Here is my response:
I am a college graduate. I have a BA and an MA. I pay for all of my living expenses by working as a teacher in a public high school. I pay for some of my husband’s expenses, too – he’s a disabled American veteran finishing his undergraduate degree on the G.I. Bill. Between the two of us, we support our young son.
I’m not debt free, but I make smart choices. I have two credit cards, but rarely use them. I have a car payment I can afford, we have a mortgage we can manage on a modest home, and when I graduated from grad school, I consolidated the education loans I took to pay for my education. I’ll have them paid off in another 14 years. I buy things I want when I can afford them, but don’t buy things when I can’t. We don’t get to travel much. I drive a Honda. I’m ok with that – I’m proud of myself for making my own way and taking care of myself. I don’t complain or feel bitter that other people have more than me. And I don’t feel bad that I have more than others. I worked for what I have, and will continue to work until I have more. That’s the work ethic my parents instilled in me.
My husband and I manage our debt because we live below our means – we even save money. When he got out of the military and we moved to the East Coast, I could only find a part time job. We made it work, because we had responsibilities. We didn’t believe being bailed out or shirking our duties was an option. It has never occurred to me to not make a payment, even when it meant liquidating my investment fund from the Florida Retirement System when I was in a tight spot.
I understand how our government works. That’s my job. I am appalled at the lack of knowledge about the way our government works in the so-called “Millennial” generation, and subsequently the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Technically, I’m part of this generation, but I don’t claim them. I’m aware that not everyone in this world is given a fair shake or starts on a level playing field, but that doesn’t excuse the pervasive sense of entitlement present in young America.
An unprecedented half of Americans currently collect some form of assistance from the government. My husband is part of this half – but he risked his life and paid for that assistance with his blood, sweat, and tears. I think he deserves it because he earned it. Merely breathing isn’t earning it.
If making less than $350,000 a year makes me part of the 99%, then yes, I am part of the 99%. But I’m not delusional enough to blame Wall Street for the nation’s economic problems or believe that protesting in front of office buildings will bring change. If you believe there is a problem, then realize that the real problem is in Washington, not Wall Street. Wall Street’s actions may be unethical or immoral, but they are not illegal. Since the Clinton administration, legislation has been passed enabling Wall Street to behave the way it does. The bottom line is, if you have a problem, take a Civics course. New legislation is the only thing that will make meaningful change, and the only way to bring new legislation to the floor of the House or Senate is through a member of Congress. While you’re at it, review the concept of a social contract. It’s an agreement between the government and the governed – not the people and the people.
It’s a dog eat dog world, and capitalism is what America great. I spend over 40 hours a week dealing with teenagers who expect to have everything handed to them on a silver platter and need their hands held. I’m sick of seeing it in “adults” in society, too.