Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I, A Formerly Conservative Republican, Support the Occupy Movement.

I am not a socialist, Marxist, proponent of big government or looking for a handout.  I'm not even a democrat.

I support the movement because my generation has been sold a lie.

We are taught, from our earliest moments, to trust and obey authority.  We are taught to trust that our parents, teachers, bosses, and government have our best interests at heart.  We are taught NOT to question.  Which leads directly to the financial distress that I, and many across this nation, find themselves in.

And we are sick of it.

Like many of my generations, college was expectation my parents had for me.  Discussion about college focused on "where" I would go, not "if" I would go.  Discussions about how I would afford it weren't even entertained.  College was a new frontier for me.  I had to trust that the authority around me would lead me in the right direction.  When I expressed any concern about the amount in loans I was racking up, I was told, by a financial aid advisor, that college is an "investment" in my future.  How many of you heard that exact phrase? Or how about, "Without a college degree, you would never be able to support yourself or your future family."  I was also told, by an academic advisor, that I would be "guaranteed" a 40 - 50k a year job in my field with a degree from their school, thereby justifying the expense.

I'm not a sheep and I didn't blindly follow where they led.  I researched many things on my own and brought questions to the table that were always satisfactorily answered by people I was supposed to be able to trust.   I later found out that the financial aid advisor got kickbacks from private loan companies for selling their products, and the academic advisor was paid, by the college, to lie to keep students enrolled.  It's been a real eye opener to learn just how many people we are taught to trust, that are corrupt.

So here I sit, with a 40k dollar piece of paper, that doesn't qualify me for a job that can even earn enough to pay back the loans I took out to get it.  Yet, that degree is necessary to even apply for many jobs.  There is no such thing as "working up the chain" anymore.  If you don't have the exact credentials they are looking for, most companies won't even give your resume a glance.

So what's my generation to do?  I work 60+ hours a week at the two jobs I was able to get and that's still not enough to cover all the necessities and pay back my student loans.  

That's why so many college grads are protesting.  And no, most are not unemployed hippies, they are underemployed and struggling.

Many protest corporate greed - and I completely understand that.

While I was still in college, my husband and I bought an extremely modest condo for 150k.  Prices in our area were skyrocketing and we were afraid if we didn't buy, we would be priced out by the time I finished college.  It might be tight for a year or so, but remember I was promised that I would be able to get a great job right after college.   I was assured by my realtor and mortgage broker, both trusted family friends, that this was smart "investment".   I was assured I would be able to afford it and houses "never" lose their value.  How many of you were sold this same song and dance?  For 4 years that was true.  We had no problems making our payments and we gained plenty of equity.

Then, right about the time I graduated college, and learned the truth about the uselessness of my degree, the market crashed.  We had a decent saving built up and didn't live beyond our means, but let's face it, you can't prepare for every eventuality.  An injury and a new baby, in the same 6 month span depleted every penny of saving we had.  I tried to refinance, then modify the mortgage and like many thousand others, was denied.  Still, we held on.  My husband got a third job and we managed to just barely eke out another 2 years.  Then our home insurance company decided to double (almost triple) our rate only to drop us 6 months later.  That change alone raised our monthly due by $600 dollars a month.  Then came public sector budget cuts, which meant furloughs and pay cuts for us.  Add the increase in cost of everything and that's the pile of bricks that broke the camels back.

We still didn't give up.  We hired a lawyer to try to force the modification/refinance/short sale issue, but to no avail.   We were already paired down to the minimum and to come up with that extra money a month, just wasn't possible.  We lost our house to foreclosure.

That's not all.  The mortgage company played dirty, and reneged on an agreement, forcing us into bankruptcy as well.

And I'm pissed off about it.

I want to hold the insurance companies that doubled rates held accountable.  I want to hold CEO of the mortgage company who got federal taxpayer fund to HELP people like me, but who chose not to, held accountable.  I would love to get in a room alone with the woman who actually told me that they wouldn't modify because, "Your house is worth more to us - without you in it."

I want the wall street financiers that caused the housing collapse -which lead to the destruction of my credit and loss of my HOME - held accountable.  I want them to see the damage they caused and feel bad about it.

I want the corrupt politicians, whose financial sponsorships blind them to their sworn duty of being the voice of their constituents, removed from office.  Because so many of them say one thing to get elected, then do whatever they want once they get there - forgetting who put them their in the first place and instead working in cahoots with those who caused the recession.

That's not all I'm angry about.

I want my doctor, not my health insurance agent, to decide what treatments are appropriate.

I want my children's education to be a priority in this country.  Hell, I want CHILDREN to be a priority, in all things.

Taxes are necessary for the infrastructure of our country.  I know and understand that, but I want what I pay for to be worth it, and for everyone to pay their fair share.  I think the whole system needs a complete overhaul.  I don't know what the answer should be, but I would love to hear more ideas on it then what we are currently being offered.

In the media, they keep saying the Occupy Movement isn't cohesive - it doesn't have a definitive message, and it may not,  but I think that's the beauty of it.  It's democracy in it's truest form.  Everyone has a voice, everyone gets heard and everyone votes.  Our government gives lip service to that ideal, but the Occupy Movement lives it.  I think it will continue to grow because there are thousands, like myself, who don't feel like they are being heard.  They are sick of blindly trusting the authority that has continually led them down the wrong path and they want it to change

I want change too.  So protest on, Occupy - I'm with you.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Gandhi

1 comment:

  1. What an incredibly sad story.

    I finally dropped out of college because I got the job I wanted. I didn't see the point of spending another $6,000 at a community college to get my business admin degree. I'm so glad I did. It took us 10 years to pay off that debt and most of that time I was a sahm. Crazy!

    I've never heard of this movement. I too am tired of insurance telling us what we can or can't have when it comes to medical stuff.