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The Almighty Buck United States Politics

Ask Slashdot: How Do You View the Wall Street Protests? 1799

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
__roo writes "The New York Times reports that the Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired hundreds of Facebook pages, Twitter posts, and Meetup events, and that 'blog posts and photographs from all over the country are popping up on the WeArethe99Percent blog on Tumblr from people who see themselves as victims of not just a sagging economy but also economic injustice.' What do Slashdotters think? Do you relate to the 99% stories? Do they make you angry — either at the system, or at the protesters? If it's at the protesters, is it rational or a just-world effect?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You View the Wall Street Protests?

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  • by Mindragon (627249) * on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:34PM (#37667382) Journal
    Even if you're screaming right outside their door, they're just going to call the cops and crank up the volume on the TV. I don't seriously believe that the Occupy campaign are going to do that much to change what is going on. The 1% already control everything. Everything that you buy, everything that you watch and everything that you do is controlled completely by this 1% group. Just about the only way I can think of to wrest power away from these folks is if the 99% were to stop buying everything for more than 90 days. Once the corporations see their income statements go to zilch then you would see real change.
    • by causality (777677) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:44PM (#37667634)

      Even if you're screaming right outside their door, they're just going to call the cops and crank up the volume on the TV. I don't seriously believe that the Occupy campaign are going to do that much to change what is going on. The 1% already control everything. Everything that you buy, everything that you watch and everything that you do is controlled completely by this 1% group. Just about the only way I can think of to wrest power away from these folks is if the 99% were to stop buying everything for more than 90 days. Once the corporations see their income statements go to zilch then you would see real change.

      It's mostly a problem of identification. The real power-brokers love to be behind the scenes. They aren't the ones who are out there, on TV, participating in campaigns, issuing press releases, etc. That's all a puppet show for public consumption, to put it simply.

      The real aristocracy does everything by proxy, by funding, by corporations, and by front organizations. The single most effective thing they ever did was to replace real state-issued money with bank-issued monetized debt. That's how you grab a nation by the balls without ever using physical force.

      I doubt these protestors have the sophistication or the awareness to see through the bullshit and understand what they're actually opposing. Unfortunately, they are likely to be useful idiots, pawns on someone's great chessboard. That's generally the problem when you have blind, stupid, unfocused rage that lacks understanding and a strong sense of constructive purpose. That's why (in terms of Establishment priorities) it's okay to give them so much media attention. It's little more than a way to get the "troublemakers" to identify themselves and be arrested or otherwised put through the system.

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:43PM (#37669064) Homepage

        That's how you grab a nation by the balls without ever using physical force.

        Sure you do, if the powerless ever get too uppity: Kent State is the most extreme example in the US, but there are plenty of more recent examples. You don't get involved yourself, of course, but you get your pals in government to organize riot police protection whenever you're having a major gathering that might attract the attention of the rabble. And here's the best part: You can use your control of government to convince the police to buy all sorts of weapons from the corporations you control, so that you're effectively using the protester's own tax money to fund beating them.

        And in the Third World countries they care about, they don't bother with the niceties of limiting themselves to non-lethal force. Sometimes they use the US military for that, sometimes the poor nation's own military and police, sometimes private security forces, but the effect is always the same. It's not all that uncommon, for instance, for sweatshop workers who dare to talk about organizing to be killed by private companies.

        I doubt these protestors have the sophistication or the awareness to see through the bullshit and understand what they're actually opposing.

        Well, for starters, they had the sense to target Wall Street rather than Washington DC and government. That suggests that they're seeing through at least one of the illusions put forward by the real power brokers.

    • by operagost (62405) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:51PM (#37667810) Homepage Journal
      98% of us wish that the 1% who are claiming to be the 99% would stop pretending they're speaking for us.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Sure, they have power, armies of private security, full control of the government, etc. But that's no match for the protestors' mighty drum circles!

    • reduced to zero, they'd lay off all their workers, who would then be *really pissed* at the elitist bastard protesters.

      Then the workers would mostly vote Republican since the Republicans would say, "You had a job until those elitist left-wing bastards destroyed your jobs."

  • Bitcoin (Score:5, Funny)

    by V!NCENT (1105021) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:36PM (#37667440)

    Want to do something about the current failure of money? Start using Bitcoins. It'll be the biggest protest with the biggest impact in history.

    http://www.weusecoins.com/ [weusecoins.com]

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:38PM (#37667480) Homepage

      The problem is a financial system built on making enormous amounts of money without contributing to society.

      • by Carewolf (581105)

        The financial system does contribute to society by proving risk-willing capital, that is why it was too big to fail.

        The excessive gambling going on inside the system might not be to our benefit however, but all investments are fundamentally speaking gambles, so there is no way to prevent gambling in finance. We can only hope to find mechanisms that will make it safer for the rest of society.

  • by janeuner (815461) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:38PM (#37667472)

    From what I've seen, it's actually 80% arguing with 19% about 1%

  • Protests (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:38PM (#37667486) Homepage
    I'd join the protest if I wasn't taking care of my Mother after my Father died. I think it's a crock how things are but I also feel the top 1% aren't fully to blame. The 99% needs to learn to not be asleep at the wheel half the time and learn to say no together in order to get things done like boycotting things and not just go for "I got mine, too bad about yours" deals.
    • by Nutria (679911)

      The 99% needs to learn to not be asleep at the wheel half the time

      The 99% needs to stop wanting to be numbed into oblivion by Bud Light and the Vast Wasteland (more now than just television).

      But then... maybe 99% of the population wants to be numb because they are -- to one degree or another -- followers. After all, we are social animals, and social animals organize themselves into hierarchies.

  • What is the goal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigjarom (950328) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:40PM (#37667522) Journal
    These protests lack a specific and/or measurable goal. It's really difficult to reach a goal that you haven't set. I agree with most of the rhetoric being brandied about, but the lack of focus could be a deal breaker for the occupy movement.
    • Re:What is the goal? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:46PM (#37667662)

      End the Wars
      Tax the Rich
      This isn't Rocket Science

      Courtesy of Tom Tomorrow:

      http://thismodernworld.com/archives/6027 [thismodernworld.com]

    • The goal seems to be to get enough people riled up to join the protests and finally to annoy the wealthy enough so that they call in the government guns on a large scale - inciting a revolution ala Egypt. I do not know how I feel about this.

    • I thought it was fairly obvious that the core was about a broken democracy where corporations can lobby "people's representatives" into representing their own interests instead.

      If your vote doesn't count unless you have a lot of money to back it up... And those who do can prey off those who don't...

      Yeah, they're protesting an effective plutocracy.

    • by luckymutt (996573) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:59PM (#37668028)
      It seems like all they are really doing is venting because times are shitty right now for most people, and the top earners are better insulated for such times (yes, they have what you may call an unfair advantage to get there, yes.)
      Most of them seem to be protesting against Wall Street, investors, and capitalism in general, however it was the *anti-capitalism* actions of the TARP bailout that a lot of them are citing.

      They really should be focusing on protesting Congress and the White House. The people on Wall Street are there to make as much money as they can. They don't mince words about it. If congress gives them a break that is not fair to the 99%, you really can't expect them to not accept it.
      Our Country's leaders are the ones who need to be protested on this issue for directly allowing the top 1% to have additional tax breaks, bail-outs, 0% interest loans on federal monies that they turn around and charge 28% on, etc., etc., etc.

      For example: by setting up shop (even on paper) in Ireland, the Bahamas or where ever else, US companies can get out of paying federal tax. Legally.
      Not so with an individual. As an American citizen, if I go live and work in Ireland, or anywhere else, without ANY ties to the US at all, I still am required to pay US Federal income tax on the money I earn(in addition to that countries taxes.)
      Are you really going to blame GE for, essentially, following the rules?
      Protest Washington...you won't get any better results, but at least you'll be barking up the right tree.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:07PM (#37668192)

      I want to know two things:

      1) What are your problems? Not some random vague laundry list like "Wall street is bad," or "The rich suck." A short, specific, list of the things you believe are big enough problems that they warrant protesting over.

      2) What shall we do about them? Just whining that there are problems is not useful. Propose solutions. Real, workable, solutions. Understand what the tradeoffs for those solutions are (all actions have cost) and be ok with that.

      If you can't identify what it is your goals are and how you might go about achieving them, then I can't really support you because I don't know what I'd be supporting. Also I don't think there is much chance of success.

      If you look at the successful stuff along these lines. Like, say, the civil rights movement they had precisely what I was talking about. They could clearly define the problem (that minorities were not treated the same as whites) and the solution (require the same treatment under the law) they desired. There was a goal being worked towards. It was something people could rally behind, and did.

      So these people need to figure out what they want and how it should be done, and be able to state that in a cohesive fashion. Until then, I can't be supportive because I won't support something unless I understand what it is I'm supporting.

      • by gilgongo (57446) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:45PM (#37669096) Homepage Journal

        What are your problems?

        Banking should be a service to industry that facilitates socially useful capital and equity, not be an industry in its own right. The social good derived from (say) derivatives shorting is vanishingly close to zero.

        1) What shall we do about them?

        (I think this has been articulated rather clearly by the movement to anyone wishing to ask). Re-introduce the Glass-Steagall Act, impose a transaction tax (eg 0.01%) on every trade of any kind performed on the stock markets, and re-balance shareholders' interests against equity build using suitable regulatory legislation.

        So - what say you?

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Yes, the protests are mostly ineffectual. Most news stories seem to be "what are they about?"

      From the Wild One: "Hey Johnny, What are you rebelling against?" "What do you got?"

      The funny thing I think was the a Wall Street worker who pointed out that they were all using Apple products and said that Apple had the largest market capitalization. So there is a bit of irony in protesting against corporate greed while blogging about it on the most expensive and fashionable laptops.

  • Oh, wait, sorry . . . I was thinking about last year's protestors.

  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:41PM (#37667560)
    They're too focused on the "greed of wall street," which makes the protesters seem like they're after handouts.

    They need to instead focus on financial crimes, the fact that many of the people in the so-called 1% who are responsible for the subprime lending crisis, etc. aren't sitting in jail despite the fact that it's these white-collar crimes which bankrupted many innocent people. If they focus on the tax evasion, insider trading, blatant abuse of trust, and so forth, then they would have a more convincing case.
    • by gcnaddict (841664) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:43PM (#37667590)
      Funny as it sounds: Bernie Madoff is sitting in jail right now for ripping off the rich, and they all got their money back. None of the people who wrote loans to everyday people knowing these people would default ended up going to jail. None of the people who inflated credit ratings on subprime financial vehicles are getting punished. This is where the protests should focus on, not just "greed," whatever that is.
    • by tgd (2822)

      What makes you think they're not after handouts?

      It seems to me the crux of the problem is that a few tens of millions of people in the US spent 10-15 years living on credit WELL beyond their means. Tens of millions of people who weren't middle class leading middle class lifestyles. Tens of millions of middle class pretending they were upper class.

      The greed of the banks was a second order greed. They took advantage of a pool of people who knew *perfectly well* they were living beyond their means.

      So the real

  • Bitterness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:43PM (#37667610)

    I see a lot of bitterness on Slashdot about the U.S. political system: the sentiment that all the politicians are bought by moneyed interests and are at best indifferent, at worst actively hostile, to the needs of the person in the street or the country as a whole. I see the "Occupy<Location>" protests as expressing the same sentiment.

    At this point I think it's more important to build consensus about the need for action, than to determine a specific course of action.

    • That reminds me of one of my many favourite lines from Canadian Bacon "There's a time to think, and a time to act. And this, gentlemen, is no time to think."

      Just going out and "building consensus for action" is not useful unless what the action is is defined. I will NOT stand behind any movement who's purpose is not defined. I have to know what you and I have to agree with it before I can support you.

      What's more, if you look at successful protests, well that is what they have. They have a list of what they

    • Re:Bitterness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stradivarius (7490) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:19PM (#37670732)

      To determine a course of action, first we need to diagnose the problem. My take is this:

      1. Both parties in Congress have become largely unresponsive, over the past decade at least, to the will of the people.

      2. They have become less responsive because they have gerrymandered district lines to an insane level. The popularity of Congress has been hovering around a mere 20% for years, yet the last 3 elections (2006, 2008, 2010), heralded as huge sweeps, saw roughly 85% of incumbents keep their seats. The voters are no longer picking their politicians, the politicians are picking their voters.

      3. Because of this dilution in voter power, the power of moneyed interests has increased (certainly in relative terms, maybe in absolute terms too). We see both parties increasingly enmeshed in cronyism, in which they attempt to give subsidies to allies while levying taxes or regulations against opponents. Even after the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression, on a bipartisan basis Congress proved unable or unwilling to tackle Too Big To Fail. If that's not a sign that Congress has freed itself from the will of the voters, I don't know what is.

      Doing something about gerrymandering would seem to be a step in the right direction. An example would be to put responsibility for district lines into a nonpartisan commission's hands, perhaps aided by algorithms to help maximize competitiveness. That has the advantage of being something that folks from across the political spectrum could get behind.

      An additional response to Congressional misdeeds is to stop allowing Congress to meddle in as much as it does, thus limiting the damage. But that has several downsides: 1) the left in the US seems reluctant to constrain the power of Congress, and 2) the right in the US, despite its rhetoric, has been extremely ineffective in electing members who actually would limit Congress, perhaps because 3) there is currently very little incentive for Congress to constrain itself.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:45PM (#37667648) Journal

    These people are the best chance we've had to turn around a country that's been headed in the wrong direction for at least the past 30 years. We live in a country where Goldman Sachs can commit thousands of acts of felony perjury, and not one person stands trial. They create fraudulent financial instruments, and pay back a small portion of their ill gotten gains as "fines" (bribes). Yet if I were to write a bad check to cover some groceries, I'd be going straight to jail. There's no way to describe this but tyranny.

    Barack Obama, the greatest hope in a generation, is either unable or unwilling to do anything about this. If he's unwilling we have a severe political problem. He was elected to bring us change he refuses to deliver, and we have no way to hold him accountable.

    On the other hand, if he's unable, we have a much more serious problem. That means democracy is well and truly dead in this country. The corporations have a complete stranglehold on our government. Unfortunately, this is more likely to be the truth.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:47PM (#37667700)

    They finally made it to San Francisco. But they either moved away from their initial location on Market Street, or were completely forced out of the city. What little I saw of them made me think that
    * the local homeless and drifters finally found something to do with their free time
    * they have no chance in hell of accomplishing anything

    Specifically, they won't accomplish anything beyond getting attention. They have hundreds of different, sometimes opposing goals. They're all upset with the status quo, but have no workable solutions. They're largely made up of young, idealistic people with little corporate or political experience. They cannot tap into any networks that carry any weight. They're doomed to be nothing but friendly protesters who will at some point run out of steam.

    To some extent, I can understand them. The system we're in is set up to benefit a very small minority (0.5%, from what I've seen actually). There's less and less economic mobility. Profits are privatized, losses are socialized. But they're not the equivalent of the Arab Spring, because they have no solution. Worse, they're pointing at the wrong people when they're asked to point at the culprits of the current situation.

    Winter is coming. It's going to be cold. Tthe tent cities will disappear. And with them, the movement. Maybe it will be reborn into something different, something with more teeth, simpler goals, and a better understanding of politics and economics behind it. That is their only real hope. I wish them well.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:47PM (#37667702) Homepage Journal

    I'd be there with them.

    Though I think protesting on the Capitol Mall might be more effective - I'm pretty fed up with the GOP bending over backward for Wall Street and weeping about poor Bankers and Wall Street when the call for better regulation was made after the banking crisis. Also rather sore about the bonuses being paid, right after the bailouts. A lot of the rhetoric regarding "we have to leave these people alone because they enable our economy" fell on my deaf ears - the economy took a right battering thanks to their blind pursuit of margins and percentages on return, never mind the risk.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:49PM (#37667724) Journal

    I see it (hopefully) within the context of similar protests that have occured throughout US history.

    For example, the Pullman Strike [wikipedia.org]. That, and other labor unrest during the later part of the "robber barron" era lead to things we now take for granted such as minimum wage and the 40 hour week.

    There were also grass roots leftist movements during the Great Depression.

    When you read these histories, some of the things said by actors on both sides are eerily similar.

    The hope is that these actions will reform and perfect our republic; but not destroy it. "Revolution" is a word that gets tossed around a lot; but I think there are very few people who want a true revolution (which I would define as a new constitutional convention that unseats all currently elected officials in one fell swoop and replaces them with something else).

    The US has been flexible over its history, and that's a strength. We don't need a revolution because it's built into the Constitution in the form of elections and even the ability to ammend the Constitution itself. For example, some have proposed an ammendment that would overturn Citizens United and strip corporations of personhood. I'm not arguing for or against such an ammendment. I'm just citing it as an example of how change can occur within the framework of the Constitution without destroying the nation.

    In other words, we have the rights of speech and assembly, and they are being used. I just hope they don't get abused and destroyed.

  • by LanMan04 (790429) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:53PM (#37667858)

    1) End the Collusion Between Government and Large Corporations/Banks, So That Our Elected Leaders Are Actually Representing the Interests of the People (the 99%) and Not Just Their Rich Donors (the 1%).

    2) Investigate Wall Street and Hold Senior Executives Accountable for the Destruction in Wealth that has Devastated Millions of People.

    3) Return the Power of Coining Money to the U.S. Treasury and Return to Sound Money

    4) Limit the Size, Scope and Power of Banks so that None are Ever Again âoeToo Big to Failâ and in Need to Taxpayer Bailouts

    5) Eliminate âoePersonhoodâ Legal Status for Corporations

    6) Repeal the Patriot Act, End the War on Drugs and Protect Civil Liberties

    7) End All Imperial Wars of Aggression, Bring the Troops Home from All Countries, Cut the Military Budget and Limit The Military Role to Protection of the Homeland

    Not sure where this came from, but it was making the rounds on Facebook. Numbers 6 and 7 seem rather "wishlist"-y, but other than that this looks roughly accurate.

    • by Chuck Messenger (320443) on Monday October 10, 2011 @11:09PM (#37674680)

      These demands are in reasonable sync with the Ron Paul school of Tea Partiers:

      1) End the Collusion Between Government and Large Corporations/Banks, So That Our Elected Leaders Are Actually Representing the Interests of the People (the 99%) and Not Just Their Rich Donors (the 1%).

      Ron Paul has consistently been against any kind of bail-outs. He was dead-set against the $700 billion bank bailout, for one example.

      2) Investigate Wall Street and Hold Senior Executives Accountable for the Destruction in Wealth that has Devastated Millions of People.

      Ron Paul hasn't (to my knowledge) advocated this kind of thing. But in a similar vein, he has been an outspoken critic of the Fed - he wants full exposure of all Fed policies. These policies have been used for decades to pick industry winners - so this is an example of collusion between govt. and business. Maybe this really goes along more with point 1, above.

      3) Return the Power of Coining Money to the U.S. Treasury and Return to Sound Money

      This has Ron Paul written all over it!

      4) Limit the Size, Scope and Power of Banks so that None are Ever Again âoeToo Big to Failâ and in Need to Taxpayer Bailouts

      See above comments on bank bail-outs. Ron Paul has consistently advocated that banks must be left to fend for themselves - no bank bailouts. He's really been the more forceful advocate of this stance, for the longest time - among elected representatives.

      5) Eliminate âoePersonhoodâ Legal Status for Corporations

      Not sure about this one.

      6) Repeal the Patriot Act, End the War on Drugs and Protect Civil Liberties

      Ron Paul has been a long-time advocate of drug legalization.

      7) End All Imperial Wars of Aggression, Bring the Troops Home from All Countries, Cut the Military Budget and Limit The Military Role to Protection of the Homeland

      Again - Ron Paul has consistently argued for de-imperialization for years/decades. He is one of the few in Congress who have voted against all foreign wars, and to bring troops back from pretty much all foreign deployments.

      So, if the above list does, in fact, reflect the desires of the Occupy Wall Street-ers, then there is at least a strong theoretical connection between them and the Tea Partiers. That is, if you buy the idea that Ron Paul is the true standard-bearer of the Tea Party. Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily the case...

  • Small (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenh (9056) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:58PM (#37668000) Homepage Journal

    I went to the park Sunday and got a first-hand look at the 'protest', and what struck me was how small the protest is. The park is slightly smaller than a half city block (size of a football field), and there were two or three tourists/observers for each sign-carrying/slogan spouting/sleeping protester.

    The lack of a central them or focus allows anyone to identify with theprotesters: against the Fed? Fractional banking? Standardized testing in schools? Tax the rich? End the wars? Against student loans? Out ofwork? Then you can find a kindred spirit in the protesters. If they focused on one thing, the majority of protesters would bolt - they sacrificed any chance of actually effecting change (in my opinion) for the appearance of larger numbers.

    The protest will implode on Oct. 15th, when they maximize their numbers, their lack of focus will undermine any advances people imagine they have made.

  • Sadly, I've learned most Slashdot users will talk from self-perceived position of superiority and mock any and all attempts from people to improve things, exercise their right to free speech or just try to do whatever they can to fight for their rights.

    They will gladly complain about the Evil Xs, Ys and Zs until a common person dares to do something about it and ends up being noteworthy. That's when the hate machine will come down upon him. Meanwhile, I wonder what WE do to change anything.

    Our level of constructiveness seems to be approx 1 % :/

    • "Sadly, I've learned most Slashdot users will talk from self-perceived position of superiority and mock any and all attempts from people to improve things, exercise their right to free speech or just try to do whatever they can to fight for their rights."

      If the protesters themselves didn't try so hard to invite ridicule and instead focused squarely on getting their message out, we'd have a reason to take them more seriously.

  • Weather (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:09PM (#37668250) Homepage

    The protests started when the weather changed from Hot to Pleasant. They'll end when the weather changes from Pleasant to Cold.

  • by devleopard (317515) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:09PM (#37668262) Homepage

    I can't speak to the "entire" 99%. However, there's a large number who fall in this category: Middle class, busting their ass, struggling with credit cards, student loans, car payments, mortgages. Just making it. They're angry at the right people - but they have the wrong idea. The middle class are more than happy to keep signing up for credit - this is how the rich have become the new Monarchy. You don't kill that power with signs and cries to the government: you do it by choosing to stop giving them all your keys to personal power.

    Teach your children: Debt is bad. Go to college on grants and scholarship, bust your ass working to pay for the rest. (Make 70% of a Harvard salary, but with $100,000+ less debt) (You'll have to teach your kids to get past the fantasy they've been sold that college is foremost about the social experience - work your ass off, study your ass off, and if you have any left over time, that's for socializing)

    No credit cards. If you don't have the cash (yes, I mean debit card, silly) to buy the latest iPhone/clothes/Christmas present, then plan better. Or accept that you simply can't afford it.

    No car loans. No car leases. First car will be garbage. Pay yourself what you'd pay in a car payment - every 3-5 years you'll have a pretty nice car and no debt ever. New cars - never. Horrible loss of value. Always buy something 2-5 years old.

    Mortgage: This is the hard one. Most people can't save up $150,000-$300,000. Actually they can.. but let's assume you need to rely on the bank. Never get into a house with less than 20% down. Then attack that mortgage. Don't pay the minimum and keep the rest so you can have the latest shiny beepy and your kids can have the latest plastic happy. Live crazy cheap for 7 years - most people can pay off their house in this time. If you start off early, and have a decent job (and aren't strangling yourself with debt), it's possible to save up and just write a check.

    Obviously all this is a bit insane, but let's stop believing the lies: we have to go to the best school, the only safe car is a new car, that credit card payments are a way of life. Your best tools aren't your picket signs and your Tumblog: it's your income. Take it back, and make it the force behind changing your life.

    For those already in the hole, there are some sacrifices to be made, but it's possible.

    An average person, 100% debt free by age 35, will be a multi-millionnaire by the time they are 70 (assuming they aren't a total idiot about how they spend their $ after debt).

    • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by davide marney (231845) * <davide DOT marney AT netmedia DOT org> on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:30PM (#37669992) Journal

      Very solid advice. I'd add a few more:

      - If you get married, learn to live on one income.

      - If you do have a second income, use it to pay down debt as aggressively as you can, then to save up for big-ticket items such as a down-payment on a house, a used car, retirement, etc.

      - If you plan to have children, don't count on a second income until the youngest is of school age. It's a full-time job to care for very young children. It makes sense to maintain business contacts, go to professional events, and do short contract work to keep your resume current, just don't count on the income. Take care of the kids first, then ease back into work -- and apply that extra income to getting debt-free.

      - Don't spend a lot of money on "premiere" vacations while kids are very young. They won't remember any of it when they get older, and it's incredibly stressful on the whole family. Take the kids to the great outdoors instead. National and state parks are amazingly good vacations, and cheap, too.

      - Invest early. It takes decades to build up a nest egg. The goal is to have a big enough nest egg so you can live 2/3 off the interest income when you retire, the other 1/3 from retirement insurance plans such as Social Security.

  • by Roogna (9643) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:12PM (#37668340)

    ... is not a bad idea. There's a lot to protest for sure. The protests currently going on though? Well from what I've seen they don't know what they're protesting, or why. They're there simply to be there. Which is hardly going to change anything or even cause much of anyone to bat an eye.

  • by heretic108 (454817) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:16PM (#37668420)

    Steal a dollar, get probation
    Steal a thousand dollars, get a fine
    Steal a million dollars, get home detention
    Steal a billion dollars, get a long jail term
    Steal a trillion dollars, get a free swag of taxpayer money and become a consultant

  • by optimism (2183618) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:20PM (#37668512)

    The protesters are drawing some attention and venting some anger, but that's about it right now.

    There is however a huge opportunity for public education.

    Instead of angry faces, and moronic signs like "y u not angry?", it would be nice to see some calm & rational folks down there with signs like:

    "Bank Locally"

    "Manage Your Own Retirement Funds"

    "Reinstate Glass-Steagall"

    "End the Federal Reserve Banking Cartel"

    And if you talked to these people, they would make suggestions like:

    1) Move all of your accounts and loans to a transparent, non-profit, local credit union. Or at least to a trusted small local bank.

    2) Withdraw all money from your 401K, 403B, IRA, etc and manage it yourself. (The banks and government have lied to you about the long-term benefits of these accounts...which you will see when your retirement funds, which probably were already reduced by poor money management, are hit with the double-whammy of higher capital gains tax plus hyper-inflation).

    3) Lobby your local senators and representative to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, cap usurious interest rates, institute clawback laws for insane compensation of bank execs, place the Federal Reserve under ~government~ control (haha! you thought it was under government control?), etc. Call your elected representatives. Write them. Collect signatures of other constituents who will not re-elect them unless they push for these changes.

    Etc.

    • I'd love to have the requisite time and knowledge to be able to manage my own retirement account, but I don't. And neither do a lot of people.

  • by br00tus (528477) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:29PM (#37668770)

    I went to Occupy Wall Street in New York, in Liberty Plaza on Thursday night.

    You hear in the news media about how the park is not clean. I stood and watched the General Assembly go on for some time - while I was standing there, people with brooms came by every 15 minutes or so. The OWS people are almost overdoing the cleaning in response to the criticism, I've never seen more sweeping and cleaning than I did in the park. So if you hear on Fox News that OWS is not cleaning up after itself - it is just not true. I've never seen a place cleaned so frequently.

    When I was there, most of the people were young people - in their late teens and twenties. They were winding down for the night so they were relaxing more. On one end of the park musicians were playing drums and other instruments, and the young people were dancing. Past them were a lot of sleeping bags. Past that people were being fed by a kitchen. They have a media center being run by a portable generator I believe. Past that is the general assembly where they make decisions. There is no loudspeaker so people repeat what the speaker says for those too far away - kind of like in the Life of Brian, but hopefully with more faithful repetition.

    I've followed the internal political discussions about the effectiveness of these kinds of things for a long time. One point is it's a demonstration, in the sense of an example. Food is handed out freely, decisions are made through direct democracy in a general assembly, there's a DIY esthetic for everything, in a spirit of cooperation. So a community is created in OWS that is an antithesis to say the Wall Street financial companies - which are in buildings surrounded by semi-conspicuous barriers, behind which are tall office buildings whose entrances have security cameras, security guards and locked security gates, and up the elevator you have people wearing suits (or as fashions change, business casual) in a high-pressure, competitive, cutthroat hierarchy, run for profit. It's creating the new society in the shell of the old, as it's sometimes put

    Then there's the other political considerations. Obviously this is inspired by the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt and the Arab spring on one level, and perhaps in some dialectical way the Tea Party as well. In the US in the 1930s there were student organizations, labor organizations, labor political parties and parties courting labor for people to get involved in. Nowadays less than 7% of private workers in the US are in a union. But things have changed in the US as well - in the 1930s Detroit going on strike would be shutting down America's economic engine - nowadays if Detroit went on strike, it would be much more minor of a ripple in the national economy. The UAW threatening to go on strike is much less threatening to the powers that be.

    One of the biggest laughs is OWS has not come out with a clear program for the ordinary 99% of us not born with a silver spoon in our mouths, to get us into a better position. Well who out there actually is doing that? The corporate media is completely controlled by billionaires, Congressmen collectively get billions of dollars in campaign contributions, Bill Gates and others are trying to privatize all schools into charter schools. These rich heirs control the media, the government, increasingly the schools, and even churches really. Most importantly of all they control enough capital to effectively control all capital, they control who works, who doesn't, and the offices we go into every day, where our labor is kicked up to these heirs in one form or another by way of a quarterly dividend check. And then the real kicker is these people also effectively control or co-opt the organizations made to check their power - labor-oriented political parties and labor unions. That's why I feel that the OWS general assembly gives voice to my concerns in a way that all the other controlled and coopted organizations out there do not. People generally don't think about these things, but as the unemployment rate drags on at 9%, as the housing market stays sluggish and so on, more people dwell on these things.

    • Re: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by davide marney (231845) * <davide DOT marney AT netmedia DOT org> on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:39PM (#37670122) Journal

      Very interesting. As a poll worker, however, I am amazed that people feel they have to sleep in the streets to effect change. The number of people who vote in local elections is just a tiny fraction of those who vote in the big national elections. But it's in the local elections where the slate is chosen -- who gets on the big ballot, and who does not. If just 5% more people turned out to vote, we'd have radically different politicians to choose from.

  • by Anonymous Meoward (665631) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:30PM (#37668806)
    Once the OWS organizers (if they exist) come up with at least some bullet points, then I'll take them more seriously.

    That's not to say that their anger is misguided. Those who got us into this mess have done less time in the slammer than the protesters who were unlucky enough to get arrested. Our political system is not so much broken as already bought. And the wealthy in this country, by and large, have every reason to regard themselves as America's upper caste, since they're effectively immune from poverty, or even the rule of law for that matter.

    But if there is a message here, it's getting lost in the noise.

  • by SwedishChef (69313) <craig&networkessentials,net> on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:40PM (#37668988) Homepage Journal

    I think many of us realize something is wrong... that whatever is supposed to be working is no longer working. Bankers seem to have undermined some basic things in our culture but haven't had to answer for it. Politicians and corporations think they own votes and manipulate both the media and political boundaries to keep it that way.

    Maybe it's all coming to a climax of some sort. Corruption on the massive scale that we've had for the past two decades may have reached the breaking point. At some point politicians can no longer do favors for every competing special interest and ignore popular opinion.

    Have we reached that point. Are we at an "American Spring"?

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:41PM (#37669004) Homepage Journal

    This Wall Street protest is one of the most interesting phenomena that's happened in a long time.

    We like to think that we know the general pulse and mood of society and that the outcomes are predictable, or at least reasonable.

    If Apple comes out with the iPad, it may bomb or it may be popular - both outcomes seem to be likely given the current state of the world. If a cop is videotaped beating a suspect, it will likely go viral. If the president gives a speech, it will have little lasting importance.

    The Wall Street protests are different because they are completely inexplicable. Masses of people don't protest without a reason, without a rallying point, or without a charismatic leader. There's always *something* that starts them off, that prompts people to take action. The recent London riots were precipitated by a cop shooting a civilian.

    If these protests truly are just a manifestation of general popular mood, then the country could be in serious big trouble, for the following reasons:

    1) If this is general popular mood, then the protests are emblematic of the mood of the *entire* population, and

    2) These sorts of situations are fertile ground to grow new, charismatic leaders.

    Not to Godwin the discussion or anything, but this sort of unrest has similarities to the environment that allowed Hitler to rise to power. Theoretically, potential charismatic leaders exist in our society but never become popular due to social circumstance. If the people are content, it's hard to get a following.

    The protests are interesting because of all the unlikely things that have happened: it was unlikely that they would start, it was unlikely that they would grow, it was unlikely that they would spread to other cities, and it was unlikely that they would be sustained for so long.

    So many unlikely outcomes are a clear indication that we can't predict the next outcome.

    Hence, it's interesting.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:45PM (#37669114) Journal

    I think all these people at these occupy protests shows there is lots of anger and frustration out there and that the fear and attachment to the status quo are diminishing.

    This is a ripe time for a charismatic leader to tell them what to think, and gin up some will to act decisively. Its also notable that heading into presidential elections none of the candidates are that person. Obama is out there trying to be and its not working. These people even if most would be unwilling to say it actually want the current political system gone.

    There does need to be a leader though. A friend of mine lives next to a Cleveland Federal Reserve employee, who went down to the street to see what the Occupy Cleveland folks wanted. What he tells us is that he told them look, I am one of these guys, I will be getting on airplanes and talking to Congressmen, Senators, Federal Reserve Board members, some European and World Banks reps and others all next month. What would you like me to tell them?

    They protesters were not able to come up with an answer. The group could not come up with a single actionable statement. He was not looking for anything real specific, he just wanted something a little clearer than "JOBS!"

  • by eepok (545733) on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:17PM (#37669740) Homepage

    Disclaimer: I'm a social liberal. Hippie, even. My passion is education and my occupation is sustainable transportation. I can't wait for gay marriage to be legal everywhere, I happily pay my taxes to redistribute wealth (I live within my means) and pay for socialized services, dream of the day of fiscally sustainable socialized medicine, and believe that all tax loop holes should be closed (in a perfect world, etc.). I like to donate my time to help other people. I'm a humanist preference utilitarian.

    Statement: I think a good deal of the Occupy protesters are as bad as the Tea Party-ers. Few understand the implications of their assertions and demands. Few understand the futility of sit-ins, hunger strikes, and walk-abouts. They have no singular cause... no three points of demands and a plan to achieve them. Instead, they're so very grass-roots, that it's attracted a bunch of people who just feel like they need to yell at someone who's listening.

    But no one's listening.

    They're angry, they're let down, their parents' generation milked American credit for all it was worth and now they've been told go to fix it. Instead of creating meaningful action and initiative, they're chanting.

    Further disclaimer: I marched against the war in Iraq with millions upon millions world-wide. The effect? America still invaded Iraq.

    Statement: People have forgotten that the only way for protests to work is for the protestors to be pitiable. What are the memorable photographs of the 1960s? Here's a hint: they didn't involve hyperbolic signs or masked faces. They are of dead people-- having been shot unjustly by the national guard. They are of those being sprayed with fire-hoses and being attacked by police dogs. These protesters aren't allowing themselves to be pitied. They seem too well off for the middle class to care.

  • by jrifkin (100192) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:30PM (#37670928)
    Here's something that just came from Alan Grayson. It seems relevent.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that our Government has handed out $16 trillion to the banks.

    Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t hear me the first time. The GAO says that our Government HAS HANDED OUT $16 TRILLION TO THE BANKS.

    That little gem appears on Page 131 of GAO Report No. GAO-11-696. A report issued two months ago. A report that somehow seems to have eluded the attention of virtually every network, every major newspaper, and every news show.

    How much is $16 trillion? That is an amount equal to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America. That’s more than every penny that every American earns in a year. That’s an amount equal to almost a third of our national net worth -- the value of every home, car, personal belonging, business, bank account, stock, bond, piece of land, book, tree, chandelier, and everything else anyone owns in America. That’s an amount greater than our entire national debt, accumulated over the course of two centuries.

    A $16 trillion stack of dollar bills would reach all the way to the Moon. And back. Twice.

    That’s enough to pay for Saturday mail delivery. For the next 5,000 years.

    All of that money went from you and me to the banks. And we got nothing. Not even a toaster.

    I have been patiently waiting to see whether this disclosure would provoke some kind of reaction. Answer: nope. Everyone seems much more interested in discussing whether or not they like the cut of Perry’s jib.

    Whatever a jib may be.

    In the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing more about this. But right now, I wanted to keep this really simple. Just give folks something to talk about when they’re standing next to the coffee maker.

    The Government gave $16 trillion to the banks. And nobody else is talking about it.

    Think about it. Think about what that means.

  • by lexsird (1208192) on Monday October 10, 2011 @07:23PM (#37672520)

    Pure capitalism, just like pure communism is full of fail, and we are about to see the reason why. But not before we do a hell of a lot of damage with it, it will go down swinging in one of the bloodiest civil wars in the history of the Earth. It's far better that it happens than the alternative; we swing full into fascism and start paying our bills through outright global domination.

    If you compare and contrast the history of the rise of Nazi Germany with our current events, especially how far our Rightwing has gone to the right, you will be startled, amazed and frightened. Few really do understand the terminology of fascism and it's history. It's tailored like a glove to our times though. I have often wondered how the good people of Pre-Nazi Germany could have been duped into becoming the evil empire that they became. Now I have seen with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears the effects of carefully cultivated propaganda.

    Where we have failed: Our democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests. We have allowed bribery to not only become legalized, but its an art form. You can't have representative government if the moneyed few can influence the politicians. Our current economic situation is due to our trade policies. "Free Trade" is the biggest lie to be imposed upon the American people in our entire history. "Free Trade" is an oxymoron, business is war, and trade is the mother of all wars. Our founding fathers understood this, and that is why they limited the federal government to collecting funds only through trade tariffs. They understood the need to protect the ecology of the nation's economy.

    What we have now are trade policies that are dictated by multinational corporations that call this rape "globalization". It means they can have goods manufactured in countries that pay only pennies for labor, then come flood our markets with these products. This kills kills our industry. It kills our job market. New ideas and innovations can't draw upon our work force, they have been cut out of the loop, and those in power have the markets sewn up. These corporations in power, not only stack the deck in their favor with bought and paid for politicians writing them laws, they also fix the markets for themselves, and get huge stacks of "welfare" from our tax payers.

    The first step to correct this is to get control of our politicians back into the hands of the people, and out of the hands of the mega rich and the multinational corporations. This involves campaign finance reform, but that hasn't happened, in fact its went the other direction. It's now even easier to buy politicians with the changes to PACs.

    The second step is to correct all of the crooked trade policies and laws that stack the deck in favor of specific corporations and industries, allowing them effective monopolies.

    But this isn't going to happen. Those in power have seen this coming for a long time. They have been buying both political parties for decades now. They have been systematically disarming the public as well. They have been building the worlds biggest prison industry, and police state. They own the laws, the politicians, and the law enforcement. They have now the ability to use the military on our civilian population if we decide to have armed revolution. They also control the media, which has proven to be an effective propaganda tool.

    The media has done a great job of indoctrinating Americans into believing this corrupt system is "the American way" and to fight to the death to defend it from "liberals, commies, socialists, etc" We have proven how well they control us when they can send our children off to wars that have lasted longer than WW2, and for reasons that are not clearly explainable, we just "have to trust them". We are fighting a "war on terror". This is such a lie. One can't fight a war on an "emotion." It's nonsensical double speak, set to confuse and befuddle the undereducated masses.

    The Tea Party was a contrived movement, started by billionaires in an attempt to guide the obvious

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