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Posts Tagged ‘middle class’


Here is Middle America at 7 a.m. waking up in Boston’s financial district after a cold, rainy night in a tent — and wondering why its college degrees have not led to jobs. It’s not Hooverville. But I think it represents something real.

There is actually a wide array of causes represented. No obvious central theme has emerged. End the War, Tax the Rich, Socialism … .

Every day I get tweets from the Equal Exchange coffee trike. With the Occupiers of Boston, the curiosity seekers, the media, and the police, there has been a steady demand for coffee. Today’s message was  “EEFreeRange EE Free Range Cafe: So busy I can’t get a tweet in edgewise! Trikes are at Charles/MGH and Dewey Sq. Come see us!”

At the Washington Post, Ezra Klein is trying to figure out what it all means. He decided it probably does mean something after he started reading a Tumblr blog called We Are The 99 Percent. He describes the blog as all “grainy pictures of people holding handwritten signs telling their stories, one after the other.

‘I am 20K in debt and am paying out of pocket for my current tuition while I start paying back loans with two part time jobs.’

“These are not rants against the system,” Klein continues. “They’re not anarchist manifestos. They’re not calls for a revolution. They’re small stories of people who played by the rules, did what they were told, and now have nothing to show for it. Or, worse, they have tens of thousands in debt to show for it.” Read more.

In the afternoon I went over and read a few signs. Would love your comments on this one: “I couldn’t afford my own politician, so I made this sign.”

It’s 11/6/11, and I just learned about another great source of Occupy signs, at Mother Nature Network. Check out “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one” here.

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Back before “labor” became a dirty word in the minds of some politicians, “workingmen” were more appreciated.

A corporation might even honor workers in the architecture of a headquarters. (Note the photo taken in Boston’s financial district.)

These days, looking around the subway at the tired bodies heading home at night, I’ve begun to think of almost everyone as the workingman. All but a few folks who are very well off. There is hardly anyone in the middle anymore.

The people slogging back and forth, doing whatever they have to do, are unconscious of a kind of heroic aura that envelops them collectively. You can see it if you look.

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Have you been reading about Elizabeth Warren, the temporary head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? People say she is too controversial to be approved by the Senate and that maybe her employee, Raj Date, a former banker, would be a good compromise candidate. Maybe so, but I just want to tell you about the extraordinary consumer advocate that I know Elizabeth Warren to be.

As a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on bankruptcy, she has worked tirelessly to reverse the erosion of the of the middle class and lower-income families that has occurred over the last few decades. The CFPB was really based on her work, and she is the right person for the job. Growing up among a lot of older brothers, she learned to argue for herself and be persuasive. I have sat in meetings and heard her talk about her research and outreach, and my jaw just dropped. She is so passionate, and her arguments are so clear and incisive. She is capable of persuading many others who think they have different positions, because she always can find the common interest. But I think the country needs a consumer advocate who doesn’t back down.

Elizabeth Warren has a powerful effect on people. One day several years ago, I was standing in a grocery checkout line and by chance I overheard the cashier telling a customer that when she was thinking of filing for bankruptcy, she contacted Elizabeth Warren and received energetic help — for free. Later she would e-mail Warren anytime and get a response and advice. Probably Warren can’t answer such e-mails now, but I will check with that cashier next time I see her.

If Elizabeth Warren hired Raj Date, then he is a good guy. But if he is a real consumer advocate, I don’t see that his chances of being approved by the Senate are any greater than hers.

Comments may be sent to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com. Luna & Stella is apolitical, but Suzanne said I could write about anything that interests me, and that is what I have been doing.

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