The Occupy Wall Street Fleabaggers Are the New Luddites

America was founded on the principle that all men are decent and honest, unless proven otherwise. This is why the debtor’s prisons of England became a thing of the past after the revolution. Americans are allowed to file for bankruptcy, and become clear of their debts without punitive action taken by the courts, with the notable exception of student loan debt. For the past two decades American college students have charged up a storm, which wouldn’t be a problem except for the economic collapse of 2008. These changes in the American economy have devalued liberal arts education. Held so dear by so many Americans as a way to “get ahead”, the end of this path is a root cause of anxiety for so many of those camped out at various “occupy” tent cities. The Fleabaggers who now protest corporate greed don’t like what happened to their lifestyle, and potential upward mobility. That 4-year degree used to be a ticket to the good life: a home, a car, a medical plan, and enough left over for some vacations with the kids. Those days are now gone, possibly forever.

Having worked in the academic environment at a major university for most of my life, I watched the transition unfold. Relentless increases in the cost of a college education made it unaffordable for most students, unless they took out student loans. Easy to get, and easier to spend, those loans provided a lifestyle boom for that campus experience. When I went to college, I worked long hours at manual labor jobs to pay the bills. I didn’t even own a phone, or a car. I had one pair of shoes. Even then I still borrowed $10,000 for my education, and had to drop out of graduate school because I simply couldn’t afford to go on. I was 42 years old when I finally sent that last payment into Sallie Mae. It was a long, hard road.

Now I can only imagine what those Fleabaggers owe in the way of college loans. Nationally, student loan debt now exceeds total household credit card debt at over one trillion dollars. Some have likened the new American Dream as being something akin to the old robber-baron days where you worked for the company your whole life, and always had to shop at the company store. After five or ten years of hard labor, you find yourself deeper in debt than ever before. The 1% isn’t stupid. They own these people in a modern day form of debt slavery. No wonder the favorite chant of the protestors is “They got bailed out, we got sold out”. They are absolutely right about that. When the economic system became unstable because of Wall Street speculation, the robber-barons got bailed out by the debt slaves. Now there is a slave revolt in the making. Historically, slave revolts are usually violent, and full of retribution. I don’t know where this one is going, but my advice to the 1% is: don’t mock them.

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