The PJ Tatler

Scenes from the So-Called 99%

Our third foray into the “We Are the 99 Percent” web site finds that while they still don’t represent 99% of America — who does? — some of the photo posters accidentally make sense. Take this one, for instance.

She has clearly done the math, and found that she is taxed enough already. That being the case, the movement she’s looking for probably isn’t the one that’s camped out in parks and pooping on police cars.

This one should have done the math before pursuing a classical studies degree.

As I wrote in the first “open letter,” no one cares about much of the stuff that seems earth-shakingly vital when we’re in the throes of getting a degree. The world doesn’t need scholars all that much, it needs engineers and nurses and people with actual usable trades or skills. It needs people with a work ethic and ambition. It needs people who can adapt. The volunteer hours with a Greek organization won’t matter much unless your job interviewer happens to have been a member of the same organization. And if that’s the case, your networking will help, a lot. In fact, networking is probably the most useful, least taught skill at any university. Adaptation as circumstances change is a close second.

If you made the choice, why are you whining? And what are the rest of us supposed to do about it?

Let’s quote from this one, to distill it a bit.

I’m $31,000 in debt from my education, and the average yearly salary where I live is $19,000. Household is $31,000. I would gladly pay double my taxes to not have the stress of mounting educational and medical bills for the rest of my adult life.

Clearly she didn’t do the math, or she would have done one of two things: Skipped the debt, since the jobs in her area don’t pay that well; or moved somewhere where there are better paying jobs available that make the expensive education worth it.

And whatever you do, never ever say that you will “gladly pay double” in taxes. The elected will take you up on that. And you’ll still have plenty to worry about. Government is not put on this earth to make your life worry-free. The sooner you get that notion out of your head, the better off we’ll all be.

This guy could’ve stopped after the first sentence of his poster. It explains much.

And finally…

I don’t mean to mock anyone and I’m not one to quarrel with the value of an education, but the content of that education matters. What does the modern university actually teach about citizenship? When it comes to getting and keeping a job, a degree is a utility, a means to an end. The common thread that keeps emerging from many of these photos (excepting the ones posted by people who ran into major health problems through no fault of their own, or who voted for Obama and now expect that keeping him in office will change anything for the better) is that the higher educational establishment sold them a bill of goods. It made it too easy for them to rack up huge debt, while teaching them little to nothing about what the real economy needs and values in workers. The professors keep their tenure, the university presidents keep their lavish homes and manicured lawns, and the students who pay exorbitant fees to keep the bubble inflated get left unprepared for the real world, with little but a lifetime of debt to show for it.

Many of these protesters have legitimate beefs. They’re just misdirecting their anger, thanks both to the political rhetoric coming from the White House, and to the poor quality of the education their hard work has purchased.