they should be made to suffer for it in some way GRAAAAARRRR.
posted by Decani at 6:52 AM on October 11, 2011 [25 favorites]


So that means 47% of the country is unemployed or underemployed, considering they aren't making enough money to have to pay taxes? And this is the country they want?
posted by almostmanda at 6:52 AM on October 11, 2011 [49 favorites]


You can't just protest, demanding the casino be shut down. I'm this close to be able to afford to play there. Not quite yet, but soon ... soon.

Is it that maybe?
posted by ZeroAmbition at 6:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Not everybody who is doing well right now is lucky. Not everyone who is poor right now is unlucky. That is true. Some people work really hard and struggled and deserve all the success they have. Some people are just lazy assholes who piss away all their money on drugs and partying. These are all true things.

It doesn't have much to do with the problem of vast amounts of wealth concentrating in the hands of the very few. If it weren't for the thieves on wall street, the deserving, hard working people who are doing well would be doing even better.

The 53% are still part of the 99% who are getting shafted by the 1%.
posted by empath at 6:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [65 favorites]


"This Is Really Funny. In a Movie."

60-70 hours a week for eight years, two years in the military, two jobs.

All that work, just to be an idiot. I can't help but feel sorry for these people.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:55 AM on October 11, 2011 [28 favorites]


The 53% number comes from the conservative talking point that "only 53% of Americans pay taxes". Markedly misleading in numerous ways, but this 53% number narrative continues to be brought into the national political discussion.

It's not just misleading, it's outright false. About 47% of the country does not pay federal income tax, which is only one kind of tax. Other taxes still apply.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:57 AM on October 11, 2011 [31 favorites]


They all seem to believe have been taught that the Occupy Wall Street 99%ers are all looking for a free government hand out. They're not.
Also the historical self-made-grandparent stories are true only because workers between 1945 and 1975 received a fair share of their productivity.
posted by rocket88 at 6:58 AM on October 11, 2011 [43 favorites]


53%=The percentage of the vote we hope to get next time!

Somehow, I don't think the "Things are just fine!" message is going to beat the "Things are screwed up!" message this time around. But the good news is, this means they're scared. "Tea party? Oh yeah, those guys. Well, we're not really with them any more..."
posted by vibrotronica at 6:59 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


conservative activists Erick Erickson, Mike Wilson, and Josh Trevino

This Erick Erickson? That's not a man who looks like he's ever gone without a meal (or anything else for that matter).
posted by octobersurprise at 6:59 AM on October 11, 2011


It doesn't have much to do with the problem of vast amounts of wealth concentrating in the hands of the very few. If it weren't for the thieves on wall street, the deserving, hard working people who are doing well would be doing even better.

The 53% are still part of the 99% who are getting shafted by the 1%.


The amazing part is that some of the notes that I saw addressed that -- they don't want the 1% to pay more taxes because they can be using that money at restaurants to keep waitresses employed...???
posted by sweetkid at 7:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, wait a minute, these people are essentially showing off that they pay federal income tax? Way to set the bar very, very low. U-S-A! U-S-A!
posted by ob at 7:01 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Breaking news from ABC:

Occupy Wall Street Protests Rankle the Rich
posted by Trurl at 7:01 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


as a single mom i worked two jobs and raised two children without any help from the government. my parents and grandparents taught me that the world owes me nothing, that i could be anything i wanted to be

No help? You sent them to private schools? You built the roads you drove your car on?

Also, maybe a few generations back, you could have been anything you wanted to be. Now, good luck getting a job.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:02 AM on October 11, 2011 [49 favorites]


I don't get why you can feel (however rightly or wrongly) you are a self-made man and still object to enormous corporate giveaways and a see-no-evil, if not outright captured, regulation environment.

"Foreigners touring America ask me questions about this great and strange country. They want to know why we have no labor movement as n Europe, and I tell them one little story, which covers the whole case and leaves no more questions. For many years my wife, who loves a garden, worked at making one with the help of two boys who used to come after school hours and one Saturdays. These boys came out of working-class homes, and were going to public schools and acquiring the psychology there officially imparted. Mw wife, curious about this, used to ask them questions, and incidentally would try to explain to them about Socialism, and their own interests in the working class. For the most part her efforts were without success; for ten years or so these boys remained perfectly satisfied young American patriots. They both bought second-hand Ford cars out of their earnings as gardeners; and one day one of them remarked to my wife: "Mrs. Sinclair, it is a crime the way the rich people in this city drive cars. They don't pay any attention to traffic signals. They just drive right through." Said my wife, with a touch of mischief, "Why don't you follow them and have one of them arrested?" She expected the boy to answer that they would just tear up the ticket; and this would give her an opportunity to get in a touch of Socialism. But instead the boy replied: "No, I don't want to have them arrested; when I grow up I am going to be rich too, and then I can drive as I please." " (emphasis added)

Upton Sinclair, The Way Out, 1933, pp. 97-98

The 53% doesn't see themselves as part of the 99%, because they see themselves as on the way to being part of the 1%.
posted by three blind mice at 7:02 AM on October 11, 2011 [132 favorites]


...sectors of the doctrinal system serve to divert the unwashed masses and reinforce the basic social values: passivity, submissiveness to authority, the overriding virtue of greed and personal gain, lack of concern for others, fear of real or imagined enemies, etc. The goal is to keep the bewildered herd bewildered. It's unnecessary for them to trouble themselves with what's happening in the world. In fact, it's undesirable -- if they see too much of reality they may set themselves to change it.

-Chomsky, 1993
posted by notion at 7:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [24 favorites]


The 53% doesn't see themselves as part of the 99%, because they see themselves as on the way to being part of the 1%.

America has become Venndiagramistan.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:06 AM on October 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


Income taxes are 45% of federal revenue.

Payroll taxes like Social Security and Medicare are another 45% of federal revenue.

You don't pay payroll taxes on income over $108,000.

So any dollar earned over $108,000 doesn't have to pay the 7.5% payroll tax, and the employer doesn't have to pay the matching 7.5% they are responsible for.

You pay payroll taxes from the first dollar earned.

No, this is not honest.
posted by dglynn at 7:06 AM on October 11, 2011 [48 favorites]


On a tangent, what is it about this sort of messaging that compels people to hand write signs and hold them in from of a web-cam?

Why not just, ya know, type it up on the computer they're sitting in front of?
posted by kitsy at 7:07 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do conservatives not know how to rotate a damn picture?
posted by Think_Long at 7:07 AM on October 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


I overcame difficulties and succeeded, anyone else who can't is a loser/slacker/lazy/bum/spongeing good-for-nothing

And very often there's some kind of sketchy rationalization (based on a number of cases among people I know or am related to) where "doing well" means they have a pretty good living now, but they're doing a lot of their work under the table to cheat on taxes (which will bite them in the ass when they want Social Security someday), are not saving / 401k'ing for retirement, and have minimal health insurance that'll result in insta-bankruptcy if they have a serious accident or major illness. It's a scary kind of "I got mine."
posted by aught at 7:10 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Quite a lot of diversity here.
posted by otto42 at 7:11 AM on October 11, 2011


i've had people i know with these sort of "i worked hard, everyone is lazy" rail against nationalized "obama" care and how awful it was until i explained all the problems i had getting insurance when i was unemployed after college and had to get insurance on my own. and then fight every. single. claim including getting doctors to sign things months and months later just to satisfy the insurance co. i had to do the legwork. and the coverage was EXPENSIVE and i don't even have pre-existing conditions.

and then again how hard it was to get insurance after i got laid off and i lucked out by being able to get insurance through the community college where i am taking classes that is actually better than the insurance i had when i was employed and costs about a third. (cobra would have cost almost half of my unemployment benefits every month, not including the deductible and copays and horrible prescription coverage.)

i didn't fit their expectation of someone who would benefit from nationalized health care.
posted by sio42 at 7:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


a conservative response to what is becoming a liberal thing but it comes down to red versus blue.
posted by Postroad at 7:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The 53% doesn't see themselves as part of the 99%, because they see themselves as on the way to being part of the 1%.

Of course. This is the highly successful con game most people call "The American Dream." American capitalism could not work without this scary meme.
posted by aught at 7:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


On a tangent, what is it about this sort of messaging that compels people to hand write signs and hold them in from of a web-cam?

My understanding was always that handwritten text is more resistant to photoshopping by ne'er-do-wells, gives an air of authenticity, and presents the writer as a real person, since you can see their face.
posted by Argyle at 7:13 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"How closely [they] clutch the very chains that bind them!" - Rhett Butler, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
posted by mynameisluka at 7:14 AM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


Argyle: "The 53% number comes from the conservative talking point that "only 53% of Americans pay taxes"."

Yes. Federal income taxes, which is extraordinarily misleading, because there are many, many other taxes.

Based on some of those signs, I'm almost entirely sure that most, if not all of those people are part of the 47% who don't make enough money to be required to pay federal income tax.
posted by schmod at 7:18 AM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Breaking news from ABC:

Occupy Wall Street Protests Rankle the Rich


That's exactly the sort of groundbreaking journalism that's gotten the news industry where it is today!
posted by aught at 7:19 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, a nice a display our country's dysfunctional puritanical roots. "I work 3 jobs, 70 hours a week and manage to make ends meet! Why shouldn't everyone? God bless the USA!"
posted by usonian at 7:19 AM on October 11, 2011 [41 favorites]


Better title: "Things Worked Out for Me".

...so far.
posted by goethean at 7:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The running theme, as the original poster says, is that the 53% have the same issues as the 99%...

...however, when the 53% got kicked in the teeth, they smiled and congratulated themselves for not having been kicked harder.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


So....they're the 53% of people who worked hard and made a great living 10-20 years ago, and then formed a political movement to make sure that future generations would never be able to do the same?

Sounds about right.
posted by schmod at 7:25 AM on October 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


53% of america is either an old fuck or a usefull idiot? I'm starting to see the problem here.
posted by smackwich at 7:26 AM on October 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


No, this is not honest.

Yes it is. Social Security is an insurance program. You do not pay taxes per se for Social Security, you pay premiums. It was designed like this in order that everyone should participate in the national insurance system and pay the premium from the first dollar earned. It is a true socialist program where costs are spread among all wage-earners more or less equally and all wage-earners benefit more or less equally.

Calling it a tax denies the true Socialist intent of Social Security.
posted by three blind mice at 7:27 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Quite a lot of diversity here too, otto42. What's your point?
posted by peeedro at 7:28 AM on October 11, 2011


Dear 53%-

Many of these "99%" people pay income tax as well. Most others would be more than happy to if they could find employment. Some do want higher taxes on the 1%. Some aren't too concerned with that. The real problem is that the 1% are firing people so their bonuses are higher. They tell 17 year old kids that student loan debt is "good debt" and it's important to go to the best college they can no matter what, telling them "tough luck" when they listen to that advice and end up $100k in debt with a degree that had been useful for decades before now. They pay lower taxes on capital gains than you or I do on our standard income. They pay a lower percentage of their income on payroll taxes than you or I do. They beg for government handouts larger and louder than the unemployed.

The 99% doesn't hate success. On the contrary, they want the 1% to do well. They don't want the 1% to do well at the cost of the 99%. Most likely, you are one debilitating sickness away from total financial ruin. If you are not self-employed, you are one round of layoffs or one branch closing away from unemployment. Your grandparents, your parents, maybe you yourself collect Social Security, benefit from Medicare, possibly Medicaid, drive on roads paid for with tax money, probably went to a public school and/or state university, same goes for your children and grandchildren if you have any. Whether you like it or not, you are brothers in arms with these 99%. You contribute to the system so long as you have work and you benefit from it.

Sure, there's some bad apples in the 99%. Most of these people? They just want to work, know they'll have life ahead of them if they get sick, and see the 1% willing to pitch in to the country and system which gave them the opportunity and freedom to rise to the top.
posted by Saydur at 7:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [38 favorites]


These comments are a bummer. There's nothing honest about it? These people have succeeded "without the least bit of self-reflection?" "Maybe if they lose their jobs or get cancer they'll figure it out?" They are all missing the point? These people are "essentially showing off that they pay federal income tax?" Generalizations about "sketchy rationalization" and cheating on taxes? These people are either "an old fuck or a usefull idiot?"

I respect the Occupy Wall Street protesters, and I share their frustration with both the banking/investment system and the general direction our country is going. But my conclusions about the cause and the necessary effect for change are well different. I am frustrated with our two-party system and think that supporting one over the other (whichever one it is) only strengthens their hold on us. I think that our government is equally culpable as big business for some of the mess we find ourselves in and that a belief that the solution starts there is foolish. I think that we should be fighting for equal rights for gay people, a sensible drug policy, and transparent government just as hard as we are fighting for economic reform.

I am the 99% too; so are these people. To treat them as idiots or dismiss them as liars or call them entitled or assume they just don't get it but you do is arrogant and condescending.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:30 AM on October 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


Or if I want to be a snarky asshole about it...

"Quit sitting around on your lazy over-65 ass not working and collecting Socialist Security!"
posted by Saydur at 7:31 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


wearethestrawmen.tumblr.com
posted by desjardins at 7:31 AM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


costs are spread among all wage-earners more or less equally

If I pay 10% of my income in SS taxes and you pay 3%, how is that equal?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:31 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anything Erick Erickson does is per se motivated to elect Republicans, he's a partisan hack with way more legitimacy than he deserves, thanks to CNN somehow still considered as a reputable news source. This is pure reactionary redmeat base baiting and that's all it is. It's the same astroturf tactics that spawned the Tea Party to begin with.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:32 AM on October 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


I am frustrated with our two-party system and think that supporting one over the other (whichever one it is) only strengthens their hold on us.

Do you think that's what's happening here?
posted by empath at 7:32 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Calling it a tax denies the true Socialist intent of Social Security.

It's a tax by any definition. It's a compulsory contribution to state revenue. You can't opt out of the premium.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


God, those cartoons are insufferable.

"The status is .... not quo"

?????? The state is not in which ??????

Maybe, just maybe, you could get away with "the status is not quo ante", (to take more of the original phrase "status quo ante bellum"), intending "things are not the way they were before". Which is what the 99%ers are claiming.

Maybe it's a call-out to this Status Quo? There's a reunion tour and the performances are just not up to their previous standard? "Not Quo" is a sly put-down?

Additionally, if you're going to put a dramatic pause in there, it's going to be
The status .... is not quo.
It just flows better.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a reference to Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, in which the phrase "the status is not quo" is used by an inarticulate, rebellious character.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:36 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a bunch of willfully ignorant fucking idiots.
posted by windbox at 7:36 AM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


you couldn't find a better example of "leaders" staying on top by manipulating "followers" into hating one another. divide and conquer. i contemplate the absurdity of a group of people who can barely survive considering themselves better than another group of people who can barely survive, on the grounds that the first group of people are better at keeping a stiff upper lip, and my mind just spins, and spins, and spins. the wrong answers to the wrong questions - that's how you confuse the masses.

the people who sponsored this "movement" are scumbags, pure and simple.
posted by facetious at 7:37 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'll repeat a comment I made six months ago:
During a conversation about tax cuts for the rich, I stunned a family member when I said "if anyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and make a million dollars, why haven't you done it?"
posted by desjardins at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2011 [87 favorites]


This reminds me of the house down at the corner. The run down house with the crappy cars and the two working parents and the three kids. And a sign in the window saying "Keep your hands off my health care."

They recently replaced that with a sign "Cain in 2012."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a message for "I am a college senior, about to graduate completely debt free." She (he?) mentions that "I chose a moderately priced in-state public university." Your college cost $10,000 a year instead of $30,000 a year because the rest of us paid for it, you arrogant ass! I wonder how many of the rest of these geniuses have been living off the government teat. The businessman mentions his debt and loans. Wanna bet they were subsidized by the government for new businesses? Almost all of these people took advantage of public education, not to mention the other obvious services. Jesus.
posted by Palquito at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2011 [85 favorites]


It's a tax by any definition. It's a compulsory contribution to state revenue. You can't opt out of the premium.

But it's not a tax. Liberals should understand the programs they support. Social Security was created as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). What are misleadingly called "payroll taxes" are FICA contributions.

The 53% complain about taxes - if they understood that it really was a socialist contribution they would be even more agitated.
posted by three blind mice at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am the 99% too; so are these people. To treat them as idiots or dismiss them as liars or call them entitled or assume they just don't get it but you do is arrogant and condescending.

They aren't liars, but they are unfortunately dupes. They have mistaken their Stockholm Syndrome for patriotism, and they voluntary give up their rights in exchange for letting criminals continue to run our government and economy.

The lackey who thinks his mafia boss is a good guy doesn't get any points for loyalty, does he? Or to put it another way:
If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

--Samual Adams
posted by notion at 7:45 AM on October 11, 2011 [64 favorites]


It's not honest because it is giving people the impression that 47% of the population pays no taxes, when in fact the taxes paid in addition to income taxes are equivalent in amount to the income tax.

Income tax is 45% of federal revenue. The impression they are trying to give is that the bulk of the taxes paid are income taxes. They are not.
posted by dglynn at 7:45 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


THIS Your college cost $10,000 a year instead of $30,000 a year because the rest of us paid for it, you arrogant ass!
posted by j03 at 7:45 AM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


FICA is a tax. At one point the government did put FICA into a separate pool of money to spend on Social Security and Medicaid, but that completely fell apart in the 80s. At this point the revenues from FICA are used to run general operations of the federal government, with a vague unenforceable promise to repay the money later.
posted by miyabo at 7:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's ironic that many of these "part of the 53% who pay federal income tax" people are also in favor of removing the income tax system entirely by repealing the 16th Amendment. Barring that, replacing it with a Fair Tax / Flat Tax / 9 9 9 / flavor of the month that would shift much more of the overall tax burden onto the 47%.

Now we have hordes of right-wingers angry at the wrong people AND hordes of left-wingers angry at the wrong people, neither with coherent leadership or a meaningful desired end result. Progress!
posted by delfin at 7:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


*Samuel (sorry bud)
posted by notion at 7:47 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Moving money from one pile to another should not make you a billionaire and it should not give you sufficient power to alter the rights and opportunities of others.

Whether or not the people at the big banks 'worked for it or not' - I know a lot of people who worked a lot harder than what you're describing, pastabagel, to get to their profession (which are more vital than banking) and are not billion- or million- aires.
posted by Fuka at 7:49 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


And then they imitate you . . .

And *then* they lose.
posted by spitbull at 7:50 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


[some comments deleted; everybody is welcome to repost their comments with personal attacks left off.]
posted by taz at 7:52 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe if these people weren't all working three jobs there'd be some for other people.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


It's a fucking meritocracy. There are no MFA's with a 2.8 GPA at GS or anywhere else. But I promise you there are legions of 4.0's with a BS in Engineering.

Pastabagel you are defending Goldman Sachs. Have you forgotten that only two years ago all those smart-assed engineers had to be bailed out by MFA holding taxpayers.

A meritocracy would have allowed those rat bastards to fail, but they gamed the system so that was never a choice.
posted by three blind mice at 7:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


I was raised in a "broken home;" I'm a woman of color and a lesbian. I went to an Ivy League college and graduated with very little debt (compared to today). I have a good job; my partner and I own a home in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. We eat organic food and can afford to go out to dinner.

Those "bootstraps" that got me where I am were made of the hands and shoulders of people around me who pushed me and pulled me and helped me get here. I don't know most of those people - they helped pass laws that made it illegal to discriminate against women, people of color, and queers. They passed laws that made collecting child support easier. They helped change the damn culture so I can live the way I live now.

I owe an uncountable number of people a huge debt. I can't pay them all back, but I can pay it forward.
posted by rtha at 7:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [213 favorites]


Let me ask you point blank: could you get a job at Goldman Sachs? Do you have the right degree, with honors from one of the top schools? Could you get into the top school?

Let me ask you point blank: Do you believe someone who can answer yes to those questions deserves to get treatment for his cancer more than someone who can't?
posted by straight at 7:58 AM on October 11, 2011 [25 favorites]


Well, well, well,

Wow, they just stepped right into our framing, just like that. Sign of one movement losing steam, the other gaining it.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 AM on October 11, 2011 [24 favorites]


I find it sort of appalling that some of these guys are smugly satisfied about working say, 80 hour weeks, two and three jobs to get by. Why is it they think that's okay? What happened to the "40 hour work week" and "the living wage," exactly? Why are they okay with it disappearing?

I just don't get how people can look at their situation when it's like that, and say "this is what I want out of my life!" It feels like they're missing out on some details.
posted by Archelaus at 7:59 AM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


It's a fucking meritocracy. There are no MFA's with a 2.8 GPA at GS or anywhere else. But I promise you there are legions of 4.0's with a BS in Engineering.

whereupon they go into the basement making things, work for less than everyone, and MBA's call downstairs and tell them what to do.

"meritocracy"
posted by Ironmouth at 8:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Christ. Goldman Sachs et al turned our financial system into a motherfucking lottery. They hired away all those 4.0 GPA engineers precisely so they could hide behind the veneer of meritocracy: "See, look, we're hiring the best and brightest, that's why we're doing so well!".

No. You fucking wasted human capital on your stupid piece of shit roulette game and caused untold human suffering. Fuck you, Wall Street.
posted by ofthestrait at 8:02 AM on October 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


I promise you there are legions of 4.0's with a BS in Engineering.

Well, as long as you promise me, that's all right, then.

I don't think you know any more about who does what there and what they majored in and how well they did (not to mention whether or not they were a legacy admission to those "top schools" or how much of a leg up they got because their parents were well off) than anyone else in this thread.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:04 AM on October 11, 2011


God help me if I ever think the kind of privileged glibertarian spittle like what was deleted ever has any real merit.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:04 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was thinking the same thing Ironmouth. Nothing better than those 53% to see in black and white the bill of goods they have been sold by conservatives. Keep writing my friends. The next step is to is for this protest to reach critical mass and create a list of demands - universal healthcare, affordable education, elimination of Bush tax cuts etc and have potential candidates have to sign on to enacting it within 100 days or no votes from then entire voting block. This is how shit get done.
posted by any major dude at 8:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


RE: Framing... For the longest time, it seemed like the Republicans were always masters of framing the issue, but lately they've been slipping.

This whole 53% thing means they're moving from "no new taxes" to "tax the poor." Really?
posted by drezdn at 8:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Eat them. Just go in, and eat them.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:06 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


peeedro

The point is that the header of this thread sarcastically makes note of the "Amazing diversity on display" on the "53%" page and another poster made the comment, "that's a whole lot of white people right there I tell you what." The youtube link I posted doesn't exactly show a lot of diversity in the 99% crowds so one might draw the conclusion that neither side is very diverse. Whereas the 53% crowd undoubtedly consists of racists and rednecks and a lack of diversity is not to be unexpected, the 99% crowd, which are presumably advocating for and sympathizing with a majority of people of color, unexpectedly lack the diversity to back their sarcasm.

Moreover, sampling the first 30 submissions on the 99% page shows significantly less diversity than the 53% page. The 99% page has 25 white females, 1 central Asian female, 1 male person of color and 4 white males. The 53% page has 11 white females, 18 white males and 1 dog.
posted by otto42 at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is not that 47% of Americans are parasitic looters gleefully sucking the lifeblood from America's Hard-Working God-Fearing Patriotic Core.

The problem is not that Evil Bankers and Stock Traders and Investors and CEOs are drinking Dom Perignon out of the emptied skulls of McDonald's fry cooks, and the Public needs to Rise Up and Overthrow The Man and Make Everyone Perfectly Equal Everywhere.

The problem is that the last 30-40 years of American government have been remarkably successful at removing regulations, removing oversight, removing barriers to mergers and takeovers, removing corporate taxation, removing every fucking thing that helped level the playing field at all. The dramatic rise in income inequality in America over that period is the symptom, not the problem, and in this post-Citizens-United nation it's even easier for the upper levels to keep that gravy train rolling.

The problem is that the hard right has its own web of media echoing the message over and over that their tribe is fine, their tribe is everything America should be, their tribe should all be rich and privileged if it wasn't for THOSE PEOPLE fucking things up.

The problem is that the left has no charismatic leadership, no consistency in its message, very little effective representation in Congress and no immediately visible way to sway either New Democrat centrists or Glenn Beck fanboys.

The problem is that I'm not drinking enough.
posted by delfin at 8:09 AM on October 11, 2011 [51 favorites]


This whole 53% thing means they're moving from "no new taxes" to "tax the poor." Really?


It's totally cromulent! There should be lower taxes. And who better to pay lower taxes but people on lower incomes? Lower:lower - see? It's a match!
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:11 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I am the 53% working 50+ hours to support you 99% protesters. Shame on you!"

I think someone here has a tenuous grasp of mathematics. At best, she could only be supporting slightly over 46% of the 99%.

Can I also just say that I work 40 hours a week supporting a large windows network and have been doing so for 7 years after working for a dollar store and jimmy johns after dropping out of college to avoid debt and I don't think that I'm an inherently better person for it? That I think hard work and having a job are important, but I really wish people didn't need to sacrifice such a large part of their life in order to get by? That I think the disparity in wealth in this country is gross and unsustainable? That at the end of the day, when it is "my tax dollars" I'd really rather it be "wasted" on the most desperate and poor than on war and tax breaks for the least desperate and poor?
posted by nTeleKy at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


Unbelievably sad. When people write things like this -- "My dad goes to work for 12 hours a day to support our family..." "As a single mom I worked two jobs..."ad infinitum; regardless of whether or not that's how your life is, is that the world you envision? How about some fucking imagination, folks.
posted by threeants at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


delfin... I agree, except the American government didn't remove the regulations by themselves... the Lobyists for the Evil Bankers and Stock Traders and Investors and CEOs drinking Dom Perignon out of the emptied skulls of McDonald's fry cooks bought the government and removed the regulations at the request of their corporate overlords.
posted by j03 at 8:15 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The next step is to is for this protest to reach critical mass and create a list of demands

It's really the worst thing they could do. The goal right now should be to express dissatisfaction with the status quo and that's it.

The only message should be "The system is fundamentally broken and something needs to change, now."

They can figure out what to do next after the system collapses.
posted by empath at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


born on third base,
think they hit a triple.
posted by entropone at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2011 [35 favorites]


Like lots of people I know, I went to top-ranking schools and majored in difficult, practical programs, and became distinguished academically. I held down jobs (including unpaid and barely-paid internships, those vile but necessary things, even though I couldn't afford to take them) all through higher education. I did "everything right." I came from a poor household and single, struggling mother and "lifted myself up by the bootstraps." But it doesn't matter, because the job market in my sector has been totally crushed, several thousands in my profession have been laid off, and the few jobs left will go to older people with more experience. And all of this was a direct result of the 2008 economic collapse, which was caused by an unregulated financial sector run amok. I have a job but it pays 50% of what I'd be making if Wall Street hadn't ruined my industry. Debt will be an everpresent part of my life for the foreseeable future, and unlike the 53%ers, at least I know what the direct cause is.

(Incidentally, who works 70-80 hour weeks during school? At my engineering school we would've flunked out if we spent less than 80% of our time studying.)
posted by naju at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


What strikes me is not the 'rah-rah, I got mine so screw you' mentality, but the fact that none of these people seem to grasp that the 47% aren't paying taxes because they don't earn enough money. In 2010, you only had to file if you made $9350 that year (single), or $18700 for married filing jointly. In what universe should those people have their taxes raised? That's not nearly enough to live on for a year.
posted by Gilbert at 8:18 AM on October 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


And btw, the goal should be to force Obama to take radical action before the next election, because if everything falls apart while Romney is president, god help us.
posted by empath at 8:20 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I should have known that posting this would bring on the hate. I had hoped it would shine a light on the common frustrations and struggles that many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, share. What I meant was about diversity was about opinions and solutions, not race.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of attacks and hyperbole.

As long as the discussion focuses on Us vs. Them, each painting the other side as evil and "the cause of all our problems", little progress will be made.

Unlucky for us, we are out of magic wands, so improvement and change will likely require things like compromise, openness, shared sacrifice, and patience. Those seem to be in short supply in all sides of the discussion.
posted by Argyle at 8:22 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


born on third base,
think they hit a triple.


No these are people born on first base who think it's unfair the guys selling popcorn get such a good view of the game without buying a ticket.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [38 favorites]


as one of those 53% who "pay the taxes" and work long hours and don't get themselves hopelessly in debt and are responsible, let me just say that i don't like my conditions of employment, i don't like our economic or political system, i don't like what this system is doing to the 47%, or the 53%, or me, i don't for the life of me understand just how these people are going to run a stable society with 47% of them being poor and underprivileged, and i really want to make clear that just because i'm one of those 53% doesn't mean that those people speak for me or that everyone in their class agrees with them

yeah, congratulations, you work 3 jobs at 70 hours or something - hey, i had a 62 hour workweek last week

the difference between you and me - i KNOW i'm being an overworked idiot and you don't
posted by pyramid termite at 8:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [41 favorites]


As long as the discussion focuses on Us vs. Them, each painting the other side as evil and "the cause of all our problems", little progress will be made.

But I don't think anyone's doing that here. I think the people in this blog are misinformed or ignorant or arrogant, but I don't think they're evil, and they're not the cause of all our problems. In fact, to be precise, the point is that they're NOT the cause of all our problems; they're just as victimized as the rest of us. So we do have common struggles and frustrations, but the 53% are not seeing that.
posted by desjardins at 8:27 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


53% of america is either an old fuck or a usefull idiot? I'm starting to see the problem here.

As an American worker on the verge of being an old fuck, let me offer an observation.

The vast majority of my white collar cow-orkers are college graduates in the 20-35 year old range. With a few exceptions, they watch fox news, like conservative politics and dislike ideas like universal healthcare, taxing the wealthy and anything else that could be considered progressive.

So while old fucks they certainly ain't, and educated they are, how would you classify them?
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 8:28 AM on October 11, 2011


We are the 53%

What's most striking to me is that in the original slogan, "We are the 99%", it was assumed that everyone was united against that 1%.

I wonder what it would take to get that "53%" to consider themselves part of that "99%". If someone can figure how to that, things will really start happening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


You can be an educated idiot.
posted by desjardins at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


So while old fucks they certainly ain't, and educated they are, how would you classify them?

Morons.
posted by briank at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


So while old fucks they certainly ain't, and educated they are, how would you classify them?

Greedy and misinformed, ratio varying on an individual basis.
posted by delfin at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I did it all on my own. With nobody's help. No teachers. No mentors. No parents. No grandparents. No laws. No society. No good luck. No help from my gene pool. Me. Me. Me. I earned this. I deserve this. Fuck everybody else.

These people are idiots of the highest order. When they fall, they will fall hard.

You can't escape some simple truths:

We are one, whether we like it or not.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

No man is an island.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:32 AM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


As long as the discussion focuses on Us vs. Them, each painting the other side as evil and "the cause of all our problems", little progress will be made.

Unlucky for us, we are out of magic wands, so improvement and change will likely require things like compromise, openness, shared sacrifice, and patience. Those seem to be in short supply in all sides of the discussion.


I don't disagree with you in spirit, Argyle, but it's hard not to look at these "look at how hard I'm working and _I'm_ making it!" signs and not feel frustrated and angry.

Aside from the fact that it seems to be missing the point that drives the 99% movement - "the majority should not be suffering through pain and fear while a tiny percentage reaps huge rewards without risking their own"...

Aside from the fact that they compare their situation, where many of them won the genetic lottery so they are in a life situation where they COULD work that hard and stay healthy...

Aside from the fact that they were born into a good enough area and family to get the education and structure that would allow them the skills to succeed in that adversity...

Aside from the fact that so many seem like they're missing the point that their situation is so on the knife's edge that one bad break might tumble them into a hole they CAN'T pull themselves out of...

Aside from the fact that maybe they're not worried about that hole because they have a support structure to help them back up which many other people weren't lucky enough to have...

What's so fucking maddening about these folks and makes it hard to offer them "compromise, openness, shared sacrifice, and patience" is that THEY GOT TO TRY IT THEIR WAY FOR THE LAST DECADE. They are beating the drum and demanding we keep embracing the team that talked us into a budget-busting war, cut those taxes on the top level, went after social programs and organizations they didn't like.

They are the mob that invades a city, subjugates a people, torches buildings, and then follows it up with "dude, of COURSE you suck - look at this shithole. You just need to work harder."
posted by phearlez at 8:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


Saw a woman put the generic aspirin back on the shelf because her co-pay for her son's prescription had gone up $3 and she didn't have the money for the aspirin.

Shared sacrifice?

What sacrifice is being proposed for others that is comparable?

What sacrifice from Goldman Sachs meritocratic winner of the 1% prize would be comparable?

Seriously.
posted by dglynn at 8:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


Well, I should have known that posting this would bring on the hate.

The people running the site are dishonest, well-paid political hacks. It's bullshit. What did you expect?
posted by empath at 8:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


I read a lot of these signs as, "I have a shit life and I am proud of it."
posted by weinbot at 8:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


...improvement and change will likely require things like compromise, openness, shared sacrifice, and patience.
"I don't blame Wall St, I blame those 99% protestors"

"No jobs? Or an unwillingness to look for them?"

"I would never poop on a police car"

"Occupy the moon! End corporate tax loopholes for moon men! Because Earth isn’t enough for Socialists."

"For those of you at Occupy Wall Street, who shun personal responsiblity, you know those cool gadgets you use to share photos, videos, and tweet with your friends, both near and far away? Ya, they didn't come from people like you, who waste away the day."
Did you mean to link to a different website? Or did you just not read it for yourself?
posted by notion at 8:41 AM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]




I'm suddenly reminded of the Offspring song Self Esteem.

Well I guess I should stick up for myself
But I really think it's better this way
The more you suffer
The more it shows you really care
Right?

posted by Babblesort at 8:42 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those here who are calling these people morons, evil, idiots, assholes, etc. are part of the problem. You've fallen into the same 'Red vs Blue' trap they have. If you think they're ignorant, then teach them. If you think they're misinformed, then inform them.
Most of them are victims of the very things the Occupy movement is fighting against. If you hope to change the system then you need some of these people on board. You won't get that by dismissing them with insults.
posted by rocket88 at 8:44 AM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, I should have known that posting this would bring on the hate. I had hoped it would shine a light on the common frustrations and struggles that many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, share.
...
As long as the discussion focuses on Us vs. Them, each painting the other side as evil and "the cause of all our problems", little progress will be made.


Part of the problem is that many believe there are only two sides.

This isn't a completely unnatural assumption in a nation where there are only two meaningful political parties, where major media paint everything in Red and Blue terms, where states with large cities and large rural populations struggle to balance out the interests of each. But it is flat-out wrong on many issues, because not everyone wearing a Red jersey or a Blue jersey marches in lockstep on every issue or every decision or every economic situation.

And that 1% of which much has been spoken isn't Democratic OR Republican at its core. It supports whichever members of EITHER side who will ensure that they remain in that 1%.
posted by delfin at 8:46 AM on October 11, 2011


Also, anyone who says they wouldn't poop on a police car if they had the chance and could get away with it is a dirty fucking liar.
posted by delfin at 8:47 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


What I meant was about diversity was about opinions and solutions, not race.

I appreciate your intentions, Argyle, but I don't see anybody on this site offering solutions. Seems to me they're saying, in many cases, "I busted my ass (with a lot of unrecognized or unacknowledged government assistance) to get myself into a situation where one severe setback could throw me into the social safety net that I disdain, but things are the way they should be." And honestly, that frustrates me to the point of tears, possibly because I've seen what that attitude of "life is meant to be painfully hard, and there's nothing to be done about it" has done to members of my own family. That loss of hope, or lack of ability to imagine that things can be different, is hard for me to see, as is the lack of empathy for those who have had similar struggles but different outcomes.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:50 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sticherbeast: "It's not just misleading, it's outright false. About 47% of the country does not pay federal income tax, which is only one kind of tax. Other taxes still apply."

The irony goes further still. Only 23% of Americans don't pay income tax because their income is too low. The other 23% are getting back what they would pay thanks to tax breaks - lots of them written in by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The conservative narrative, then, is to lower taxes so far lots of people who could afford to pay a meager amount don't, say government spending is out of control and irresponsible, and then argue that paying taxes is a sign of adult maturity.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


phearlez,

I was about to go out for a run, but wanted to reply.

I guess the point I was trying to make was that many of the people that posted on 53% site, DIDN'T win the genetic lottery, DIDN'T grow up in a wealthy area, DIDN'T have the benefit of family wealth.

Faced with common problems as those in the Occupy Wall Street protest, they have a much different viewpoint on solutions even though they have similar life stories than those that post on the 99% tumblr.

To simply dismiss them as "greedy", "morons", and "misinformed" is a bad as conservative commentators dismiss in the OWS protesters as "freedom hating", "neo-communists", and "duped by unions".

There's plenty to disagree with on both 'sides' right now, but hopefully we can agree on the fact that many people are out there hurting, regardless of political belief, and that change is coming. Whether those with political power, progressive or conservative, can control it, is a different matter.

You can understand someone's pain and concerns, without agreeing with their proposed remedy. Having some compassion for the struggles of people you disagree with is hard, but a worthwhile endeavor.
posted by Argyle at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


I agree that the OWS people can make common cause with a lot of tea-partiers.

But not the people running this site aren't interested in finding solutions for the problem, they're just being smart-asses and scoring cheap points.
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I like this a lot -- it shows that the OWS protests are now framing the conversation.
posted by ukdanae at 8:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you think they're ignorant, then teach them. If you think they're misinformed, then inform them.

Lord knows I've spent my adult life trying to do this.

But I haven't found a way around this "entitled" attitude. I've met way, way too many people who think their success is due solely to their unique qualities and abilities. They refuse to acknowledge any role that luck or society has played in their success. In short, they have zero gratitude and no sense of fucking perspective.

And, as a group, willingly or unwillingly, deliberately or cluelessly, they have fucked up things for everyone else. And they have the nerve to fight against anyone who dares to question the direction we have taken.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


Also, anyone who says they wouldn't poop on a police car if they had the chance and could get away with it is a dirty fucking liar.

Actually, I don't think I would. Call me crazy, but pooping on things doesn't bring me joy.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 9:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


O My Metafilter Brethren and Sistren, thank you for giving me a little hope for humanity with your comments on this.
posted by edheil at 9:01 AM on October 11, 2011


You can understand someone's pain and concerns, without agreeing with their proposed remedy. Having some compassion for the struggles of people you disagree with is hard, but a worthwhile endeavor.

Shenanigans. You posted a straight up propaganda effort by known partisan hacks, filled with unvarnished sarcasm aimed at "socialists" who "aren't really looking for a job", and now you're surprised that it didn't spark a good debate? Give me a fucking break, dude.
posted by notion at 9:02 AM on October 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


They lost me at "worked 10 hours".

Uh, hello?! That's kinda the reason why these people are out there. 8 hour of work, 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of what we will!

Its not like you won't enjoy those 8 hours of what you will when someone who isn't the Tea Party gets them for you.

Idiots.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:02 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand why we give this stuff press or attention. It's more than it deserves.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:03 AM on October 11, 2011


The 53% number comes from the conservative talking point that "only 53% of Americans pay taxes". Markedly misleading in numerous ways, but this 53% number narrative continues to be brought into the national political discussion.

So they are angry about being taxed, but proud to identify themselves as people who pay taxes? This must be one of them there cognitive dissonance things Orwell warned us about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wonder what it would take to get that "53%" to consider themselves part of that "99%". If someone can figure how to that, things will really start happening.

Eliminate the expectation that all of the people who economically fall with in "the 99%" must align with each other politically.
I'm squarely within the 99% economically, but some of the things being called for seem far out of bounds to me.

For that matter, the entire "Life is horrible and it's not my fault" vibe of the tumblr blog is a real turn-off. For every single mother having trouble buying food (something that should honestly never happen in this country) there's another person whose belief seems to be that because they overpaid for college, the county owes them a job.

While it may be shrinking, there still is a middle-class in this country, people who go to work, save money, pay taxes and generally live a decent life. If you want to get them involved, it's not going to happen by telling them how much their life sucks.
posted by madajb at 9:06 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


You can understand someone's pain and concerns, without agreeing with their proposed remedy. Having some compassion for the struggles of people you disagree with is hard, but a worthwhile endeavor.

Absolutely, but it is harder to come to grips with doing that when just as with the Tea Party this outpouring of angst is being bankrolled and structured by those who's sole aim is political points. It is harder to do this when so many have bought into the Horatio Alger myth that they are the most important person in the universe. It is hard to give them the benefit of the doubt when even their basic point of contention regarding taxation is inaccurate.

Make no mistake, this is a marketing campaign. I won't come out and outright accuse them of making it up from scratch as I have no proof of that. But, lets just say, given the items that have emerged from social websites in the past I would not be shocked if there was some serious astroturfing going on on that site.
posted by edgeways at 9:07 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Activists on the right have been astroturfing like this for years. The tea party is a well known example of this. Trying to steel the populist thunder of Occupy Wallstreet isn't unexpected. There are always people out there who can have their fears played upon by the 1%. So while it is easy to point and laugh, these people are experiencing the same human misery the rest of us are.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:10 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm suddenly reminded of the Offspring song Self Esteem.

The Adverts' "My Place" sums up the 53% / Tea Party mentality perfectly:

From writers to scientists it's all the same, more facts to twist /
I've been hit by passing fists, but this is where I'll stay /
Here it is, all around me - my place /

Throw the shroud on modern times /
Touch my lips with spiced wine /
On the ropes I live on hope of better days /
Here it is, all around me - my place

posted by ryanshepard at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2011


"If you want to get them involved, it's not going to happen by telling them how much their life sucks."

"Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"- Ronald Reagan, 1980

BTW, since 2007 the median household income is down 6.7%.
posted by dglynn at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: Call me crazy, but pooping on things doesn't bring me joy
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


[Couple more things removed; you know that metacommentary goes in Metatalk, if you want to talk about moderation go over there and do it to it.]
posted by cortex at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2011


they have a much different viewpoint on solutions

They don't seem to even believe there is a problem at all, much less have "a different viewpoint on solutions".
posted by adamdschneider at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]



BTW, since 2007 the median household income is down 6.7%.


We are in a recession, so one would expect household income to be down.

But focusing on raw numbers misses the point I was trying to make which is, there are a lot of people out there who don't think their life sucks all that badly and focusing (as the "we are the 99%" movement seem to) on us vs. them just isn't going to cut it.

I think, in part, the submissions to the "53%" reflect that.
posted by madajb at 9:24 AM on October 11, 2011


I guess the point I was trying to make was that many of the people that posted on 53% site, DIDN'T win the genetic lottery, DIDN'T grow up in a wealthy area, DIDN'T have the benefit of family wealth.

You're projecting; go back and read my comment and you'll see the word WEALTHY appears nowhere. My phrase was "good enough" and it was chosen carefully.

I think you're suffering the same issue they are; they think that because the advantages they had weren't impressive that they must not have had some sort of leg up. But it's doesn't have to be a lot to be an advantage and it doesn't have to be a million-dollar payoff to be a life-changing lucky win.

You can listen to this Planet Money podcast which talks to a UC economist who has been doing an incredibly long range study of two groups of kids from modest homes. One group got some preschool which could be measured in hours early in life and the other didn't. The difference in their outcomes, in salary, health, quality of life, jail time, etc... it's stunning. Their later lives were largely identical in advantage, but this small thing made a difference.

So yes I stick to my guns on this: when people stomp their foot and insist hey, I have the tools pull this off and I'm doing it so the rest of you should to... they're ignoring their advantages because they don't seem like a big deal to them.

So if you want me to find some common ground with them, here it is: I agree, it shouldn't be that damned impressive that you had some small amount of early education and socialization. It shouldn't be a big advantage that you had a diet with enough nutrients for you to grow up reasonably healthy and disease-free. It shouldn't put someone ahead of a big percentage of the population because they had a britta water filter to remove the lead the public works department let get into their water.

As far as the genetic lottery, same thing. You're using a different definition than I am. I'm talking about simply being born without congenital health conditions such that they have the health and vigor to work that hard. When those people say "hey, I'm working 80h a week and going okay, why can't you?" they're ignoring the people who physically can't, not just the folks who might be too brown for certain jobs.
posted by phearlez at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2011 [23 favorites]


...little progress will be made.

Unlucky for us, we are out of magic wands, so improvement and change will likely require things like compromise, openness, shared sacrifice, and patience


What progress? What compromise? This is an argument between people saying "change...stuff!" and others saying "no, don't change anything!" The "53%" people in this link are basically just being dismissive and screaming "I PAY TAXES". I'm not even talking about "the 99%" or OWS, but this right here is not a conversation waiting to be had.
posted by Hoopo at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


aaaannnnnd I left off the Planet Money link to the preschool story.
posted by phearlez at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Wall Street protesters need food, blankets, and other supplies. Nation of Change is taking up a collection. Donating a few bucks is a decent way of countering this obvious bit of astroturf.
posted by clarknova at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's remarkable how any time a left political movement gets a moment's traction in the popular consciousness, within a week the triangulators are out in force, urging us to drop the "us vs. them"/"Red vs. Blue" mentality in favor of preemptive surrender. Confronting the false symmetry between the bid for universality of the "99%" and this astroturfed festival of antisocial resentment should be enough to remind anyone what compromise is actually possible here (hint: none).
posted by RogerB at 9:40 AM on October 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


My life is pretty nice right now - I have a job, my partner has a job, I have a house, etc. etc. etc. How does this in any way change the facts of our society - that even though I am solidly middle-class, I am literally one or two setbacks away from poverty, and a very influential segment of our economic system is actively working to keep it this way - paying large sums of money both to reverse previous gains and prevent any further ones?

Sure, I am part of the 53%, but I recognize that the 53% is bracketed by two groups of people - one which is literally living paycheck to paycheck, with no disposable income, and the other so rich they can arrange their finances to avoid funding the services that they profited from. Why should I struggle against the former group when I am more likely to become part of them than to suddenly become a millionaire? I am already supporting the latter group by paying taxes in their stead.
posted by muddgirl at 9:42 AM on October 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


And honestly, that frustrates me to the point of tears, possibly because I've seen what that attitude of "life is meant to be painfully hard, and there's nothing to be done about it" has done to members of my own family. That loss of hope, or lack of ability to imagine that things can be different, is hard for me to see, as is the lack of empathy for those who have had similar struggles but different outcomes.

What reads to you, from them, as "life is meant to be painfully hard, and there's nothing to be done about it," is actually through their eyes, "life is hard, but there IS stuff we can do about it, but a lot of that comes down to choices we make on an individual level." Surely that's not a completely insane, brainwashed, racist, entitled attitude to have, is it? Is life easy? Should we honestly expect life to be easy? No matter what the government looks like, no matter what rich people we will never meet do with their money or how they got it, life will still be challenging, won't it?

Maybe it's not that these people truly believe they get by in life with no direct or indirect help from anyone else. Maybe it's that they merely believe that we are all ultimately responsible for our own decisions and actions. And maybe that's not so selfish and entitled. Maybe it's selfish and entitled to believe that no one can control anything and that it's up to everyone else to help me if I get in trouble, due to some combination of my own shortsightedness or the same element of chaos and uncertainty that everyone else has to deal with?

Having said all that, I think we should all be resisting the temptation to let the OWS movement play out under these same tired old partisan divisions. What the OWS zeitgeist is really about is the very same thing the Tea Party movement was about: TARP. The complete lack of consequences for corrupt and incompetent 'too big to fail' banks that dominate our economy without contributing anything to it. Even if you hate capitalism, the existence of these institutions is against its rules. The market actually will self-correct and destroy bad actors such as they, unless a third party steps in, of course, and hands them giant taxpayer-funded bail out packages.

The Tea Party came apart because of the inherent cognitive dissonance of trying to blame Obama for TARP, when it was actually the Bush administration's bright idea. Maybe OWP will have more success.

But, as I said, I believe it's critical to keep this movement focused on TARP and the roots of the financial crisis. Going back and forth about the philosophical differences between left and right has never gotten anyone anywhere. "People belong to societies!" "Yeah, well societies are made up of people!" "The glass is half full!" "No, the glass is half EMPTY!" You're both right, and you're both wrong, depending on what you happen to be talking about at the given moment. Agree to disagree already, and work together.
posted by silentpundit at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


within a week the triangulators are out in force, urging us to drop the "us vs. them"/"Red vs. Blue" mentality in favor of preemptive surrender.

Can you give an example of this?
posted by rocket88 at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2011


Make no mistake, this is a marketing campaign. I won't come out and outright accuse them of making it up from scratch as I have no proof of that.

We're talking here about Erick Erickson, who's career of being wrong has taken him from hick lawyer to "MSM" talking head and Josh Trevino, who's made a fine living by writing five-dollar words for candidates to lose elections by, so I'm going to start by assuming they've made it up from scratch.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Expect to see the 53% narrative grow as the protests continue and national elections get closer.

Argyle, I hate this sentence. "Expect to see the narrative grow." Also, kudzu, tumors and the plague. We can expect to see it grow because folk are pushing it -- it is no accident, nor a thing that naturally arises. It's a talking point.
posted by JHarris at 9:59 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


[Couple more things removed; you know that metacommentary goes in Metatalk, if you want to talk about moderation go over there and do it to it.]

Fine, then.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:01 AM on October 11, 2011


I don't think this movement would especially benefit from trying to invite people into the fold who either are dismissive or have their fingers in their ears. That effort would take away the energy that is the most important part of this right now. If they're going to be convinced, it will be by the sheer, undiluted force of crowds of people telling their stories without compromise, giving substantive demands (reinstate Glass-Steagall is a cry that's starting to be heard), explaining how Wall Street and the lack of regulation have been disastrous. I'm not interested in polite debates that don't get us anywhere, I'm not interested in across-the-aisle dialogues with a Tea Party that already had more than their time in the spotlight. I'm interested in people finally, finally directing their anger at the right places and institutions, and the media finally, grudgingly being forced to acknowledge it. That's where the heart of this is.
posted by naju at 10:01 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am starting to get a coherent narrative from the opposition to OWS:

Clearly, we need shared sacrifice. You first.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Or maybe it's more like "Not everyone can take the day off to demand repairs to a broken system. So we should keep the broken system going with all our heart, ya whiners."
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It's remarkable how any time a left political movement gets a moment's traction in the popular consciousness, within a week the triangulators are out in force, urging us to drop the "us vs. them"/"Red vs. Blue" mentality in favor of preemptive surrender. "


The triangulators are trying to save this nascent movement from becoming the caricature that most lefty consciousness awareness movements eventually devolve into, if it hasn't already. Instead of engaging in debate a bunch of supply side proponents, which is essentially what the 53% are advocating, the lefty's first reach for the race card effectively ending any chance of changing the positions of the 53%. The Keynesian's might have some valid points that they may be able to use to change some minds but their efforts fall on deaf ears immediately when they are accused of racsim. Guess what, no one on the right has cared about being called a racist since Tawana Brawley accused the cops of putting dog doo in her hair and Al Sharpton held a parade for it.
posted by otto42 at 10:09 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to keep reminding myself that the United States is defined on the ultimate set of freedoms.

I had a friend without a degree mention to me off the cuff that he should "try going to the states".

I had to remind him that he wouldn't have any sort of health insurance, he'd be working for $7.25 an hour instead of $20 and that he wouldn't get any paid time off whatsoever.

For a country as prudish as the United States the people sure love being fucked.
posted by Talez at 10:11 AM on October 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


You can't triangulate "legislate to the benefit of the 99%".

Either you legislate to the benefit of the 99% or you don't. You can legislate to the benefit of the 100% but we're damn tired of seeing the 1% getting its belly rubbed.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2011


If you want unity, focus on the bank bailouts. That is where the tea party and OWS are on the same page.

Each side kind of wants to ignore the fact that both of the political parties supported that corporate socialism and will absolutely do it again if they have to. The banks need accountability for destroying themselves, but it only happens if everyone makes it happen.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Maybe it's not that these people truly believe they get by in life with no direct or indirect help from anyone else. Maybe it's that they merely believe that we are all ultimately responsible for our own decisions and actions. And maybe that's not so selfish and entitled.

But maybe that is. Actually, there's no 'maybe' about it.

Maybe it's selfish and entitled to believe that no one can control anything and that it's up to everyone else to help me if I get in trouble, due to some combination of my own shortsightedness or the same element of chaos and uncertainty that everyone else has to deal with?

"No one can control anything" is a patently ridiculous statement. The decisions we make and the choices we make on a daily basis influence how our lives turn out. But there's one hell of a random factor at work out there, and that bolt from the blue that sends you reeling can come from a lot of unexpected directions. A routine X-ray shows a dark spot. Your company gets taken over or merged and you're suddenly 'superfluous.' Your 401k vanishes in a flash of bright Enron-colored light, and with it your retirement. Some idiot runs a red light and breaks your leg and totals the car that gets you to work, and he's uninsured. The kids you could easily afford ten years ago are suddenly staring at huge expenses of their own. "My choices were sound, but I'm still fucked" isn't much comfort.

Sure, you can channel your inner Boxer and declare "I Will Work Harder!" and pound your way through many setbacks, but sometimes even that's not good enough, or its effects on your health or your family life or your kids' upbringing are nasty. And if the government spends decades focusing on clearing the path for the super-prosperous rather than on lifting unfortunates back to where they can be viably employed -- which they have -- that's that many more lower-to-middle-class people who fall off the tightrope and hope there's some safety net left for them.

If I have to choose between counting myself among those who want to strengthen that governmental safety net or among those who seem pissed that the net exists at all -- after all, THEY didn't fall, so if someone else does it's their own fault -- I'll choose the former eight days a week.
posted by delfin at 10:17 AM on October 11, 2011 [22 favorites]


I had to remind him that he wouldn't have any sort of health insurance, he'd be working for $7.25 an hour instead of $20 and that he wouldn't get any paid time off whatsoever.

But he can have all the guns he wants, so it's all good.
posted by localroger at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Since there's no site for it, here's a kludge: We are the .1%.

We will never have a website on tumblr.com because that would ruin the fun between the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, the 99%, and the 53%.

(Disclaimer: The author of this post is not part of the .1%)
posted by nickrussell at 10:25 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the problem with the "Rally around the bailouts" idea is that the Tea Party wanted the bailouts to not happen so that the banks would fail and the free market would right itself according to Laizes-Faire thinking after a painful episode, while I get the feeling a lot of people on the left, probably people at OWS, too, are mad that we kept a system that allows us to have superbanks that effectively hold the economy hostage when they fail. We either pay them to keep going on the backs of people not responsible for their failure, or they send repercussions through the economy that hurt people anyway. The solutions I heard shortly after the bailouts from dissatisfied people on the left included A) Break up the banks so they can fail without enough consequences to hurt the economy, B) Nationalize the banks like some European nations did, either permanently or until they are back on their feet, or C) Mandate the FDIC require banks to put away money to bail themselves out should they face an emergency.

I am not an expert on Tea Party thinking, but based on what I've heard, I don't think they'd be too pleased with nationalization, more FDIC regulation (I actually heard one Tea Partier on NPR say that the FDIC encourages bad banking practices and should be removed), or the government forcing non-monopoly companies to be split apart. But these objections are more on the basis of theory than populism, so maybe there is some common ground to be found.

I think the biggest thing is that both sides agree Wall Street was bailed out to keep the upper echelons of the economy running while the middle and lower class were left to deal with the brunt of the recession's consequences. They start to fight on whether that means Wall Street didn't deserve help, or whether the middle class should have received more attention from the government.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:25 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge, to your point, Wonkette just pointed out another good potential area of agreement between the Tea Party and OWS, quoting Sarah Palin in a New York Times report.
Speaking before a packed hotel convention hall, Ms. Palin urged Americans and other people around the world to fight a system that doesn’t reward “honest hard work” but is “favoring the politically connected.”

In Ms. Palin’s view of the world, “well-connected banks get bailed out”; “certain companies get special deals through governments”; and taxpayer dollars are “given to companies that are run by politicians’ campaign contributors so often.” In return, lobbyists and politicians “slip sweet deals and tax breaks into the tax code that they get to help to write.”
posted by BobbyVan at 10:26 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's selfish and entitled to believe that no one can control anything and that it's up to everyone else to help me if I get in trouble, due to some combination of my own shortsightedness or the same element of chaos and uncertainty that everyone else has to deal with?

If the OWS people believed that no one can control anything, they wouldn't be occupying Wall Street.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:27 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


As David Atkins points out at Hullabaloo, some of these supposed 53 percenters are almost certainly 47 percenters; i.e., they don't pay federal income tax. This woman - an apparently unemployed homemaker - says she's a 53 percenter. On what income does she pay income tax?
posted by Eyebeams at 10:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let me ask you point blank: could you get a job at Goldman Sachs? Do you have the right degree, with honors from one of the top schools? Could you get into the top school?

An old college classmate and study partner of mine works overseas at Goldman Sachs. He got his MBA at Columbia. He asked me for help writing his application to Columbia and I basically did it for him. I'm sure that there were many factors that got him into Columbia, but I saw what he was going to submit as an application and he would not have gotten in without my help. Hours and hours of help. Weeks of help. I never expected anything from him, not even thanks, and it never occurred to him to offer any.

As for me, I've been at the local Occupation since its second day, now it's Day 5. I usually make half my annual income in 4Q, but that job just disappeared. I may not make enough income this year to even be required to file a tax return, let alone pay income tax.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:29 AM on October 11, 2011




You know things are tough when the cheery slogan on the McDonald's Monopoly game flier reads, "Win $50,000! Good-bye second job!"
posted by JDC8 at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's pretty telling that the site doesn't allow comments, and using jpegs makes it impossible to copy/paste sections of text to respond to elsewhere. (Not that it's hard to actually write out the passage you want to quote, but far fewer people will be willing to take the time.)

I'll take over $200,000 this year. I pay lots of tax. I employ 5 people. Does this make me one of the evil rich people?

Dude, no. Not even close. It makes you a house slave. Make a deal with you. If you pay attention to the arguments actually being made and not the strawmen being erected in the media, I'll do the same. Okay? Awesome.
posted by jwhite1979 at 10:32 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


phearlez,

I am a regular Planet Money listener and did listen to the podcast you refer to. I agree about the advantages in childhood can make a big difference.

But I don't think it should diminish the respect for hard work that people do to continue to move forward in life. Working while going to college is hard, and I'll respect that in someone from any background.

I'm not trying to say that "everyone should pick themselves up by their bootstraps", that's the posters viewpoint. I disagree with that sentiment as much as I disagree with the "my college loans are unfair" on the 99% tumblr. There are elements of truth to both things. Yes, personal responsibility and willingness to work hard are important, and yes, college tuition are far too high. But neither telling people to work harder or eliminating student loan debt are solutions to the issues we face.

On your last point, physical disability is a real issue, but I haven't seen it as a driving one in today's political climate. From what I've seen, the availability and pricing of health insurance is on everyone's list of concerns.

Hoopo,

I disagree that many people are saying "don't change anything". I think the basic frustration of both the Tea Party people and the Occupy Wall Street people are the same. They feel that they are not being well represented in their concerns, the politicians and government are not acting on their behalf, and they want their voices heard. They disagree on what exactly to do, but the do have commonalities.

The Planet Money people do a much better job of explaining it than I do. Yes, incumbent powers are trying to control the message and tune the language to their benefit (the Koch brothers and big Labor), but the underlying frustration remains.
posted by Argyle at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2011


Now here's where a discussion of Gramsci and cultural hegemony manufacturing consent of the governed against the interests of their class is appropriate.

The message I'd have for the "53 percent" (which I've been in and out of, and will be in again) is that "It doesn't have to be this way. We can make it better. You don't have to toil doing something you hate just to have your health and future robbed from you. A lot of the protestors of the 99 percent, especially the young, have some goofy ideas, but young people always have goofy ideas. The important thing to remember is that they're on your side too. Join us. It's the best way to make sure that we fix our broken system. Don't let a fake from CNN hoodwink you into thinking this is the only way to live — his three jobs aren't Wallmart, waitressing and washing dishes. His three jobs are running a tumblr, running a partisan blog, and lying to you on television. And even he's probably not part of the one percent. So don't let his meanness and failure prevent you from fixing your problems.

"At the Occupy Los Angeles camp, there are tile layers, there are veterans, there are college students, there are unemployed, there are cable installers, there are activists, there are software writers, there are plumbers, there are mechanics, there are cooks, there are journalists, there are immigrants, there are animators, there are musicians, there are office admins, there are temps, there are secretaries, there are Arby's workers, there are professors, there are graphic designers, there are pallet loaders, there are garment workers, there are toy makers, there are landscapers… Pretty much no matter who you are, there is someone like you there. After mentioning it on twitter, I found out former coworkers were there at the same time I was, folks who had just worked a crap job in an office. There are people that work in the same place that you do that you've never met — a couple of Disney workers found out they work in the same building. These aren't scary others who want to hurt you — they're people the same as you who have realized they're more alike than they are different, and want someone to notice them and their real, legitimate concerns. Sometimes that means that things are a little vague — there's been too little done for too long on too many complaints — but they're just like you. I saw more khakis at the camp than I did baggy jeans.

"So don't let Erick Erickson use the distance of the internet to convince you that you're different from the protestors in terms of your situation. You're only different because you're not down there with them, and not everyone can be, especially if you have a job that you can't lose. All they want is a better, more fair America, and what's been done to you isn't fair. Look at your sign and think about what a stranger would see — wouldn't they see how hard you've worked and how little reward you get? Wouldn't they think it was unfair for someone who worked so hard to not have health insurance or not be able to know that their kids were getting the best possible?

"That isn't someone else's pity. No one wants that. It is the fundamental ability — even monkeys have it — of any human to recognize injustice. We, the 99 percent, look at you and see that you're being used and that you're clearly not happy about it. We're not happy about it either. So we decided to all come together face to face and talk about why we're not happy, and what can be done about it. And even if nothing else comes of it, we meet other people like us — our neighbors, our families, our coworkers — and get to understand that we're not alone. That we're not suffering off in some corner of the country or the internet, unable to do anything about it but fret over those we think might make it worse by rocking the boat. The boat's already flipped; we're in the water. We can't right the ship alone, and just clinging to the sides isn't going to save any of us from the sharks."
posted by klangklangston at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2011 [46 favorites]


The decisions we make and the choices we make on a daily basis influence how our lives turn out. But there's one hell of a random factor at work out there, and that bolt from the blue that sends you reeling can come from a lot of unexpected directions. A routine X-ray shows a dark spot.

Yup, and it doesn't even have to be all that dramatic. And when it is, the things that make it so awful are a result of some of these "well just manage it yourself, keep the government out of it!" choices.

The spot is a good example. Because what makes that awful isn't what SHOULD make it awful - cancer - but instead the fact that now you start getting treatment from an insurance plan tied to your employment. So when you're at your worst, laid low by treatment and unable to go into work till you're better, you're at risk of losing that job you don't have the energy to go to. So you can fight cancer AND try to come up with COBRA payments! Or lose that, move over to Medicaid and now get to switch physicians/hospitals/treatments mid-stream!

Your company gets taken over or merged and you're suddenly 'superfluous.'

And now you don't have to just worry about finding that new job, you need to cope with suddenly being uninsured unless you can come up with COBRA payments. Assuming you can go where you need to for that job and aren't tied to your current house because of property values... values which are stagnant and uncertain because we've altered bank reporting rules so they can keep these not-yet-foreclosed properties on their books without reporting their true value.

Your 401k vanishes in a flash of bright Enron-colored light, and with it your retirement.

Because we've decided to make everyone handle their own retirement investment details and pay themselves out of a single pool of cash rather than pooling risk & reward in traditional pension plans, letting organizations with far longer horizons and abilities to absorb cyclical economic change deal with it. And NOW we've decided to go on a sudden austerity kick - after decades of keeping plates spinning and encouraging more and more folks to buy in - making the safest investments - long term government bonds - more scarce.

The opposition wants to keep painting the 99% people as if they want a handout. But the reality is they can point to a thousand little choices being made in government that make it harder and riskier for them to take care of themselves while making the risk less painful for the top 1%.
posted by phearlez at 10:38 AM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Quite a lot of diversity here.
posted by otto42 at 7:11 AM on October 11


See point #4
posted by Chuffy at 10:40 AM on October 11, 2011


The opposition wants to keep painting the 99% people as if they want a handout. But the reality is they can point to a thousand little choices being made in government that make it harder and riskier for them to take care of themselves while making the risk less painful for the top 1%.

And THAT illustrates the disconnect between the 99% argument and the 53% argument nicely.

The 53%ers are voicing a very Republican argument, one that mirrors established Republican policy and proposals: "The system we have is fine. The welfare parasites that drain it are the problem."

The 99%ers are voicing what SHOULD be a Democratic argument: "The system is broken, the uberrich are bleeding the mainstream dry." But it isn't. The modern Democratic Party wavers between paying lip service to that argument without actually addressing it and playing "punch the hippies" at any given moment.

Ironically, the 99%ers are more reflective of the original Boston Tea Party than the Tea Party is. "We're taxed, but we're not feeling represented" is closer to the original than "Eliminate all the taxes."
posted by delfin at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


If you want another piece of evidence about how the media agenda is not only not liberal, but in most cases fueled by conservative activists, think about this. NPR ignored Occupy Wall Street for two weeks. A couple hours after Erick Erickson created a tumblr (which now has only about 20 pictures) for the 53%, Suzy Khimm was giving it wide coverage in the Washington Post.

that's because OWS has been horrible about message. just the worst. they need to get better. listen, the networks, anyone will cover an easy catchy message that will SELL ADS. But the bylaws of OWS require a 90% supermajority to get anything done.


If you look at the NYC GA site, its all anarchism 24/7. I'm going to go on a limb and say that the majority of voters aren't into that.

They need to stay on message and on goal, which they haven't done so far. Its time for them to step up, get some messages that can be easily translated out there.

The goal is to win.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The 99%ers are voicing what SHOULD be a Democratic argument: "The system is broken, the uberrich are bleeding the mainstream dry." But it isn't. The modern Democratic Party wavers between paying lip service to that argument without actually addressing it and playing "punch the hippies" at any given moment.

No, the far left demands that their 10% run the show, without the VOTES in and out of the government to get it done. Then they attack the very people who are closest to them in the political spectrum with power, rather than the assholes who get in the way. Then, when they are called out on it, they cry "hippie punching."
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]




What reads to you, from them, as "life is meant to be painfully hard, and there's nothing to be done about it," is actually through their eyes,"life is hard, but there IS stuff we can do about it, but a lot of that comes down to choices we make on an individual level."

I'm not sure if you're talking about the people on the website or the people in my family, silentpundit, but the people in my family who I'm thinking of have pretty much the attitude I described. Life is an adversary, some things are too big to be changed, and you just have to soldier on doing the best you can alongside your family and friends. It's not necessarily a mopey, Eeyoreish attitude, but it is a day-to-day mental grind that saps their ability to believe that there might be other possibilities.

As for life being easy, of course it's not. But working yourself to the bone because it's the only way to have an adequate standard of living and stay one or two steps ahead of disaster is not a privilege. Much as I respect people who do whatever it takes to provide for their families (like my grandparents and my parents), I can't believe easing their burdens (for example, living wages and universal healthcare would've gone a long way toward helping out my family) would be a bad thing for them, their families, or their communities.

I might be better served by stepping away from the discussion at this point, since it's personal for me. I think my perspective is pretty well covered by others here, anyway.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


This whole 53% thing means they're moving from "no new taxes" to "tax the poor." Really?

Yeah, the Republican messaging is getting muddled. It seems to me that they would be better off going with "47% don't pay Federal Income Tax--that's a good start. Let's shoot for 50% this year and 60% in a decade." It's not workable, but at least it works with "starve the beast." Instead, the message seems to be "taxes are a horrible burden, a form of theft against the people, and we need more of it, especially on the poorest Americans." That's harder to parse.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Because we've decided to make everyone handle their own retirement investment details and pay themselves out of a single pool of cash rather than pooling risk & reward in traditional pension plans, letting organizations with far longer horizons and abilities to absorb cyclical economic change deal with it.

No it's because you stuck it out too long in growth assets in your portfolio instead of transitioning to safer assets like bonds and cash.

Being stupid with a 401K or a pension fund manager being borderline retarded can both wipe out mass amounts of money.
posted by Talez at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2011


Argyle: Having some compassion for the struggles of people you disagree with is hard, but a worthwhile endeavor.

Absolutely - which is why it's weird that so many of these signs are telling people without health insurance to stop whining. In fact, the subtitle of the blog is:
Those of us who pay for those of you who whine about all of that... or that... or whatever.
As a single, simple man living in this world, I struggle sometimes to show the compassion to others that I ought. However, this blog is not the product of a single, simple man (or woman). It is the product of right-wing lobbyists, and its message is precisely one of denying compassion from the start. Erick Erickson, who holds up the first "we are the 53%" placard, has written "suck it up you whiners" (sic).

If you're looking for compassion, Argyle, this Tumblog, specifically aimed at mocking and denigrating other Americans, feels like a weird place to look.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


I find it sort of appalling that some of these guys are smugly satisfied about working say, 80 hour weeks, two and three jobs to get by. Why is it they think that's okay?

BECAUSE AT LEAST WE ARE NOT BLACK

(relevant)
posted by benzenedream at 11:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


that's because OWS has been horrible about message. just the worst. they need to get better. listen, the networks, anyone will cover an easy catchy message that will SELL ADS. But the bylaws of OWS require a 90% supermajority to get anything done.

This I agree with. I sympathize with OWS, but signs and puppets and chanting only do so much without leadership, coherence, explainable end goals and someone charismatic to put before the cameras.

No, the far left demands that their 10% run the show, without the VOTES in and out of the government to get it done. Then they attack the very people who are closest to them in the political spectrum with power, rather than the assholes who get in the way. Then, when they are called out on it, they cry "hippie punching."

People who thought Obama was going to be the Great Liberal Conqueror and send New Deal II cascading over America didn't look at his platform or his record before voting for him. That just wasn't what he or the Democrats in Congress ever had in mind.

That said, there's some wiggle room in between leftists "running the show" and "being acknowledged." How close to either end of that spectrum progressives have been under Obama is open to debate. However, "we can't espouse progressive ideas because we'll be depicted as socialists" rings hollow when it's obvious the 'Pubs will throw that label at them no matter what.
posted by delfin at 11:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, at least I got to start the day in despair at the general shittiness of my fellow Americans. 53% of them, I guess.
posted by maxwelton at 11:06 AM on October 11, 2011


Well, at least I got to start the day in despair at the general shittiness of my fellow Americans. 53% of them, I guess.

Well, no. It's just three well paid republican consultants and a few other people, apparently.
posted by empath at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


drezdn: "...This whole 53% thing means they're moving from "no new taxes" to "tax the poor." Really?"

I'm not sure if you're saying that isn't the case, but when you look at the people they vote for, like Orrin Hatch who has pretty much come right out and said it...
“I hear how they’re so caring for the poor and so forth,” Hatch said in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, in reference to Democrats. “The poor need jobs! And they also need to share some of the responsibility.”
Citigroup released a memo in 2006 detailing their "theory of Plutonomy"...

In it, they know what is the threat to them. Bear in mind this was written in 2006.
"Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will
probably at some point lead to a political backlash.Whilst the rich are getting a greater shareof the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfrachisement remains as was – one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation (on the rich or indirectly though higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous laborers, in a push-back on globalization – either anti-immigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However we are keeping a close eye on developments."
There's a second memo that I lost the link to, but here's a little excerpt from that one:
➤ What could go wrong?
Globalization, productivity, a rising profit share and dis-inflation have helped
plutonomy. Beyond war, inflation, the end of the technology/productivity wave
and/or financial collapse, which have killed previous plutonomies, we think the
most potent and short-term threat would be societies demanding a more
‘equitable’ share of wealth.

The thesis there is the narrative that it IS the rich who run the economy - that their ever expanding wealth means that the only real money making is in luxury items to drive the economy. And the poor plebes aren't *really* contributors. It's quite disgusting, and there's quite a bit of self-congratulation and disdain for the rest of us.

They know they're fucked if they keep this up, but they will try to maintain and hold on for as long as they can until a revolution of some sort is inevitable. Because if it doesn't come through the ballot it will most assuredly come via a bullet, and that is a scary thought indeed. It was JFK who said "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

As long as the 53% continue to believe the American Dream Myth and act as a bullying cadre to defend their masters and punch the poor who can't defend themselves while believing the lies that they're their own men, this charade will work. But at some point, if this process keeps happening (and I see no way to reverse it if the wealthy don't choose to do it themselves) then yes, something very nasty will happen, and it's sad to think that revolutions never are clean and they never seem to deliver anything of their original promise.

Why would you want to raise a child in this world?
posted by symbioid at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


My brother in law, if he knew what Tumblr was, would probably end up on this blog. He had his own remodeling business, which tanked due to the recession. He works shitty hours doing a dangerous manual job in a non-union shop. He's fortunate that his wife has a good job in high demand, or I'm sure they would not have health insurance.

What's funny is that his father - and mine - had union jobs and are now retired with comfortable pensions and excellent insurance. Yet brother-in-law does not make the connection that those jobs don't exist anymore, and why they don't exist. Instead, liberals are fucking whiners who don't want to work hard.

Well, he's right, I DON'T want to work his job, especially for what he makes, especially with no insurance or union or pension. The question I need to ask him is - why is he OK with that? He has a kid - why does he want him to grow up in a world where that is the norm?
posted by desjardins at 11:17 AM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


"We are the 99%", it was assumed that everyone was united against that 1%.

Most of the people in this thread had better hope the poorest 99% of the world isn't united against the richest 1%.
posted by straight at 11:19 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


In the most literal sense I'm part of the 99% in that I don't meet the numerical criteria for the top 1% as outlined by Houstonian in this comment in a previous thread. But I don't identify with the people depicted in the 99% tumblr. Empathize with them, yes; identify with them, no. On a instinctual level, I don't consider myself part of the 99%.

I share some of the concerns of the 99%/OWS movement, but that's because I had those concerns before the movement properly existed. If I hadn't already had those concerns, the 99% tumblr would not convince me that I should.

And I think that's why those in the "53%," most of them far less well off than I, don't consider themselves part of the "99%" regardless of whether they meet some technical definition of the 99% or not. The "99%" message, rightly or wrongly, doesn't resonate with the "53%." And berating people for being too stupid to recognize the correctness of your arguments has never been successful in winning hearts and minds, regardless of how true it is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:19 AM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


These folks are just wilfully blind to their many advantages. There's no other way to see it. They've had advantages. Yes, they've capitalized on them, often wisely and always luckily, but they should not brush off their many advantages, in essence, in their policy views, refusing them or similar advantages to others.

Also, I don't want an economy which punishes people for simply not having the entrepreneurial gene, which after all, is a bad thing to have at least as often as it is a good thing.
posted by Miko at 11:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pfft -that's only like what... ~80 million people globally. Distributed across, I imagine, mostly 1st world nations, not all in the US.
posted by symbioid at 11:21 AM on October 11, 2011


born on third base, think they hit a triple.

No these are people born on first base who think it's unfair the guys selling popcorn get such a good view of the game without buying a ticket.


Can I play this game?

In the right-field bleachers but thinking they are about to hit a home run for the winning team.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll take over $200,000 this year. I pay lots of tax. I employ 5 people. Does this make me one of the evil rich people?

I know this guy. He does light duty construction, mostly remodels and repairs.

The 5 people he employs include his wife, doing the books on Quickbooks, and himself.

The other three make $10-15/hr, anywhere from 1500 to 800 hours a year(he's not always busy enough to need a crew of 4). No insurance benefits for them, of course(too expensive).

When he says he pays a lot of taxes, he's including the payroll portion of his employees taxes he is responsible for. But he is also counting the payroll deductions for taxes his employees owe, since he has to send the check off every quarter(it feels like he's paying taxes, but that's actually his employees withholding taxes being paid out of their wages, but since he writes a check, he thinks it's him paying taxes).

His company also makes no money. That is, it makes no profits, so pays no business taxes, because what is left over is his salary. Of course, the company pays for his truck, the wife's car, home office, and anything else they can hide under business expenses, so he benefits from money directly that is untaxed.

The wife is paid $24k/yr, he reports $36k/yr, he receives another $30k/yr in untaxed benefits(truck, car, insurance, cell phone, home phone, internet, anything the business could theoretically pay for), and works 40 weeks out of the year(crappy weather means no roofing jobs).

And he is convinced that if his company grossed one dollar more than $250k that Obama wants to tax him an additional $20k/yr, because he is then "rich".

But most of all, the one thing he is certain about, is that it's just not fair that they are after him.
posted by dglynn at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [54 favorites]


Can't help but notice that on the first page more than half the pictures could have been repurposed quite easily... (no face or no text or text evidently photoshopped over a white area)
posted by 3mendo at 11:24 AM on October 11, 2011


‎"My life is pretty shitty, but I choose to identify with my oppressors. I am the 53%"
posted by anoirmarie at 11:24 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


As we speak, I'm trying to explain to a hothead gubmint-hating Facebook friend why there's a difference between acknowledging that you've had help in your life and saying you are helpless and can't take credit for any of your accomplishments.

This guy has two degrees (ironically gotten at a state school and also paid for by his very rich parents) but still can't seem to grasp this simple concept.
posted by emjaybee at 11:25 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"We should try to create the society each of us would want if we didn't know in advance who we'd be."

- John Rawls
posted by steamynachos at 11:25 AM on October 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


Pfft -that's only like what... ~80 million people globally.

No, it'd be much less, because the wealth is not evenly distributed. (Kind of the whole point here..)
posted by desjardins at 11:27 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And berating people for being too stupid to recognize the correctness of your arguments has never been successful in winning hearts and minds, regardless of how true it is.

Nobody is going to convince Erick Erickson that he's stupid and wrong when its his job to be stupid and wrong.
posted by empath at 11:28 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, he's right, I DON'T want to work his job, especially for what he makes, especially with no insurance or union or pension. The question I need to ask him is - why is he OK with that? He has a kid - why does he want him to grow up in a world where that is the norm?

Marx called that false consciousness. It's as apt today as it was a hundred years ago.
posted by clarknova at 11:28 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, after America's economy totally collapses in the next five to ten years and all of America is an anarchic OWS type shantytown let's revisit this. I think because some people didn't learn anything about human history they think things will stay the same during thier lifetimes. LOLNOPE.
posted by fuq at 11:40 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those here who are calling these people morons, evil, idiots, assholes, etc. are part of the problem. You've fallen into the same 'Red vs Blue' trap they have. If you think they're ignorant, then teach them. If you think they're misinformed, then inform them.
Most of them are victims of the very things the Occupy movement is fighting against. If you hope to change the system then you need some of these people on board. You won't get that by dismissing them with insults.
posted by rocket88 at 8:44 AM on October 11


The people on that web site are never going to deign to be taught or informed by people they spit upon. There is value in insulting and dismissal...it is often the only thing that gets through to them. Is it counterproductive? Maybe. Maybe not. One could argue that a bully only learns when he gets punched in the face by his victim...

The whole red/blue thing is interesting. Imagine a neighborhood that is controlled by a gang...who will "get to" them and evoke change? A white, educated social worker whose only experience with their plight is learned in college, or a white, educated person who buys a store in their neighborhood and is offended that those people aren't grateful that they're bringing in tax revenue? The answer is probably, neither.
posted by Chuffy at 11:41 AM on October 11, 2011


How come so many posters on the 99% site, that have huge student debt balances, have such a gripe with Wall Street?

I can understand the argument that Wall Street might be responsible for their current state of under/un-employment, but how did they end up with such huge liabilities to begin with? Even if fully employed, its hard to imagine how an average new graduate would make enough out of college to meet the monthly payments.
posted by otto42 at 11:50 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chuffy, Dead Prez will. (the group, not making any sort of political threat, FYI)
posted by symbioid at 11:52 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have this thread open in one tab, and another tab open at the Onion AV Club, which currently has a full-page buy from Red Bull.

Red Bull is apparently trying to reposition themselves as a some sort of performance drink, rather than something to be mixed with vodka by frat boys; the campaign is built around the tagline "Because an 8-hour day is hardly ever 8 hours," with the understanding being "hey, we both know you're working overtime all the time at your office, so you might as well drink Red Bull to stay awake".

I work in marketing. I think about brand positioning and all that crazy crap all the time. And the fact that a major drinks manufacturer has spent a zillion dollars to develop a campaign focused entirely on the fact that people are routinely overworked and the response to this is not to stand up for yourself and set some reasonable limitations, but rather to drink a shit-ton of caffeine -- that tells me more about how American culture is pushing this "53%" craziness than this here thread does.
posted by Shepherd at 11:53 AM on October 11, 2011 [38 favorites]


because student loans do not enjoy the kind of forgiveness that most other loans do, otto? or maybe it's because the financial sector made a bunch of shitty, crooked deals in 2007 that got bailed out by our money and that is enough to make a man quite sore indeed?
posted by beefetish at 11:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


The problem with a "Fuck you, Got mine" mentality, is that it only works until something comes along to take it away.

And there are so many "somethings" out there that it really should be in everyone's interest to make sure there is a safety net for everyone else, because the odds are good that at some point in nearly every American's life, they are going to need it.
posted by quin at 11:57 AM on October 11, 2011


How come so many posters on the 99% site, that have huge student debt balances, have such a gripe with Wall Street?

I can understand the argument that Wall Street might be responsible for their current state of under/un-employment, but how did they end up with such huge liabilities to begin with? Even if fully employed, its hard to imagine how an average new graduate would make enough out of college to meet the monthly payments.

Because Wall St backed creditors led the charge on the 2005 bankrupcy "reforms" that doomed them to a live of indentured servitude?
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:59 AM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


...The fact that a major drinks manufacturer has spent a zillion dollars to develop a campaign focused entirely on the fact that people are routinely overworked and the response to this is not to stand up for yourself and set some reasonable limitations, but rather to drink a shit-ton of caffeine -- that tells me more about how American culture is pushing this "53%" craziness than this here thread does.

I was listening to NPR the other day, and there was a guest arguing that people should be able to spend their food stamps on fast food, or rather, on any food they so please. Her reasoning was that many poor communities do not have access to quality grocery stores. Therefore, they should not be burdened with the prospect of traveling far distances for good food.

Of course, she made no mention of the underlying problem of poor communities not having access to good food.
posted by steamynachos at 12:00 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


No, the far left demands that their 10% run the show, without the VOTES in and out of the government to get it done. Then they attack the very people who are closest to them in the political spectrum with power, rather than the assholes who get in the way. Then, when they are called out on it, they cry "hippie punching."

Jesus H. Christ, not this thread, too.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:02 PM on October 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


Together, the 53% and the 99% represent, uh, 152% of the population.

That ought to account for something.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:03 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Most of the people in this thread had better hope the poorest 99% of the world isn't united against the richest 1%.

I wrote that assuming that most MeFites would be in the richest 1% of the world's population. Looks like I was wrong.

The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research claims that you need more than $500,000 in assets to be among the richest 1% of the world's population. (More than $60,000 is needed to be among the richest 10%.)

So some of us make it into the World One Percent, but probably most of us are part of the World 99%
posted by straight at 12:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


The petit bourgeoisie often side with the aristocracy. What else is new? Dupes.
posted by spitbull at 12:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


How come so many posters on the 99% site, that have huge student debt balances, have such a gripe with Wall Street?

Because WHY do they have such huge student debt balances? Their parents didn't graduate college with mind numbing debt; going back a ways college debt was small and manageable. What's changed that has made the problem so severe today?

For one thing, many sectors of life, such as public transportation, college education, things that our tax dollars used to support, are now expected to be mostly paid for by user fees. Meaning, poor people have to basically do without, and fall further behind in improving their way of life. And who has benefited most from this transformation? Seemingly, Wall Street.

Nearly all of the productivity gains that ordinary hardworking Americans have achieved in the past generation has gone to line the pockets of bankers and investors, and almost none of it has actually served to lift the standard of living of the ones who have earned it. People who might actually be able to afford college if they had been able to keep the extra $20K annual per capital they have generated through their hard work.
posted by xigxag at 12:13 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Join us. It's the best way to make sure that we fix our broken system.
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on October 11


Thank you for that very articulate and well-thought out comment, because it allows me to articulate exactly what is wrong with this protest movement simply claiming to represent the 99%.

"Join us." No. Why should I join you? You aren't in charge, and you don't control the debate. Why don't you join me? By your own admission you (collectively) are mostly comprised of people who can't make it in this system, you are surprised and appalled by a level of "corruption" that has been in place since the founding. And I'm supposed to follow your lead? You don't have any answers, you don't even know what the questions are. You just know what you don't like. And what you don't like is that someone else has it better.

You talk about this 53% thing as if it is some fake, partisan thing. Of course it is, no one thinks otherwise. But the WeAreThe99Percent tumblr is also fake. You don't think that site is curated? You don't think that the people who run it are posting images that support their slant, and screening out others that don't?

"So don't let Erick Erickson use the distance of the internet to convince you that you're different from the protestors in terms of your situation. You're only different because you're not down there with them,

No no no no no. A billion times wrong. I'm different from them because of my attitude, because of how I see the system. You see it as "we are all in this together." I see it me and my own on our own.

Of course the American economy is unfair. That was the whole purpose of the country in the first place. To be unfair. You already know this, we all took junior high school civics. Two seconds after Thomas Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal" he demanded a slave bring him some tea. "But equality." Grow up.

You want me to join you? And do what? Fail? Bitch and moan? I'd rather join the the guys who started the 53% thing. Why? Not because I buy their bullshit any more than yours. But because they are my kind of people. They are the hustlers, not the rubes. Maybe they sell T-shirts, or get a book deal, or whatever. They took this moment and exploited it to their advantage. Good for them.

You want me to join you to effect change. No. Because you can't change anything.

The only way you are going to get anything is by being a threat to the establishment. It's nice that OWS recounts on their site how many protestors have been arrested or pepper-sprayed. How many bond traders have the protestors put in the hospital? How many M&A deals have you screwed up, blocked, or interfered with? "This is a non-violent protest." Oh, so it's a party. You put yourselves at risk, for what? To get the word out that the system is rigged? WE ALREADY KNEW THAT.

You know what the 1% should do? They should push for even more inequality, in the name of social research. They should lobby to raise the voting age to 25 so that you loudmouths in college don't get to have a say, cut their own taxes by another 20%, and just for the hell of it, eliminate oh, I don't know, Medicaid. In the name of science. We know how far the Egpytian, Syrian, Tunisian people can be pushed. We saw Londoners riot. Let's see what it takes for Americans to be pushed too far. I'd like to know.

I'd like to know what happened with all those ANSWER protests in the early 2000s that protested the war in Afghanistan and the lead up to the Iraq invasion. Remember those? We killed Saddam, we killed bin laden, but we still have troops dying in both places and gas is $3.50 a gallon. Did you guys finally stick it to Halliburton? Prosecute Blackwater? Remember "no blood for oil?" A lot of you lot marching and shouting. You know what the 1% did. Laugh. OH, and made shitloads of money.

I'd like to see how blatantly and brazenly the elite can screw everyone over before the people that buy into this OWS nonsense actually fight back.

"Join us." Follow the sheep to their shearing? No thanks.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:14 PM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


>Ironically, the 99%ers are more reflective of the original Boston Tea Party than the Tea Party is. "We're taxed, but we're not feeling represented" is closer to the original than "Eliminate all the taxes."

Word. Especially when you note that the tax on legitimate (as opposed to smuggled) tea in the colonies was an attempt by the British government to prop up the waning fortunes of the East India Company, which might have faced bankruptcy if it weren't for measures like these. Essentially, it was corporate protectionism--corporate welfare.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:17 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I get it. Really. Wage gap, class and wealth disparity. Got it. Agree.

But let's break down what's going on. Villifying 'Wall Street.' 99% of the people on Wall Street are members of that same 99% group. Operations folks, mid-office folks.. they don't make the gastly sums of money the Masserati-driving power brokers do that seem to be the focus of ire.

The banks got bailed out. Yes. Can everyone start acknowledging that one important factor - THEY PAID IT BACK. WITH INTEREST. Why don't you get forgiven for your mortgage? Because you over extended, took out up to 85% of your house's wealth, bought computers and flat screens, and now you can't pay it back. Restructure your debt? Is there any hope that you'll pay it back with the rapidity the banks did?

Did Jamie Dimond convince you to sign an interest-only mortgage? Did he come up with the idea for an interest only mortgage? Did any of the CEO's on 'Wall street' come up with the idea? (the answer to those questions is 'No', by the way).

I have the same problem with the Republican/Tea Party villification of teachers as overpriveledged with golden pension plans. It's totally divorced from the real problem. "Oh, private industry doesn't have pensions!" Yeah, that's because over the course of 25 years, they went through a sometimes painful transition of grandfathering and moving to employer-sponsored 401k plans with varying levels of matching and management. But no one wants to hear that. It's easier to rail on about those lazy, pension for life, tenured good for nothings.

Yes, I work in the financial industry. I was out of work for 6 months following the 2008 debacle. I am not wealthy by any means. The majority of the people I work with poke continuous fun at me as 'the Democrat' or 'the Liberal.'

I agree with the majority of the views here that this particular 53% website is hokey, self serving and fairly un-self aware.

But what has left Americans is the ability to talk rationality, avoid hyperbole (and outright creation of lies panders as fact), and address the actual problems without being so myopic about your own personal agenda. It's present in the 53% and it's running rampent in the 'Occupy' protest.
posted by rich at 12:22 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.

James Madison, as quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787
posted by bukvich at 12:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Follow the sheep to their shearing? No thanks.

But isn't that what the people on the 53% blog are doing? They're explaining that they, too, have hardships, but aren't "whining" about it. They're not doing anything about it, really.
posted by zerbinetta at 12:25 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not wealthy by any means.

posted by *rich* at 12:22 PM on October 11 [+] [!]


SUUUUUUUUUURE.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:25 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pastabagel, that was the kind of honesty that makes arguing worthwhile. Awesome.
posted by jwhite1979 at 12:26 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, you know what? Let's stop the 1%/99%. I think I read it somewhere else. You feel attacked, rich, because we bitch about wallstreet and boohoo you work there and aren't rich. You think when I bitch about mcd's, I'm bitching about the workers? You know as well as I do that's not the case. If not, then I'm sorry you're so invested (no pun intended) that your identity is tied up into your corporate overlords.

So ok.

Let's stop some abstract number. Let's pull out Forbes riches americans list. Let's fucking pull out some goddamned names, and the rest of you fucks who defend the wealthiest because for some reason you feel like we're saying you're part of their group instead of with us (even though you're the ones who say you won't side with us)... Name names. We will show who the enemy is. That's apparently the only way.

But you know even then many will fight against us, but if that's what it takes so potentially sympathetic people will stop fighting us and join us, then ok. Names should be listed.
posted by symbioid at 12:28 PM on October 11, 2011


And no - not on the blue - this is not the place, and it's against policy :P
posted by symbioid at 12:29 PM on October 11, 2011


Can everyone start acknowledging that one important factor - THEY PAID IT BACK. WITH INTEREST.

Dude, the Fed pays interest to the banks.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 12:29 PM on October 11, 2011


The only way you are going to get anything is by being a threat to the establishment.

As much as it's likely to get me on a watch list for agreeing with this, it's true.

Chanting "2 4 6 8 ORGANIZE to SMASH THE STATE" doesn't accomplish much if (a) you're not actually capable of smashing the state and (b) you're kinda fuzzy on with what you would replace said smashed state.

You break it, you buy it.
posted by delfin at 12:31 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Shit - I'm bowing out, I'm obviously too heated - sorry if anything was too aggressive to anyone personally. :\
posted by symbioid at 12:33 PM on October 11, 2011


furiousxgeorge wrote: Each side kind of wants to ignore the fact that both of the political parties supported that corporate socialism and will absolutely do it again if they have to. The banks need accountability for destroying themselves, but it only happens if everyone makes it happen.

The problem is that in the real world, it's hard to keep you from getting completely fucked beyond even how fucked you've gotten while still letting the gigantic banks implode. This would be much easier if the big 3 or 4 were still 20, but that water went under the bridge what seems like a lifetime ago.
posted by wierdo at 12:34 PM on October 11, 2011


Oh, Pastabagel, you are not one of them and you will never be one of them. They're laughing at you, too, buddy.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:35 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


> that's because OWS has been horrible about message. just the worst. they need to get better. listen, the networks, anyone will cover an easy catchy message that will SELL ADS. But the bylaws of OWS require a 90% supermajority to get anything done.

This I agree with. I sympathize with OWS, but signs and puppets and chanting only do so much without leadership, coherence, explainable end goals and someone charismatic to put before the cameras.


I actually heard something on the radio this morning that addressed this; someone observed that it may not necessarily be the OWS protestors job to come up with and provide a leader in the first place. They don't have the power necessary TO do that. Their role is to be the angry public that attracts the attention of a young and up-and-coming politician, or economist, or businessman, or group of businessmen, who step forward to take on representing their interests.

To make a profoundly silly metaphor: No one in the OWS is Batman. But collectively they are the Bat Signal.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:37 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


you're kinda fuzzy on with what you would replace said smashed state.

This is my biggest frustration with OWS. There was an interview on All Things Considered one day last week, Melissa interviewing two of the "voices" of the movement, one in his twenties, one in his thirties. She kept asking them, in varied ways, what exactly they'd like to see happen - what changes would they like to make? what would they do differently? - and I had to turn it off out of frustration because they just WOULD. NOT. ANSWER. THE QUESTION. They just kept regurgitating the same old "It's unfair, corporations have too much power, the rich have too much power, etc." over and over and over. But could not say a single word about what changes they would like to see happen.
posted by jbickers at 12:37 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people on that web site are never going to deign to be taught or informed by people they spit upon. There is value in insulting and dismissal...it is often the only thing that gets through to them. Is it counterproductive? Maybe. Maybe not. One could argue that a bully only learns when he gets punched in the face by his victim...

Chuffy, you are wrong. How do I know? Because I used to be one of them. I spent the first half of my adult life as a conservative, and I can tell you for a fact that they're not stupid...or evil, or delusional. Conservatism is a logically sound, rational world view for those who don't truly understand that other people's circumstances aren't similar to their own. It's not that they choose not to see it...they just don't know how or where to find that insight.
It's natural to believe you are responsible for your own successes, and by corollary that others are responsible for their own failures. And there is truth in both of those statements, as well (although I know now that the larger part of success/failure is due to other factors). My political views in those days had nothing to do with being a moron, or being greedy, or being cold-hearted...just being unaware.
These are rational people. If they get the insight they need, their logic will force them to adjust their opinions. What do you think is the best way to give them that insight?
posted by rocket88 at 12:40 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


jbickers: "But could not say a single word about what changes they would like to see happen."

I agree with you, so let's start making a list:

1) Write a law (or constitutional amendment) that overturns Citizens United
2) Tax capital gains as income
3) Add an additional marginal tax bracket for anybody making over $100k/year
4) Additional funding for public education, and lots of it. Make the student loan question irrelevant.*

*And here's where I have the biggest gripe with those 99% and OWS folks. How do we fairly address the people who did something as stupid as taking out a $200k student loan to get a sociology degree? Granted, the banks are at least partially at fault, but I have a really tough time being sympathetic to the "Discharge all student debt" position. No matter what we do, one half is going to walk away feeling that they've been severely wronged. The sympathetic part of me tells me that nobody deserves that kind of debt slavery, while the logical part of my brain tells me not to reward bad behavior and decisions.
posted by schmod at 12:45 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


someone observed that it may not necessarily be the OWS protestors job to come up with and provide a leader in the first place. They don't have the power necessary TO do that.

This got observed on the daily show. In point of fact, we actually specifically have an elected government to represent us and do exactly this kind of thing.

Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, corporate money and strong partisanship are making sure that, instead of representing us, the government is busy perpetually melting down and/or defending corporate interests (sometimes at huge expense). The fact that our leaders are not doing that thing we need them to be doing is essentially the entire point.
posted by Archelaus at 12:46 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's an excellent YT video with four of the demands of OWS. I can't get to YT at the moment, but I linked it from my Twitter and G+ accounts last night. I would ask someone to post it here.
posted by desjardins at 12:47 PM on October 11, 2011


That's funny. I really believe "conservative" is a code word for "selfish rich people." Because most conservatives I've known have in fact been cold-hearted bastards.

What are they "conserving?" Their wealth and their ability to remain unaware that others are suffering.

They're actually the radicals. Those of us trying to restore some sense of fairness, balance, and democracy in this society are conservatives.
posted by spitbull at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course the American economy is unfair. That was the whole purpose of the country in the first place. To be unfair. You already know this, we all took junior high school civics. Two seconds after Thomas Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal" he demanded a slave bring him some tea. "But equality." Grow up.

To be fair, America has largely rowed back from slavery since. I think not even the Tea Party are arguing for its reinstatement as part of a rolling back of government overreach.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2011


while the logical part of my brain tells me not to reward bad behavior and decisions.

OK, banks first.
posted by spitbull at 12:49 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


No one in the OWS is Batman. But collectively they are the Bat Signal.

Unfortunately, they're such a fuzzy, indistinct signal it's impossible to tell if they're asking for Batman or Joker or maybe Alfred.

People speaking for the movement are advocating everything from socialism to libertarianism to outright anarchism. Which is their right. But it leaves the door wide open for any politician who wants to capitalize on their rage to get elected, almost regardless of their actual political beliefs.

If the movement were organized enough to sit down and draft a platform and select candidates to unseat 50 or so incumbent politicians in the primaries, that would be one thing. It worked very well for the Tea Party. But they have to move fast to get things organized before the next election cycle, and so far I don't see it happening.
posted by miyabo at 12:49 PM on October 11, 2011


But could not say a single word about what changes they would like to see happen.

For a start: reinstate Glass-Steagall, repeal Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, fully investigate and prosecute the people who caused the 2008 financial crisis, overturn Citizens United, institute Buffet's idea of fair taxation, reform loan repayment laws.
posted by naju at 12:50 PM on October 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


The sympathetic part of me tells me that nobody deserves that kind of debt slavery, while the logical part of my brain tells me not to reward bad behavior and decisions.

This is the same kind of logic that leads to tales of Welfare Queens and their Cadillacs. Yes, some people do make bad decisions and/or cheat the system. But its in our best interest that no one is impoverished, no one goes hungry, and everyone is educated, even if a few people are rewarded for bad behavior.
posted by desjardins at 12:50 PM on October 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


symboid - *I* don't feel attacked.

FatherDagon - I'm comfortable middle class. I know I'm better off than a vast group of people, partly due to the benefit of the work of my parents, partly my own work, and partly dumb luck.

My point in bringing any background on me into the discussion was full disclosure. I think the responses to my admissions is a good example of what I have a problem with. That this is some sort of war with enemies lined up on either side. I'm not 'fighting against you.' I'm not 'tied up with my overlords.'

My point is that the protests and any message trying to be heard would be better served by acknowledging facts, not by ignoring facts, or context. spitbull's comment of 'Ok, Banks first" again re-enforces what is wrong with the current messaging and focal point of 'Wall street.'

TARP has a return of about 8%. Yes, not all of it has been paid back yet, but it is still on track. And for those that did pay back (the full amount loaned), they paid with interest, dividends, warrants and other income on top of that.

Of course the Fed pays interest on deposits by banks. The Fed is a BANK. 'Federal Reserve Bank.' They pay interest for use of the funds deposited with them. It is a normal economic process. Again, shouting out 'the government is paying the banks!' is misleading and inflamitory that is devoid of truth and context and meant to only rile people to a purpose blindly.

EmpressCallipygos has a good point as well, which I didn't mention before. there is a need for charasmatic, intelligent leadership that can cut through the crap in the government. Obama I had hoped would be that one. But he hasn't handled situations as well as I had hoped - I was looking more for a Teddy Rosevelt 'walk softly, carry a big stick' leader, but when push came to shove, Obama hasn't used the stick. He's meananced with it, then put it down and said 'just kidding.'

(on preview - agreeing with rocket88's comments, as well)
posted by rich at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


But could not say a single word about what changes they would like to see happen.

For a start: reinstate Glass-Steagall, repeal Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, fully investigate and prosecute the people who caused the 2008 financial crisis, overturn Citizens United, institute Buffet's idea of fair taxation, reform loan repayment laws.


It's one thing when intelligent people on MetaFilter offer great ideas about how to improve a movement's manifesto. But when the representatives of said movement, the ones that are chosen to explain what they're all about on NPR, ostensibly because they have enough information to be spokespeople, can't do so? Makes the movement seem to be not well thought out. And, frankly, silly.
posted by jbickers at 12:53 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's an excellent YT video with four of the demands of OWS. I can't get to YT at the moment, but I linked it from my Twitter and G+ accounts last night. I would ask someone to post it here.

Here it is.
posted by naju at 12:53 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Folks: take five minutes to go read their list of goals on their website before you say "I have no idea what they want" again. Yes, people speaking for the movement have a lot of ideas, but there IS a list of goals for the group as a whole.

That's true of any large political body. Some guys you talk to out at the fringe might have different ideas than the core group's goals. It's certainly true of our existing political bodies, and the Tea Party.
posted by Archelaus at 12:54 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually heard something on the radio this morning that addressed this; someone observed that it may not necessarily be the OWS protestors job to come up with and provide a leader in the first place. They don't have the power necessary TO do that. Their role is to be the angry public that attracts the attention of a young and up-and-coming politician, or economist, or businessman, or group of businessmen, who step forward to take on representing their interests.

They need enough staying power and demonstrative influence to get MANY politicians/economists/businessmen to start backing what they have to say.

This is the chicken-egg leftist debate that was briefly touched on earlier in the thread and in recent posts, and I'm not going to turn this into That Thread Again but I will say this; name anyone with influence in the Democratic Party who has shown any interest in unabashed progressivism. The corpse of Paul Wellstone doesn't count. Bernie Sanders has a thriving maple syrup manufacturer constituency.

Trying to turn the Democrats around is a very hefty task, particularly since they can argue that the New Democrat center-right tack has had a lot more success. Compare the electoral vote counts of Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama to those of McGovern, Carter '80, Dukakis and Mondale. You will need a substantial bloc of proud-liberal Democrats to make any headway. There's strength in numbers, but not when the number is 1.
posted by delfin at 12:55 PM on October 11, 2011


How, exactly, is pointing out that the Fed pays the banks inflammatory?
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 12:55 PM on October 11, 2011


Taking off for the 2+ hour drive home, but the comment, how I read it was "Look how crazy this is.. we give the banks money in a big bail out, and the Fed is actually paying them interest! It's crazy!"

If the comment was meant in some other light, I'm open to hearing about it.
posted by rich at 12:57 PM on October 11, 2011


And let's be clear about this. The banks repayed TARP. No mention of this:
The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
link
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 12:59 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


The huge student debt balances are reminiscent of the huge mortgage balances people are carrying on their now undervalued homes.

Just as easy access to credit drove up the price of houses, easy access to student loans has driven up the price of an education.

For both mortgages and student loans, the government tried to social engineer a desired outcome and the market priced the asset accordingly to reflect the increased inflow of capital.

If we could only go back to the days when the government didn't guarantee payment to the lending bank if the mortgage and student loan borrower defaulted, both housing and education costs would be significantly cheaper than they are today.

I guess as long as the government's intentions were worthwhile, their should be no complaints.

After all, who needs Wells Fargo or the local credit union deciding if a graduate with a BS in Communications will be credit worthy enough in four years to give them a $100 k loan.
posted by otto42 at 1:00 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


They're actually the radicals. Those of us trying to restore some sense of fairness, balance, and democracy in this society are conservatives.

I've been making this argument for a while and I'd love to see it get some traction.
posted by quin at 1:01 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


They need enough staying power and demonstrative influence to get MANY politicians/economists/businessmen to start backing what they have to say.

You know, the OWS group has been reminding me more and more of the Bonus Army of the early 1930's -- they also cropped up during a Depression, and they also camped out in cities. The Wikipedia article mentions a leader, but his "leadership" seems to mainly just be "he was the guy who organized it" -- and when it comes to "whose idea was this in the first place," we already know that.

They got shut down and kicked out without any of their demands being met. But the public reaction to their being shut down and kicked out lead to Hoover's defeat and FDR's election, and that's when things started really changing. To use the metaphor I made earlier -- the Bonus Army was the Bat Signal that yielded FDR as Batman.

I don't think the Bonus Army actually did get the specific demands they were demonstrating for. But it woke enough people up that "whoa shit something's gotta change here."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


Just as easy access to credit drove up the price of houses, easy access to student loans has driven up the price of an education.

Interesting thought. One might argue that colleges increased the cost of education because they knew how easy it was for students to get loans. (And then there are the for profits.)
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:07 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I will admit I didn't even know what Glass-Steagall was a month ago. Now I do, and that's no coincidence.
posted by desjardins at 1:08 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


"You don't have any answers, you don't even know what the questions are. You just know what you don't like. And what you don't like is that someone else has it better. "

"They want to squeeze into that 1%. Everybody on the outside wants in, and everybody already in wants up. And once they get to the top, they want to pull up the ladder and close the door. "
(Linked blog post)

Pastabagel, have you been reading too much Animal Farm? The main complaint I've seen isn't that the 1% are rich instead of those in the 99%, it's that the 1% are getting rich off of the 99%'s suffering.

Those that generally emerge as leaders, may want to be in the 1%, sure. Power and wealth tend to attract the same sort of person, but that's no reason to discard an entire movement.

And violent protests usually lead to violent crackdowns. Egypt fell peacefully, not by having protesters go against tanks and the military. The protesters' very existence was all the threat that was needed.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 1:10 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's stop some abstract number. Let's pull out Forbes riches americans list.

Sounds familiar. But this entire debate, that was originally framed by Warren Buffett to be about income taxes, that frame which OWS has bought into completely, has nothing to do with the actual debt problems of the country.

I would be totally behind a moderate, say 7-10% tax on wealth. Think how much money the govt will pull in that will allow it, with moderate and sane reductions in spending to balance it's books. Now ask yourself why a tax that would only affect 400 people and will pull in billions in revenue will go nowhere.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:14 PM on October 11, 2011


And violent protests usually lead to violent crackdowns.

Which is exactly why people are calling this a non-violent protest. It's not because they're hippie dippie flower children throwing a love-in, it's because they don't want to fucking die.
posted by desjardins at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Pastabagel, have you been reading too much Animal Farm? The main complaint I've seen isn't that the 1% are rich instead of those in the 99%, it's that the 1% are getting rich off of the 99%'s suffering.


Yes, that's what you've read. But that state of affairs isn't new. The only thing that its new is that people had to change their expectations. Look at the posts on that 99er tumblr. Notice how many talk about how they got a degree but they don't have a job. Why do they think it is relevant to tell us that? Because they thought the degree would mean a good (better than average) job, financial security, etc. In 2005, the inequality was okay when everyone thought they had figured out a way to benefit from it, when they thought they knew the rules.

And the rich don't get rich off the poor's suffering. How does someone having 100k in loans that can never be paid back help the rich?


Here's how: when the govt steps in and bails out the people who can't pay back their student loans. And the mechanism by which they will do this is to have the government pay off the loan to the bank. The bank will get paid, the student is free of the debt, and everyone wins. Except that the default is shared by everyone as the country takes on more debt.

But ask yourself, if this happened, would the people with the loans object because some bank is getting paid?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:22 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting thought. One might argue that colleges increased the cost of education because they knew how easy it was for students to get loans.

Additionally, (at least for public universities) states have been dramatically cutting the amount they subsidize the schools.
posted by drezdn at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking of OWS as a bunch of Bartlebys, but I like EmpressCallipygos comparison to the Bonus Army, too.

A Bonus Army of Bartlebys.
posted by notyou at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2011


Hypnotic Chick,

The $16 trillion dollar number is misleading. After reading the report on Sen. Sanders site, the $16 trillion number comes from Table 8 on page 131. Table 8 is used to show who used the various financial facilities the most.

To quote page 130: "For example, an overnight PDCF loan of $10 billion that was renewed daily at the same level for 30 business days would result in an aggregate amount borrowed of $300 billion although the institution, in effect, borrowed only $10 billion over 30 days. In contrast, a TAF loan of $10 billion extended over a 1-month period would appear as $10 billion. As a result, the total transaction amounts shown in table 8 for PDCF are not directly comparable to the total transaction amounts shown for TAF and other programs that made
loans for periods longer than overnight."

In other words, it's like saying if you borrow $10 from a friend and every day for a month you tell them you still need the $10, finally paying them on the 30th day that you lent them $300 (30 * $10).

IMHO, it's a misleading number plucked out for shock value, out of context.

The overall report details the various tools the Fed used to stop the crisis, who did what, and how the Fed needs better guidelines on how to handle conflicts of interest and transparency, especially in the case of the Fed doing things and offering services it had never done in the past. Using the very banks the Fed was saving to distribute funds can be seen as an incestuous relationship. See page 139 for the report conclusions.
posted by Argyle at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2011


And the rich don't get rich off the poor's suffering.

You clearly don't need any pharmaceutical drugs to live. That's good. You have a good life. Congratulations. Stay healthy and stay right.
posted by fuq at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


pastabagel i assure you that housing values, retirement accounts, and employment expectations have changed considerably since 2005. maybe that's why these people are upset! because their expectations for fair wages, a pension, and affordable housing and healthcare no longer seem realistic in the new economy! god, i don't know!
posted by beefetish at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2011


And the rich don't get rich off the poor's suffering. How does someone having 100k in loans that can never be paid back help the rich?

Credit Default Swaps?
posted by ndfine at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am the 0.000000003% (1 of 307,006,550). Makes me feel small.
posted by amazingstill at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2011


But that state of affairs [wealth disparity] isn't new. The only thing that its new is that people had to change their expectations.

actually, income inequality has gotten a lot worse in the last 60 years.
posted by desjardins at 1:33 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


The problem is this -- the disparity between the ultra wealthy and everyone else is such that the rational action for most people who are looking to maximize outcomes is no longer to play by the rules. That applies to both the ultra wealthy who are looting and pillaging as quickly as they can stuff their fat fingers, and the people on the lower end, who are working harder and being rewarded less than their parents were and have no real hope of much improvement.

It is getting to the point that the smart play for anybody who is on the lower end of the income scale is to drop out of society and simply demand money by putting themselves in the way of the economy. It will only continue get worse. Forget fairness, this is about pure power politics.

If the wealthy don't want to get put up against a wall in a few years, then they are going to need to start backing serious economic reform in this country. We are facing riots in the streets in the very near future.

If money doesn't start trickling down, it's going to get pulled down the hard way.
posted by empath at 1:35 PM on October 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


I doubt anyone's actual goal is to make the poor suffer, bond villains aside. The suffering is more of an indirect effect of their actions.

Just to use your example, if the government ever paid for student loans there would be less revenue available for other things (a main complaint of the 99 is that the government is bought and paid for by corporations, so the banks certainly aren't chipping in here).

So, funding's tight. To make ends meet the gov. cuts services, probably starting with something like education/medicare/welfare. These services primarily help those that aren't rich, those that have no available substitutes like private schools/cadillac healthcare/income. The end result is suffering, even though it wasn't a stated or intended goal.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 1:39 PM on October 11, 2011


No, the far left demands that their 10% run the show, without the VOTES in and out of the government to get it done. Then they attack the very people who are closest to them in the political spectrum with power, rather than the assholes who get in the way. Then, when they are called out on it, they cry "hippie punching."

I see this sentiment quite often, but I have yet to see a demand to "run the show" actually voiced on any "far-left" blogs. What I do see are demands to be taken seriously and to not be dismissed except for those months during election seasons when the far left is needed to win elections. And demands that those political leaders who feel entitled to liberal votes actually fight for liberal principles and policies. Which typically results in them being characterized as un-serious magic-pony-demanding children.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 1:39 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Interesting thought. One might argue that colleges increased the cost of education because they knew how easy it was for students to get loans."

As with any good or service, the price charged is the maximum amount the most number of people are willing and able to pay. A loan vastly increases the amount a person is able to pay. Lots of people with lots of ability to pay drives up the price and cost of houses and tuition. This is the only explanation.

Concurrently, a bank willing to make a loan will vastly increase the size and amount of those loans if the US Government is a co-signer.
posted by otto42 at 1:39 PM on October 11, 2011


> you couldn't find a better example of "leaders" staying on top by manipulating
> "followers" into hating one another. divide and conquer.

If any of "those people" happened to read this thread, no manipulation would be needed. The seething contempt they would encounter here would do the job better than any evil-overlord manipulation it's possible to imagine.

60-70 hours a week for eight years, two years in the military, two jobs. All that work, just to be an idiot.

53% of america is either an old fuck or a usefull idiot? I'm starting to see the problem here.

What a bunch of willfully ignorant fucking idiots.

These people are idiots of the highest order. When they fall, they will fall hard.

Morons.

...and that's just a selection of the shorter ones.


What's really poignant is Brandon Blatcher's question,

> I wonder what it would take to get that "53%" to consider themselves part of that
> "99%". If someone can figure how to that, things will really start happening.

Folks, you aren't making that job any easier, you know that? Erick Erickson, ew. You people, double ew. Your kind and Erick's kind richly deserve each other, because you are fundamentally the same kind.
posted by jfuller at 1:43 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Argyle,

Here is the deal. The case I see rich making is that the banks are morally upright in a way that the US public isn't.
Why don't you get forgiven for your mortgage? Because you over extended, took out up to 85% of your house's wealth, bought computers and flat screens, and now you can't pay it back.
But this doesn't make any sense. First of all, this doesn't describe me. Second, well let me re-quote:
Did Jamie Dimond convince you to sign an interest-only mortgage? Did he come up with the idea for an interest only mortgage? Did any of the CEO's on 'Wall street' come up with the idea? (the answer to those questions is 'No', by the way).
Well, I don't know that CEO's came up with anything, but I know that minorities were fraudulently pushed in sub-prime products. I know that the investment banks were hunting for sub-prime mortgages in order to bet against them. I know that those cynical bets created holes in bank balance sheets. I know that supporting the finance industry is where the Obama Administration is spending its political capital.

The fact is the degree of malfeasance on the part of the banks, including pushing loans on desperate people, really is responsible for the mess we are in. The idea that the true culprit are Americans who need to own up for their debts is an idea that doesn't recognize the key lie told to Americans in the lead up to the crash: that housing never loses money.

That's the lie that allowed us to buy above our means (because we'll sell higher if we can't afford it). It's the lie that soothed us into accepting no wage increases for two decades. To say that people are irresponsible because they believed this lie...well, it's very convenient.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 1:46 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Folks, you aren't making that job any easier, you know that? Erick Erickson, ew. You people, double ew. Your kind and Erick's kind richly deserve each other, because you are fundamentally the same kind.

I'm so sick of tone arguments like that. Nobody is going to convince a bunch of paid political hacks that they are wrong. I'm over that. At this point, its not about convincing a majority, it's more about convincing enough people to do something.

Stuff will get done when the 1% are afraid, when they wake up every day was as much insecurity as the rest of us have, and you don't make people afraid by asking nicely.
posted by empath at 1:47 PM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


If a college education in the US were "free," i.e., paid for by Federal taxes, you can bet that placement testing would become a reality here, as it is in all other countries where college is "free." That means, no more college for the bottom 75% of students (at the very least), preferential placement for students who plan to study in potentially lucrative fields (arts degrees don't have much of an ROI, unless you're MacArthur Genius Grant material), and an even uglier shitstorm over affirmative action/quotas.

Imagine how most protesters would react if college were made "free," only to find that they no longer qualified to go? And that those who DID qualify might come from the upper classes? Welcome to the rest of the world.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:49 PM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I want to go back to something that was brought up a lot earlier in the thread, about Goldman hiring engineers with 4.0s, because I think it's important. Indeed, some of the brightest people I knew got siphoned off into the finance industry. In another life, these people could have been all-star physicists, mathematicians, or engineers. That's, I think, a problem for our society.

Increasing spending on science would probably help here, of course, but it won't solve the problem because the disparity is just so huge. Fortunately, there's also another tactic, which is shame. In 2005, working for one of these big Wall Street firms had an attractive mystique to it; these were places where smart, socially adept nerds who graduated from top schools could absolutely clean up. And while there were some people who rumbled about the excesses of the financial industry, I don't think people realized just how bad things were.

But now it's 2011, and Goldman should have the reputation Exxon had in 1989. For every ambitious 22-year-old who thinks, you know, I do want to make a lot of money but working for Goldman would just make me feel too slimy -- that's a victory. One fewer person moving the shells around, and one more smart person the bank doesn't get to own. OWS is probably not going to have major, direct political implications in the way that Tahrir Square did, for example, but I think this is one subtle and yet important way they could start to shift the tides, by signaling the extent of public disgust.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:51 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Folks, you aren't making that job any easier, you know that? Erick Erickson, ew. You people, double ew. Your kind and Erick's kind richly deserve each other, because you are fundamentally the same kind.

Oh what trite horseshit. I am so sick of this hackneyed crap about "both sides being the same." "Fundamentally?" Oh, so fundamentally I left a comment that was financed by a six-or-seven-figure political website? Fundamentally I said it on a site whose very name is a complete lie?

I don't give a shit whether or not I'm "making the job easier" by whatever definition you thought I should be doing. I merely gave my honest thoughts about something, which immediately makes it NOT "fundamentally the same" as comments on a website based on bullshit.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:52 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


[klangklangston, that's over the line, please dial it back. other folks, now's the time to try to make this discussion civil, please.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:55 PM on October 11, 2011


there's something similar between all the hands and faces ... i just can't put my finger on it.
posted by cupcake1337 at 1:55 PM on October 11, 2011


The problem is that in the real world, it's hard to keep you from getting completely fucked beyond even how fucked you've gotten while still letting the gigantic banks implode. This would be much easier if the big 3 or 4 were still 20, but that water went under the bridge what seems like a lifetime ago.

Nationalize them, it's only politically hard.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:01 PM on October 11, 2011


Hypnotic Chick

"The fact is the degree of malfeasance on the part of the banks, including pushing loans on desperate people, really is responsible for the mess we are in. The idea that the true culprit are Americans who need to own up for their debts is an idea that doesn't recognize the key lie told to Americans in the lead up to the crash: that housing never loses money."

The only pushing that was done was by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. There is not a single bank or loan officer in this country that would make a loan they thought they were not going to get paid back on. Most of them knew full well that the people they made sub-prime loans to would not be able to pay them back, but they also knew that the government would. The same goes for student loans so the loans were made and the prices went higher.

That is why this entire OWS screed is so delusional and the anger is misplaced. The federal government subsidizes bad ideas, such as student loans for art history majors, mortgages for town homes in South Amboy, NJ, and industrial revenue bonds for politically connected solar panel factories.

If Wall Street could have made any money on any of these loans, they would have without the governments help.

The government is to blame for the high cost of housing, the high cost of tuition, and the high cost of solar panels, not Wall Street.
posted by otto42 at 2:04 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the rich don't get rich off the poor's suffering.

Depends. Apple manufactures iPhones in China for a reason. You might not consider it suffering to work on an electronics assembly line with a fierce production quota for $5 a day, but then you're probably used to working 190 hours a week like all rich people.
posted by spitbull at 2:05 PM on October 11, 2011


silentpundit: "Are you actually reading what anyone is writing or does your own cock taste so good that you can't look past it?

You just lost.
"

His cock is Hitler? Or did the rules of "The Game" change? I'm confused...
posted by symbioid at 2:06 PM on October 11, 2011


I earned a college degree in music, subsidized by loans and full time, mostly blue collar, work.

I now make in one year approximately 3 times what that 4 year degree cost (in actual dollars, not inflation adjusted, so maybe make it 2 times) in the late 1980s. But even if I didn't, so what?

There are many ways of calculating the "return on investment" for education. The unfair pay scales that afflict American occupational options are an artificial way to skew the "ROI." We invest about as much to train a teacher as an engineer, in fact. But one makes $65K and the other makes $300K. While some MBA (think George W. Bush) makes 1.5 million a year for making big decisions while sitting on his ass. It's fundamentally disingenuous to dismiss the value to society of important professions (which actually does include art historians, for those who like living in a civilized society) based on the ratio of salary to tuition costs.
posted by spitbull at 2:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because we've decided to make everyone handle their own retirement investment details and pay themselves out of a single pool of cash rather than pooling risk & reward in traditional pension plans, letting organizations with far longer horizons and abilities to absorb cyclical economic change deal with it.

No it's because you stuck it out too long in growth assets in your portfolio instead of transitioning to safer assets like bonds and cash.

Being stupid with a 401K or a pension fund manager being borderline retarded can both wipe out mass amounts of money.


And the value for "you" here is every single person out there who will eventually retire (ie, the people who get old before dying), either by their own choice or because they are forced out of the workforce by younger&cheaper employees and/or their their own physical failings.

So now we have a system where every single person alive and working needs to be personally responsible for making these intelligent choices. These same people who decide they're going to choose the $0 purchase two-generations-old iPhone over the newer $99 model... and then pay $70 a month for the next 24 months. It's just not a smart choice.

Compare that, instead, to having the pool of retirement money run and managed by an institution or government whose lifespan is measured in centuries. There's reasonable projections indicating that this current economic downturn is going to have an impact on wages that will be LIFE-LONG for folks entering the workforce now. It's reasonably expected to depress investment returns for a period over a decade.

That decade will represent, if my lifespan tracks with the average 41-year-old, 14% of my life. But since effectively nobody's retirement savings ever really starts before age 20 it's actually more like 20% of my lifespan.

The United States, on the other hand, is at 240 and counting. That decade represents 4% of its operational life. It is, by that very difference in longevity, better able to weather economic changes than I am.

Even if I and every other person does the "smart thing" and uses the market-averaging retirement funds that assume a set retirement date and balance funds accordingly it is simply impossible for me, as a short lived human, to compensate for the variations in the economy. You say balance your shit, but the reality is that the people who turned 30 in 2008 (and presumably are starting to earn incomes allowing them to save decent amounts and are early enough in their savings that they should be in aggressive funds) are going to have a different retirement prognosis than the people who will turn 30 in 2018, presuming the economy improves and wages finally start returning to older levels (since you can't save what you don't earn).

Defined benefit pensions have their own problems but their continued disappearance has a significant impact on people's stability expectations. If some people get their way and social security moves to this self-directed self-funded system and further off-loads governmental safety nets to individuals it's just going to further remove retirement certainty.
posted by phearlez at 2:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


otto42, have you heard of ALEC? The laws passed by a congress aren't necessarily written by those legislators.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 2:15 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The government is to blame for the high cost of housing, the high cost of tuition, and the high cost of solar panels, not Wall Street.

Who benefited more from this, banks or government? Whose pockets were lined? Who lobbied for government-backed loans?
posted by desjardins at 2:15 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact is the degree of malfeasance on the part of the banks, including pushing loans on desperate people, really is responsible for the mess we are in. The idea that the true culprit are Americans who need to own up for their debts is an idea that doesn't recognize the key lie told to Americans in the lead up to the crash: that housing never loses money.

Hypnotic Chick, I do agree that bankers and speculators rigged the game. The combination of easy credit, securitization of sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps, proprietary trading, lack regulatory policy, and lots of other bad practices are all causes of the financial crisis.

Plenty of blame to spread around.

Do I disagree with the bank bailout? Yes. Why? Because like it or not, the businesses that employ many Americans need access to credit to function. From a small business with a tiny line of credit to large corporations needing billions to invest in new buildings or factories. The crisis was freezing up all the money, where the banks would not loan money to anyone. Loaning money to the banks ensured they had enough capital to be able continue loaning money out to businesses. The alternative was a credit freeze which would have led to a serious depression that would have thrown even more people out of work and reduced tax revenue even more. Yes, it sucks that we keep in business the very people that caused many of the problems, but I feel the alternative of letting the banks fail was a far worse alternative.

That said, I still believe that many Americans must shoulder some of the responsibility for choices they made in the boom. Many of us have had to resort to credit cards when it's hard to make ends meet, at points, my family did. But credit spending went deep into the luxury zone for many in the boom, leading to huge revolving credit debt. Again, some got into debt due to bad circumstances, sickness, job loss, etc. But many simply spent above their means. Same with housing. No money down house loans, equity lines of credit, ARMs and balloon loans are viable in a limited set of circumstances, yet many people choose to use them to finance living above their income level. People should own up to bad choices when they make them. Yes, some people were tricked into things, but many simply made bad financial decisions and are suffering as a result.

I'm not saying we create debtor's prisons and never forgive loans. Bankruptcy has gotten harder, but it can still get people out of debt. The lenders do take a hit, but that is the risk they take. Interest is designed to counter that risk. But I don't think we can blame the bankers for every economic problem we face.

IMHO, better financial regulation is needed. But the problem is the influence of banking lobbyists on the people making the regulations. Too fix that will require a constitutional amendment to undo the Citizen's United decision. Getting the flow of money out the political process is the best remedy for our government to return to putting the people's needs ahead of those that donate to them.
posted by Argyle at 2:19 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


To the folks deriding the OWS movement for "not having a clear list of grievances":

You know what their grievances are. You're lying to yourself if you say otherwise. Everyone knows deep down what is wrong with this country, but no one is willing to say anything, either because they fear for their own livelihoods, or because they have a vested interest in keeping things this way.
posted by steamynachos at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's fundamentally disingenuous to dismiss the value to society of important professions ... based on the ratio of salary to tuition costs.

If you're going to run society as efficiently as possible, you won't train vastly more art history majors than there are positions for art historians. Most of those bright young minds will never get to apply their education, and that's wasted resources.

Of course, we're not a perfectly efficient society. We relish individual quirkiness and creativity. But it does have a cost. (Notice that the countries with free, hypercompetitive university placement are also ones that have a history of desperate poverty.)

Imagine how most protesters would react if college were made "free," only to find that they no longer qualified to go?

I think most of the student loan activists would favor a UK-like system, where tuition costs are tightly controlled by the government and loan repayment is limited to about 10% of income. I don't think anyone seriously advocates free tuition for all.
posted by miyabo at 2:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


IMHO, better financial regulation is needed. But the problem is the influence of banking lobbyists on the people making the regulations. Too fix that will require a constitutional amendment to undo the Citizen's United decision. Getting the flow of money out the political process is the best remedy for our government to return to putting the people's needs ahead of those that donate to them.

You must have been listening to OWS, because that's exactly what they've been talking about.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I still believe that many Americans must shoulder some of the responsibility for choices they made in the boom. [...] But I don't think we can blame the bankers for every economic problem we face.

This is just a distraction and a straw man. Please show me one person, anywhere from any site, who is defending people who bought flat screens with credit cards.
posted by desjardins at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows deep down what is wrong with this country, but no one is willing to say anything, either because they fear for their own livelihoods, or because they have a vested interest in keeping things this way.

This is true, but if we attempt to forcibly deport Nickelback, we'll be declaring war on Canada.

"YOU take them!" "No, YOU take them!"
posted by delfin at 2:27 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]




Who benefited more from this, banks or government? Whose pockets were lined? Who lobbied for government-backed loans?

posted by desjardins at 2:15 PM on October 11 [+] [!]

That's an easy question. The banks.

Exactly whom you would expect.

That is there job. That is what they do. They find market inefficiencies and try to make a profit. They hear complaints from congressman that they are not making enough loans to women and minorities in their district and then tell the congressman that they need Uncle Sam to co-sign because no banker in their right mind would underwrite the loan without a government guaranty.

The congressman might not get his pockets lined, but he does get to keep his seat for another two years because he can tell his constituents he helped get them a loan from the evil Wall Street bank.

Do you know why nobody is complaining about the price of new or used cars?

Because the government does not co-sign new or used car loans.

Do you know who makes car loans?

Wall Street.
posted by otto42 at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2011


Interesting thought. One might argue that colleges increased the cost of education because they knew how easy it was for students to get loans.

Additionally, (at least for public universities) states have been dramatically cutting the amount they subsidize the schools.


And the definition of "have been" is a very long horizon. When I worked for Miami-Dade Community College in the first half of the 90s - a period of time that included some fairly positive economic conditions - the percentage of a student's tuition dollars that they were responsible for increased by about 10%, from around 39% to about 49%. The state support for education has diminished constantly.

If the state doesn't do it and the fed picks up the slack then there's a disconnect; as others said above, there's not the same motivation to streamline.... or that would be true if the fed ever really picked up the slack.

Let me tell you the reality from the trenches: the fed never picks up all the slack. The state cuts funding and we turn around and increase some fees and tuition if we feel like we have to and the student body can stand it. But this idea that there hasn't been constant belt-tightening in public higher education is insanity. Loans and grants aren't picking up the slack. Every time the state cuts - and they've done it every year for the last four - we cut.

One thing that picks up the slack is an increased reliance on adjunct professors; non-tenured folks who get paid based on credit hours taught. Sometimes they're great and an opportunity to bring in people from the working community with real-world experience. It may not make a difference in the official coursework - one I am thinking of was an engineering lead at place making UAVs who taught a signal processing class - but they're accessible to students and a resource different from full-time teaching faculty.

But others represent the new American reality - those people scrabbling to do multiple jobs, some or none of which provide benefits and stability. So the state cuts supports, the school turns around and makes their own compromises and passes on the insecurity.

Maybe that would be no big deal if there was a net win or even holding the line but... well, are any of you current students or recent grads? If you knew your prof was an adjunct did you notice that they were better or worse than non-adjuncts? I know what I think the average is and it's not an improvement.

And that, of course, puts aside the issue of the other things that full time faculty accomplish for an institution. Research, community engagement, etc.
posted by phearlez at 2:41 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're going to run society as efficiently as possible, you won't train vastly more art history majors than there are positions for art historians. Most of those bright young minds will never get to apply their education, and that's wasted resources.

Interestingly, Michael Lewis majored in art history at Princeton.

Wasted resource, indeed.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Desjardins,

Don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say people bought flat screens.

I was replying to Hypnotic Chick who said: "The fact is the degree of malfeasance on the part of the banks, including pushing loans on desperate people, really is responsible for the mess we are in. The idea that the true culprit are Americans who need to own up for their debts is an idea that doesn't recognize the key lie told to Americans in the lead up to the crash: that housing never loses money.

That's the lie that allowed us to buy above our means (because we'll sell higher if we can't afford it). It's the lie that soothed us into accepting no wage increases for two decades. To say that people are irresponsible because they believed this lie...well, it's very convenient.
"

I disagree with this idea that people are so gullible that they all were tricked into spending too much and that as a result you can't blame people for making bad decisions.

As I posted, there are circumstances where there are simply no good options and people get forced into bad financial situations. Happens all the time. But to extend that to a blanket exculpation of everyone but the bankers is not reasonable. My point to Hypnotic Chick is that yes, bankers and speculators rigged the game, but many people walked in willingly, thought they could outsmart the system. Many people spent above their means on luxury items or large homes and are suffering as a result. To say that everyone in a bad financial position today has someone else to blame is something I disagree with.

If we expect accountability of our government, we need to expect accountability of our citizens as well.
posted by Argyle at 2:45 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I disagree with this idea that people are so gullible that they all were tricked into spending too much and that as a result you can't blame people for making bad decisions.

First, I don't like the framing of this as gullibility. Second, there is growing empirical evidence that you are wrong about this.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 2:48 PM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


The only pushing that was done was by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted that “while Fannie and Freddie, as huge actors in the mortgage market, certainly contributed to the bubble, it is absurd to point to them as principle culprits.” He pointed out that “their market share actually fell as the bubble grew to ever more dangerous levels, dropping from 50.1 percent in 2002 to just 34.8 percent at the peak of the bubble in 2006.”

link
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 2:51 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh how cute - something something - gov't wanting the poor to get loans and so they forced those poor poor banks to give loans to people who shouldn't have them.

I am assuming you're talking about the Fannie/Freddie bullshit? Or are you just talking a more generic thing?

Because Fannie/Freddie is such a lie propagated by the right-wing.

http://modeledbehavior.com/2010/08/27/fannie-freddie-acquitted/
posted by symbioid at 2:53 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


re: there's a lot of white people on the 53% site -- there are people concerned that there are a lot of naive white people in the occupy movement. see here.
posted by garlic at 3:12 PM on October 11, 2011


desjardins wrote: This is just a distraction and a straw man. Please show me one person, anywhere from any site, who is defending people who bought flat screens with credit cards.

I will meet this challenge. a) they were part of what made times good b) you're damn right I'm making a large purchase like that on my credit card, it gives me an extra year's warranty, in addition to giving me several percent back.

Debit cards are fools and people who lack all impulse control. (and people who can't get credit cards, which I grant is not a small number of folks)

Argyle wrote: many people walked in willingly, thought they could outsmart the system

Many people just wanted to buy a freakin' house and got slammed into some subprime interest only ARM product at the last second. Like it or not, there was systemic fraud.
posted by wierdo at 3:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hypnotic Chick; I'm not making a case that banks are morally upright (that would mean me agreeing with the notion that Banks are like people, which I disagree with the Court on that one, as well.) I think the Banks acted in their interest, and by the rule laid out. Morality doesn't come into play.

The other point of:

Well, I don't know that CEO's came up with anything, but I know that minorities were fraudulently pushed in sub-prime products. I know that the investment banks were hunting for sub-prime mortgages in order to bet against them. I know that those cynical bets created holes in bank balance sheets. I know that supporting the finance industry is where the Obama Administration is spending its political capital.

The fact is the degree of malfeasance on the part of the banks, including pushing loans on desperate people, really is responsible for the mess we are in. The idea that the true culprit are Americans who need to own up for their debts is an idea that doesn't recognize the key lie told to Americans in the lead up to the crash: that housing never loses money.


Yes and YES to the first sentence (I'm disagreeing with otto42 on this one_. However, you go off on your second paragraph. It was not the Investment Banks that everyone at the moment is yelling that are responsible for this. It was the local mortgage brokers (who by the way are still fairly unregulated) who were given carte blanche to police their qualification of home owners, and were responsible for passing that information onto the larger banks (or the affiliated investment org that their company was associated with ie. in a Citigroup instance - which wouldn't have happen if Glass-Steagle wasn't repealed).

Did the Investment Banks know a lot of the stuff they were getting (interest only loans, etc) were sub-prime? Quite probably. Which is where credit default swaps come in, since they are akin to buying insurance against default. So, just like you buy insurance, IB's bought insurance not because they were betting against it, but hedging. They limited their upside if everything was fine, but protected their bottom line if things went sour. However, since these were repackaged, they forgot that the swap was two times removed from the actual product and owner, which when votes of non-confidence started rolling, caused short selling, loss of confidence and all the swaps suddenly getting called, further escalating the problem.

I don't think the Obama Administration is ignorantly supporting the financial industry - I just don't think they are focusing on the right issues. And I don't think anyone *thought* they were telling lies about housing.. everyone put blinders on. The S&L debacle didn't teach many people that lesson.

weirdo: "Many people just wanted to buy a freakin' house and got slammed into some subprime interest only ARM product at the last second. Like it or not, there was systemic fraud."

Yes.. did they need to get that bigger house? No. Did they need to take an ARM or interest-only loan? No. 30 year fixed. Calc what you can afford and stick to that. Did mortgage brokers convince them that ARMs and interest only were great deals? Yes. But people need to learn that these brokers are like the traditional used car salesman. Their pay is based on how much they convince you to take out.

I apologize for being so long-winded.
posted by rich at 3:44 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like it or not, there was systemic fraud.

There was definitely some systemic fraud, but not enough to explain the massive crash on its own.

The core reason behind the housing bubble and crash is that people were able to buy houses with very little money down. That meant lots of people bought houses, pushing prices up. But if you put 5% down on a house, and its value declines by even 6%, then you're underwater and have no reason to keep paying the mortgage -- might as well walk away. It was an inherently unstable situation: housing prices decline by a little bit, causing owners to foreclose, causing banks to stop issuing new mortgages, causing prices to decline further, causing more owners to foreclose....

Why did people put very little money down? Interest rates were super low. (Blame the Fed.) The banks failed to take into account the possibility of a foreclosure crisis. (Blame the flawed financial models.) And the government actively subsidized 5%-down mortgages through FHA. (Blame the federal government.)

But there was never anything any individual buyer could do to avoid the crisis. Even if you were saintly and put 20% down on a traditional 30-year fixed, no one else did, so you were just as vulnerable when the crash came. So don't blame individuals.
posted by miyabo at 3:48 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


So when someone gets snookered in a process they may be involved in two or three times in their entire life, we should blame the victim? An interesting thought.

I think we should blame the big investment banks more than you seem to want to. They provided the lines of credit that enabled the mortgage brokers to go nuts. They constantly pushed the mortgage brokers to sell them more of the "good" stuff. (good in the Orwellian sense, anyway) They even went so far as to let potential investors pick the particular loans that went into a given security so that said investor could make sure it would blow up despite the triple-A rating.

miyabo, the data do not support your conclusion. Home prices failed to rise, but still delinquencies didn't go through the roof. Unfortunately, even the lowish level they were still at was enough to implode those who had bought MBS and CDOs with borrowed funds and then put them up as collateral. As delinquencies continued to increase, the collateral continued to lose value, eating away at the equity position of the investors until it was all gone.

The pain could likely have been reduced significantly if we hadn't allowed Goldman to destroy AIG. That set off another wave of CDS payments that blew up many an institution. Given their behavior, I have a strong suspicion that they had bought a large amount of CDS protection against AIG from somebody else.
posted by wierdo at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2011


fun fact: the Democratic and the Republican parties will do anything to make a buck off you, your family, or your community. Don't vote for any of these terrorists in national elections.
posted by threeants at 4:21 PM on October 11, 2011


The con man always blames the mark. "You can't con an honest man!"
posted by vibrotronica at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to go back to something that was brought up a lot earlier in the thread, about Goldman hiring engineers with 4.0s, because I think it's important. Indeed, some of the brightest people I knew got siphoned off into the finance industry. In another life, these people could have been all-star physicists, mathematicians, or engineers. That's, I think, a problem for our society.

If it makes you feel better, it's not true. Not for engineers, at any rate. I don't know why this gets so often-repeated. It might be true for certain kinds of mathematically-leaning types, but most good software developers do not work at banks, and banks by no means exclusively hire 4.0s from the best schools.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2011


Threeants: there are no viable political alternatives to those parties. It's a side effect of how a two-party, winner take all system works.

What alternative do you suggest?
posted by Archelaus at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


weirdo; That's really not the way the mortgage business works. The Investment Banks didn't push the mortgage brokers. They enabled them, definitely. But again, the "every American should own a home" push by the federal government (which I continue to say should not have any say in specific legislation or regulation for any industry because they just don't know how any of it works) is a major culprit, as are the point miyabo makes. Lines of credit? The government did that by guaranteeing through Fannie and Freddy. And mortgage brokers didn't need to be pushed to sell.

Delinquencies didn't go through the roof because there wouldn't be an *immediate* effect as home prices fell. For a number of reasons. One, people assumed they'd stabilize, so they extended credit, or didn't start delinquency proceedings. And for a system that big, all the events had to work its way through until things began to fall apart, and then they fell rapidly.

I'd go further than your last comment about Goldman/AIG (although I disagree with your characterization that Goldman destroyed AIG, as it is inaccurate and based on your comment, heavily biased).

But Lehman shouldn't have been allowed to fall. Or Bear Stearns. Credit dried up because of people's perceptions of risk. They kept doubling down on short sells. The Fed, SEC, CFTC, ISDA and the other global regulatory agencies and Central Banks should have stepped in, set firm policy on temporary credit rules, and forced a number of things - from the consolidation of outstanding derivatives trades (lining up contracts that canceled each other out), and then taking the rest and getting a true picture of where the risk and money lay.

Central Banks are there for a reason - and they completely failed in being there to clean up a mess caused in part by bad policy. If they had acted with any kind of swiftness, I believe that we'd be in a much better financial picture now.. Not great, but better.

So when someone gets snookered in a process they may be involved in two or three times in their entire life, we should blame the victim? An interesting thought.

I didn't pass all the blame onto the 'victims.' But they aren't blameless in the process. People put much more research and thought into the next laptop, tablet, big screen tv or even a car they're planning on buying than they do a home, though. And we're talking a huge magnitude of difference money wise. You're going to spend weeks researching a $500 tablet, but put about 1/2 an hour into understanding how you're going to pay for something that is $100,000? $200,000? $400,000?

Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around.

miyabo - you would be vulnerable when the crash came down, but in a much better, stronger position than people who didn't put 20%/30y fixed down. I'd like to see figures on how many of those people went upsidedown on their mortgages and couldn't make ends meet (ignoring other circumstances like loosing their job).

a parting though on preview of vibrotranica... I perhaps am characterizing brokers too harshly as con men. I'm sure many of them honestly thought they were enabling the American dream, and had full confidence in interest only loans and ARMs, and that they were right for their clients. Many probably thought nothing of pushing the envelope a little more and a little more so someone could take out an extra $20k or $40k or $60k to buy furniture and appliances. Rates were going to stay low - refinance in 5 years, it's all good. I bought a home and refinanced 3 times during the past 15 years and I dealt with these folks every time. They pushed the interest only and ARM first, and let up when it was obvious I knew what I wanted (10 or 15 year under 5%). They professed how they had interest only loans on their homes, and all the benefits.

There's plenty of blame to go around, as I said. Painting someone as a victim because they are ignorant of something they could have learned about, and should have, is disingenuous. That goes for the bankers who repackaged stuff, the idiots who couldn't keep track of all the derivatives around on their books, the home buyers, brokers, and so on.

Can we stop the "We need to find the person we can point at so we can feel better we found the bad man!" crap everyone is in love with? It is the single biggest blocker to actually crafting, articulating and implementing real solutions.
posted by rich at 4:39 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]




9 for 9
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:54 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


So when someone gets snookered in a process they may be involved in two or three times in their entire life, we should blame the victim? An interesting thought.

Sir, I'm sorry to inform you that your vasectomy surgeon has absconded with your testicles. Caveat emptor!
posted by benzenedream at 4:59 PM on October 11, 2011




So, just like you buy insurance, IB's bought insurance not because they were betting against it, but hedging. They limited their upside if everything was fine, but protected their bottom line if things went sour.


I feel like you are describing a pattern of behavior in which the riskiness of the investments made is being balanced by insurance (ie CDS). Here is why I think that is not correct:
...the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report notes that mortgage underwriting standards were abandoned, allowing many more loans to be made. It blames the regulators for not standing pat while this occurred. However, the report fails to ask, let alone answer, why standards were abandoned.

...the report notes that bonuses skyrocketed for the industry during the bubble years. Where did this money come from? Why had the mortgage industry never before generated such high compensation?

The obvious answer is that good loans did not generate hugely excessive bonuses, but bad loans did.

What happened is that the benefits for originating bad loans exceeded the cost of these negative consequences – someone was paying enough more for bad loans to overwhelm the normal economic incentives to resist such bad underwriting.

The best example of this is John Paulson, who earned nearly $20 billion for his fund shorting subprime. This amount of money was not ever possible or conceivable in the mortgage business prior to that point. The only way it could occur was through the creation of a tremendous number of bad loans, followed by a bet against them. Betting on good loans could never generate this much gain.
I just don't believe that the investment banks were operating in good faith. What's more, I think that all of the talk about what people "should" know based on their own research is unrealistic. People should be able to make good decisions about healthcare, but they consistently don't...and their own lives are on the line.

At some point we have to realize that there is only so much attention that the average person can will themselves to provide. Thats why we pay for brokerage services. You pay a professional for their knowledge. We rely on brokers to help us...not mislead us. We go to brokers because we expect professionalism and integrity and help. To turn around and suggest that, no, you have to be more sophisticated than your mortgage broker because he may be cheating you seems utterly ridiculous. To think that we will outsmart them at their own game...well vibrotronica gets the win.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 5:00 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am one of the 47%.

I am a stay at home parent to two very young children. My husband makes $32,000, brings home $26,000, and we get about $6000 in a tax return every spring, the bulk of which is the Earned Income Tax Credit and two Child Tax Credits.

We also get WIC, $87 per month in SNAP (fka food stamps), and a large package of commodity foods. We got our house insulated as part of the stimulus package- got a new water heater, too. We have gotten state assistance with our utilities from time to time.

My husband, ironically, works for the state. If they paid him enough to support us (a demographically perfect family - two parents, two kids) above the poverty level, the state's general fund would probably break even once they didn't need to shell out for our assistance programs, maybe even save some money.

I have a bachelor's degree. I wouldn't mind working full time, part time would be great, but we moved 500 miles away from our family and friends for my husband to work this job. We have no one to babysit, and daycare here costs $38 per day per child. Public transit is basically gone outside major cities, so we'd need to buy a decent car, pay for gas and insurance on top of daycare, and lose the tax benefits and all those other forms of welfare that we get. The sad fact of it is that I'd have to earn $24K per year just to break even, *before* transportation costs are counted. I have looked for jobs, and the only one I was offered paid $22K for full time work. I would like to work, but why should I work for free? Why should I not be paid a wage that would at least fully cover my expenses?

My grandmother grew up a multi-millionaire's daughter, back in the 1940s when that was really something. She still has a pile of money, enough so that she hold's the mortgage on the homes of both my dad's sisters. (She paid cash, they pay her every month.) My husband's two grandfathers hold PhDs, his grandmother an MBA, again, back when that was something really rare. Their children, our parents, Baby Boomers, have always worked hard, had the advantages of supportive, moneyed parents, inexpensive education and, for a while, a galloping economy. They are defeated now that they can't do for us what their parents did for them. They are all looking at shaky retirement, evaporated 401ks and being underwater on their homes. They will probably have the benefit of substantial inheritance to help them through retirement, something that neither myself, my husband, my brother, nor my sister-in-law will have.

I am tired of taking hand outs. I'd love to pay taxes. But in order to that, I need business to employ people, at real wages, here. And I don't think it's wrong that if my little family is going to have to pay taxes, that we should, in the interest of fiscal responsibility and fairness, expect GE to pay some taxes, too. If my husband pays into FICA for every dollar he earns, I think that people who make over $108,000 should have pay FICA on every dollar they earn, as well.

I am the 47%.
posted by Leta at 5:06 PM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm trying to think of a good response to all the facile BS flooding my Facebook page, but this isn't it.

I'm lazy and self-absorbed. I think the government should help people because those people include myself and my friends. I don't care about communism, and consumerism has been pretty awesome to me. I think everybody should get healthcare, but the environment can go hang. I am the... fuck it, Adventure Time is on.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:24 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the only reason I can be this lazy is because I know that, when I need to, I can depend on others and they can depend on me. I am the 99%.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:25 PM on October 11, 2011


rich wrote: weirdo; That's really not the way the mortgage business works. The Investment Banks didn't push the mortgage brokers.

Actually, they did. It's documented. To keep up their profits, the investment banks creating the MBS and CDO required volume. Lots and lots of volume. A large part of the 2004-2006 relaxation in credit standards was due to the banks pushing for still more volume even after they had completely saturated the prime market. This pushing consisted of carrot and stick both. Much larger commissions with incentive bonuses for the riskiest loans, and threats to shrink or pull the warehouse line entirely if brokers weren't producing enough of risky (and thus more profitable) loans.

Look, I'm not saying that the mortgage brokers don't bear some blame here, after all, they (some of them) were the ones who went to work in the morning and paid for rigged appraisals and fudged income, assets, and everything else about the borrowers. They were being fucking showered with money. No, I take that back, thunderstormed with money.

Had the banks not put into place a perverse incentive structure and looked the other way while all this was going on, the brokers couldn't have gotten away with it. You think the banks would have been so loose if they thought it was their money on the line? Hah. They didn't care; it was supposed to all end up with investors. (and most of it did)

although I disagree with your characterization that Goldman destroyed AIG, as it is inaccurate and based on your comment, heavily biased

Again, this is documented fact. Goldman was the only counterparty of AIG that was aggressively pushing for AIG to post more collateral on their CDS contracts. They were the only one that AIG had to sue to keep them from marking the contracts far, far below what the market price was at that time. (let's recall that there was still a functional market for this stuff at the time)

Other banks eventually got around to doing the same, but on a lesser scale. In the end, it was only Goldman who refused to cut AIG any slack. The other major counterparties all agreed that it would be in their best interest to help forestall a major crisis. Only Goldman insisted that the general public be on the hook for it.

FWIW, I think you place too much faith in the amount of research most people do before buying a laptop or a car or a big TV. IME, it's near zero for most people.
posted by wierdo at 5:25 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, and rich, hedge funds bought CDS because they packed the CDO it was protecting with the most toxic shit of the bunch, so as to nearly guarantee payment. Also a reported fact.
posted by wierdo at 5:31 PM on October 11, 2011


Hypnotic Chick; you're confusing roles and players in the financial world.

Paulson runs a hedge fund. He doesn't buy individual mortgages for repackaging, nor does he create mortgage packaged products. He is not an Investment Bank, nor is the company involved in that profit windfall. Hedge Funds are more akin to your Investment Managers (Fidelity, TIAA-CREF, SSgA, PIMCO, etc). They are the investors, the "buy" side of the market. Investment Banks (also called 'brokers') are the 'sell' side of the market. The sell side makes products and markets the buy side invests in.

But - I concur with the report. It's true and accurate - mortgage underwriting standards were abandoned. But again, this starts at the local mortgage brokers who submit the loans to be approved. If they get turned down for someone, or know the red flags that would get someone turned down, they easily skirt those. Because they're the verification process. And with the volume increasing of mortgages, due diligence on the Investment Banking end did fall down. But then again, they were promised that Fannie and Freddy would underwrite. The process as it was created was set up to grind to a halt in paper unless people cut corners. So they did. On all ends.

People like Paulson saw this. And took advantage. Was it moral? Probably not. Although he was one of the people out there in the late 90's and early 2000's getting laughed at for saying "This can't sustain itself.. it's going to be a problem." Which explains why he would bet big against it. I'm not condoning it, and I suspect he peaked under the covers at IB's quite often through his friends at those firms. But I doubt those friends colluded with him, or agreed with his view, and he probably just saw how much of a manual paper mess things were.

As for brokerage services - they do not work for you. You do not pay them. You usually don't even pay your real estate agent if you are buying a house. It's like the company lawyer - that lawyer is there for the company's best interest, not yours. Have a problem at the company? Find yourself a lawyer. Don't use theirs.

And I'm sorry - the argument "there is only so much attention the average person can give" falls hallow. I bet many of those same people can spout the 10 year statistics of their favorite baseball team, down to ERA's, RBI's, shut outs and so on. The "ow, it hurts my head too much to think of all those numbers" is a poor argument. Especially given the immensity of the investment being made.

But again - can we get away from the "lets find someone to blame" game? Everyone's got a piece. Everyone has perfectly valid excuses. That's what happens. Point the finger. You'll be right on. Solutions! Solutions! First, no more specific legislation from Congress for industry. Every industry pays a tax to fund an SRO-like entity, such as an SEC, that sets policy based on guidelines put into law (note, not specific rules, guidelines).

weirdo - so why would Goldman do such a mean spirited thing? Either they got more collateral, or they open themselves, their investors and shareholders to significant monetary risk. Oh, be nice.. really, Goldman, play nice. It'll be ok. The Fed, the government, the SRO's - no one stepped in to provide any guidance or assurances. If I'm running Goldman, my thought is - "fuck em - if they're going down, they're not taking us with them." Is it right? Moral? Personally, I don't care. It was the rules of the road and no one was stepping up to do much about it.

On preview your next comment - 'reported fact'; Hedge Fund managers worked with IB's in creating CDO's, yes. I still can't fathom how they could have gone through all those loan documents and cherry picked the worst of them themselves. And, as above - I sorta addressed the whole Hedge Funds looking under the covers at IB's. No big secret there.

Also, it'd help your argument if every time you say "it's documented" or "reported fact" you can provide a source. Not that I don't believe you, but I'd like to see exactly what data you're using before agreeing or disagreeing.
posted by rich at 5:37 PM on October 11, 2011


Actually, you're the 47% (dot tumblr dot com)
posted by oinopaponton at 6:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


When I see the 53 percenters, I keep having Willie Loman pop into my head. Self congratulatory and self loathing. Boasting one moment about getting by on "a smile and a shoe shine," and agonizing and terrified the next.

And that got me thinking about higher education. Death of a Salesman is full of wisdom. Historians, classicists, studiers of literature -- these are wise people. There is worth there. It's why all these calls for education that pays for itself in dollars doesn't work for me.

How about C.S. Lewis, a studier of archaic poetry, who said:

"The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint but is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices."

Egg headery for egg headery's sake, says I.
posted by Trochanter at 6:16 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I just knew the Koch's would find someone besides Beck and P.J. O'Rourke to help confuse things.
posted by Twang at 6:30 PM on October 11, 2011


rich wrote: Personally, I don't care. It was the rules of the road and no one was stepping up to do much about it.

Except that the rest of the large banks were in fact willing to forbear at the end. Clearly, they made the mistake of believing that Treasury wouldn't pay them off at 100 cents on the dollar, unlike Goldman.

On preview your next comment - 'reported fact'; Hedge Fund managers worked with IB's in creating CDO's, yes. I still can't fathom how they could have gone through all those loan documents and cherry picked the worst of them themselves. And, as above - I sorta addressed the whole Hedge Funds looking under the covers at IB's. No big secret there.

Also, it'd help your argument if every time you say "it's documented" or "reported fact" you can provide a source. Not that I don't believe you, but I'd like to see exactly what data you're using before agreeing or disagreeing.


Many books have been written on the financial crisis. All the Devils are Here, 13 Bankers, The Big Short, and Griftopia are all pretty good, and together cover many aspects of the crisis from many different points of view.
posted by wierdo at 6:31 PM on October 11, 2011


I just knew the Koch's would find someone besides Beck and P.J. O'Rourke to help confuse things.
What's to stop them from just hiring a bunch of unemployed hipsters/artists/etc as astroturfers?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:32 PM on October 11, 2011


rich,

Why I am associating Paulson with the investment banks:
But it was John Paulson (pictured at left), the very smart manager and namesake of hedge fund Paulson & Co., who created the concept of the sophisticated, complex and ethically challenged "synthetic" securities that were unavailable to ordinary investors and are about to dictate historic financial reform on Wall Street and beyond.

The controversial security Paulson shaped for Goldman was called the Abacus Fund, and it was a rather elegant piece of financial engineering. The Abacus Fund--famously described in an email written by Goldman's Tourre as "all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades"--effectively bundled up the riskiest sub-prime mortgage loans because they offered an attractively high yield to investors. Then Paulson bet that the same securities would fail--making billions of dollars at the expense of their investors and the U.S. housing market.
link
As for who pays the mortgage broker, it seems to me that, ultimately, all costs associated with the extension of the loan must be born by the borrower.

As far as what borrowers should know...all I know is that there is a whole field of economics that is empirical, looks at human behavior and consistently finds that we, predictably, make mistakes regarding money. Couple this with widespread financial ignorance (like the inability of people to understand compound interest) and it seems to me that what we "should" know is far from what people do know. Maybe we "should" base public policy around actual human experience and not on what we would want some other person to be able to understand in a perfect world.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 6:34 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


drezdn: "This whole 53% thing means they're moving from "no new taxes" to "tax the poor." Really?"

Really. It was laid out quite starkly in the most repulsive pair of Daily Show segments I've yet seen.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:41 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm an apathetic lazy slob, and have pretty much fucked up everything important I've ever attempted in life, but I have an income greater than 95% of Americans thanks to public education and being born way smarter than the average human.

I would be the 53% if I were the kind of delusional retard who believes the modern right-wing Calvinism. Instead, I'm proof that they're full of shit.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:53 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Abacus Fund--famously described in an email written by Goldman's Tourre as "all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades"--effectively bundled up the riskiest sub-prime mortgage loans because they offered an attractively high yield to investors. Then Paulson bet that the same securities would fail--making billions of dollars at the expense of their investors and the U.S. housing market.

I hate the banks as much as the next guy, but this annoys me. Hedging means you bet both sides of every thing so you have less exposure to any one investment. Anybody who bought those high risk, high yield mortgage portfolios SHOULD have also bet against it. That's exactly what CDS's were made for.

The problem wasn't insuring against bad debt, the problem was mostly that people were buying insurance on debt that they didn't even own, in effect gambling on other people's mortgages.
posted by empath at 7:45 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


But seriously, everyone is selfish. Why don't we appeal to their selfishness and convince them it will help THEM if they work shorter hours and have healthcare?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:55 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hypnotic Chick; References would be a lot better than from an editorial. So, first, I'll use the editorial - since not a couple paragraphs later, it states

"To be fair, Paulson, left, was far from the only one playing this game. The Abacus Fund was designed from the blueprint of another hedge fund called Magnetar Capital. In a nutshell, Magnetar created crappy securities (like Abacus), sold them to investors, then took out insurance policies called credit default swaps that paid out many times the value of any losses incurred...effectively betting, hoping, priming the security to fail--and made a lot of amount of money when they did. Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Lehman Bros--everyone was doing it. "


So.. did Paulson invent these things or did Magnetar Capital? The editorial is at odds with itself. Also, it is fairly loose with its explanations of Credit Default Swaps. If not intentionally inaccurate. I know I'm being picky - but there is just so much wrong with that editorial I don't know where to start.

"As for who pays the mortgage broker, it seems to me that, ultimately, all costs associated with the extension of the loan must be born by the borrower. "


You pay for loan origination, which goes to the processing. You pay interest on the loan. You pay filing fees, lawyer fees, and so forth. Points to reduce the interest rate. You do not, in any way I know of pay a mortgage broker directly for their services. (so people, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong and I won't argue the point if you're right). Just as you do not pay a car salesman for selling you the car. He may get paid based on the sale, but it is not a direct payment from you to them.

weirdo; For a couple of those books, I'd consider the application of the tag 'reported fact' to be seriously suspect. I'm not sure where you were trying to go with the Treasury comment and 100 cents on the dollar.

But, as an interlude, let me try again; I'm not trying to defend the actions of institutions or individuals. I've stated many times that there is plenty of blame to pass around - but I'm of a mind that the finger pointing is a useless and navelgazing enterprise in this instance.

There was no massive conspiracy. If you want to argue facts about specific securities and the financial markets, read some books that aren't editorials on how things went wrong, but are focused on teaching you how things work (Derivatives Demystified is a good start). AIG falling was much more complex and involved than Goldman calling in their margin requirements (start with illiquid collateral put up as liquid, re-using stock loan margins improperly, among other things).

There was a systemic failure on multiple levels, from government policy, to implementation, to the documentation system, lack of standards, lack of automation, American idealism, over-optimism, and more, which in retrospect people can't understand why it wasn't seen.

Otherwise, you'd have to have been there and tried to fix it, and have worked towards trying to make it better, to have a better understand of the markets, the products and securities involved, as well as the systems and processes in place at the time.

I go back to my original point - pointing to Greenspan, or Paulson or Bush or Obama, or 'AIG' or 'Goldman' or 'Wall Street' (or in my case, mortgage brokers), is pointless (excuse the pun).

Hypnotic Chick - Maybe we "should" base public policy around actual human experience and not on what we would want some other person to be able to understand in a perfect world.

THAT is closer to what I'm trying to get at. Solutions. Eliminating the specific legislation, because legislation doesn't move fast enough. Enacting guiding policies that are then honed and enforced from independent agencies. Look at the best model - the Constitution. In most cases, it is not proscriptive - it doesn't spell out in 187 pages *how* you protect freedom of speech, or due process, or militias.

(on preview - empath has another good point.) 'Securitizing' things had become commonplace. If you could build it, it was value to someone. Did you know people sell weather? Like tornadoes and hurricanes? People buy them betting tornadoes will or won't hit and disrupt everything from crops to shipping. (So they're sort of a short on a crop future, but only for weather-related causes, so it's an artificial hedge, especially for people buying that crop).
posted by rich at 8:16 PM on October 11, 2011


But seriously, everyone is selfish.

Everyone is also altruistic. Everyone is also brave. Everyone is also a coward. Everyone's rational and everyone makes decisions based on emotions and bias. We're all just a different mix of those thing. Any system that assumes that one consistently over-rides the others is probably going to fail.

I'm looking at you Economics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVp8UGjECt4

Honestly, the only claim I've seen about everyone that doesn't have a direct opposite that's also true is Walter Miller Jr.'s assertion that Mankind is a species of impassioned after dinner speech makers.

In this case, I'd say that won't work, because not all of folks are so selfish that they'll compromise their principles (even the flawed ones) for a gain in standard of living.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:19 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fuck these guys.

If you're rich, you became so due to public universities, public roads, a publicly developed interent, public firefighters and police, and other public services to name just a few things.

Fuck these guys and let them move to goddamn government-free Somalia if they don't like the American way.
posted by bardic at 8:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Josh Trevino is directly involved in some of the more dirty aspects of Malaysian politics, where he uses a basket of phony websites to generate buzz for those who pay him.
posted by BinGregory at 8:21 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn’t never ask for no help no sir. My granddad on his deathbed in the Veteran’s Hospital looked down at me in my shoes I grew myself and said to me “Sonny, ain’t nobody never gonna do nothing for you no sir. You shouldn’t never do nothin’ for no one neither.” and he pressed that button that summoned the nurse or gave him morphine, I don’t know. I know he leaked a lot and when he leaked his last I told myself I wasn’t gonna let myself leak that bad ever, not for no man.

Either mom cooked dinner or we stopped in at one of our McDonald’s on the way home, I don’t remember really, all I know is as I sat in the back of that Buick that drank up that home-grown gas like nobody’s business, I reflected on what my granddad said, all shot up and with no face. Oh, his Marine buddies looked for it, momma told me, down in that red sand, and they found something that looked a lot like his face and brought it to him and he refused, said he didn’t want it back, that he didn’t want no help from no man and sure as hell wouldn’ta done the same for them. I’m not gonna go findin’ no man’s face in no war-sand, I told myself then.

You ask where my poppa was, and I’ll tell you: he was out buildin’. He built and built, he was buildin’ all day long. As we drove along in that Buick momma baked just that morning, there was old pop out in front of us, runnin’ like the wind and layin’ that asphalt, momma drove slow because she loved him but if she’d driven normal dad woulda just gone quicker.

We were incredibly self-reliant, carved our own home out of rock. I remember when we had to do the furnishings, the light switches and door frames and stuff, we only had one smelting-pot, and it did double-duty as the bath. Sure, we worked hard, but we also liked a hot bath. Dad would empty out all the slag into the neighbour’s yard and fill the smelting-pot it with water from the stream we planted back in the spring. Dad showed a lot of foresight, he knew the right season to plant a stream, the right fertilizer to feed it, and we watched as it grew wider and deeper, every day. You could hear the water creaking as it grew before your eyes.

And the smelting-pot held a lot of residual heat, he’d fill it from the stream and we’d have a hot bath, all of us, sat there in the bath. One time I stretched out, relaxing, and my foot went right inside my momma’s…well, you know. But she laughed about it, and I extricated myself all right. It felt pretty strange. Dad pulled a fresh pipe off the pipe-tree and lit it up with a prayer to the Lord, and he smoked his pipe. That’s what I remember best about my dad. After the long hard days he had, laying road for my momma to drive on, stocking the shelves in the supermarket she shopped at, all filled with things from our own back forty, I remember he always liked to break a fresh pipe off that pipe-tree.

We sat back in the smelting-pot and looked up at the stars my mother had scattered in the sky for us.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:30 PM on October 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


‎"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

-John Steinbeck
posted by rudhraigh at 8:31 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


rich wrote: weirdo; For a couple of those books, I'd consider the application of the tag 'reported fact' to be seriously suspect. I'm not sure where you were trying to go with the Treasury comment and 100 cents on the dollar.

But, as an interlude, let me try again; I'm not trying to defend the actions of institutions or individuals. I've stated many times that there is plenty of blame to pass around - but I'm of a mind that the finger pointing is a useless and navelgazing enterprise in this instance.

There was no massive conspiracy. If you want to argue facts about specific securities and the financial markets, read some books that aren't editorials on how things went wrong, but are focused on teaching you how things work (Derivatives Demystified is a good start). AIG falling was much more complex and involved than Goldman calling in their margin requirements (start with illiquid collateral put up as liquid, re-using stock loan margins improperly, among other things).


First, don't put words in my mouth. I never claimed there was a vast conspiracy, just a vast system of perverse incentives leading individuals to make poor decisions at every turn. For what it's worth, you may deride those books as editorial, but that just shows you haven't read them. Griftopia is certainly editorial, but Taibbi is careful to separate his own invective from the facts provided by his sources.

I also never said AIG would have not required intervention. They made bad bets with money that wasn't even theirs.

But yes, they were being hammered by Goldman over both the CDS issue and in their securities lending business (I'm failing to recall details at the moment). Not doing that would have significantly reduced the bill to taxpayers at the expense of Goldman Sachs not looking as sleazy as they apparently actually are. I generally consider orchestrated efforts to sabotage other companies through means other than normal competition to be unethical at best. Perhaps you disagree. That's fine, it takes all sorts.

And what I meant by 100 cents on the dollar? Usually, the result of forcing a company out of business is that you don't get paid all that you're owed. In this case, Goldman (and everybody else) was paid everything that they were owed, thanks to Uncle Sam's intervention. The only rational reason I can think of to not do everything you can to ensure you get paid in full is if you think you're somehow going to get your money some other way, especially when everyone else is willing to share in the short term pain of waiting to collect. Thus, I have to conclude that Goldman was banking on an eventual AIG bailout. Absent a bailout, I doubt they would have seen a quarter of what they got paid on the CDS contracts, given that the collateral became essentially worthless and most of AIGs assets were held by the insurance subsidiaries.
posted by wierdo at 8:33 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The pride these people have in putting on their total lack of sympathy for their fellow human beings is outright disgusting. Combined with their lack of awareness, not realizing how much luck and random chance has gone into making their lives comfortable while ruining others is just appalling. Every time I see one that talks about god/faith/religion, I want to ask them what part of 'do unto others' and 'there but for the grace of god' they failed to understand.

The system is broken. There's no better proof than the former soldier working three jobs and thinking that he is doing the right thing, and leading a good life for it. He should be on Wall Street, but he's been brainwashed into believing that the kind of life he's forced to lead is the American dream. Poor bastard.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:55 PM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


bardic: "Fuck these guys.

If you're rich, you became so due to public universities, public roads, a publicly developed interent, public firefighters and police, and other public services to name just a few things.

Fuck these guys and let them move to goddamn government-free Somalia if they don't like the American way.
"

Jello Biafra said it best:You want a banana republic that bad? What don't you go move to one...
posted by symbioid at 8:56 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]



If you're rich, you became so due to public universities, public roads, a publicly developed interent, public firefighters and police, and other public services to name just a few things.


This is so utterly utterly silly. Don't the middle class and the poor use those things too? And that's why people get rich, because of the roads? What are you even talking about?

The top 1% pay 38% of federal income tax. They paid for all that stuff. The top 1% pay 4% of SS tax, and 5% of excise taxes. Under what bizarre math is that not "their fair share?" Please assign numbers. What should they pay? Should they pay 100%?

No one is suggesting that they pay nothing. No one even suggested in this thread that they pay less than they are paying now.

You want them to pay more. If they pay 100% of federal income taxes, all the people without health insurance still won't have health insurance. All those jobless people will still be jobless.

But it doesn't matter what I say, or what you say. When the weather gets colder and the crowds dissipate, this will all be forgotten, just like all those marches against the war and everything else. It's so utterly pointless because you refuse to accept reality. Things "should" be this way, and they "shouldn't" be that way. Whatever.

Please get it through your heads that America is not Europe. The entire legal and cultural system is set up as a machine designed to produce wealth and reward enterprising activity. It is not a machine that rewards poetry or classics or the fine arts. Other places in the world are much better at that. If those things are of the utmost importance to you, go to those places and be happy. Don't stay here, like the square peg trying to fit into the round hole, and be miserable.

Just say what you want. State it clearly, specifically.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:57 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


If those things are of the utmost importance to you, go to those places and be happy.

How?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Don't the middle class and the poor use those things too?"

It's not mutually exclusive, dumbass.

When did 38% become "all," anyways?

"You want them to pay more. If they pay 100% of federal income taxes"

Jesus, you Teabagger fucks are tiresome.

"More" =/ "all"

How about the Clinton era tax levels? You know, back when the American economy was actually growing?

"Just say what you want. State it clearly, specifically."

Repeal the Bush tax cuts. Immediate withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. And stop trying to paint my logical, simple demands as some sort of voodoo ritual.
posted by bardic at 9:07 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


And btw, the socialist German economy is far outpacing the Tax-cut Jesus Randian one over in America.
posted by bardic at 9:08 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


> It is not a machine that rewards poetry or classics or the fine arts. Other places in the world are much better at that.

This is just nutter talk. You act as if people are bad for wanting reform. You've clearly internalized some neo-classicist's manifesto or something, and now you feel empowered to preach to everyone about how they need to grow up, but it's just pure twaddle.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


The frozen poetry concentrate stocks must be skyrocketing in Berlin!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just say what you want. State it clearly, specifically.

Corporate accountability.

We want corporations to STOP paying off politicians to create laws that serve the best interests of CORPORATIONS rather than PRIVATE CITIZENS.

We want corporate leaders to be held accountable for the malfeasance and corruption which lead to the current downturn in the economy.

We want corporations to have the same access to our political leaders as private citizens, rather than having MORE access simply by virtue of their having more MONEY. (That last one shouldn't be too hard -- they were found to be equal to people, right? Now we just have to make sure it's equal on the "people" side as well.)

We want the leaders of corporations to conduct their affairs honestly, and we want them to be held accountable when they do not.

You say that we need to "get it through our heads" that we are not Europe. Considering that a certain European institution is showing the very kind of responsibility we expect our own corporate leaders to take when one of their underlings mis-steps, perhaps the fact that we "aren't Europe" is precisely the problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pastabagel: " Just say what you want. State it clearly, specifically."

In no particular order:

Revive Glass-Steagall.
End the Bush tax cuts.
Counteract Citizens United.
Medicare for all.
Public financing of elections.
Regulate gerrymandering.
Bolster unions.
Troops home ASAP.
Reform the Patriot Act.
Investigate and prosecute the financial crash.

I'm probably missing a few, but that's a fine start in terms of concrete demands.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:17 PM on October 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


Well Pastabagel, in addition to the other great suggestions let's talk numbers.


I think that the top 1% should pay a little more than 42% of all federal incomes, not just those stemming from income tax. Let's say 50%?

The reason I think this is because they control approximately 42% of the US financial wealth, with the extra 8% because I think a tax system should be progressive. Put frankly, poor people spend money instead of saving it (ie. they're poor), so there's a greater boon to the economy giving them a dollar than giving the top 1% a dollar. Rephrased a different way, there's no since giving out tax breaks to set up a lemonade stand if everyone else is too poor to buy the lemonade (sorry, headed to bed, so no cites).

Based on the 38% figure, they currently appear to pay 17% of federal income (assuming negligible payroll tax contributions), so there's a pretty large way to go.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 9:21 PM on October 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is so utterly utterly silly. Don't the middle class and the poor use those things too? And that's why people get rich, because of the roads? What are you even talking about?

We're all part of a society. Zôon Politikòn. You used society to get rich, and society made you rich. You're a fish in water. This shit's pretty easy.
posted by Trochanter at 9:32 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please get it through your heads that America is not Europe. The entire legal and cultural system is set up as a machine designed to produce wealth and reward enterprising activity. It is not a machine that rewards poetry or classics or the fine arts.

I have absolutely no idea who you're arguing with here. I see a lot of people talking about the precariousness of being potentially bankrupted by a single accident, illness, or lost job, not about the trials of living in a society without a taste for Ravel or Stevens.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:47 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]




Please get it through your heads that America is not Europe. The entire legal and cultural system is set up as a machine designed to produce wealth and reward enterprising activity. It is not a machine that rewards poetry or classics or the fine arts.

I have absolutely no idea who you're arguing with here. I see a lot of people talking about the precariousness of being potentially bankrupted by a single accident, illness, or lost job, not about the trials of living in a society without a taste for Ravel or Stevens.


I'm pretty sure this hardship is going to produce BETTER art, because people will NEED it more and they'll produce art with MEANING and POWER. Between starving to death.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:50 PM on October 11, 2011


[This is not a pastabagel vs everyone thread, please do not make it one. thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 10:14 PM on October 11, 2011


The pride these people have in putting on their total lack of sympathy for their fellow human beings is outright disgusting.

I agree, it is disgusting.

Oh, wait, I guess you weren't talking about all the vitriol in the comments here, were you?

Honestly, I see so many of you who complain about conservatives' lack of empathy happily pointing fingers and assigning blame yourselves-- except when it comes to people who made ignorant financial decisions, like putting a pittance down on an ARM they obviously couldn't afford, because they didn't want to wait until they could actually afford a house (like those baby boomers did, the ones you say ruined it for the rest of us), or the people taking on thousands of dollars of student debt and then calling those who work two jobs and actually make ends meet the 'smug' ones.

I'm a liberal democrat who believes in fiscal responsibility for all, like I thought many here would--but the level of hate for hard-working people who you are all just SO sure must have had advantages you didn't is really making me LESS sympathetic to your cause, and OWS as a result. If hating anyone better off than me is the only position accepted here, I'm getting the hell out of this thread.
posted by misha at 11:04 PM on October 11, 2011


misha wrote: Honestly, I see so many of you who complain about conservatives' lack of empathy happily pointing fingers and assigning blame yourselves-- except when it comes to people who made ignorant financial decisions, like putting a pittance down on an ARM they obviously couldn't afford, because they didn't want to wait until they could actually afford a house (like those baby boomers did, the ones you say ruined it for the rest of us), or the people taking on thousands of dollars of student debt and then calling those who work two jobs and actually make ends meet the 'smug' ones.

At least with regard to the mortgage situation, you're completely off base. The plethora of available mortgage products can sometimes be difficult to understand, so people rely on the expert to guide them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If they say "OK, your payment will $1050 a month with tax and escrow included," failing to tell the borrower that buying the house will get the property tax reassessed at the new, higher, sale price, increasing your payment by $150 a month or that if you only pay $1050 a month your payment will rise another $800 when the teaser rate expires in two years.

Even a somewhat informed buyer can walk in asking about a 30 year fixed and get sold on (or, as happened in many cases, slammed into) some exotic product. It should be reasonable to expect that the contract you agreed to prior to closing won't be changed on you. It can be difficult to make 5 people wait on you while you re-read every document to make sure that nothing has changed since the last time you saw what you were agreeing to.

And historically, people have been able to trust that a bank won't lend them too much money. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to call up the bank and say "how much house can I buy" because they had the better part of a century of conservative lending behind them. That changed in the not too distant past, so I find it difficult to blame people for thinking that taking advice from Mom and Dad about how to buy a house was a good idea. So yeah, I generally don't engage in victim-blaming, and I often call people out for doing it themselves. Call it clouded judgement, if you like.

And yeah, the guy working two jobs while you're unemployed and have been actively looking for a job for a year can seem pretty smug when he or she tells you to get a job. If two-job guy had managed his finances appropriately, maybe I could have one also.

The really funny thing is when people say what you just said and then out the other side of their mouth slithers excuse after excuse as to why the banks shouldn't be held responsible for their failure to properly record mortgages and their failure to notice that they were pumping toxic shit into themselves.
posted by wierdo at 11:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh please. US tax rates are at historic lows. Our Randian overlords have never, ever had it better.

And yes, I do blame the baby boomers to a certain extent. They grew up in a world where a single parent working in a factory could support a family, buy a house, and send the kids off to college.

But they decided that wasn't good enough, so they elected Reagan to gut the American middle class.

Mission accomplished.
posted by bardic at 11:21 PM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


made ignorant financial decisions, like putting a pittance down on an ARM they obviously couldn't afford, because they didn't want to wait until they could actually afford a house

There was a whole sub-industry based on telling people that this was good financial thinking. (Houses don't go down. They just don't) People got duped. Some ne'er do wells, but lots and lots of hard working, honest people, just. like. you.
posted by Trochanter at 11:31 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a liberal democrat who believes in fiscal responsibility for all, like I thought many here would--but the level of hate for hard-working people who you are all just SO sure must have had advantages you didn't is really making me LESS sympathetic to your cause, and OWS as a result. If hating anyone better off than me is the only position accepted here, I'm getting the hell out of this thread.

I think most of the vitriol is actually directed at the duped lower-middle class by (in general) upper-middle class MeFites. We expect hedge fund managers to defend their dog food, but don't expect single mothers with two waitressing jobs to do so for them.

I'm a liberal democrat who believes in fiscal responsibility for all, and a return to Nixon-level tax rates. I have no debt, a decent income, have benefited massively from government programs, and am willing to pay more into government for a social safety net that benefits everyone. I don't believe that pure speculation should be encouraged and rewarded disproportionately to all other economic activities. How is that "hating anyone better off than me"?
posted by benzenedream at 12:02 AM on October 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


someone observed that it may not necessarily be the OWS protestors job to come up with and provide a leader in the first place. They don't have the power necessary TO do that.

My point is that they are acting like there's a conspiracy to keep them off the air, when they aren't providing air-worthy material.

But hey, I did shoot them an e-mail last week suggesting they boil it all down to "Economic Justice." Broad. Instantly Understandable. Meshes easily with several important political questions du jour (Jobs Act, supercommittee, etc.). Gets them coverage.

I might have also suggested driving a wedge between police management and officers "More Pay Blue Shirts, Less Pay White Shirts!"
posted by Ironmouth at 12:14 AM on October 12, 2011


The plethora of available mortgage products can sometimes be difficult to understand, so people rely on the expert to guide them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

This is just wrong. OF COURSE there is something wrong with making a huge investment like buying a house without knowing what you are doing! You don't go into a car dealership and expect the salesman to have your best interests at heart, do you? Please tell me you realize that he is trying to get the best deal for himself, and make the most commission. You do get that, right? So why expect the people holding the mortgage on your house, a purchase several magnitudes larger than that car, to just do right by you, blindly sign away your savings and hope it turns out okay?

There was a whole sub-industry based on telling people that this was good financial thinking. (Houses don't go down. They just don't) People got duped. Some ne'er do wells, but lots and lots of hard working, honest people, just. like. you.

I'm not arguing that the industry never engaged in shady behavior, or that most of those loans should never have been made. I agree with you there. I'm just also saying that people who make big purchase decisions without knowing the risks need to bear some reponsibility for that.

And no, people 'like me' didn't get duped. 'People like me' are the kind of people who don't get a mortgage without knowing everything about it, including whether we can really could afford it.

'People like me' figure out what we can afford in monthly payments and then buy a house for much less than that rather than get into debt because we want more than we can afford. 'People like me' shop around, and read every page of the mortgage loan agreement AND have money set aside for house payments in case someone is laid off or gets sick and needs medical care, instead of juggling credit card debt, car payments and mortgage payments all at the same time. 'People like me' are in it for the long run, or we wouldn't even think of buying a house. And 'people like me' plan for the worst, which is why how 'people like me' paid off that mortgage in 15 years instead of 30.

So NO, 'people like me' didn't get hurt when the real-estate market was obviously inflated and then the prices went down, because we could see what was coming. We weren't hoping to sell the house and make a profit in a few years, or imagining there'd be a lot of equity built up because 'people like me' made it our business to understand how mortgage payments and interest work before we ever went out and bought a house!

Contrary to what so many of you would like to believe, we didn't get lucky, we didn't inherit wealth, we just budgeted and thought carefully.
posted by misha at 12:46 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


So NO, 'people like me' didn't get hurt when the real-estate market was obviously inflated and then the prices went down, because we could see what was coming. We weren't hoping to sell the house and make a profit in a few years, or imagining there'd be a lot of equity built up because 'people like me' made it our business to understand how mortgage payments and interest work before we ever went out and bought a house!


As a matter of purely personal interest, where did people like you learn math?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:00 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just also saying that people who make big purchase decisions without knowing the risks need to bear some reponsibility for that.

I don't know anyone who doesn't admit that many people at the bottom made ignorant, ill-informed, financially stupid decisions about how much house they could afford - helped along, of course, by truly evil sleaze from the mortgage industry. That wasn't where the serious problems arose, though. The serious problems arose from the speculative bundling and re-bundling of those horrible mortgages, to the point where the banks themselves had no idea how much they were on the hook for.

Insisting over and over that we must hold the poor people at the bottom of the scheme who've lost everything partly accountable, in a conversation about how none of the (at best) equally stupid and short-sighted (more likely criminal) jerks who benefited most at the top of that same scheme have all somehow managed to get much richer through the disaster is really odd.
posted by mediareport at 4:01 AM on October 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


So NO, 'people like me' didn't get hurt when the real-estate market was obviously inflated and then the prices went down, because we could see what was coming.

Uh huh. You seriously want us to believe that you saw the housing crash coming and consequently didn't get hurt financially (i.e. lose value on your investment)? Come on. Only a very few people saw the crash coming: that's why it was so big.

Moreover, it wasn't just would-be home-owners who failed to see the crash coming, it was supposedly savvy bankers and traders, real estate agents, government regulators, and so on. How many "people like you" do you think there are?

Look, no one is saying that hard-work and careful planning are unimportant. But even carefully thought out, reasonable gambles sometimes go wrong. The "vitriol" that you are reading -- to the extent there is any on this thread -- is a response to the belief (especially when expressed by someone who is successful) that success is always completely due to hard work and skill, while failure is completely due to laziness and incompetence. Certainly, those things play a role, but lots of smart, careful people were ruined by the economic collapse.

I have worked hard to be successful, but I recognize that a good deal of my success is due to luck. And so, when I see those less fortunate than me, I don't talk about how well-off I am or about how they could have everything I have if only they had worked harder. I say, "There but for the grace of God go I."
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 4:05 AM on October 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Sorry, Misha - hit post too early. Need coffee.

Which is to say, there is a whole stratum out there of people whose problems and level of ability to deal with them are I think genuinely very hard to conceive of from up here, however far "up" up here is. In the crazy MetaTalk thread that spun off from this, somebody brought up the idea of a white male survivor of sexual assault with Huntingdon's as an example of somebody who would not be a good person to lecture about privilege. Someone else asked what the chances of meeting such a person were, which got me wondering. One bout of (private school-provided) basic math later, I got a very, very rough probability of 0.0000005% that, out of the population of the United States, one would have this combination of experiences. That's roughly 158 people in the United States. Statistically, such a person is very, very unfortunate, and I think is entitled to considerable sympathy.

There are a lot more than 158 people in the United States who were sold mortgages without having a sufficiently advanced level of mathematical and financial understanding to grasp entirely the consequences and implications. In many cases, these people probably should not have been sold mortgages, or should have been sold very different mortgages. That they were not was a failing in skills or ethics by people who were on some level being paid to represent their interests.

If you predicted the collapse. Misha, in a more detailed way than the general "this bubble cannot go on forever" way that made me, for example, hold off on buying an apartment until 2009, then you are part of a very small percentage of the American population. You should a) now be very wealthy, having anticipated and invested for an unprecedented economic reversal and b) should be very aware of your minority status. If you did so some decades in the past, using a publicly-funded education of a quality that people in your economic decile no longer have access to, I would say doubly so.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:20 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of people saw the crash coming - some of them wrote about it, too. I saw the crash coming, and acted accordingly, and I'm not rich. The "acting accordingly" cost me a lot of hard work and struggle, and I didn't think to bet on it, as well.
Most of the people I know who were aware of the impending crash were bankers, and all told me that 1: they would lose their jobs if they began telling customers; 2: by telling people, they would advance the process; 3: anyway, the governments everywhere, and the media, weren't listening (here they pointed to those economists who did go out and tell it as it was.
posted by mumimor at 4:42 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Again, I think there's a distinction between "saw it coming" meaning "predicted that things were going to crash at some point, held off on purchases on credit, sold unwanted property and held off buying new property, invested in bonds" and "saw it coming" meaning "predicted accurately when things were going to break and how, to a degree of certainty that allowed for targeted investment". The bankers you knew were probably a little closer to column (b) than most, but even column (a) wasn't that big, in the greater scheme of things. Maybe a couple of million people in the US?

My point is that I think it's easy to assume that because you were in group (a) - Misha was, for example, making these decisions a minimum of 15 years ago, so I am guessing didn't have the fate of AIG in mind when she did - that everyone should have been. I don't think that's a realistic expectation.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:12 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


People like you also didn't have things happening to them like getting laid off and getting sick while having no insurance, I'd guess.
posted by empath at 5:22 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is there job. That is what they do. They find market inefficiencies and try to make a profit. They hear complaints from congressman that they are not making enough loans to women and minorities in their district and then tell the congressman that they need Uncle Sam to co-sign because no banker in their right mind would underwrite the loan without a government guaranty.

Let's look at some facts instead of your talking points:
In the spring of 1987, the Federal Reserve Board votes 3-2 in favor of easing regulations under Glass-Steagall Act, overriding the opposition of Chairman Paul Volcker. The vote comes after the Fed Board hears proposals from Citicorp, J.P. Morgan and Bankers Trust advocating the loosening of Glass-Steagall restrictions to allow banks to handle several underwriting businesses, including commercial paper, municipal revenue bonds, and mortgage-backed securities. Thomas Theobald, then vice chairman of Citicorp, argues that three "outside checks" on corporate misbehavior had emerged since 1933: "a very effective" SEC; knowledgeable investors, and "very sophisticated" rating agencies. Volcker is unconvinced, and expresses his fear that lenders will recklessly lower loan standards in pursuit of lucrative securities offerings and market bad loans to the public. For many critics, it boiled down to the issue of two different cultures - a culture of risk which was the securities business, and a culture of protection of deposits which was the culture of banking...

In December 1996, with the support of Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Board issues a precedent-shattering decision permitting bank holding companies to own investment bank affiliates with up to 25 percent of their business in securities underwriting (up from 10 percent).

This expansion of the loophole created by the Fed's 1987 reinterpretation of Section 20 of Glass-Steagall effectively renders Glass-Steagall obsolete. Virtually any bank holding company wanting to engage in securities business would be able to stay under the 25 percent limit on revenue...

At a dinner in Washington in February 1998, Sandy Weill of Travelers invites Citicorp's John Reed to his hotel room at the Park Hyatt and proposes a merger. In March, Weill and Reed meet again, and at the end of two days of talks, Reed tells Weill, "Let's do it, partner!" ...

The transaction would have to work around regulations in the Glass-Steagall and Bank Holding Company acts governing the industry, which were implemented precisely to prevent this type of company: a combination of insurance underwriting, securities underwriting, and commecial banking. The merger effectively gives regulators and lawmakers three options: end these restrictions, scuttle the deal, or force the merged company to cut back on its consumer offerings by divesting any business that fails to comply with the law.

Weill meets with Alan Greenspan and other Federal Reserve officials before the announcement to sound them out on the merger, and later tells the Washington Post that Greenspan had indicated a "positive response." In their proposal, Weill and Reed are careful to structure the merger so that it conforms to the precedents set by the Fed in its interpretations of Glass-Steagall and the Bank Holding Company Act.

Unless Congress changed the laws and relaxed the restrictions, Citigroup would have two years to divest itself of the Travelers insurance business (with the possibility of three one-year extensions granted by the Fed) and any other part of the business that did not conform with the regulations. Citigroup is prepared to make that promise on the assumption that Congress would finally change the law -- something it had been trying to do for 20 years -- before the company would have to divest itself of anything....

After 12 attempts in 25 years, Congress finally repeals Glass-Steagall, rewarding financial companies for more than 20 years and $300 million worth of lobbying efforts. Supporters hail the change as the long-overdue demise of a Depression-era relic.

On Oct. 21, with the House-Senate conference committee deadlocked after marathon negotiations, the main sticking point is partisan bickering over the bill's effect on the Community Reinvestment Act, which sets rules for lending to poor communities. Sandy Weill calls President Clinton in the evening to try to break the deadlock after Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, warned Citigroup lobbyist Roger Levy that Weill has to get White House moving on the bill or he would shut down the House-Senate conference. Serious negotiations resume, and a deal is announced at 2:45 a.m. on Oct. 22. Whether Weill made any difference in precipitating a deal is unclear.

On Oct. 22, Weill and John Reed issue a statement congratulating Congress and President Clinton, including 19 administration officials and lawmakers by name. The House and Senate approve a final version of the bill on Nov. 4, and Clinton signs it into law later that month.

Just days after the administration (including the Treasury Department) agrees to support the repeal, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the former co-chairman of a major Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs, raises eyebrows by accepting a top job at Citigroup as Weill's chief lieutenant. The previous year, Weill had called Secretary Rubin to give him advance notice of the upcoming merger announcement. When Weill told Rubin he had some important news, the secretary reportedly quipped, "You're buying the government?"
They dismantled and bought our government, broke our financial system by removing all of the safety nets and regulatory oversight, gambled our entire financial future, fucking busted, and then asked us to pay for it while they claim that a 3.6% increase on top incomes will harm the economy. With their track record, I'd say they shouldn't be trusted to run a banana stand, and they sure as hell don't deserve that sort of access to my elected officials.

And your fidelity belongs to Wall Street?

You're either psychotically delusional or a court jester, but either way I'd recommend you lay low around the castle for a while. The rest of us are still pissed off.
posted by notion at 5:22 AM on October 12, 2011 [24 favorites]


Well, my point is that the general public was deliberately misled by the banks and the politicians and that the media willingly aided this deception.
The people on the 53% site believed and still believe a mountain of lies. As I understand Misha, she is saying we shouldn't hate on them for being dupes, specially not if we were duped as well. I know not everyone here is hating, but some are quite vigorously.

As for the 15 years of planning ahead, obviously no one could know 15 years ago exactly when the ponzi-scheme would break down. But it was indeed possible 10 years ago to see it for what it was, though you'd have literally thousands of "experts" telling you that you didn't get economy 101. Critical voices were dismissed as old-fashioned commies. In 2006, I guessed on the actual date, and missed within a month. (Again, not because I'm that smart, but because I had access to the relevant information).
posted by mumimor at 5:23 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Conservatives (and it's in the name) are more afraid of losing what little they have than with seeing just how little they have.

It's almost as if looking directly at it will make it vanish in a puff of smoke. There's a reason for that; that's all it is—smoke.
posted by Eideteker at 5:26 AM on October 12, 2011


Hey, don't forget the mirrors.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:36 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I understand Misha, she is saying we shouldn't hate on them for being dupes, specially not if we were duped as well. I know not everyone here is hating, but some are quite vigorously.

Well, that's down to percentages again, right? The majority of the responses here seem to be exhibiting considerable sympathy with people holding up placards saying that their elderly father is working a 70-hour week while the cancer he cannot afford to treat continues to grow, and that this is the American Dream - while hating on the (upper middle class, punditocratic, lobbyist) people who set up the site and are getting these people to provide free content.

Some may be hating vigorously on the paycheck-to-paycheck Americans holding up placards advertising their three jobs (where those jobs are not political pundit, radio host and PR professional), but I don't think characterising the thread as full of vitriol against hard-working, parsimonious Americans is accurate.

Honestly, in my perfect world the words "vitriol" or "bile" would be Godwin-level, as they almost always herald an attempt to shift to a metadiscussion about the failings of the way the discussion is being conducted rather than what the discussion is actually about.

In terms of the actual discussion, Misha's point is that it is appropriate for people who were hard-working and parsimonious to judge those who, specifically, got sold mortgages they could not sustain, because it was their responsibility to understand their means and the terms of the mortgage, and the macroeconomic indicators, and act appropriately. My response is that there is a significant section of the population who have not been provided with the opportunities to be able to do that unassisted, and that it is often hard for people who can do that to understand how reliant this section of the population - who will be lacking not just skills and education but contacts - is on third parties.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:59 AM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


About seeing the crash coming ahead of time:

I have told this story many times, I think even here on the blue, but I think it's worth mentioning again in this context.

In 2003, I was a part time bank teller. (They worked me 32 hours per week. At 38 hours per week, they would have had to give me benefits. I also worked nights as a waitress.) Our bank was, at that time, only in two counties in Michigan. It was the premier mortgage bank, locally, we had better rates than anyone, even credit unions.

There were 15 branches in our county. Each branch had about 5 part time tellers and 5 full time tellers. Tellers made between $10 and $14 per hour, or somewhere between $10K and $28K per year in wages.

In our quarterly employee newsletter that fall, the "Bonuses!" section held a shocking statistic. Every time a teller referred a customer to a mortgage agent, and the customer closed on a mortgage, the teller got a $100 bonus (hello, closing costs!). That year, two thirds of full time tellers and half of full time tellers in our county made more in mortgage bonuses than they did in wages.

I did some ballpark estimations, and this is what I came up with: 100 tellers made at least $10K in mortgage bonuses that year. That's a million dollars in bonuses, at $100 each is 10,000 mortgages sold. By one bank. In one year. In a county of 150,000 people. Roughly 50,000 of those people are children. So one out of ten county residents got an XXXBANK mortgage that year, based on my very conservative ballpark calculations.

There were a hundred other financial institutions in that county- banks, mortgage agencies, credit unions- and a single bank sold one of every ten adults a mortgage in 2003- a financial instrument that, in most cases, is supposed to last 30 years.

The longer I thought about this, the more fucked up it seemed. I have little financial training- just being a bank teller and managing my own finances. But it became obvious to me that this was entirely unsustainable. I went from being freaked out by thinking I was priced out of the housing market forever, to being terrified about what was going to happen when this all fell apart.

My parents had been pondering selling, and I pushed them hard to sell quickly if they were serious. They did- they sold their house in late 2003 and made almost $150,000 on it.

We were like rats leaving a sinking ship. Within 18 months of my realization, my husband and I moved as soon as we were able, to area largely untouched by the real estate boom. People thought we were crazy- There's no jobs there! we were told a dozen times.

When we bought our house in '08, we felt a bit smug. We had waited. We came in 25% equity. Our interest rate was under 5%. We bought, on paper, less than half of the house that the bank said we could afford. Then, 6 months later, the financial crisis happened, the real estate market here finally slipped. We are not underwater only because we put everything we had onto this damn mortgage, and we missed the 2009 first time homebuyer tax credit to boot.

So you can be aware, be careful and cautious and very financial responsible and still get screwed, okay? We didn't enter the casino until the slot machines stopped whirring, and we still got thumped on the nose. If we need to move in the foreseeable future, we are going to be stuck renting this house out- nothing here is moving at all. That is the sort of situation that is gumming up our economy- people need to move for work, and they can't, because they are stuck with an underwater house. Even people who did everything right.
posted by Leta at 6:04 AM on October 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm not bothered by the "53%" because they have their finances together-- I have my finances together too, meager as they may be. I pay federal (and state) income tax. I've never been foreclosed on or had to rely on a government support program. I'm probably more "53%" than many of them. What bothers me is their smug unwillingness to give a shit about the rest of the country. What good does shaming people who made a bad financial decision 5 or 10 or 15 years ago do for our country? What practical benefit does peacocking around your good fortune have?
posted by oinopaponton at 6:08 AM on October 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


running order squabble fest
"In many cases, these people probably should not have been sold mortgages, or should have been sold very different mortgages. That they were not was a failing in skills or ethics by people who were on some level being paid to represent their interests."

My bold added. No. This is the point I have been trying to make to Hypnotic Chick. They were not, and never were being paid to represent the buyer's interests - on any level. Sure, we can say 'should be' or 'aught to be' and moral and right, but the pure fact is they are not being paid by the buyer, they are not responsible to look after the buyer's interests and there is no real reason to expect this other than naivety.

weirdo;

"First, don't put words in my mouth. I never claimed there was a vast conspiracy, just a vast system of perverse incentives leading individuals to make poor decisions at every turn. For what it's worth, you may deride those books as editorial, but that just shows you haven't read them. Griftopia is certainly editorial, but Taibbi is careful to separate his own invective from the facts provided by his sources.

I also never said AIG would have not required intervention. They made bad bets with money that wasn't even theirs."


No, I didn't mean to infer you claimed there was a vast conspiracy. The section you are quoting me from was not directed at you, but just a general statement (hence, the 'interlude' seperator on my part).

And I'd be more inclined to have a more level discussion with you if you didn't keep trying to slip and slide past everything. I said "for a couple of those books.." You admit Griftopia. I didn't mention the books by name, but it's funny how you pick out the worst of the lot and then defend the author. 'Certainly editorial' but seperates his opinion from the facts? that's simply disengenuous.

As for the AIG comment, you stated that Goldman brought them down. If Goldman had been nicer, nothing bad would have happened. Bad Goldman, BAD! So AIG made bad bets with money they didn't have. Goldman is then obligated to suck up those bad bets because they held the other side and AIG didn't have the money handy to pay like they said? I still don't see your point that Goldman should have forgiven AIG's margin call at that point (after Bear and Lehman has fallen and the system was falling apart fast).

you go on to state: "But yes, they were being hammered by Goldman over both the CDS issue and in their securities lending business (I'm failing to recall details at the moment). Not doing that would have significantly reduced the bill to taxpayers at the expense of Goldman Sachs not looking as sleazy as they apparently actually are. I generally consider orchestrated efforts to sabotage other companies through means other than normal competition to be unethical at best. Perhaps you disagree. That's fine, it takes all sorts."

Goldman not calling the margin AIG owed would have not reduced the eventual bill to the taxpayers. Not it mattered. Because, for the fear of restating and restating - THE BAILOUT MONEY HAD A POSITIVE RETURN for the federal government on payback. AIG hasn't finished paying, but are close, and the Federal Government has made a little profit from it.

Now, I didn't put the 'massive consipiracy' words into your mouth, but I'll call them on you now with your 'orchestrated efforts to sabotage other comanpies..' comment. This whole notion that comapnies make billions of dollars off CDS's and other derivatives because other companies fail is simply false. It is of no benefit to companies individually and the industry in general to ahve counterparties fail for any reason.

And, as you requested - don't put words in my mouth, please. Your veiled insult 'perhaps you disagree. It takes all sorts.' is the response of someone who is frustrated because they are lacking the details, and making leaps of faith based on limited, simplified, biased presentations of complex information.

EmpressCallipygos; "Corporate accountability.

We want corporations to STOP paying off politicians to create laws that serve the best interests of CORPORATIONS rather than PRIVATE CITIZENS.

We want corporate leaders to be held accountable for the malfeasance and corruption which lead to the current downturn in the economy."


I agree, except with your last sentence. Hint - most of those leaders aren't there any more. And, as I keep trying to get through to people - those individual leaders don't shoulder all or most of responsibility. Yes, company heads should be held accountable for malfeasance. And they are - there are many examples just this year. But this was a systemic failure.

Which directs me to your second sentence - until you remove the specific legislation of corporations by Congress this will not happen. Overarching policy should be passed by Congress and then enforced by independent regulators who understand the business they are regulating intimately.

Misha makes some excellent points.

weirdo, "Even a somewhat informed buyer can walk in asking about a 30 year fixed and get sold on (or, as happened in many cases, slammed into) some exotic product. It should be reasonable to expect that the contract you agreed to prior to closing won't be changed on you. It can be difficult to make 5 people wait on you while you re-read every document to make sure that nothing has changed since the last time you saw what you were agreeing to."

I simply disagree. There is a vast difference between a 30 year fixed and anything else. And "exotic product'? you're going into hyperbole again, and it doesn't benefit your arguements. there are ARMs, Interest only and fixed rate. If the broker won't give you what you want - YOU CAN LEAVE. And go somewhere else. That's the beauty of CHOICE.

empath - I am much like misha, and yes, I did get laid off. I did get sick. But I did get insurance and paid out of savings that I had put aside in case something happened. I'm actually still a bit in debt because of being out of work because I didn't want to eat up all my savings - I still want to help my kids afford college.

running order squabble fest - We judge people all the time. If I can judge people who go on Maury Povich and make asses of themselves because they should know better, why can't I judge people that make ignorant financial decisions?

But, before you jump on that, remember I'm advocating to get away from the blame game at this point and focus on solutions and issues - not "they're all greedy bastards that must die!'
posted by rich at 6:47 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your veiled insult 'perhaps you disagree. It takes all sorts.' is the response of someone who is frustrated because they are lacking the details, and making leaps of faith based on limited, simplified, biased presentations of complex information.

The next circle of metadiscussion Hell after "vitriol', incidentally, is "I am going to tell you that you are feeling an emotion - usually rage or frustration - because you are not good enough to argue with me." It's a slightly upmarket version of "Y U CRYING LOL".

At this point, rich, you seem to be intent on replacing Pastabagel in the "everyone versus" chair. I'd ask yourself if this is something you really want to do.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:55 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


running order squabble fest - Sorry if you took my comment the wrong way and ignored the point I'm trying to make of basing arguments on actual facts.

The statement I was reacting to was "I generally consider orchestrated efforts to sabotage other companies through means other than normal competition to be unethical at best. Perhaps you disagree." That statement infered that I'm arguing that orchestrated efforts to sabatage companies unethically is ok. I am not doing that. It is also ignoring everything I've been presenting to the contrary - this was not some massive consiracy by Goldman Sachs to bring down the financial market system so they could make a buck.

I hope I am being fair in my reading of people's comments, and acknowledging excellent points by Hypnotic Chick, EmpressCallipygos, and others while restating positions I've given quiet enough evidence to support (i.e. mortage brokers don't work for the buyer) when many people continue to ignore those tidbits and keep repeating innacuracies and falsehoods.

When I started on this thread, one of the main points I had is that one of the main problems I see is people considering everyone enemies, that everyone feels they need someone they can point the ultimate finger at as the bad man, and we can't get anywhere by taking a 'me versus you' approach to this discussion. So, no, I am not trying to occupy an 'everyone versus' chair. Quite the opposite.
posted by rich at 7:25 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem in America is that middle class (what remains of it) believes it has more in common with the wealthy than they do with the poor.
posted by dgran at 7:31 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry if you took my comment the wrong way and ignored the point I'm trying to make of basing arguments on actual facts

***

I hope I am being fair in my reading of people's comments

LOL, essentially.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:31 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK - so...

I know that there's some possibility for crossover w/Libertarians (yes, I shudder at that thought, but it's what we've gotta do if we're gonna have any effect). So we need to focus on anti-corporate stuff. Mostly anti-corporate welfare.

I *think* we might be able to convince them of the dangers of Citizens United/Corporate Personhood. I dunno.

Anyways, that's one thought.

The second thought is that we need to focus on the economic/anti-corporate issues. We might be able to make a case about the wars and the war on drugs being too costly too maintain as a side effect.

While I'm all for universal health care and think that in the end it should be something to focus on, I don't know if now is the time or place to deal with it.

That's my one concern is that whole hodgepodge of special interest groups taking away the focus of a clear core message that can tie into the major theme.

So this morning I'm driving in and listening to WORT, Madison's local community supported radio. They're pretty lefty/community oriented in approach. They were interviewing some of the peepz at the Occupy Madison, and they were talking about their plans and such.

And I'm thinking - this is one thing we need - is some sort of formal structure to vote and make lists of demands nationwide. We need an actual movement, not just a loose group of individual cities with their own demands. We need a "constitutional convention" only - not so grand. Just reform convention. Outside the powers that be, outside the democrats, republicans, outside any political party. We need to get as many people on board as possible, we need to maintain focus.

We need to say "ok, here is the overall goal - what is your proposal and tell us how it relates to the overall goal" If you can't make a case that it's important to reducing corporate power, making the wealthy pay their fair share, etc... Then it goes off the block.

Anyways, that's just a thought. I say we as if I'm doing jack shit besides spewing crap on the internets. But it's an idea that I think I'll try to spread, because we really do need this to be nationwide, and we do need it to be ground up. We need reps from each city to go to a national forum with our lists of demands, then they can go hash out something and bring it back to be voted on by each "People's Assembly". Ratify that shit and present it.
posted by symbioid at 8:32 AM on October 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


there's a guy on my facebook list who's a small businessman. he owns a small software (mostly web) development firm. I know him tangentially through several vectors.

He sees Occupy Wall Street and everything associated with it as a personal attack on him. He's absolutely convinced that America is dominated by a rabidly anti-business attitude, that americans don't distinguish between the CEOs of small companies and the CEOs of mega-companies, that the people of Occupy Wall Street are, in fact, slackers/whiners/layabouts who are destroying property. He appears to sincerely think that in every employer-employee relationship, the power is lopsidedly in the hands of the employee, and sees any attempt to disagree with that as a personal attack on his leadership. ("Ask any of my employees. They're all on my Facebook list. Just ask them." And doesn't seem to understand the inherent conflict of interest there....)

Funnily enough, this is also a guy who never misses an opportunity to post stories opposing hydro-fracking (we live in western NY where this is a big issue right now), and will happily call for greater regulation of the oil and gas industries. He's as far as I can tell a life-long Democrat who favors single-payer health insurance.

It's possible this guy is earning over $250K, but I doubt it. I work for a company of similar size that's also in B2B services, and our principles took pretty hefty pay cuts to ride out the recession, so much so that they were making less than some of their higher-paid employees. But he's still quick to dismiss any talk of tax increases for upper brackets as "divisive" and provoking conflict.

What it is, I think, really, is a combination of two factors: that the guy just doesn't think very much (he wants things he's not interested in seeing as contradictory: businessmen get to call all the shots, and businesses get regulated when they do stuff he doesn't like); and that he really should just have been a Republican all along.

That, and that he's an opinionated, narrow-minded dick.
posted by lodurr at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2011


I think a larger issue here is that people shouldn't have to be financially savvy in order to not be destitute or uninsured or otherwise suffer. The ability to properly manage money is a valuable skill, to be sure, but it isn't the only value that people can have that should be financially rewarded by society, even though these days it seems like it is. There are so many better ways that people can be spending their time besides watching stock charts and learning about hedging and interest rates and inflation.

If we can structure our society in such a way that people can be relatively clueless about finance and yet still not end up on the bottom of society, that would be a good thing. A first step would be regulations to stop companies from preying on people who simply don't know any better.
posted by empath at 9:28 AM on October 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


"Hey, don't forget the mirrors."

The mirror is what's so scary.
posted by Eideteker at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2011


I think a larger issue here is that people shouldn't have to be financially savvy in order to not be destitute or uninsured or otherwise suffer.

THIS!!!! This whole comment. This, so hard, it should be imprinted on everyone's forehead.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 9:51 AM on October 12, 2011


Hypnotic Chick: "I think a larger issue here is that people shouldn't have to be financially savvy in order to not be destitute or uninsured or otherwise suffer.

THIS!!!! This whole comment. This, so hard, it should be imprinted on everyone's forehead.
"

What, like the... like the mark of the beast? OH SHIT! ;) Mama told me the hippies were a sign of the anti-christ! (good thing I didn't believer her).
posted by symbioid at 10:00 AM on October 12, 2011


symbioid,

I wish I could upvote that a thousand times. The General Assemblies at various locations around the country should absolutely turn into local or regional Constitutional Conventions.

I was actually just thinking yesterday that what we need to do is start rethinking the Constitution from the ground up. We need to settle again: What should government do? How should government be organized? How transparent should government be? What will the checks and balances be like? How are the people to be represented? If by elections (as opposed to, say, sortition), how will the electoral system work? What should be the relation between the national government and the states? What rights should we explicitly guarantee in a revised Bill of Rights? (I'm thinking explicit rights to autonomy and privacy should go in there, along with speech, press, assembly, petition, religion, and some other new ones, like mobility, commerce, the right to record public space -- including public officials conducting public business, etc.)

Our Constitution has served us very well, but it is now an old document that appears to be more broken than working. We should scrap it, just as Jefferson said we should in the event that the government becomes destructive to the ends of securing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for its citizens.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:02 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think a larger issue here is that people shouldn't have to be financially savvy in order to not be destitute or uninsured or otherwise suffer.

THIS!!!! This whole comment. This, so hard, it should be imprinted on everyone's forehead.


Exactly. And here's the reason why--it costs the taxpayer too much to provide services at the retail level. The way to make this case to the dead enders is to say--listen, you can't have a huge portion of the people with no means of adequate support. They won't be able to buy anything to keep the economy moving and you can't leave a third of the population to starve. That means revolution, for people will take what they need to survive. The cost of medical care in the emergency room is multiples of the cost in a doctor's office. Those who want lower taxes are shooting themselves in the foot by insisting this crap.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:05 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This "oh all this anger, why shouldn't people have to deal with the repercussions of their bad choices unrealistic finances do your research or you get what you get" is a strawman. It doesn't reflect the suffering misinformed buyers really are doing and it is an inaccurate reading of why folks are pissed off.

I'm fine with people suffering the repercussions of their actions. There's nothing in the world that could have happened in the post-bubble world that was going to stop that. Pain was inevitable.

What I'm not fine with is the way it's shaken out where the amount of repercussions is in complete opposition to the ability to bear it, as well as the initial gains. Everyone may have played along but who's left holding the bag and who's still holding on to the majority of the winnings?

Look at the variety of things that might have helped the consumers. Bankruptcy cramdowns, for example - letting a bankruptcy judge modify a loan to reflect real value and keep people in their homes. It's far from a giveaway - if you have ever stood on the edge of bankruptcy, as I have, you know full well there's nothing painless about it. People would still have to pay off the altered value or the bank would get the house back. Nope, not acceptable, those people need to be ACCOUNTABLE!

But altering bank reporting rules so they could carry these depressed properties on their books without having to show the massive losses, allowing them to foreclose in dribs and drabs so that they don't move the market too fast and depress their total return, not to mention find themselves responsible for liability and condo fees, etc? We're cool with that - if we don't then some of these banks might go under!

The number of people demanding some sort of free lunch for debtors is statistically insignificant. There may be a bunch of people like me who think it's time for the folks holding the paper to start taking it on the chin more, but that's because it's time for them to start bearing their part of the responsibility.

That's not looking for handouts for civilians, it's asking the people who made bad choices at the institutional level to suffer too. Those people who used their houses as ATMs or bought irresponsibly or used evaporating equity to buy tvs are not failing to suffer and bear their end of the deal. Look at pictures of modern ghost towns, homes people made payments on and lived in - they're empty. Those buyers lived in them for a while and now have gotten nothing from it. What more do they need to give up?

The banks who made them those loans, though? They hold the note on that property, or will if they ever finish foreclosure proceedings they'll still have something, no matter how depreciated. Maybe they'll never make back that loan but they've benefited from it multiple times. It's not as if these underwater mortgages were simple transactions where they loaned someone X dollars and have just been waiting to be repaid X + interest.

Those loans got made and then resold, with various fees and transactional profit on top. Someone else carved them all up and put them in collateralized debt obligations, instruments with various tranches where different people were repaid in differing orders of priority. They took their fee for making up this CDO and sold the pieces and someone else took some of THOSE pieces and turned them into other CDOs. And they took their fee for making up that structure and for creating the credit default swap and they traded them back and forth and they made heaps of money, as did the credit rating agencies that said this stuff was all cool.

So all those CDOs and CDSes went out in the world and got bought up by retirement funds because someone took a few bucks in exchange for saying yep, that's AAA, a pretty much guaranteed return. And they got traded back and forth and poured into mutual funds that someone took some cash for managing and someone else took some cash for handling the trades. And eventually they all went boom.

You don't need to look at more than a few pictures of Detroit to see that Team Home Buyer is doing their share of the suffering. What suffering is Team Wall Street doing, and what will they continue to do? When's their compromise? Whose interest is being represented?

So in the face of these situations where Team Wall Street was sloppy and didn't keep their paperwork in order and now they want to foreclose without good documents, when I say "why should we compromise in favor of them rather than the buyer?" I'm not asking that we reward someone who made a bad choice. That's inevitable, regardless of which side we rule in favor of. I'm just asking that everyone sacrifice.

The people being thrown out on their ear with their retirements gutted are doing their bleeding. Where's the suffering on the other side?
posted by phearlez at 10:06 AM on October 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was actually just thinking yesterday that what we need to do is start rethinking the Constitution from the ground up. We need to settle again: What should government do?

At a time when wealth is incredibly concentrated, holds enormous power over political institutions and media? No thank you. The basis of the 53% argument is the property franchise--they should get more of a say because they own more. We have no need to resettle those questions. The problems of the system have lied with us from day one. We haven't kept watch. We haven't been politically active as we should have until now.

Part of the problem is that people have assumed they can just elect people they like and forget about it. That's the opposite of democracy. We need to bring a culture of engagement to the left, political engagement. Not the marches and the like, which are tools for crisis situations, but of near daily interactions with the people we elect. Constitutionnally, the President's real power is as a focal point of political support which the legislature ignores at their peril.

We need to engage the legislature constantly.

I just wish I had a legislator who could actually vote. You see, I don't even get a congressional representative. I can't engage anyone who can vote. That's why I find it unbelievable that others aren't constantly writing their congress people. To get new policy, we need votes in the legislature. To get that we have to drive politics as consumers of it--do this or I will buy the other brand.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on October 12, 2011


And I'm thinking - this is one thing we need - is some sort of formal structure to vote and make lists of demands nationwide. We need an actual movement, not just a loose group of individual cities with their own demands. We need a "constitutional convention" only - not so grand. Just reform convention. Outside the powers that be, outside the democrats, republicans, outside any political party. We need to get as many people on board as possible, we need to maintain focus.

Symbioid, I would like to subscribe tou your newsletter. Seriously, that is a positive, forward-thinking proposal. I'd like to see less people pointing fingers and piling on the hate, blame and excuses and more of this.

As far as saying that ideally people shouldn't have to be financially savvy in society, I disagree. I am not talking about hedge funds and checking stock portfolios, just basic economics and budgeting. These are not Great Mysteries known only to a select few, or they shouldn't be. I would like to see more people taught how to do that, not less. Why in the world would anyone advocate for ignorance? I don't get that. Do you want to be at the mercy of other people all your life when it comes to YOUR money?

I agree we need more regulations on financial institutions, absolutely. I want defense spending cut, the troops coming home--hell, why do we even have something like 52,000 troops in Germany any more? I'll gladly pay higher taxes to get healthcare for all, and I really would like to see more money channeled into higher education. I personally have a dream of interest-free student loans becoming the norm.

But, Hypnotic Chick, I don't understand why anyone would think not knowing about your own finances is a good goal to have, on any level.
posted by misha at 10:37 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm halfway between Ironmouth and Jonathan. I don't know if I fully support a full on constitutional convention exactly - maybe in my more radical days... But I do think this is a good way to get our demands clarified and push for more legislation from the ground up.

I do notice though that after I posted this that xkcd had a comment on Jefferson apparently wanting a convention every 19 years, and then there's now a thread on this on reddit. I know that some conservative groups have proposed such a thing in the past.

It's interesting Ironmouth mentions the propertarian (?) aspect of it, because there have been Tea Party candidates who have explicitly stated that they believe that we should return to a property-ownership qualification for voting! That's how regressive they want to be about this.

So while I do think we need assemblies and delegates and conventions and make this thing a real vital push from the ground up (as opposed to the astroturf groups), and we need to make it as inclusive as possible, I do think we need to focus on the key issues, find our main concept (the wealthy should pay their fair share, for example - help the poorest among us - find ways to prevent oligarchy) and really work on coming up with proposals and push for them.

Of course then my cynical self comes in and gets depressed at the notion that none of this will accomplish anything. But if anything is worth trying it is this. We've tried just voting. We've given money to candidates. It's up to us to push back. We need to make our voices heard, and I think this is a good way. Hell, maybe we can make a vital moving third party against the 2 corporate parties.

Amendment proposals? Law proposals? I dunno what we need. But this is a start, and if we can really work together, and keep it grounded and focused it has a chance of becoming something. But if it stays fragmented and disparate. If it doesn't reach out to potential allies (again - why it's important to focus on a narrow cause - easier to get allies). Then we're fucked. I hope we can push and keep it moving.
posted by symbioid at 10:44 AM on October 12, 2011


Amendment to repeal Citizens United.

Amendment explicitly denying discrimination on the basis of sexual/gender orientation.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:12 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I'm thinking - this is one thing we need - is some sort of formal structure to vote and make lists of demands nationwide.

Perhaps we can call that structure a 'political party'.
posted by empath at 11:13 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, to have a Ross Perot in today's twitterized, paypal, facebook online social websphere.

He might actually have had a chance right now in today's environment.

I agree with symboid. But be realistic about it. You're looking at destroying one of the established parties in the process. You need to pull major supporters (Labor Unions, for example, or the NRA for another - or both) from the current parties. It has happened in the past. But I really think you're going to have to have that in the back of your mind.. You'll be three-party for a few elections until one of the other parties finally collapses and you're back to 2 parties.

Otherwise, you're advocating trying to run a participatory democracy, and run from the representative model, which would be very difficult. (though your mention of have local representatives would obviate that. Ignore me while I think as I type). Or you're advocating some level of a shadow government, which probably would work, either.

I don't agree that the Constitution is an old piece of paper that needs to be discarded. It, in itself, is a policy document. It sets the stage, but doesn't proscribe the specific lines. It could use a refresher to provide some more over-arching policies/principles that are specific to the conditions of today (technology, global economies, etc) - and hey - look! It has a function to add Amendments to it already! Perhaps an 'Admendment Convention'.

and I agree with misha again on the understanding of financial matters. Mortgages are not complex. People don't need to understand stock markets and hedge funds and derivatives. But mortgages, car loans, home equity loans, savings and checking accounts? I don't think that's asking too much. And if you don't understand it, then hire an advisor. Buyer beware, but I do think everyone selling anything should have a disclamer stating "I DON'T WORK FOR YOU" tatooed on their forehead.

(on preview; "Amendment to repeal Citizens United." Citizens United wasn't an Amendment. and you wouldn't want specific language to that effect in an Amendment, anyway. You want to set policy, not proscribe its actual implementation.)

(on preview, empath beat me to the punch)
posted by rich at 11:19 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why in the world would anyone advocate for ignorance? I don't get that. Do you want to be at the mercy of other people all your life when it comes to YOUR money?

Obviously nobody here is advocating ignorance, just a system that does not require everyone to tiptoe through a minefield of crooked mortgages when buying a house. However, anyone with a buck to make IS advocating for consumer ignorance, including the mortgage brokers, banks, and most retail establishments. Cultivating passive consumers and a "debt is good" mentality for the last 30 years contributed to the crash; it's not as simple as "I was smart and they were dumb, so they should suffer".

The economy is more efficient if transactions can be made without huge auditing costs.
posted by benzenedream at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you don't understand it, then hire an advisor.

LOL.

This reminds me of the people who said that Khan Academy was useless because you could just hire a tutor to do the same thing.

Newsflash, most people can't afford to hire a financial adviser.
posted by empath at 11:23 AM on October 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


And if you don't understand it, then hire an advisor.

Erm -- the people who are probably in the greatest need of financial advice are the very same people who cannot afford to hire an advisor.

No one is advocating ignorance, just an acknowledgement that people are all on different rungs of the "financial knowledge ladder," and that it doesn't seem fair to penalize people who aren't on the upper rungs yet. By that same logic, we should be giving first graders algebra exams because "algebra is something everyone SHOULD know sooner or later, if these kids don't know it yet it's their own fault".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:26 AM on October 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


empath - a lawyer is something standard you should obtain the first time you buy a house. They aren't prohibitively expensive in light of the money you're spending for a house. You don't need a financial advisor. And if you just can't ever get your head around mortgages, you should hire a lawyer every time you do a mortgage. At least they're working for you.
posted by rich at 11:28 AM on October 12, 2011


Let them eat cake, right?

And what about the people doing payday loans so they can afford to feed their kids that week? It's not just people who bought dumb mortgages who are suffering from making poor financial decisions.

And moreover, a lot of these people who bought dumb mortgages were relying on advice from financial advisors, lawyers, banks and appraisers, none of whom were acting in their best interests.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]






Misha,

I don't think you shouldn't know your own finances. I do think that "knowing your finances" is a phrase that obscures what is going on.

First, money is much more complicated than it seems. Finance is more complicated than it seems. The idea that people "should" be responsible when they consistently, repeatedly, predictably are not should indicate to us that this is an area that the public needs help with. The fact that you have the cognitive horsepower to be "savvy"...well, good for you. The idea that you (or more correctly, your level cognitive ability) are representative is just not accurate. The fact is, people are bad at making even simple decisions (pdf).

But this leads to the second prong. Researcher Adam Levitin:
There is no easy way to compare the price of having a deposit account relationship at BoA with that of having one at Wells Fargo, much less to compare every deposit account relationship within my local area. Look at the USAA form linked above--it tries to do a comparison with some competitors, including BoA (it's from before the new BoA fee). That's a start, but it doesn't come close to showing all the differences between the account terms. And good luck finding the same thing that includes Chase, Citi, and CapOne.

Now, for all I know, the community bank a few blocks away from me has a much better deposit account deal than BoA, but the search costs of learning about that are high enough that I won't bother to find out. There's no easy source for the information, much less a standardized set of metrics for comparison
That guy testified before Congress. And he's talking about basic accounts. What's more, Felix Salmon looked at checking accounts (checking accounts!?!) offered at one bank and concluded that understanding the product was extremely hard:
Even the login screen is ridiculously confusing: before you can even enter your username, you have to choose between one of nine different Citi websites to log into. If you have a Citi bank account, and a Citi credit card, and a Citi mortgage, and Citi ThankYou rewards, which of those sites are you meant to log in to? Why can’t Citi just make sure that each username is unique, and log you in to whatever your account is automatically?
And that is on a new feature that Salmon was invited as part of Citi's marketing campaign. It's on the up-and-up. If you...

1. Take people's general difficulty with decisions,
2. Add in the special challenge that money poses,
3. Include the challenge of presenting masses of information in a readable format,
4. As well as the ability to compare between companies that don't want competition,
5. And then factor in fraud...

well, the idea that the average person has a realistic chance of not losing out diminishes.

So no, ignorance isn't a goal. Recognizing reality should be, though.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


*sigh* I'd rather focus on the better issues symbioid kicked off rather than disecting one small side comment I made, but...

I was speaking about someone buying a house. Who obviously must have some levels of funds to purchase a house. I bought my first townhouse for $89,000. The lawyer I think charged $500 or $1000, which we added to the mortgage at the time. But he did all the walking through the process, house inspections, and everything else with us and made us smarter consumers.

I posit that a lot of these people who bought dumb mortgages were relying on advice from people they were NOT PAYING for their advice from. Which we've been over a few times - they work for the seller and themselves, not the buyer. Is it moral for them to act unscrupulously? Not at all. But again, not everything that is moral is legal, and not everything immoral is illegal. Is that right? Probably not. But in the face of that, there are options. And yes, there will still be people that fall outside the cracks. But I'm talking about those that these are solutions that would work.

Hypnotic Chick - yes, things are unneccessarily complex (but for many reasons). Banks are continuously revising their offerings to one-up each other, from no fees to paying for other bank's ATM fees. On top of that, having exposure to the technology at these places, the reason there are 15 websites is that all the systems don't talk to each other, and it's very difficult to bring them into one place rationally. Single sign-on has been a hot topic for YEARS. Not just for consumer-facing portals, but internally it's a mess as well. And not just at financial firms. Hell, TECHNOLOGY firms have problems getting all their single-sign on working right, especially when you factor in all the mergers and acquisitions, which means different technology from the merged company, different standards, different architectures.. it's spagetti.

I work on half a dozen volunteer industry groups that try and bridge gaps like these, implement standards, and gain consensus on everything from market data standards to messaging to field tag definitions, business processes and so on. It's a vastly complex set of multiple (not tens.. hundreds, maybe thousands) individual problems/issues.
posted by rich at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


rich - that sounds a lot like some of the stuff that the CFPB should be dealing with, yes? Now we need to hold that board accountable, of course, heh.
posted by symbioid at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2011


(consumer financial protection board, not corp. for public broadcasting, maybe i have the acronyms screwed up)
posted by symbioid at 12:17 PM on October 12, 2011


Just in case anyone doubted this, I've established that the comments on the "liberty juice" (a.k.a. "we are the 53%") site are being "moderated" to delete comments that question their view.
posted by lodurr at 12:38 PM on October 12, 2011


This Erickson actually thinks he "works" three fucking jobs??


Wow, just wow. The man has three sweet privileged gigs that probably don't even amount to the fulltime hours most people work and he, without irony thinks he's working "three" jobs. I suppose he'll also tell you that he "earned" his privileged positions?


Kerrr-ist, what an asshole.


*Goes back to wondering how to build a guillotine in a limited space.*
posted by Skygazer at 12:54 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


(on preview; "Amendment to repeal Citizens United." Citizens United wasn't an Amendment. and you wouldn't want specific language to that effect in an Amendment, anyway. You want to set policy, not proscribe its actual implementation.)

It would repeal the caselaw. I couldn't think of a better word to describe an amendment expressly designed to make the regulations in Citizens United constitutional.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:24 PM on October 12, 2011


I thought this was pretty good:

A libertarian socialist engineer solves the financial crisis
posted by bukvich at 1:45 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually, you're the 47%
posted by drezdn at 1:51 PM on October 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


rich wrote: I posit that a lot of these people who bought dumb mortgages were relying on advice from people they were NOT PAYING for their advice from. Which we've been over a few times - they work for the seller and themselves, not the buyer. Is it moral for them to act unscrupulously? Not at all. But again, not everything that is moral is legal, and not everything immoral is illegal. Is that right? Probably not. But in the face of that, there are options. And yes, there will still be people that fall outside the cracks. But I'm talking about those that these are solutions that would work.

FWIW, mortgage brokers are supposed to work for you, as is a buyer's agent. Neither are paid directly by you. Clearly, in the case of the mortgage broker, it's better to just pay them out of your own pocket, but that's hindsight talking.

rich wrote: It is also ignoring everything I've been presenting to the contrary - this was not some massive consiracy by Goldman Sachs to bring down the financial market system so they could make a buck.

You're right, it wasn't a massive conspiracy. It was one company, forcing another out of business even though it wasn't (shouldn't have been, wasn't is hindsight) in Goldman's best interest or anybody else's. Maybe I'm explaining the sequence of events in an unclear manner. Read the books I referenced earlier if you need to. I read them all in under a week of bed time reading.

misha wrote: This is just wrong. OF COURSE there is something wrong with making a huge investment like buying a house without knowing what you are doing! You don't go into a car dealership and expect the salesman to have your best interests at heart, do you?

Of course the car salesman doesn't have my best interest at heart, he or she doesn't have a fiduciary duty to me. Nor does the seller's agent. The buyer's agent and my mortgage broker, on the other hand? They do. Or historically did, or were thought to by many. The fact of the matter is that the nature of the relationship changed in the 2000s. Previous assumptions should have been thrown out the window, but it takes time for people to adjust to new realities. Some of us manage it more quickly than others.

Jonathan Livengood wrote: Moreover, it wasn't just would-be home-owners who failed to see the crash coming, it was supposedly savvy bankers and traders, real estate agents, government regulators, and so on. How many "people like you" do you think there are?

I had been thinking that home prices were unsustainable starting in 2003 or 2004. I did not expect that it could go on until 2007/2008ish. I figured things were going to blow up by 2005.

rich wrote: Goldman is then obligated to suck up those bad bets because they held the other side and AIG didn't have the money handy to pay like they said? I still don't see your point that Goldman should have forgiven AIG's margin call at that point (after Bear and Lehman has fallen and the system was falling apart fast).

Bear and Lehman hadn't failed by that point. Funny that you in one paragraph state that expecting Goldman to not drive AIG into the ground when AIG's other counterparties agreed that it would be best if none of them drove AIG into the ground, and then go on to state that it's never a good thing for one's counterparties to fail. Are you being intentionally disingenuous?

My original point on that topic was consistent with your reading that it's not a good thing to have your counterparties go kaboom. Nobody in their right mind would force a counterparty to fail. Ergo, Goldman must have known that someone would step in and make them whole. Unless they're stupid, anyway, which they clearly are not. No conspiracy, just one company acting in their perceived best interest.

BTW, if you want to be militant about remaining ignorant because one of the books I mentioned has an agenda, well, that's your problem, not mine.

Also, fuck, those 53%ers are annoying. I'd be mad at them, but I know that the vast majority of them are not in command of the facts. Whoever it is that's brainwashing the kids needs to quit it, though.
posted by wierdo at 2:03 PM on October 12, 2011


Why Occupy Wall Street isn't about a list of demands
"A lot of lip service has been paid to the idea that Occupy Wall Street lacks focus. The critics ask: What's the goal of these protests? Everyone wants something different."
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Years ago, as an associate with a few years of practicing law under my belt, I joined a new law firm. The firm was a boutique kind of place, specializing in structured finance. Specifically, asset-backed securities. These kinds of deals were always "wrapped" with a Credit Default Swap. Yup, the very ones.

The first deal comes along, and I am going though all the documentation. Backruptcy-remote LLC? Check. Indenture Agreeement? Check. And so on, until I get to the swaps agreements. This stuff might as well have been written in Greek. I go to the partner, and take advantage of my relative newness to say "hey, I was going through the swap documentation, and frankly I can't make heads or tails of it." The partner waves her hand and says "Oh yeah, nobody understands those things. If they ever actually come into play, we are in a lot of trouble."

That was 2001.

For all the back-and-forthing about whether homebuyers ought to have understood the documents they were signing when they bought their homes, keep in mind that parties entering into Credit Default Swap Agreements didn't understand them either. An individual homeowner is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the tidal wave impact of a few stupidly-executed CDS agreements.
posted by ambrosia at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


BusinessInsider: A Collection of Charts showing what the Wall Street Protesters are so angry about. Income disparity, stagnating wages, Corporate profits, Unemployment, Tax burdens, and Bank lending-- it is all here.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:27 PM on October 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


weirdo - I am not being militant, nor remaining ignorant. I didn't acknowledge if I read any of those books or not. Besides, I've read plenty more than that, including Fed rulings, risk reports, compliance bulletins and a host of other things that is required of my job.. so I feel fairly well educated about the whole mess. Not to mention that being out of work at the end of 2008 into 2009 gave me plenty of time to catch up on what happened, why, what continued to happen, and the continuing issues. And I continue to deal with these things on an almost daily basis.

I just wish you would fact check yourself.

"FWIW, mortgage brokers are supposed to work for you, as is a buyer's agent. Neither are paid directly by you. Clearly, in the case of the mortgage broker, it's better to just pay them out of your own pocket, but that's hindsight talking."

This is false. A broker is not a buyer's agent. They broker between the buyer and seller. Except in California (thanks for the reminder, running order squabble fest) there is no law that mandates a fiduciary duty upon the mortgage broker. Sure, there are moral and ethical issues involved, and gross misconduct. But there is very little regulation, and even less enforcement. And you can't just pay a mortgage broker out of your own pocket to work for you.

In the past business and people in general paid a bit more attention to moral hazards, even if it mean it impacted their business (and even if they could have legally gotten away with it). But nothing has changed, legally, since the 1970's.

"Bear and Lehman hadn't failed by that point. (you say in reference to me talking about AIG failing) Funny that you in one paragraph state that expecting Goldman to not drive AIG into the ground when AIG's other counterparties agreed that it would be best if none of them drove AIG into the ground, and then go on to state that it's never a good thing for one's counterparties to fail. Are you being intentionally disingenuous?"

Again. Wrong. Bear failed in March of 2008 in a matter of 36 hours. Lehman followed in June. AIG didn't go under until September. Actually living it sort of seers the memory into your brain.

My comment about driving counterparties out of business has context I perhaps didn't make clear. I was addressing normal business operations in response to (I think Hypnotic Chick) a discussion on premeditatedly orchestrating a firm's downfall through the creation of specific derivative products (the conspiracy theory). At this point, the market was already faltering, two historical firms had gone under, and Goldman wasn't going to voluntarily fall on the sword as the third broker by not getting its margin collateral. Because without that collateral, they probably would start to get hammered and need to make calls to other firms.

My original point on that topic was consistent with your reading that it's not a good thing to have your counterparties go kaboom. Nobody in their right mind would force a counterparty to fail. Ergo, Goldman must have known that someone would step in and make them whole. Unless they're stupid, anyway, which they clearly are not. No conspiracy, just one company acting in their perceived best interest.

Just because no one would force a counterparty to fail in *normal* circumstances doesn't mean they would do it in these conditions. Your leap to "ergo, Goldman knew.." is not a good deduction. However, if you understand what happens when firms fail, regardless if the government stepped in or not, Goldman had collateral rights. Sometimes those superceed bond holders rights, and most definitely overrule equity holder's rights. Besides, AIG had the collateral to cover, but not in liquid form. What was killing them were the new capital limits that would have ballooned out what they actually needed in reserves to more than the company was worth to cover the outlayed collateral offered on the loans they had.

ambrosia - great insight. That's what a lot of folks said, especially in the middle and back office. There *were* a group of people (other than the traders and money makers) that did understand them, though. ISDA had (and still does have) a lot of folks in various working groups trying to solve a lot of the problems before they occurred (all doing it voluntarily, in and outside of working hours, with full sponsorship from their firms across the spectrum and on their company's dime when travel or other things were needed). I was involved in a number of technology initiatives specifically in this space and worked with a lot of people a lot smarter than me who understood it all, and understood the dangers, and knew they were racing a clock somewhere to get things under control.

Also, for all - we should remember that CDS's are not new. They drove Long Term Capital Management under, and caused a mini-shockwave in the 90's because of it. There have been a number of other smaller firm failures that ended up in CDS's becoming actively executed prior to 2001 ('triggering event' clause within the Master Service Agreement), and companies took months just cleaning a single event up.
posted by rich at 5:59 PM on October 12, 2011


Wierd, you and anyone else who thinks mortgage brokers work for you might want to check out this article explaining what their fiduciary responsibilities to the consumer are when it comes to getting a mortgage (short answer: you are mostly on your own). The NY Times actually was on target with this one.
posted by misha at 6:47 PM on October 12, 2011


Erickson is on CNN's Piers Morgan right now, and damn if he isn't a gibbering horseshit slinger.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:10 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great comment, notion; thanks for that one.
posted by mediareport at 7:22 PM on October 12, 2011


In the past business and people in general paid a bit more attention to moral hazards, even if it mean it impacted their business (and even if they could have legally gotten away with it). But nothing has changed, legally, since the 1970's.

This is evidence that you are completely insane or doing a poor job at trolling.
posted by notion at 7:24 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


notion - please do correct me, then. And I'm referring specifically to mortgage brokers having any fiduciary responsibility to buyers according to laws passed after California did so in 1979.

I'm at a loss of why you'd think that comment (buried inside everything else I said) would be 'trolling'.
posted by rich at 7:59 PM on October 12, 2011


Horselover Phattie: "Erickson is on CNN's Piers Morgan right now, and damn if he isn't a gibbering horseshit slinger"

Holy God, you should have seen Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn on earlier that evening. The relevant exchange:
JOHN KING: The Democrats think they have a political issue with this issue of taxing more affluent Americans. The Senate Democratic plan would have put a surtax on millionaires. If you look at public opinion polling -- the Washington Post/Bloomberg News poll just asked this: do you support, for deficit reduction, raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 a year? 68% of Americans support raising taxes on those above $250 grand, 53% of Republicans. Why are House Republicans and Senate Republicans holding so fast to absolutely no taxes on more affluent Americans?

REP. BLACKBURN: What we know is that people that want to pay more can already pay more! All they have to do is make out a check to the U.S. Treasury and if they feel as if they are not paying their fair share, they can do that, that doesn't need a bill. Anybody that feels like they are undertaxed, they can just go ahead and pay more. They can contact their member of Congress, they can contact the U.S. Treasury, they can get that check right in. And I'm certain the U.S. treasury would be able to help them with it.
what is this i dont even
posted by Rhaomi at 8:08 PM on October 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, there's the will of the people, and then there's the will of the people, you know.
posted by Trochanter at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2011


It's funny -- re-reading it, it looks like she mixed up her talking points. The "why not just cut a check to the government if you love it so much" is the typical response to Warren Buffet's arguments, but King only cited polls and said nothing about Buffet, so her canned sarcasm is weirdly disconnected from anything the guy actually said.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:33 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm at a loss of why you'd think that comment (buried inside everything else I said) would be 'trolling'.

Because you're insinuating that nothing has changed with regard to mortgage/banking regulation since 1970.

Narrowly, you are correct that there isn't any change to the law which says that mortgage brokers have no accountability to their clients. (To put it more succinctly, mortgage brokers are legally allowed to screw people over, and not get sued for it.) But that is like saying that only 53% of Americans pay federal income tax, so they other 47% should be happy with their food stamps.

Factually correct, and completely disingenuous. Those five words comprise the entirety of Wall Street talking points, and you seem to be very keen on reinforcing them. Let's take a look at one example:
We judge people all the time. If I can judge people who go on Maury Povich and make asses of themselves because they should know better, why can't I judge people that make ignorant financial decisions?
Because when roughly 25% of homes are underwater for the first time in our history, it's a pretty good sign that that the system is rigged, not that 25% of mortgage holders are idiots. When unemployment and CEO pay has tripled in fifteen years, it's a sign that the system is rigged. When Wall Street is telling us to stay in our homes and fight the good fight while they ship our jobs overseas to push up their stock by a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, it's a sign that the system is rigged.

And I know what the problem is. I do. You don't want to lose your job if your industry loses the special laws that currently protect it from the ravages of the market. You don't want all of this "tough love" to apply to you.

You complain about idiots not understanding finances, but I'll bet you can't explain to me how the credit derivatives market managed to exceed nine times world GDP, or how all of your models were built on the idea that home prices could not go down. "Poor" people may be bad at reading small print, but at least they aren't stupid enough to bet the future of the world on exotic financial instruments that literally have no economic function other than pushing up some corporation's Q3.

The irony of your arrogance could be measured in battleships.
posted by notion at 9:15 PM on October 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


An incredible letter by "Mefi's own" Max Udargo, An Open Letter to that 53% Guy
posted by growabrain at 2:58 AM on October 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


notion - yes! thank you. I appreciate that kind of response because I can see where you're coming from. My one complaint is that you take these one-off comments I threw in at the end here, or over there and focus in on them instead of the whole of what I said, and completely ignore the pieces where I do go into supporting detail and provide information.

Yes, the mortgage industry has changed. I was speaking narrowly because that was the argument - weirdo was claiming over and over that mortgage broker DO have fiduciary duty to their clients. I was trying to hammer home the point about that specific item.

"Because when roughly 25% of homes are underwater for the first time in our history, it's a pretty good sign that that the system is rigged, not that 25% of mortgage holders are idiots. When unemployment and CEO pay has tripled in fifteen years, it's a sign that the system is rigged. When Wall Street is telling us to stay in our homes and fight the good fight while they ship our jobs overseas to push up their stock by a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, it's a sign that the system is rigged.

And I know what the problem is. I do. You don't want to lose your job if your industry loses the special laws that currently protect it from the ravages of the market. You don't want all of this "tough love" to apply to you."


I agree with your first paragraph. Really. I don't think the system is completely 'rigged' though. I think in many circumstances it has grown to a point of being broken that individuals can easily game the system. And if I wasn't clear, I don't think that 25% of mortgage holders are idiots. I don't think people who got into untenable mortgages are free of blame and responsibility, however. And I have tried to repeatedly explain my position that there is plenty of blame on all sides, and blaming any one person, group or otherwise is pointless and counterproductive.

I also try to stay free of rhetoric, which you seem happily to play in. Who is responsible for shipping jobs overseas? Wall Street? Really? It's all Goldman Sach's fault for that? I'd be much more inclined to agree with you that the way the global economy operates, on how Congress deals with trade agreements, and the unequal playing grounds in various countries due to vastly different regulatory environments all rolls into creating a broken system that end up with your problem.

And CEO pay - it's ridiculous on all levels. When a Superintendent of Schools makes $187k for managing a school district of 10,000 students - that's as stupid and broken as the pay CEO's make.

I find it very funny that you think it all comes down to me thinking I'll lose my job if the financial industry loses the 'special laws' you speak of. And you think I'm dealing out tough love? That is a laugh. I was trying to have a discussion that led to the great thoughts people like symbioid had. And now I'm stuck with comments like "The irony of your arrogance could be measured in battleships." My god, my creative writing professor would have choked on that self-masturbatory 'oh I'm gonna have the mother of all insults because I'd rather insult people instead of discuss issues like a normal person' drivel.

I have no problem in being corrected about errors I may make, or admit when I'm wrong. But that is possible to accomplish in a way that is not riddled with insults and rhetoric and lacking completely in any way of useable, real information.

I have no worry about loosing my job because of laws that Congress enacts or takes away from the financial industry.

I didn't complain about "idiots" not understanding finances, either. I said: "People don't need to understand stock markets and hedge funds and derivatives. But mortgages, car loans, home equity loans, savings and checking accounts? I don't think that's asking too much." But then you go into 'explain to me credit derivatives market... or how all your models...'

Again - I think you're projecting onto me. I didn't create the models, and I don't trade derivatives (or anything else, actually). I am involved in trying to clean up the mess.

World GDP is currently $63 trillion (I hope that link works). In the article you quote, outstanding CDS's are $30 trillion (nominal value). So.. your math would be off. Valuations are typically more than profit because there is intrinsic value that is not captured in final products (revenue - the main basis of GDP) from bricks and mortar stuff to information and intellectual property.

Personally, macro and micro economics I was never very good at. Econometrics was more my thing. And I hated financial accounting and finance (Black-Scholes is the devil). If you really want me to explain how individual instruments derive their price, and how that ends up being more than world GDP (because all markets combined DO way exceed GDP), I can do that, but is there a really a point to it? But, you do have some points under all the BS.

The models - The majority of smart people in the room all thought home prices wouldn't go down. Or at least, they wouldn't bust like a fat zit. Those that disagreed were heretics. Much like the guy who won the Nobel recently for discovering crystals with more than 4 sides back in the early 1980's and was sunned from the scientific community as a nutjob for 25 years. But these weren't just the 'financial wizards' - everyone in Congress, the President, countries across the globe all were riding high on this bandwagon they jumped on after falling off the Internet bandwagon of overvaluation.

Someone had a great FPP recently that linked to a recent study about how 80% of people are actually optimists (even if they don't think so) and tend to ignore pertinent *bad* information. I suspect that with groupthink and incomplete information due to a paper-driven, manual system all contributed to those errors where smart people made very, very, very stupid assumptions. Not ignorant. Stupid.
posted by rich at 7:26 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look kid, I don’t want you to “get by” working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week. If you’re willing to put in that kind of effort, I want you to get rich. I want you to have a comprehensive healthcare plan. I want you vacationing in the Bahamas every couple of years, with your beautiful wife and healthy, happy kids. I want you rewarded for your hard work, and I want your exceptional effort to reap exceptional rewards. I want you to accumulate wealth and invest it in Wall Street. And I want you to make more money from those investments.


Brilliant. Thanks for linking that, growabrain
posted by phearlez at 7:31 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]




rich: The models - The majority of smart people in the room all thought home prices wouldn't go down. Or at least, they wouldn't bust like a fat zit. Those that disagreed were heretics. Much like the guy who won the Nobel recently for discovering crystals with more than 4 sides back in the early 1980's and was sunned from the scientific community as a nutjob for 25 years. But these weren't just the 'financial wizards' - everyone in Congress, the President, countries across the globe all were riding high on this bandwagon they jumped on after falling off the Internet bandwagon of overvaluation."

All the more reason to have strict regulations to help reduce the groupthink that lets this kind of shit happen. I think you may agree with me on this, but just wanted to point out that your argument that "everyone thought this" points out that we need a way to work on reducing the impact of collective stupidity. (I'm not even going to get into the possibility that maybe just maybe some weren't so stupid and were particularly evil, and they got off scot-free).
posted by symbioid at 7:45 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you really want me to explain how individual instruments derive their price, and how that ends up being more than world GDP (because all markets combined DO way exceed GDP), I can do that, but is there a really a point to it?

Actually, I'd find i interesting if you did.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:48 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder what it would take to get that "53%" to consider themselves part of that "99%". If someone can figure how to that, things will really start happening.

Focus on communicating a message that most can agree with. I've spent way too much time at the various Occupy websites, chats, livestreams and irc channels over the past few weeks, and I've had a good deal of success winning over skeptics by focusing on Campaign Finance Reform, aka. Getting Money out of Democracy.

This is clearly an area where corporations and the 1% have an advantage over the average citizen, and it's an issue that just about everyone can get behind.

I'll admit, my personal wishes go well beyond just reforming campaign finance regulations, but that's proven to be an issue that just about nobody I've talked to has disagreed with.

empath: I hate the banks as much as the next guy, but this annoys me. Hedging means you bet both sides of every thing so you have less exposure to any one investment. Anybody who bought those high risk, high yield mortgage portfolios SHOULD have also bet against it. That's exactly what CDS's were made for.

The problem wasn't insuring against bad debt, the problem was mostly that people were buying insurance on debt that they didn't even own, in effect gambling on other people's mortgages.

I'm pretty sure that's the point in the quote provided by Hypnotic Chick - Goldman and other banks were packaging up these securities, then selling them off to other investors as AAA and AA-rated securities, and THEN making massive bets against them via CDS. They were making a profit at the time of sale and expecting to make an even bigger profit when the things proved to be worthless.

This is even worse than buying insurance on something you don't own - this is making something that you know is toxic, selling it to someone else with a label that says "highest quality," then buying insurance on it, fully expecting it to fail (all the while, knowing you're not going to be on the hook if it fails, anyway).

It's bad enough to buy insurance on something you don't own. It's even worse to buy insurance on something that you created and sold to someone else.

If that's not malfeasance, I don't know what is.
posted by syzygy at 8:20 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


rich: It is of no benefit to companies individually and the industry in general to ahve counterparties fail for any reason.

This is simply not true in all cases. If your hedge is worth more than the original bet, and your counterparty is asking you to negotiate the terms of the original bet, it's damn well in your interest to refuse to negotiate those terms.
posted by syzygy at 8:33 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's bad enough to buy insurance on something you don't own. It's even worse to buy insurance on something that you created and sold to someone else.

Every since I learned about credit default swaps years ago and the fact that you could buy/own them against obligations you're not a party to I've found it darkly comic. Yet another way the Masters of the Universe are different from the rest of us - their online gambling is perfectly legal.

Want to go online and play some poker with real money? Nope. The Department of Justice just spent a lot of money shutting down a number of operations.

Want to go online and gamble whether Skippy will pay his mortgage? Log into your brokerage account. CDSes have largely dried up, to my understanding, but that's a result of folks being burned and nobody being willing to write/back em.

Of course we've also gotten a lot of chatter asserting that some of those poker operations were corrupt or being manipulated, so, ya know, whew! I might have lost my $100, WAY worse than AIG creating CDSes with payouts that were orders of magnitude greater than their ability to pay.
posted by phearlez at 8:55 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, I've tried to track down this 53% number and it seems fishy. The Tax Foundation publishes year to year what percent of households do not pay income tax. This is a fairly recent historical compilation that shows from 1950 the number was 28.0% and in 2007 the number was 32.6%.

In a study published in March 2010, they gave the numbers for 2008, 36.3%.

I can't find a more recent study than that.

However, in 2009, The Tax Policy Center (a different organization formed from the Brookings Institute and Urban Center) gave an estimate that due to Obama policies, in 2009 47% would not pay income tax. Hence the 53%.

However, this represents a huge jump from 36.3% (to 47%) in one year. It was only an estimate by a different group and it doesn't pass my sniff test.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:11 AM on October 13, 2011


symbioid - yes.. totally. Of course there were those who saw the movie already and gamed the system. And those folks that were called crackpots warning about things who made out if they timed it right. But I do think there was some mass delusion going on, and continues to. Lemming/herd mentality. And I agree regulations need to be better. My experience, though, is that regulation from direct legislation doesn't work. Congress doesn't have the expertise to be playing in the space, and when things change quickly, as it always does, it's not nimble enough to keep up (one of the reasons derivatives got so out of hand, as well as the short selling). Congress also tends to legislate things that aren't technically feasible or implementable, but could be if structured/mandated in a different fashion (and would be a whole lot more effective).

So, how to implement? My humble idea is a mix of the current SRO type system, the SEC/Fed and the industry organizations like SIFMA, ISDA, etc.. If all financial companies are required to pay a fee to create a government sponsored SRO, and Congress passes legislation detailing policy, not actual implementation, it could work. The OFR (Office of Financial Reporting) that was created as per the Frank Dodd act is almost what I'm thinking of.. but that is still somewhat directly run by Congress. Something like the DTCC/Central Counterparty companies where firms have to provide capital in the equity markets to help guarantee trades done in the event someone does go bust. That model actually works pretty well.

syzygy - Yes, you're right. I was hasty in that all-encompassing statement. I got called out on that. As for 'expecting them to be worthless and making lots of money' - I really don't think the majority got into the game with that thought. I think they convinced themselves the bubble wasn't a bubble and as long as they kept swapping the things around, they were minting free money and everyone was making cash.

The mid and back office guys never get the attention, but I know the majority of them were all talking and working on the premise that something bad was going to happen and they were trying to figure out how to prevent that from happening, or at least mitigate it.

phearlez - agree. I still can't believe all the things they can make securities out of. Though the idea of buying and selling things you don't actually own isn't new. That's the whole idea behind puts and calls. Buying the right to buy or sell, and then reselling those rights without actually ever buying the stock.

adamdschneider - Sure. I'm stronger on certain products than others. I don't want to clutter this space up with all that, though.. if you have questions about certain products or anything, drop me a memail and I can see what I can do.
posted by rich at 9:46 AM on October 13, 2011


And if I wasn't clear, I don't think that 25% of mortgage holders are idiots. I don't think people who got into untenable mortgages are free of blame and responsibility, however.

Perhaps the disconnect is thus:

Technically, the information that smoking cigarettes promotes cancer is out and available, and smokers may technically not be free of blame and responsibility for educating themselves about the dangers of smoking. However, the FDA still found that cigarette manufacturers had a responsibility to put large and prominent warnings on their products, and to cease and desist from marketing cigarettes on television. Simply noting that the information exists and thus people should have educated themselves does not mean that they will DO it, and if your product is doing more harm than good, perhaps the information is not as easily obtained as one may have hoped, which puts some of the onus for consumer edification back onto the service provider.

And I have tried to repeatedly explain my position that there is plenty of blame on all sides, and blaming any one person, group or otherwise is pointless and counterproductive.

And perhaps the disconnect here is that you may be stating this fact more so in defense of the banks than you are doing so in defense of the customers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


phearlez - agree. I still can't believe all the things they can make securities out of. Though the idea of buying and selling things you don't actually own isn't new. That's the whole idea behind puts and calls. Buying the right to buy or sell, and then reselling those rights without actually ever buying the stock.

Yes, though that really is only completely disconnected from the actual when it's a naked operation. It's another good argument for a transparent market (and the people who are all moist over the Invisible Hand should love the idea since Smith said that's why it would work) rather than this swamp of hidden crap that seems, to me, to be the top cause for all this disaster.
posted by phearlez at 12:01 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]




And further proof the Tea Party is now just fucking Republican propaganda instead of a grassroots movement.
posted by symbioid at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2011


Illustrative protest sign.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:31 PM on October 13, 2011






From Tea party goes after Occupy Wall Street:

“The left is trying to create a counter force to the tea party, but it’s almost laughable that anyone is comparing the two, because they’re totally different,” said Sal Russo, chief strategist for the Tea Party Express.


Sal Russo is completely correct here; it's absurd that anyone would compare these two groups. The Occupiers are against rich corporate sponsors getting involved in politics and news agencies continuing to act as a propaganda arm of one party, whereas the Tea Party is directly funded and receives material and message support from those same sponsors and agencies.

Anyone who's paying attention should be able to see how totally different they are. One is grass roots, the other is astroturf.
posted by quin at 1:05 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's that clear. There is clearly a genuine undercurrent of rage among right wingers that was available to be directed by political operatives to the advantage of the GOP, but I think its equally available to be directed toward general discontent at the system itself. The OWS people would do well to sincerely reach out to them.

All we need to agree on is that the system sucks. After we break its will, we can figure out what to do next.
posted by empath at 1:15 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This Erickson actually thinks he "works" three fucking jobs??
Erick Erickson, Founder Of ‘We Are The 53%’ Site, Whines About His Brand New House And Well Paid CNN Gig

"The three jobs Erickson wants you to believe he scrapes by on include occasional paid opinion blogging at RedState.com, a lucrative television contract with CNN, and a radio gig that paid the previous host $165,183 a year (Herman Cain’s financial disclosures show he was paid this amount before Erickson took over his spot). The house Erickson can’t sell? Bibb County, Georgia records reveal that Erickson just bought a new $374,900 house in February of this year, and owns another that, according to an estimate by the website Zillow, might be worth slightly less than the amount he paid for it in 2001. And its likely that Erickson’s CNN job alone provides him with a personal driver and covered travel expenses when he needs to appear on the show. ...

"–Erickson’s Blog Caught In Pay-For-Blogging Scheme Orchestrated By Malaysian Lobbyists: The most unusual example of RedState’s fraudulent blogging may be the case of Josh Trevino, RedState’s co-founder. The government of Malaysia paid a consulting firm owned by Trevino and other regular RedState contributors to promote the ruling party using various conservative websites. Trevino, who recently collaborated with Erickson to created “We Are The 53%” site, even sponsored blogger meet and greets and fake media town halls with the current Malaysian prime minister. ..."

Read the whole thing, as they say.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:16 PM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


WE ARE THE 0.00053% OF UNREGISTERED MALAYSIAN LOBBYISTS
posted by benzenedream at 1:59 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Went back to see more posts on the 53% site. It's so sad. How can they sit there reading and writing all this and not realise they are being screwed?
posted by mumimor at 2:07 PM on October 13, 2011


rich: There was no massive conspiracy.

Of course not.

We just had a financial services industry whose profits, in 2001, accounted for a record, WHOPPING 45.8% of total US corporate profits. This from a sector that doesn't 'make' anything tangible.

We had a financial sector that, in 9 years, starting with 2,000, spent more on lobbying and political campaign donations than any other single industry - $2,840,000,000 in publicly-reported spending on election campaigns and lobbying efforts, to be exact. Who knows how much was spent on think tanks and other types of 'soft' lobbying that doesn't require public reporting?

From the same link:
When we write history books we will wonder why the government seemed to coincidentally do the things that favor Goldman Sachs and somehow in extremis get them out of trouble. -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Not to mention that the secretary of the treasury from 2006-2009 was a former CEO of Goldman, or that Geithner hired a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, Mark Patterson, as his chief of staff or that the New York Fed chairman, Steven Friedman also served on Goldman Sachs' board or that Hank Paulson installed Goldman's vice chairman, Ed Liddy as the CEO at AIG after the government took AIG over.

Then there's this:
Philip Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, at a hearing held by his panel on Jan. 13 (2010), questioned how banks could underwrite poisonous securities and then bet against them. “It sounds to me a little bit like selling a car with faulty brakes and then buying an insurance policy on the buyer of those cars,” he said.
And this:
The Securities and Exchange Commission securities fraud complaint against Goldman Sachs (GS) and Fabrice Tourre makes for some fascinating reading. In essence, it says that Mr. Tourre, a Goldman employee who is now 31, back in 2007 helped John Paulson's hedge fund set up a "synthetic collateralized debt obligation" so that Mr. Paulson's hedge fund could short it -- and then went out and sold the long side of the security to other investors without adequately disclosing that the whole security had been designed with Mr. Paulson's cooperation for Mr. Paulson to short.
Plus $10 billion in TARP money, a further $20.9 billion of long-term borrowing secured by the FDIC and access to the Fed Window (all of which was made possible by the New York Fed when Goldman became a "Bank Holding Company" in September 2008 - Remember Steven Friedman was chairman of the NY Fed at the time, and Goldman was only able to become a Bank Holding Company because of the repeal of the restrictions in the Glass-Steagall act).

And less than a year after Goldman received its bailout and various other support from the US gevernment, I mean taxpayers, there's this:
Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.
Or this:
Gretchen Morgenson reported that Goldman Sachs was A.I.G.’s largest trading partner, with some $20 billion of exposure to the insurance giant. Goldman subsequently said its exposure to risk from A.I.G. was hedged by other investments.
'Conspiracy' may not be the right word, but you've sure picked an interesting industry to characterize (and I'm paraphrasing) as a pitiable scapegoat who needs to be protected from the rage of the unwashed masses.
posted by syzygy at 2:27 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or this:
A CBS News analysis of the revolving door between Goldman and government reveals at least four dozen former employees, lobbyists or advisers at the highest reaches of power both in Washington and around the world.
Or this:
Exclusive: Goldman Sachs VP Changed His Name, Now Advances Goldman Lobbying Interests As Top Staffer To (Republican Congressman and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) Darrell Issa
posted by syzygy at 12:47 AM on October 14, 2011


There was a pretty neat moment on NPR's "The Takeaway" morning show. They had a brief segment where they spoke to the communications director for the 501c-3 that founded We Are The 53%, and with a random person in OWS.

The host spoke first to the 53% guy, asking him what the blog was about. He rattled off the standard "53% of the Americans that pay taxes" stuff. Then the host turned to the OWS guy and asked his opinions on "this blog that has come up in opposition to OWS."

"Oh, but we're not in opposition," the OWS guy said. "In fact, a lot of the people down here among the 99% are also part OF that 53%."

Cue stammering and stuttering and backpedalling from the 53% guy.

It's a little too soon for a transcript, but the OWS guy pretty much kept up that level of verbal judo throughout the interview.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:40 AM on October 14, 2011


EmpressCallipygos - The only thing is, mortgages aren't addicting. And there *are* better mortages than others (which in cigarettes, there isn't). But I agree with your point, and I *do* think mortgage brokers and sellers of products that have hidden costs (cars, etc) should be looking out for the interests of the buyer in a fiduciary way. I don't completely agree that there isn't a lot of educating material out there for mortgages, but that's tangential to what you're getting at...

That there should be some level of fiduciary responsibility put upon mortgage brokers (and other sorts of financial advisors). The disclosure that the broker or advisor is not working for you should be clear and up front, as titles and 'certifications' and various licenses obscure those facts. (like mortgage brokers, the majority of financial advisors also hold no fiduciary responsibility, unless you are paying them a management fee versus commissions).

The tough thing is finding the right line between transparency and leaving the seller the ability to make some sort of profit.. and who should determine that line or the margin allowable?

"And perhaps the disconnect here is that you may be stating this fact more so in defense of the banks than you are doing so in defense of the customers."

Well, to be fair, it probably appeared that way because, aside from one or two others, I have been the only person not pointing the finger at the banks and yelling "Bad banks!" The customers have plenty of defenders, anyway. On MeFi, at least! (smile)

phearlez - yes, hence all the hoopla over 'naked short selling' (which for the people here that don't know - 'naked' is not a good term and not equatable with transparent. Naked basically means you are selling something you don't have, or haven't made arrangements to get through a pending buy or borrow).

"rather than this swamp of hidden crap that seems, to me, to be the top cause for all this disaster."

Again, I agree.. although I if the markets were more efficient on the back end, I don't think the hidden crap would have gotten to the point it did. It's the efficiency paradox - in bad times, companies won't spend on mid/back office automation and systems because it's a capital cost. In good times, they just hire more people instead of trying to address costs and automation.

I describe everything outside the equity markets as the 3rd world, or the wild west. Equities were automated from pure paper years ago because volume threatened to bring the street to a halt. Markets became more efficient. That drove equities to a commodity business. Fixed income, FX - the other big two "standard" markets are a far cry from the efficiencies within the equity world. And that causes a lot of pain, errors, and whatnot. So Fixed Income has been around since markets started. Imagine the state of disarray for newer instruments.

syzygy - "We just had a financial services industry whose profits, in 2001, accounted for a record, WHOPPING 45.8% of total US corporate profits. This from a sector that doesn't 'make' anything tangible."

2001. Can we pull data from some other time? That was the Internet bubble. I agree the industry makes very little tangible. It's kind of sad.

As for the Bank Holding thing - this is an example where Congress set direct legislation in motion that was a stupid idea. They figured if they forced the brokers to become "Banks" that would let Congress have more direct control over them via banking regulations (which Brokers were not subject to, for good reasons in most cases). Meanwhile, it just furthered the issues that Glass Steagall has sought to prevent and I think everyone's suffering from that move.

'Conspiracy' may not be the right word, but you've sure picked an interesting industry to characterize (and I'm paraphrasing) as a pitiable scapegoat who needs to be protected from the rage of the unwashed masses.


I do think the industry is being used as a scapegoat and distraction from the real issues and problems. I don't think it's pitiable. And I prefer the unwashed masses to be as educated about what they're bitching about as possible. It's a problem I have with Tea Partiers, 'Intelligent Design' proponents, supporters of the (second) Iraq war, the anti-union actions in Wisconsin and New Jersey, the NEA's responses to attacks on them, and what I have been talking about here.

I have no illusions that the finance industry needs reform badly. But it needs attention on areas that Congress and others really don't know about or understand enough to legislate correctly (in my opinion). The tax code in the country needs to be revised, which also will influence the financial sector.

Rage without knowledge is an unwashed mob. Rage with knowledge and focus is revolution.
posted by rich at 6:58 AM on October 14, 2011


The tough thing is finding the right line between transparency and leaving the seller the ability to make some sort of profit.. and who should determine that line or the margin allowable?

To continue the analogy, then -- what a lot of the people are complaining about, in essence, is that "the line between transparency and lettting the seller make some sort of profit is DEFINITELY in the wrong place." There is information about how to get a good mortgage, but not enough of it, and it's not catered to the right audience. The disclaimers about how your broker is not quite working for you as such is not clear enough right now, and that needs to change.

Rage without knowledge is an unwashed mob. Rage with knowledge and focus is revolution.

Sometimes rage without knowledge is necessary to attract the people with knowledge and bring them out of apathy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 AM on October 14, 2011


rich: As for the Bank Holding thing - this is an example where Congress set direct legislation in motion that was a stupid idea.

Are you talking about the Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999 here, the one that effectively repealed some of the regulations set in place by the Glass Steagall act?

If so, that act was passed in congress at the behest of the financial services industry - see the merger between Citi and Travellers and the $300MM of lobbying efforts from the financial services industry to get Gramm Leach Bliley passed mentioned earlier in this thread.

Are you saying people shouldn't be upset that the financial services industry plays dishonest games with other peoples' money, practically buys politicians and plays such an outsized role in our economy (the number is 28.72% of corporate profits as of Dec 2010, with a definite upward trend)?
posted by syzygy at 7:11 AM on October 14, 2011


As for the Bank Holding thing - this is an example where Congress set direct legislation in motion that was a stupid idea. They figured if they forced the brokers to become "Banks" that would let Congress have more direct control over them via banking regulations (which Brokers were not subject to, for good reasons in most cases). Meanwhile, it just furthered the issues that Glass Steagall has sought to prevent and I think everyone's suffering from that move.

Nobody "forced" the brokers to become banks. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act erased the distinction between several industries which had been previously forbidden to conglomerate. And so, they conglomerated, because people at the top thought this was a totally great idea and not at all a terrible idea, especially in light of increased volatility (sorry, "creativity") in the financial world and the removal of important conflict of interest provisions.

The fact that other regulation ensued as a result of Glass-Steagall's effective repeal does not mean that regulation itself was the villain. Glass-Steagall was a strong and effective piece of regulation. What this shows instead is the truism that deregulation does not always make life simpler. As a matter of fact, deregulation often produces more regulation as a result, whether that regulation is public or private.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:15 AM on October 14, 2011


Sitcherbeast: Nobody "forced" the brokers to become banks.

In all fairness, it seems the NY Fed may have forced Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to become bank holding companies in order to be eligible for TARP monies, access to the Fed Window and FDIC guarantees and other bailout 'goodies'.

Although it looks like both banks may be considering converting back to investment banks now that things in the sector have quieted down. They got their bailout money, weathered the storm, and now feel that the stricter regulations for bank holding companies are holding them back.
posted by syzygy at 7:34 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


In all fairness, it seems the NY Fed may have forced Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to become bank holding companies in order to be eligible for TARP monies, access to the Fed Window and FDIC guarantees and other bailout 'goodies'.

That's not force, that's the use of incentives. They wanted TARP monies etc., so they took the deal.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:36 AM on October 14, 2011


Sorry if I wasn't clear - I wasn't referring to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act.. I was glibly inferring that if the brokers did NOT become financial holding companies, versus pure broker dealers, they would not have had access to the TARP money. Which was Congress' plan, because they figured they'd be able to reign in the brokers by forcing them to become higher-regulated banks. (on preview - you both got it. Sticherbeast - Congress wanted to incent the brokers to convert. Yes. Why? They figured they could control them better. It was a stupid idea)

But I'm wondering why I'm getting such backlash on this being that we all seem to agree that the repeal of Glass-Steagell was a bad idea (which also, by the way, set overarching policy to be implemented and enforced by regulators as opposed to be proscriptive legislation)

"Are you saying people shouldn't be upset that the financial services industry plays dishonest games with other peoples' money, practically buys politicians and plays such an outsized role in our economy "

Umm... no. I didn't realize that was all you were hearing from me. I guess I really suck at this communication thing. Go Banks. Rape and pillage the masses. Yay.

EmpressCallipygos - totally agree. But sometimes that mob full of rage eats the people with knowledge up and spits them out because they don't care about anything but the rage. (but, yes, I agree with you.. we could go tit for tat back and forth on the finer points for ages.. but I think we agree, no? Time to shift more towards use of knowledge? We've had years of rage.. this Wall Street protest is just the latest spin on it. Given the attention it's gotten, I just wish the knowledge was in place already, y'know?)
posted by rich at 7:39 AM on October 14, 2011


But sometimes that mob full of rage eats the people with knowledge up and spits them out because they don't care about anything but the rage.

....I'm not really seeing any indication that that's going to happen in this case, though, do you? In fact, I'm seeing more the opposite. The type of spittle-flecked invective you're talking about seems to be more apparent in the counter-protests.

Time to shift more towards use of knowledge? We've had years of rage.. this Wall Street protest is just the latest spin on it. Given the attention it's gotten, I just wish the knowledge was in place already, y'know?

Getting the knowledge more in place, to a wider audience, is what the protests are also all about. In order to get people interested in changing their lot, you first have to present them with evidence that their lot needs to BE changed. A lot of the people in the counter-protest are scoffing that they're not whining, they're busting their ass and working 70 hours a week on two jobs and getting the job done. Those are people who need to realize, "wait, why should it be necessary for me to work two jobs just to get by?"

The knowledge is out there, but more people need to realize that they need it in the first place. Up until this point, the people who were raging against the machine were written off as weird outliers, and what this protest is doing is alerting people that "no, it's NOT just weird hippy freaks who are affected by this crap, you are too."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:45 AM on October 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


But I'm wondering why I'm getting such backlash on this being that we all seem to agree that the repeal of Glass-Steagell was a bad idea (which also, by the way, set overarching policy to be implemented and enforced by regulators as opposed to be proscriptive legislation)

We have some common ground here. Clear, proscriptive rules are often superior to fine-grained regulations and bureaucracy with oodles of wiggle room and neon-lit opportunities for agency capture.

On the other hand, I'm unclear on what was so dumb about them agreeing to stricter regulations in exchange for TARP monies and so on. What specific negatives have ensued as a result of this provision, as opposed to what would have happened if there had been fewer strings attached to the government resources? After the companies pay back the TARP money, they can go off the extra scrutiny - and after Glass-Steagall lurches back into life, which is something we would all like to happen, they would have to zip off into smaller, more aerodynamic forms.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:57 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos - I'm talking more about the knowledge and perspective we've been on here debating over the course of - what - 4 days now! My perspective is the focus on a villain (Wall Street in this instance) keeps away broader outward support, and more importantly, it limits the ability to bubble up a focus on the issues (transparency, reform, etc) versus the message (banks are bad, booo!)

I see spittle-flecked invective on both sides. I was downtown yesterday and walking by a small group of 20-somethings, one with a video camera, they were calmly discussing how best to get arrested. The actual conversation; dude 1: "Dude - I'm going to get arrested!" dude 2 - "Arrested? Did you say arrested?". Dude 1 - "Yeah, we'll get it on camera. It'll be great."

"In order to get people interested in changing their lot, you first have to present them with evidence that their lot needs to BE changed." - agree, but you can't convince them with misinformation, falsehoods and poor messaging - and that has been my main point from the beginning.

Sticherbeast - yes, except I'd like prescriptive, not proscriptive rules. (i.e. intent is to prevent brokers acting in bad faith versus "broker will not do x or y." Because then broker just does z, a and b, which are in bad faith, but not prevented by proscriptive rule.)

As for the whole dumb thing - Congress was playing a game, and introduced this whole transformation to financial holdings company thing believing they'd have more direct control. Which they really didn't end up with (being that the holding company was held to the regulations, but not the underlying arm - which would have been prevented by Glass Steagall in the first place). Congress could have just written into the TARP money acceptance conditions that they'd submit to the same regulatory oversight for the period they had the money (versus this holding company charade which really doesn't benefit anyone).

It would have set precedent for rules on brokerage firms, and it would be more difficult to play shell games with companies (holding companies can hide things much better).

Why it went the way it did is a whole other topic that's been covered, and was reflective of the self-interest and partisan infighting that ends up with the government playing games instead of passing things that are right and good for the people.
posted by rich at 8:38 AM on October 14, 2011


Sticherbeast That's not force, that's the use of incentives. They wanted TARP monies etc., so they took the deal.

I understand where you're coming from, but the relevant question here is whether it was a 'do or die' situation. That is, were Goldman and Morgan Stanley in danger of going under without the bailout money? If so, 'forced' may not be a bad characterization of what happened.

But I'm not really interested in splitting hairs on it...
posted by syzygy at 8:45 AM on October 14, 2011


Rich, I'm not quite sure what you're getting at, but that may be more my fault than yours, so I'm just gonna shrug and say "let's table this for another time."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 AM on October 14, 2011


A History of Conservative Panic
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on October 14, 2011




Video: Fox News Host's Bizarre Attack On Occupy Wall Street.
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on October 15, 2011


Who is that guy Bob Beckel who was against all the other ones and supporting the OWS while criticizing the tea party protestors in that Fox News video, ericb? What is he doing on Fox News? Why am I agreeing with someone on Fox News? My head hurts.
posted by sweetkid at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2011




Symbioid's link, btw, is to a Redditor's analysis that proves -- PROVES -- that at least one of the 53% photo stories is a complete fabrication.
posted by yesster at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2011


three blind mice: "The 53% doesn't see themselves as part of the 99%, because they see themselves as on the way to being part of the 1%."

My favorite version: As a potential lottery winner, I support the Bush tax cuts.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:53 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]






Follow the sheep to their shearing? No thanks.
yeah don't want to be one of the people those sheep pull
I would be totally behind a moderate, say 7-10% tax on wealth. Think how much money the govt will pull in that will allow it, with moderate and sane reductions in spending to balance it's books
┐('~`;)┌ sane reductions hm
The entire legal and cultural system is set up as a machine designed to produce wealth and reward enterprising activity. It is not a machine that rewards poetry or classics or the fine arts. Other places in the world are much better at that. If those things are of the utmost importance to you, go to those places and be happy. Don't stay here, like the square peg trying to fit into the round hole, and be miserable.
oh lord

thank you for saying this, it puts everything else into such clear perspective
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:30 PM on October 16, 2011


I'm against Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sydney (seriously) because I think it's useless, but I accept that OWS are on the side of Good
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:33 PM on October 16, 2011


That imgur is a pretty interesting example for another reason: Anyone looking at that image and really seeing it should have immediately known it was fake because of the uniformity of the shadow. The faker was clever enough to ensure that the shadow didn't extend to places there couldn't be a shadow -- but he wasn't clever enough to change its texture when it was projected onto uneven or curved surfaces, like the slope going up over the guy's breastbone and trapezium.

[have i spelled 'trapezium' right? I always thought it was 'trapezius', but Chrome's spell checker tells me it ends in 'm', not 's'...
posted by lodurr at 5:35 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


to answer my own aside: no, google got it wrong (as did I, for listening to them).
posted by lodurr at 5:36 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


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