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The Making of the American 99% and the Collapse of the Middle Class

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Posted on Dec 17, 2011
BlaisOne (CC-BY)

By Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich

(Page 2)

There was, as well, another inescapable problem embedded in the right-wing populist strategy: even by 2000, and certainly by 2010, the class of people who might qualify as part of the “liberal elite” was in increasingly bad repair. Public-sector budget cuts and corporate-inspired reorganizations were decimating the ranks of decently paid academics, who were being replaced by adjunct professors working on bare subsistence incomes. Media firms were shrinking their newsrooms and editorial budgets. Law firms had started outsourcing their more routine tasks to India. Hospitals beamed X-rays to cheap foreign radiologists. Funding had dried up for nonprofit ventures in the arts and public service. Hence the iconic figure of the Occupy movement: the college graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debts and a job paying about $10 a hour, or no job at all.

These trends were in place even before the financial crash hit, but it took the crash and its grim economic aftermath to awaken the 99% to a widespread awareness of shared danger. In 2008, “Joe the Plumber’s” intention to earn a quarter-million dollars a year still had some faint sense of plausibility. A couple of years into the recession, however, sudden downward mobility had become the mainstream American experience, and even some of the most reliably neoliberal media pundits were beginning to announce that something had gone awry with the American dream.

Once-affluent people lost their nest eggs as housing prices dropped off cliffs. Laid-off middle-aged managers and professionals were staggered to find that their age made them repulsive to potential employers. Medical debts plunged middle-class households into bankruptcy. The old conservative dictum—that it was unwise to criticize (or tax) the rich because you might yourself be one of them someday—gave way to a new realization that the class you were most likely to migrate into wasn’t the rich, but the poor.

And here was another thing many in the middle class were discovering: the downward plunge into poverty could occur with dizzying speed. One reason the concept of an economic 99% first took root in America rather than, say, Ireland or Spain is that Americans are particularly vulnerable to economic dislocation. We have little in the way of a welfare state to stop a family or an individual in free-fall. Unemployment benefits do not last more than six months or a year, though in a recession they are sometimes extended by Congress. At present, even with such an extension, they reach only about half the jobless. Welfare was all but abolished 15 years ago, and health insurance has traditionally been linked to employment.

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In fact, once an American starts to slip downward, a variety of forces kick in to help accelerate the slide. An estimated 60% of American firms now check applicants’ credit ratings, and discrimination against the unemployed is widespread enough to have begun to warrant Congressional concern. Even bankruptcy is a prohibitively expensive, often crushingly difficult status to achieve. Failure to pay government-imposed fines or fees can even lead, through a concatenation of unlucky breaks, to an arrest warrant or a criminal record. Where other once-wealthy nations have a safety net, America offers a greased chute, leading down to destitution with alarming speed.

Making Sense of the 99%

The Occupation encampments that enlivened approximately 1,400 cities this fall provided a vivid template for the 99%’s growing sense of unity. Here were thousands of people—we may never know the exact numbers—from all walks of life, living outdoors in the streets and parks, very much as the poorest of the poor have always lived: without electricity, heat, water, or toilets. In the process, they managed to create self-governing communities.

General assembly meetings brought together an unprecedented mix of recent college graduates, young professionals, elderly people, laid-off blue-collar workers, and plenty of the chronically homeless for what were, for the most part, constructive and civil exchanges. What started as a diffuse protest against economic injustice became a vast experiment in class building. The 99%, which might have seemed to be a purely aspirational category just a few months ago, began to will itself into existence.

Can the unity cultivated in the encampments survive as the Occupy movement evolves into a more decentralized phase?  All sorts of class, racial, and cultural divisions persist within that 99%, including distrust between members of the former “liberal elite” and those less privileged. It would be surprising if they didn’t. The life experience of a young lawyer or a social worker is very different from that of a blue-collar worker whose work may rarely allow for biological necessities like meal or bathroom breaks. Drum circles, consensus decision-making, and masks remain exotic to at least the 90%. “Middle class” prejudice against the homeless, fanned by decades of right-wing demonization of the poor, retains much of its grip.

Sometimes these differences led to conflict in Occupy encampments—for example, over the role of the chronically homeless in Portland or the use of marijuana in Los Angeles—but amazingly, despite all the official warnings about health and safety threats, there was no “Altamont moment”: no major fires and hardly any violence.  In fact, the encampments engendered almost unthinkable convergences: people from comfortable backgrounds learning about street survival from the homeless, a distinguished professor of political science discussing horizontal versus vertical decision-making with a postal worker, military men in dress uniforms showing up to defend the occupiers from the police.

Class happens, as Thompson said, but it happens most decisively when people are prepared to nourish and build it. If the “99%” is to become more than a stylish meme, if it’s to become a force to change the world, eventually we will undoubtedly have to confront some of the class and racial divisions that lie within it. But we need to do so patiently, respectfully, and always with an eye to the next big action—the next march, or building occupation, or foreclosure fight, as the situation demands.

Barbara Ehrenreich, TomDispatch regular, is the author of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” (now in a 10th anniversary edition with a new afterword).

John Ehrenreich is professor of psychology at the State University of New York, College at Old Westbury. He wrote “The Humanitarian Companion: A Guide for International Aid, Development and Human Rights Workers.”

This is a joint TomDispatch/Nation article and appears in print at The Nation magazine.

Copyright 2011 Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich


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By terry p, April 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pat:

“What brilliant economist created millions for companies but left Americans as beggars? And who were they working for?”

Read “The Family” by Jeff Sharlet

tp:?]

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By Pat, March 21, 2012 at 4:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks to the great American bailout of predatory banks, engineered by Bush & Company with the aid of Bain & Company, millions of silver spoons were stolen from Americans.

Not only is there no chicken for every pot, the pot was stolen too.

Finally, a worthy debate for the 2012 election on the American economy of why spoons were gifted to foreign nations while America goes spoonless.

Constitutional loyalty and American unity wasn’t meant to include the world until after America met its own needs; prosperity begins at home, as does charity.

What brilliant economist created millions for companies but left Americans as beggars? And who were they working for?

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By ardee, December 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Project Mayhem, December 20 at 3:48 am

One does what one can…I was really rewarded by that personal message he sent me and laughed uproariously at his signing it Rico.

I ,too, wonder at those who respond still to the vacuousness of his sterile mind. Some need easy targets I guess, or have a need to state the obvious . For me the turbo scroll works wonderfully well.

I am now awaiting the confession of heterochromatic admitting to being GRYM.

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By terry p, December 21, 2011 at 11:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is pretty easy, here, to distinguish who’s actually dependent on their own work for a living and who(for example IMax) was fortunate enough to be fed by a silver spoon from birth or somehow fell into a pile of money by the exposure of their prejudices and judgmental attitude. I’m guessing about IMax > but hey:?]

I’m just a little confused about who is thought to be the 1% problem. I’m sure it’s the banksters. But of-coarse the politicians are complicit. And there are a few who ride the gambling scene that are lucky so for like—IMax. Berney Sanders summed that up in a different article about how the politicians are basically blackmailed for their votes. Remember what happened to Elliot Spitzer about two weeks after he started exposing the banksters back in 2008 a few months before the crash. 

There was an awakening this year, by the occupiers of Wall Street and other protesting victims of the banksters and their puppet politician activated austerity programs.  IMax is threatened because the loot he proclaims to have worked for is at risk now. A new way forward scares him. Other peoples money has dried up. The only available money left is that of the 1% class which is made up of people like IMax on the take just like he is. They’re looking for victims but have already suckered them once too often. 

Find out more about how the 1%ers thrive and act. Read “The Web of Debt” by Ellen Brown for the history and facts about the banking thieves and just read IMax posts for an example of the arrogant idiotic way they proclaim to be hard working and superior. I serious doubt he knows what work is.

tp:?]

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By omop, December 21, 2011 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

mrfreeze and MG.

The bail out of WS took place because WS owns the Federal Reserve just
pure and simple.

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is master of all its
legislation and commerce.” President James Garfield.

“Give me control over a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its
laws.” M.A. Rothschild. Who by the way the Rothschild bank in England is
part owner of the US Federal Reserve.

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By mrfreeze, December 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

omop - At least Ellen De Generis is part of an industry that wasn’t “bailed out.” I’m sure many of the 1%‘ers in this country would be looking for new jobs had the government not protected their asses.

I’m all for people having wealth….but you (and most other honest folks know) that many of those at the top in this country didn’t “earn” their wealth….

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By Marian Griffith, December 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Omop

There are over 3 million people in the 1pct group. While most of them are involved directly or indirectly in the financial business, or in the lawyers that protect them and their wealth, it is obvious that there are plenty who have found other ways to earn their millions.

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By omop, December 20, 2011 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

In essence then according to Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich Ellen
De Generis and wife who reportedly bought a house for $12 million dollars
are not considered part of the 1%s.

Incidentally are Indains such as the Cherokees and others living on
reservations considered US citizens and part of the 99%s?

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By IMax, December 20, 2011 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Project Mayhem, - ‘Amusing to see posters who should know better still engaging with people who see things differently.’

What do you think this is? A Democracy? A free and open society? If you can’t simply fall-in-line we don’t need you here!

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By Dale Johnson, December 20, 2011 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The analysis over looks the obvious fact that nearly half the 99% have their consciousness so subverted that the will vote for the Republican Zombies.  Middle class whites, males in particular, take their petty privileges very seriously, even some working class hardhats see blacks and immigrants as their enemies, not the 1%, the hangers-on of management kiss the asses of their masters, all of them swallow the piss and bile of right wing ideology. Petty privilege or the ambition for it corrupt minds and waylay humanity and solidarity.  Overcoming fucked-up consiousness is one big task for the Occupy Movement.

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By Project Mayhem, December 20, 2011 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

Amusing to see posters who should know better still engaging with the Trollmax/Rico entity. That this odious bit of filth, so thoroughly debunked/exposed by the likes of Anarcissie, ardee, and myself, still gets play on these forums is somewhat odd. Given the smug, specious, often shrill nature of what passes for his “discourse” it’s truly a wonder anyone bothers with this washed-up hack at all.

In any case, Happy Holidays, Rico… or Trollmax… or whatever you’re going to call your next incarnation. Do shills get a Christmas bonus, I wonder?

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By Outraged, December 20, 2011 at 3:43 am Link to this comment

BTW, IMax,

And I confess, this is just to be a shit. I’m
offended that you assert than I do not possess COMMON
SENSE!

Who made you lord and overseer of “common sense”?

For the RECORD, us “commoners” don’t have lawyers on
retainer, nor do we hire them IF what we view as
professionals are handling the process/situation.

AGAIN, we are not FINANCIAL MANAGERS, we are
trusting that A BANK, dare I say….professional…
(in their craft) would not ALLOW a loan unless THEY
believed it was justifiable. This is their expertise,
how could they have been mistaken?

In the real world, if your widget doesn’t pass the smell test, you’re out the door. THAT is what we know. My friggin widget is good, so should I expect that yours/theirs to be so also.

Bullshit on anyone who claims they didn’t KNOW. I don’t care what one’s “widget” happens to be.

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By Outraged, December 20, 2011 at 1:59 am Link to this comment

LIKE I SAID

FACT: 99% of all one percenters hire a lawyer to sit
down and go through “EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH” of the
multiple homes they purchase.

Any detractors…..? (besides IMax, of course)

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By The Man, December 19, 2011 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Long Con game started 30 years ago with Ronnie Ray-Gun.  It’s still going on.  People keep voting against their interest because the Republicans keep reminding them at voting time that voting for Democrats is voting for liberal traitors.  The Long Con is finally coming to an end. They Cons gave stolen all they can and the 99 percent are starting to wise up; too late because they are losing their careers, families, houses, retirements, etc… The payback will be H E Double Hockey Sticks.

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By IMax, December 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

I truly believe most everyone understands how only a fool would sign any agreement binding them to debt without fully understanding such an agreement. Particularly when large amounts of time and money is involved.

I would think, maybe, .5% of the American population (roughly 1.6 million people) would count themselves so foolish. It’s truly sad that outraged sees himself among them. I hope he eventually learns from his mistakes.

If people like ardee and Outraged come forward and speak honestly about their mistakes, and the lessons learned, I’m certain many people would step forward to offer aid - the common American is very generous. But, unfortunately, some people believe they can demand remuneration for lacking very basic common sense. Are the majority of American people amenable to such demands? - Uh, no! LOL

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By John Steinsvold, December 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew
about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed:
“There is no alternative”. She was referring to
capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still
persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism
for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-
experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
~ Albert Einstein or was it Mark Twain?

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By Outraged, December 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

FACT: 99% of all one percenters hire a lawyer to sit
down and go through “EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH” of the
multiple homes they purchase.

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By IMax, December 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette,

I follow your point and believe most people understand your sentiment very well.

I have purchased and sold several homes in my lifetime. I’ve never purchased a home without an attorney first looking over every page of the terms and laying them out before me. Every paragraph.

As far as interest, liabilities, schedules, easements and such, I’ve never signed anything before I thoroughly understood the issues attached to the sale.

I am the 99% and I’m not stupid.

-

Ardee,

You may represent an old adage most learned thousands of years ago. “A fool and his money is soon parted.” - I would add that such foolishness deserves no dispensation.

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By Marian Griffith, December 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@lafayette

The 1-20-80 distribution is within the range of the historical feudal societies.
What is lacking still is the indentured servitude of the 80pct, but at the current rate these people are getting impoverished it is not taking the two generations that have been projected. It will be the next one. They will be unable to get either education or opportunity to lift themselves out of grinding poverty, and they will be paying off the debts their parents accrued in a last attempt to keep their families afloat and their children educated.

Also, while you are right that twenty percent owning 93pct of the national privately held wealth is bad, you are glossing over the fact that 1pct owns 43 pct. In other words, 19pct of the population is paid above subsistence to keep the richest 1pct in power and health.
And within those 1pct there are very highly paid ‘trusted servants’ who keep the truly rich safely isolated from the rest of the world.

And IMax, while not ALL of the 1pct is banker, broker or CEO, the vast majority of them is involved directly or indirectly in the financial marketsThat is where the money and power is concentrated, and that is about the only way you can earn a 6+ figure income. Serving loyally to people with an 10+ figure wealth.

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By ardee, December 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette, December 19 at 5:11 am

So, you read your mortage completely did you not? All the legalese, the several pages of closely typed stuff. Of course you did, because you are so different from normal (and truthful) human beings.

Ones mortgage broker is generally trusted, or was prior to the collapse of trust in everything financial. You, on the other hand, are completely without my trust.

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By bpawk, December 19, 2011 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

If you’re one of the people who walked away from a home because you couldn’t pay it off or want your debts forgiven, you have no right to begrudge the wall street elite who want exactly the same thing. You both caused the mess. Remember, no one owes you a job and if you didn’t do your due diligence when signing a legally binding document by getting a lawyer to help you that’s your fault. Nothing should be forgiven, from rich to poor so go to your government officials who okayed the bailouts.

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By IMax, December 19, 2011 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Seeing Barbara and John Ehrenreich describe the wealthiest ‘1%’ as bankers, brokers, and CEO’s brings only one question to my mind. Are these two
children? Or do Barbara and John Ehrenreich assume their target audience is made up only of children?

It seems to me we would all benefit a great deal more by sitting quietly and taking in Christmas Farm - by Mary Lyn Ray and Barry Root.

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By Lafayette, December 19, 2011 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

THE BLAME ON BOTH SIDES

RD: By all means continue to blame the victims, and ignore the culpability of those in charge, you know the actual crooks and decision makers.

Yes, of course, by all means.

Because that is where the problem lies. A great many Americans are too dumb to understand when they are being had.

In most cases of predatory-lending scams, that is precisely what happened. Surprise, surprise, they were foreclosed when they couldn’t flip the condo in six months and make a fortune.

Quick Money was the flavor of the day. Do we finally understand what an asset-bubble is or still so simpleminded that we"ll get suckered into another one ten years time?

Victims come in different kinds and sizes, but they all have the common weakness of gullibility. They actually believe the BS of the scam being thrown at them - which is at the heart of the saying “A sucker is born every minute”.

The banksters were wrong to exploit their credulity and, yes, consumer fraud was committed. All we need is proof that, due to the lack of creditworthiness verifications, foreclosure was inevitable - by which the guilt of the lender is proved.

The perpetrators should be going to jail under the Truth In Lending Act of 1968. So, yes, the blame is on both sides.

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By ardee, December 19, 2011 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

Unions and good people like Ralph Nader tried to rally the average American, but they were too busy living beyond their means to hear such negativity so when the party stopped (bank failures, depression and no jobs) only then did they realize that Ralph et al were right and that they had been hoodwinked by both the Dems/Repbs - but it’s too late. It’s a hard pill to swallow that you are complicit in your own demise.

By all means continue to blame the victims, and ignore the culpability of those in charge, you know the actual crooks and decision makers. By this specious logic rape victims are to blame for their own rapes.

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By Lafayette, December 19, 2011 at 2:15 am Link to this comment

A MORE EGALITARIAN SOCIETY

B&JE;: The “other men” (and of course women) in the current American class alignment are those in the top 1% of the wealth distribution—the bankers, hedge-fund managers, and CEOs targeted by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

How did this percentage come about? We seem to take it for granted.

It is the result of some thorough analytical work done by professionals and first reported by a sociology professor at the U of Cal in Santa Clara titled Wealth, Income, and Power. Scroll down till you get to the pie-charts.

Looking at the pie-charts we note the following to be true for the distribution of Wealth in America:
* The top 1% obtain “only” 43% of the total Financial Wealth (which, net of debt, gives the far more important Total Net Worth also given in its pie-chart).
* Amazingly, it is only 20% of America’s household population (meaning both singles and families for statistical purposes) that garnered fully 93% of America’s wealth.
* We, the sheeple, the remaining 80% of all households are left to share barely 7% of America’s Wealth and 15% of its total Net Worth.

The Gini Coefficient (or GC) is a statistical device that measures Income Fairness or its opposite Income Disparity. The graphical trend-lines shown for numerous nations in the linked GC info-graphic above goes from 0 (where all income is equally distributed to all people) and 100 (where all the income is obtained by just 1 person). Meaning, in the latter instance, an economy of Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island.

Looking at the Gini Coefficient, we see that Uncle Sam is right up there with some of the most unequal countries on earth, where we share company with China and Brazil. In fact, Uncle Sam is the most unequal (read non-egalitarian) developed country in the world.)

So, why has the movement assumed the moniker of the 1%?  Because Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote an article earlier this year that mentioned that number. Which was taken up by the press and has become nationally symbolic of the present economic crisis.

But, in fact, it is 20% of the household population that we should be really angry at - not just the one percent. How many households would that be? My guess is that it is 20% of the 113 million households, or 22 million households (which, at 3.1 heads per household is around 65 million Americans.)

That’s a lot of fellow Americans to be angry about because they are benefiting from the lion’s share of our national wealth.

MY POINT

There are NO Robinson Crusoe millionaires or billionaires. In order to obtain that level of wealth (whether a total net worth of 1 megabuck or earnings of one megabuck a year), you must live in a market economy of millions upon millions of fellow Americans.

That is, we, the sheeple, make this economy in basically Three Ways:
* First by the the Work that we perform to make and deliver products/services.
* The Income we earn by working that is spent on consumption of products/services.
* The Taxes we pay in order for our government to provide us with a set of Public Services.

MY POINT

So, why in hell, are so many obtaining so much of the nation’s wealth, whilst so few of are left to share so little?

That is what this movement is all about. Making right that Gross Unfairness built into the American economies not recently but, quite likely, since its inception. I.e, making ours a more egalitarian society.

We cannot all share equally in the benefits of our market economy. We can, however, all share more equitably. (If we would only vote progressive politicians to represent us.)

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By Marian Griffith, December 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@chaztv

It may have been reported differently in the USA, but in Europe as early as 2006 it was reported that Americans were covering their decreasing income by relying more on credit cards and specifically on increasing housing prices.
There were warnings that this was a desperation strategy that would inevitably backfire as there is a practical hard limit to housing prices once the interest exceeds what can be paid by a significant percentage of the population the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.
I guess that happened in 2008 (or started in late 2007)

Of course the european news papers also reported on the trillions going through the ‘discount window’ to covertly bail out the banks without upsetting the american public even more (after the outrage over TARP). They did not get the full scale of that handout though, but at least they found out about it while it was still ongoing instead of several years after the fact.

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By mrfreeze, December 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

correction - I meant to write: “education IS being attacked” unless there’s money to be made.

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By mrfreeze, December 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment

bpawk - On a fundamental level I don’t disagree with you at all: our very economic system has been compromised for the last 30 years….....And you are right, most Americans haven’t been paying attention to the huge changes that have taken place. They have, at almost every opportunity, voted against their interests by installing (seemingly permanently) a white, wealthy, privileged class of evil men (and some women) into government.

I just think your rhetoric (below) cast too wide a net. Some industries were destined to disappear due to some positive changes in technology….one of the big problems has been re-inventing our educational system (from kids to adults) to train a 21st Century workforce….but lo and behold, “education” is not being attacked (unless there’s money to be made in it).

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By bpawk, December 18, 2011 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Americans have been losing jobs to China and India and other emerging economies for decades but not a peep came out of the average American’s mouths until now. Unions and good people like Ralph Nader tried to rally the average American, but they were too busy living beyond their means to hear such negativity so when the party stopped (bank failures, depression and no jobs) only then did they realize that Ralph et al were right and that they had been hoodwinked by both the Dems/Repbs - but it’s too late. It’s a hard pill to swallow that you are complicit in your own demise.

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By Blueokie, December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Outraged - In response to your post let me recommend a few studies for you

Furman Center at New York University
I.A.S.P. at Brandeis University
Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvannia
Pew Research
Center for Responsible Lending
A.C.L.U.
Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies
Consumer’s Union Southwest, Austin
Princeton University
American Sociological Review

Hope this helps.

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By prisnersdilema, December 18, 2011 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

You Outraged, always engage in personal attacks, because you have nothing to offer
but rationalizations and apologies for the current administration.  No one,  least of all
me, needs a crystal ball, to understand Obama’s betrayals of those that voted for him.
His lies and how he tells them, are the only difference,, but the outcome is the same.
Obama won’t be able to hide behind his lies forever. This country is literally drowning in
lies. The time is coming when each one of us will have to choose, between the people or
the elite. Choose well…

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By David J. Cyr, December 18, 2011 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, B. & J. Ehrenreich:

“In fact, the only political movements to have come out of the 99% before Occupy emerged were the Tea Party movement and, on the other side of the political spectrum, the resistance to restrictions on collective bargaining in Wisconsin.”
______________________

There’s that ever present liberal amnesia… again.

In ignoring the long lonely struggle of the Left in America, the authors have completely ignored the only actual political resistance movement that has been opposed to the neoliberal policies that the corporate party’s Republicans and Democrats have been regularly voting in solidarity together for.

While decade upon decade over the past half century, anarchists, old school socialists, and the 21st Century socialists (Greens), have resolutely resisted the corporate state’s neoliberal policies, the corporate party’s Republicans and Democrats were feverish factions competing to see which could be more complicit in all the corporate crimes perpetrated against “others” everywhere and Nature.

The riots in Wisconsin were merely factional disputes within the corporate (R) & (D) party… Democrats outraged over now having a little done to them of the whole lot of neoliberal shit that they’ve been life-long corporate party voting to do unto others elsewhere.

Democrats have neither resisted nor opposed the deepening degenerating depravity of America politics. They have enabled and sustained that depravity.

Liberals “opposed” war by voting for corporate party Democrats to have war crimes go unpunished, and to have those highest crimes become more mechanical, automated, and remotely impersonal.

Liberals “opposed” pollution by voting for corporate party Democrats to have polluters protected by the government’s regulation of environmentalists.

Liberals “opposed” torture by voting for corporate party Democrats to have torture done discretely, in darker sites, with no trophy picture posting allowed.

Liberals “opposed” private profit from denial of care by voting for corporate party Democrats to mandate higher profits from more universal denial of care.

Liberals “opposed” poverty by voting for corporate party Democrats to maintain people in a state of poverty, providing bureaucratic jobs producing a permanent underclass.

Liberals “opposed” economic exploitation by voting for corporate party Democrats to have ruthless global neoliberal economic exploitation be more competently facilitated by facile financial deregulation.

Liberals “opposed” climate change denial by voting for corporate party Democrats to ignore climate change, so markets can profit from bundling pollution swap credits.

Liberals “opposed” corporate personhood and BIG money in elections by voting for corporate party Democrats primarily selected by the corporate persons’ BIG money.

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=1

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By ardee, December 18, 2011 at 4:13 am Link to this comment

bpawk, December 17 at 4:21 pm

So, basically, repeating the same silliness gives it more credibility? Nope!

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By chaztv, December 18, 2011 at 4:08 am Link to this comment

bpawk states in a comment: “The article states that
the 1% took away the 99% houses - people are
foreclosed because they couldn’t pay their large
mortgages - sorry but if you signed away your life
for your house - you have to take the hit - ditto to
the Wall Streeters though, who have managed to get
away with it. Most people took on too much debt and
didn’t save - they were as risk taking as the 1% wall
street elite - all risk takers should pay their debts
whether rich or poor.”

Though there was some amount of taking on too much
debt by home buyers especially among sub-prime
borrowers, who I might add were victimized by
a system pushing predatory loans, most mortgages were qualified as AAA. 

The speedy loss of good paying jobs was the major downfall in both the housing mess and the economic collapse. 

One day you’re completely
qualified with enough income, good ratios, savings, excellent
credit, the next day you’re out of work, and as the .  Signs of the articles well articulated history of the middle class slide into the abysee
started as early as 2006 as consumers pulled back on
spending to make housing and fuel payments, though this pull-back was not reflected in the delayed statistics issued by the government.

Want evidence? See all recent Pew studies.

I don’t buy the Americans were all spend thrifts argument. Even credit card and HELOC spending pre-2006 was fueled by decreasing real incomes, well paying job loss and the need to make ends meet in an environment of higher food, fuel and housing prices, all bubbles that benefited the 1%.

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By Outraged, December 18, 2011 at 2:19 am Link to this comment

Re: prisnersdilema

Your comment: “There is not one iota of difference
between Obama and any Republican presidential hopeful.”

Better check your crystal ball again, it must have a
dent in it. Although, for some I suppose ignorance really is bliss.

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By Marian Griffith, December 18, 2011 at 2:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@bpawk
—-Regarding mortgages - when you sign a document that you don’t understand you should get an attorney to look it over before you sign otherwise it’s your fault and you’re on the hook legally.—-

That is, of course, if you can afford the fees of a lawyer, and if you are (still) being raised to trust authority figures.
Until this whole mortgage debacle people had relatively little reason to distrust banks.
And nothing in this changes the fact that banks sold mortgages to people who the -knew- would not be able to afford them, going so far as giving them the first year almost free and only then hiking up the interest rate to punitive levels. Even if somebody expressed concern about the premium they were reassured that by then the housing price would have gone up enough that they could simply sell the house and buy another.
There is no doubt a official legal term for it, but I would call it fraudulent misrepresentation. But apparently that is only a crime when it is employed against (other) banks, not against ordinary people…

—-Re: Blacks getting shafted - all major newspapers - especially the NYT reported that blacks are losing out - they had good jobs but due to austerity measures by governments they are getting cut back - that’s a fact whether you like it or not.—-

And yet you fail to see a problem that apparently the only jobs blacks were able to get were governmental jobs?
I guess you have been listening to Gingrich a bit too much. He seems to genuinely believe that the only jobs that blacks can have are pimp, prostitution or drug dealer, and he wants to ‘save’ them from it by making them clean toilets for honest, hardworking rich whites (like himself). Guess it also shows what deep down he is really thinking of President Obama, or Michelle Obama for that matter ...

—-I’m sure all the complainers here will just vote for Obama again so why waste your breath!—-

Just how did you bring Obama into this discussion anyway? I thought it was about banks and their only-technically-legal dealings? And about how there is a new nobility rising in the USA?

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By mrfreeze, December 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

bpawk - I’m curious, have you been doing hard time or have you been freeze-dried for the last 20 or so years? Your comment is like a flaccid bouquet reeking of condescension delivered in a box made of lead…

I’ve been working in the credit industry for a long time. Over the last several years I’ve watched as hard-working (I know hard working is a difficult concept for you) people with 30+ years of tenure in their professions must come to me for financial assistance because a) they’ve been laid-off (in your world that’s their own fault), b) their property values have been destroyed (not even due to their actions but by the the actions of the banks unnecessarily foreclosing on their neighbors), c) illness and the resulting medical bills, and a huge number of other issues associated with this lousy economy. They weren’t spending time thinking about the rich whilst their worlds came crashing down….

Your second point is correct in that Americans live with a great deal of debt; however, you are incorrect that Wall Street/investors/banks or and of the other criminals who allowed unqualified buyers into homes are “going to take the hit.” The fact is, in the area where I live, the lenders SHOULD BE FORCED TO re-write ALL THE MORTGAGES so that a) they don’t need to foreclose on properties worth almost 45% less than the mortgages and, b) so they can “suffer the wages of the moral hazard” that they so lovingly like borrowers to suffer…....

Your third point is simply ridiculous and without factual merit: blacks were NEVER part of the “American Dream” and were never made more successful as class of people because of Affirmative Action….probably the only example of AA worth noting is Clarence Thomas and he was definitely a mistate. African Americans only needed a gentle push off the “financial cliff” because their wealth levels have not kept pace with the rest of the population.

I could go on, but your comment could be used as the perfect example of “neo-libertarian” propaganda….nice try but it won’t fly here on TD.

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By Outraged, December 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

Re: Bluokie

Your comment: ” If you were Black, or Hispanic,
regardless of your income or credit history you were
given a sub-prime mortgage, or at least you were
heavily steered in that direction by your mortgage
broker.  Ironic since these groups were excluded from
traditional mortgages for 30 years, (can you say
institutional racism?)”

While I agree with much of your post, I disagree in
this regard. Certainly at first glance it might
appear that way, since (and I haven’t resourced the
stats) it is my position that they did it to ANYONE
who was poor, “near poor” (although to me this is one
and the same), and/or lower class.

Since we have a higher segment of Black or Latino in
these ranks it might appear to be specific to those groups.
I don’t believe this to be the case. I think they took
advantage of anyone who might be… shall we say less
than able to repay…?

When it comes to ripping people off and making a buck in
the process, I feel quite certain race wasn’t an issue. The banks knew the inherent risks when they lent the money(this is their expertise), but they ALSO knew they would be bailed out, so they did it anyway. When folks went to the bank and were approved (they themselves not financial wizards) they believed the banks thought that they were a good risk. After all….. why else would the bank approve the loan…..

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By Blueokie, December 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

In his 2009 book “Freefall” Joseph Stiglitz said that the government could have paid off the outstanding balance of every sub-prime mortgage in the country, and, to be fair to white people, paid off the outstanding balance of every traditional mortgage, housed every homeless person in the country, balance
every state’s budget for a year, and bought a “Cadillac” private insurance plan for every citizen in the country for a year, at a cost of around 6 - 7 trillion dollars.  It wasn’t known at the time how large the bailout was, but he assumed it was at least 50% higher than that.  Of course that was before the true extent
of the bail-out was known.  It would have been evil socialism and all the attendant moral hazards to have done the former, and Wall Street was obviously entitled to the punitive damage award of well over 500%, after all, they were doing “God’s work”.

The record of mortgage fraud is replete with clauses being added after the fact, signatures being lifted from contracts to be forged on others, banks foreclosing on houses they don’t own.  If you were Black, or Hispanic, regardless of your income or credit history you were given a sub-prime mortgage, or at least you were heavily steered in that direction by your mortgage broker.  Ironic since these groups were excluded from traditional mortgages for 30 years, (can you say institutional racism?) the Community Reinvestment Act was gutted by Clinton and Rubin in ‘97.  The unemployment numbers the country is suffering now would be called “normal” in the Black community.

This isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a simple case of Caveat Emptaor, this is a case of an economic system based on fraud, its a sign of the degeneration of the society when the only right that’s venerated is property rights, leaving the top property “owners” to make all decisions.

We will always have white, bourgeois, racists who will hide their palpable fears behind the soothing balms offered by the sound bites and narratives of Rush, Faux News, Conservative News Noodle, CNBC, et al. to convince themselves that the race and economic stratum they were born too had no effect on their
station in life, it is purely the results of their “working harder” and making “smarter decisions” than the other guy.  Perhaps they see it as a talisman that will protect them from the current situation

I have to agree with ardee (again) that this seems a strange forum to proselytize too, with such fatally flawed opinion presented as fact.

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By prisnersdilema, December 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

An excellent article….and while the country continues it’s downward spiral the 1
per centers are pushing the country toward a federal totalitarian government using the
terror war as justification.

Hiding the plutocratic agenda in bills that seem to support the public, but do not…There
is not one iota of difference between Obama and any Republican presidential hopeful.
Obama The Great Pretender, has done exactly what he was paid to do….fool the people
one more time..

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By balkas, December 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

ehrenreich: “and our political system stood revealed as a band of feckles, greedy narcissists
and possibly sociopaths”.
this statement, as i see it, misplaces the blame. the blame is on the system of governance
and ideology which aids just such people which ehrenreich enumerated.
to get people to behave as ehrenreich says they do, a fertile soil must first be produced for
that to happen; otherwise no go. 
laws must be in place. all judges, columnists, economists, educators, commentators,
bankers, cia/fbi agents, politicos, priests must fall in deep slumber or shut their eyes/minds
in order not to espy what these people were doing.
and political system as well as judicial, financial, educational are but subsystems of the main
system: the governance.
it is incorrect to blame only greedy individuals in a system of life that urges people to
succeed, mercilessly compete; in which one is valued [solely or largely] by how much money
one has, and to earn oodles of money anyway they can.

and even by changing the law [via deregulations; euphemism of actually changing the laws or
playing dumb] in order that they earn legally enormous fortunes.
we’ve had robber barons before and we have them now. and they are made. they do not crop
up in a vacuum while the observers saw nutting and knew nutting. tnx

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By bpawk, December 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

ardee,
Regarding mortgages - when you sign a document that you don’t understand you should get an attorney to look it over before you sign otherwise it’s your fault and you’re on the hook legally.
Re: Blacks getting shafted - all major newspapers - especially the NYT reported that blacks are losing out - they had good jobs but due to austerity measures by governments they are getting cut back - that’s a fact whether you like it or not.
I’m sure all the complainers here will just vote for Obama again so why waste your breath!

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By ardee, December 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

people are foreclosed because they couldn’t pay their large mortgages - sorry but if you signed away your life for your house - you have to take the hit - ditto to the Wall Streeters though, who have managed to get away with it. Most people took on too much debt and didn’t save - they were as risk taking as the 1% wall street elite - all risk takers should pay their debts whether rich or poor.

This is a rather superficial, superior sounding scolding, and equally false picture of the mortgage market at that time. Many folks were told that their mortgages were not actually what they were. Evidence shows that mortgage terms were whited out and changed after the signing thereof. People who thought they’d gotten fixed mortgages actually had balloon payments written in as well.

This poster is making no friends certainly, but the important thing is that he is framing the debate incorrectly.

3.  A lot of blacks are losing their jobs because they were favoured for government work due to affirmative action - now it has come back to bite them as governments are into austerity and cutbacks - so guess who gets cut first - the govt workers. Blacks should remember this when voting for Obama.

Someone else touch this one, it makes me want a very hot shower.

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By gerard, December 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

Time for a quantum socio-political leap in this country.  For the first time in its history. 99% of the population has become aware (some more, some less) of the unfairness of a “system” that deliberately schemes to put 1% far above everybody else, and gives that 1% virtually absolute control over every resource and possibility.The aware 99% has also come to recognize that it has the power to bring about changes for its own benefit and create “a more perfect union”, a more balanced society.
  But it is no wonder that nobody knows what to do, how to do it, and in what order. Problems are much more complex than when the country first met the needs of its foundation in, say, 1750, or again after its Civil War.
  Assets that favor success are: less rigid class and race differentiation, more available common knowledge among classes and regions, a shared growing consciousness of urgent basic needs that must be met a.s.a.p.,and understanding that it is going to take time as well as knowledge and care.
  To achieve realistic goals, those of the 99% who are active in the Movement will need to inform and engage cooperation from as many outside the Movement as possible as soon as possible. And the majority outside the Movement are going to have to step up and offer their help freely and fearlessly. Changes
needed are so pressing and so widespread that nothing short of massive efforts over an extended period of time will serve the purpose of reformation.
  Perhaps the most important quality needed is the shared faith that it can be done, it is possible, it has already begun and must continue.Small successes
must be duplicated; small failures must be analyzed and not repeated. A sense of “I” must reach out and embrace the powerful alternative of “we.” Somehow, political and religious schisms now tearing America apart are going to have to dissolve in a common cooperative consciousness.
  Learning from previous experience is important, but co-optation that so often accompanies it is a fatal danger. The new space made for creativity is vital.
  If we can work together to re-Occupy the American Constitution and avoid falling into the rule of things over people, into empire-building, suspicion and exceptionalism, we can truthfully say of our country being reborn:
  “This, too, is what Democracy looks like!”

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By jonf, December 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

I wish we had the stats but lots of people lost their houses, not bc they signed up to too much of a mortgage, but bc they lost their job. Further, the banksters did not suffer at all, they got bailed out. We now know that the federal reserve made them whole and then some to the tune of $29 trillion. They borrowed funds from the fed at less than half a percent interest. Loan me a hundred million at that rate and I will gladly pay you back in three years time with half a percent interest. So the foreclosure meme being our fault is mostly nonsense. Why not loan the 99% some of that money?

Favored you say? So that makes them wrong somehow? Obama has much to account for but the clowns in the state houses and debating in the primaries are little more than mouthpieces for the wealthy.

The idea of looking up to the rich is gone.

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By bpawk, December 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

A few comments:
1. Most Americans have false consciousness - they identify with their betters rather than their own economic class - they fantasize one day to be rich themselves so don’t want to criticize the rich for exploiting them but they forget that they live in the here and now (which is really all that matters - not a fantasy world created in your head). The other way they pacify themselves about their pre-millionaire fantasy lives is to ‘celebrate’ in the rich person’s success by lionizing them - they feel if they ‘participate’ and take pride in another American’s success the angel dust will somehow brush off on them - again contributing to their fantasy world. The rich don’t identify with the average worker and their spoils are theirs alone - it’s one big delusion of which the average American is complicit - and because they celebrate the rich, they can only blame themselves if they’re losers and unemployed.
2. The article states that the 1% took away the 99% houses - people are foreclosed because they couldn’t pay their large mortgages - sorry but if you signed away your life for your house - you have to take the hit - ditto to the Wall Streeters though, who have managed to get away with it. Most people took on too much debt and didn’t save - they were as risk taking as the 1% wall street elite - all risk takers should pay their debts whether rich or poor.
3.  A lot of blacks are losing their jobs because they were favoured for government work due to affirmative action - now it has come back to bite them as governments are into austerity and cutbacks - so guess who gets cut first - the govt workers. Blacks should remember this when voting for Obama.

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