Ekstatische Lyriken Pinnwand

Politics: Occupy Wall Street & the 99%

written by Pj on Tuesday October 11th, 2011 -- 3:45 a.m.
in reply to Politics: Debt

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It seems like everyone is complaining that the Occupy Wall Street protesters lack a common goal.  They seem to have little in common other than that they all feel as if something is wrong.  It's no surprise, really.  If they knew what was wrong they might do something about it.  ...and they can do something about it and they really don't even need to protest in order to do it.

There is a tumbler blog titled We Are the 99% where people are posting their complaints.  It does a wonderful job of showing what people are pissed about.  It also shows that they have no idea what needs to change.  Everyone can list what they think is wrong, but I see no suggestions on how to make any of it right.  People just feel that they're getting the short end of the stick and that's about all they know.

On the bright side, at least none of them think they know what needs to be done.  People who know they are ignorant are awesome.  ...and I'm not being sarcastic.  Sure, it'd be best if they knew what they want to change, however, since they don't, the fact that they aren't spouting random nonsense is absolutely the most anyone can ask.

So it isn't so much of a protest as it is a public demonstration of frustration.  People seem to think there's something wrong with that.  I say it may be a little pointless, but there's certainly nothing wrong with it.

Anyway, since I think I know everything, I also think I know what these people are pissed about.  Maybe I should explain so that they can finally know what the hell they want to change.  I'm not sure there is any point, as it's been my experience that no one ever agrees with my political ideas, but, what else am I going to do today?

So, I'll try.  Not sure how we'll I'll do since, despite being all rather simple, it's nevertheless difficult to explain since everyone is so far away from understanding.  Particularly anyone who doesn't understand that there's more than a liberal and a conservative viewpoint.  Each is likely to think that I'm way too much like the other.

People don't need jobs.


Jobs are necessary as a practical matter, but it's important to remember that, ultimately, we don't need jobs.  Instead, we need food, shelter, medical care, etc.

Obviously people want jobs because jobs will earn them money and they can buy the things they need with that money, but it's important to remember this rather obvious fact.  It's relevant when people start talking about there not being enough jobs to remember that giving people jobs doesn't necessarily give people what they need if they still aren't able to get food, shelter, and medical care.

Keep this in mind next time the government suggests solving problems by creating jobs.  Repaving roads which don't require repaving is just like the broken window fallacy.

Money isn't wealth.


Wealth, in simple terms, is having what you want.  While money makes it easier to get what you want, it's important to remember that it isn't money, but instead "what you want," that everyone wants. 

Thus, while everyone wants to be rich, no one really cares about being rich.  We only want the things we want, and we only want a lot of money because it is the easiest way we can imagine to get the things we want.  (Indeed, money is essential to getting what we want, since it is how the free market keeps production in proportion to demand, however, people ultimately have no need for stacks of paper.  Money is just a means to an end.)

Money represents human labor.


Imagine a world with two people.  Each wants something done that the other can do.  It would make sense for them to each do something for the other.  They might even create a form of currency to represent how much each has done for the other, somewhat like "I own you one." The currency serves as a measurement of how much work each has done relative to the other.  When one does an hour of work for the other, he is paid another unit of currency.
When one runs out of currency, he can't get the other to do anything else for him until he does something for the other in order to earn back some of that currency.

This applies even with the value of property, assuming everyone has access to natural resources.  (or at least that enough people have access to natural resources) For example, if one person finds a stick and carves it into a spear, the value of the stick is the amount of labor that went into it, since the other can just find his own stick and carve it himself.
Thus, if the price of that spear is less than the value of the labor that went into it, the person who created the spear feels cheated, and if the price is more than the value of the labor that went into it, the person buying the spear feels cheated.

Now let's throw a few thousand other people into this imaginary world so that we can have an economy.

Imagine several people are carving up sticks into spears and selling them.  A few people might be particularly good at this, enabling him to carve them faster than the others.  Thus, when they sell the spears, they're essentially paid a little more than the others.

Eventually those who are good at carving spears might decide to lower their prices in order to capture more of the market.  This forces those who aren't good at carving spears to also sell theirs for less.  Thus they get less money for their labor.  So they decide to do start carving forks instead, since no one is good at carving forks and so they can be adequately compensated for their labor if they carve forks.

Then someone else gets clever and builds a machine to create spears from sticks, allowing him to create ten spears with the same amount of labor that everyone else uses to create one spear.  Suddenly he's paid a lot more than the others.  So he charges a bit less for his spears, forcing everyone else to lower their prices well below the value of the labor they put into creating their spears.

However, rather than also create forks, the others decide to build their own machines.  To regain more market share, they too reduce their price to be a little below the price of the first person.  Then he reduces his price.  This continues until the price again reflects the amount of human labor that goes into producing the spears. 

The reason for this is simple: If the people making the spears are forced to lower their price so much that they can get more money for their labor by doing something else, they'll go and do something else.  Until the price is that low, however, they can always make their price lower in order to take a larger share of the market from their competitors, earning more money by making up in volume what they lose by selling for a lower price. 

Thus, money represents human labor.  When machines start doing things for people, less labor is involved and prices go down.  Then we can buy more things for the same amount of money.  Thus we get more of "what we want" and we all become more wealthy despite having no more money than we had before.

Another important thing to notice at this point is that no-one is as yet "making a good salary." They're all making a fair salary, both the people with the spear-carving machines, and the people hand-carving forks, as no one has figured out how to build a fork-carving machine yet.
Spears are cheap, forks are expensive, and the difference is only due to the human labor involved.

Now, those who were fast at carving spears, they were making a good salary for a while.  Sort of.  They might have been making 20% more than the average person.  However, a lot of people don't think you're doing good until you're making 100% more than the average person.
Some people won't be happy until they're making several times what the average person makes.

However, there's a problem with earning so much more money than the average person: There's a natural limit to how much better someone can be at doing something than someone else is.

Granted, that isn't always the limiting factor.  If you absolutely want the best sports player on your team, you might have to pay him twice what the second-best player is paid, simply because someone else is willing to pay him almost as much, and it isn't a reasonable substitute to hire twice as many players who are half as good, since only so many can play on the team at the same time.  However, this assumes that you're determined to have the best team possible, perhaps because you want to win.  If instead you're simply interested in watching a good game, choosing players outside of the top 100 who you can hire for far less would make a lot of financial sense, since the quality of game that you see will likely be quite similar as long as you play your team against similarly-skilled teams.  Thus, such out-of-proportion salaries can only occur where there is a demand to have the best rather than to settle for the very good.  Not many markets function that way.

Usually you can simply hire twice as many people who are half as good.  Maybe A and B only work half as fast as C, but if C wants you to pay him more than what you would pay A and B combined, you'd do better to just hire A and B and politely tell C to go fuck himself.

Thus, money is generally a representation of human labor.  I'm not saying that there aren't exceptions, but it is generally true.

For one person to become slightly rich, another must become slightly poor.


This idea is surprisingly controversial for some reason.

However, it's a natural consequence of "money represents human labor." Everyone as a whole produces a certain amount of product.  You want a larger share of that product without doing a larger share of the work? How else do you think that is going to happen?


College degrees don't magically produce money.


“I went to college so I earned a larger share of the results of human labor!” Well, no, you haven't earned it until you've worked to produce it.  Some of that work was done in college when you learned whatever you needed to do your job, so yes, you will be paid more, but you won't get more than your fair share.

Since college costs time and money, people won't do it without an expectation of a larger salary.  So your employer will have to pay you more.  However, to expect that salary to be more than necessary to compensate you for your studies and college tuition is to expect too much. 

Remember that whole “supply vs. demand” thing? The more that a job pays, the more people will be willing to put the work and money into college to get those jobs.  The result will be a larger labor pool, which will mean that people will have to compete to get those jobs.  Thus people will have to work for less, eventually being forced to work for just enough to compensate people for the time and money they spent in college.  Only then will people stop being interested in paying for college.

So to get out of college and find that you're forced to work for a salary that you barely find to be worth the effort of having attended college is actually the expected case.  That's how the free market works.  The free market doesn't allow situations to exist where people can get a lot of money for little work.

The free market doesn't allow easy high-paying jobs to exist.


It's obvious if you think about it.  Where easy high-paying jobs exist, everyone will decide to go.  This increases the labor market for that job.  Thus people have to be willing to work for less to get that job.  This continues until the pay for the job is in proportion to the amount of labor that goes into it.  At that point, people stop seeking this particular job and go elsewhere. 

You can see this in large cities, where you can find the same job as elsewhere but offering a higher salary.  Then you get there and find that your cost of living is also higher.  The jobs only pay more because they have to in order to compensate people for living near enough to perform that job.  Otherwise they'll move somewhere with a lower cost of living.

There are few legitimate ways to become incredibly rich.


It's the only logical conclusion from all of the above. 

You may be able to become more wealthy than other people in a legitimate way.  People can always work 80 hours a week instead of 20.  Also, some people are naturally more intelligent than others, and so whatever they decide to do, they'll do it better than others, and thus will be able to create more with the same amount of labor than others can create.  However, there are limits.  There are only so many hours a person can work in a week.  Also, working more intelligently can only get you so far. 

However, there are still legitimate ways to become rich.


One obvious way is to win the lottery.  Everyone who played knew damn well that they were probably just giving their dollar to you.  The rules are simple and offer no one an advantage (except perhaps those intelligent enough not to play).  If you win, you didn't do so by trickery.  Indeed, you (who won) and everyone else (who lost) were indistinguishable in terms of your involvement until one of you won.  Thus, winning the lottery is likely the most legitimate way to become rich.

Another way is to find yourself into one of those situations where the demand for the best is significantly greater than the demand for the second-best.  Sports teams are an example, since team owners want to win games, and will pay 10% more for a player that is only 1% better.  Another example is likely CEOs, where being second-best might mean that your company fails to adequately compete with the competition.  That is, assuming you really are the best person for the job.  It's always possible that you simply got the job because of who you know, and thus, the salary isn't legitimate at all.

Also, there's always the possibility of getting lucky.  You may be a moron, but even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.  Perhaps your moment is a very lucky one and happens to earn you a lot of money.  It's unlikely, but it isn't impossible. 

So there are a few legitimate ways to become rich.  However, they're few enough that you shouldn't expect any of them.  You're not going to win the lottery.  You're also likely not the best in the country at whatever you do.  ...and even if you are, it likely isn't one of those fields where having the best is significantly better than having the second-best, in which case you won't earn a ridiculously high salary.

So how do people become so rich?


Well, it's obvious.  If there aren't many legitimate ways to become rich, then simply choose an illegitimate way.  Work-at-home schemes are popular and quite successful since they play on people's desires to earn easy money.  It also helps a lot that public education promotes the idea that anyone can become wealthy through hard work, and thus people assume that if they work hard, they too can have a $500,000 house and three nice cars.

Also, there are plenty of illegitimate yet legal ways to become rich.  For example, you might invent a clever device to make a table saw blade come to a sudden stop if it ever comes into contact with human flesh, thereby greatly minimizing injury.  Thus, by itself, is a very nice thing, but then to ensure you become rich, you might patent the invention, then lobby some politicians to create a law requiring such a device in all table saws that are built, essentially legislating that everyone who makes a table saw pay your patent royalties.  Thus, you become rich, since no one has a choice but to either give you money or stop building table saws.  You sure are clever!

Another good way to become rich is to sell things to people who have too much money.  One prime target is the government.  Just build some piece of shit, like an electronic voting machine, at a time when there's a lot of talk about some poorly functioning mechanical voting machines.  Then see how many fools you can get to buy the thing.  While it's easy to get a fool to part with his money, the problem is that fools usually don't have any money because they've already parted with it.  However, the government is an exception to this rule.  Lately they've been running a pyramid scheme known as “u.s. government bonds” giving them a virtually unlimited amount of money.  So just sell your garbage to those fools.  Then you'll become rich.

You can also become rich via trickle-down economics.  To do this, you build something that generally isn't all that great.  Perhaps a small computer contained in a portable flat-panel touch-screen display.  You might make it in China, but then cover it with feel-good statements like “designed in California” so that people feel like they're buying something of higher-than-usual quality.  Then market the hell out of it.  The result will be that everyone who is overpaid, a happy result of working for those who are illegitimately earning money from the government, will want your device, and happily pay the far-more-than-its-worth that you're asking for it.

However, perhaps the most effective way is to loan money at high interest rates.  This is easy to do since everyone has a desire to have a nice house and a nice car, and they've been told all of their lives that everyone should be able to afford these things.  Thus everyone is looking to borrow money.  Also, few of them received any education in high school about making intelligent decisions with regard to accepting loans, and they certainly learned nothing about predatory lending practices. There's always a risk they'll declare bankruptcy, but that's what collateral is for.  ...or you can just offer student loans which aren't allowed to be dismissed with bankruptcy.  Best case you earn a lot of interest.  Worst case you have to repossess something and sell it to get your money back.  The best thing about this is that you don't even have to have money to loan money.  You can just get the federal reserve to print some up for you.  Granted, you can't default on that loan, but between collateral and bankruptcy-ineligible student loans, paying it back shouldn't be a problem.  Then you get to keep all of the interest.

You might also offer credit cards.  You can't get much money through interest, and there's a lot of bankruptcy involved due to lack of collateral, but you can make your money back with merchant fees.  The merchants will pay the fees because they won't want to risk losing sales, and you can prevent anyone from seeing the real cost of your credit cards by refusing to do business with any merchant who doesn't spread the fees equally among all customers whether they use credit cards or not.  The result is that everyone who makes a purchase anywhere is giving you some money, even when they use cash.

There really are a lot of ways to become rich.  It's all just a matter of how good you want to feel about yourself at the end of the day.

So should we make the rich pay more taxes?


That is debatable.

On the one hand, there aren't many legitimate ways to become rich, so most of those who are rich didn't get their money by any legitimate way to begin with.  However, there are a few who did legitimately become rich.  However, most of them didn't work harder than other people for their money anyway, but rather, just happened to be born with the right genetics to become the best at something.  (Which isn't to say that they didn't work hard.  Obviously there are people with good genetics, and there are people who work hard, and there are people who both have good genetics and work hard, and it is those who become the best.) However, there are also those who become rich by hard work alone.  Surely it wouldn't be fair to make them pay a larger share of taxes.

So we shouldn't make the rich pay more taxes?


Well, funny thing about all of those illegitimate ways to become rich...  They require the cooperation of the rest of us.

For people to become rich by starting work-at-home schemes requires that the rest of us fail to make work-at-home schemes illegal. 

For people to become rich by selling garbage to the government requires that we allow the government to continue to hemorrhage money.  This requires that we continue to allow it to operate it's pyramid scheme of acquiring more loans in order to have enough revenue to repay its previous loans plus some extra to make up for expenditures being greater than income.

As for those corporations exploiting virtual slaves in China to sell you overpriced garbage, just stop buying it.  No one is forcing you to.

As for predatory lending, just stop getting loans.  Warn your friends and family about the cost of loans. 

As for credit cards, there isn't much you can do about retailers giving your cash to the credit card companies, but you can definitely stop using your credit card at retailers.  Just go to your bank's ATM before you go to the store and withdraw from your checking account.  That's one less transaction the store has to pay the credit card company for, so while you're still paying the credit card company even though you use cash, you're paying ever so slightly less.  If enough people do it, you're paying a lot less, and the merchant may drop credit cards altogether.

So, we could make the rich pay more taxes, since most of them didn't get their money legitimately.  Or we could avoid over-taxing those who are legitimately rich simply by not going out of our way to give our money to those who are illegitimately becoming rich.

Don't want someone to have a lot of money? Don't give them your money.  Obviously some laws will have to be changed, but as we already have a progressive tax rate that makes the rich pay more than the poor, we don't really need to go further than that.  ...and even if we did, it wouldn't be nearly as effective as simply not giving money to the rich to begin with.  We can virtually tax them 100% simply by not giving them the money to begin with, which is better than taking back 50% of it afterwards.

Universal Healthcare


Healthcare is also a common concern mentioned on the 99% blog. 

I'm sure I've tried to say it before, but I'll try again: Nothing makes more sense than universal healthcare.

Insurance is about paying small amounts to cover a large expense that may not happen.  A good example is cancer.  Not everyone gets cancer.  For example, lets say that 10% of people can expect to get cancer.  By all agreeing in advance to pay for everyone's cancer treatments, everyone can pay just 10% of the cost of treatment while ensuring that they don't have to pay any more than that should the be unlucky to get cancer.  ...and for those who were unlucky enough to pay for healthcare they didn't need? Well, I'm sure everyone wishes they could be so unlucky as to not get cancer.

Insurance doesn't make sense for things that you know are going to happen.  A good example (were not not for something I'll discuss later) is regular doctor visits.  You know that you'll need a dental checkup once every six months.  To buy insurance for it would only serve to give the insurance company some money in order that they give some of it back to pay for your checkups.

Also, insurance makes more sense before your risk for some disease is known.  Imagine, for example, that some test is developed that determines with great accuracy whether you are one of those 10% of people who will eventually get cancer.  One of a few things will happen:

1.  Getting insurance for cancer will require the test.  If you will get cancer, you'll have to pay 100% of the cost for treatment in order to get insurance.  Thus insurance won't make sense, except for the fact that you still don't know when you'll get cancer.  You'd essentially be paying “now vs. later” insurance, and thus if you didn't get cancer until later, you'll pay double the cost of treatment in insurance premiums, to balance for the people who got cancer the day after obtaining coverage.

2.  Some law will prevent insurance providers from requiring the test.  However, they'll still assume that you've had the test.  You'd be a fool not to get the test, since it tells you whether you need the insurance or not.  So the insurance companies will assume you will get cancer and still charge the high rates.

3.  Some law will make the test entirely illegal.  This will make the insurance affordable, however, it will also prevent a valuable warning of a potential and serious disease.

Thus, for insurance to work at all, there is a requirement for some uncertainty as to whether or not you will get the disease.

However, most people don't get to choose whether to get insurance until they are old enough to get a job.  At that point a lot is already known about their health.  Thus two things happen:

1.  Those who have many health problems don't really benefit from insurance.

2.  Those who don't have many health problems are tempted not to get insurance.

The obvious solution to all of this is to insure everyone at the moment of conception.  Indeed, even before conception, as there are genetic conditions in which it is known that children will be at an increased risk for some disease.  While it's true that the parents should exercise some caution and not burden the world with diseased children, I think it's also true that we shouldn't blame children for having stupid parents.  So to rely on parents to properly insure children at the moment of conception is irresponsible.

So why not universal coverage? The simple fact is that there really is no one who doesn't want health insurance.  We can argue about freedom, but who is really going to choose to just roll over and die if they unexpectedly get cancer at a young age? Virtually no one except perhaps the clinically depressed who probably also need some other healthcare.

So insure everyone.  ...and since we're insuring before we know anything about anyone's health, everyone pays the same share.  It's really quite simple and logical.

It's like police coverage.  Sure, you could get “police insurance” to cover your police needs, but everyone needs protection from crime and so we might as well per-emtively insure everyone and just collect the premiums through taxes. 

So what should the 99% demand?


1.  Better education.

Stop teaching kids that they can simply work hard and become rich.  The free market doesn't allow it to happen.  It only sets them up for disappointment.  I know teachers love education, but it isn't magic.  It can't change the reality that some kids will have to grow up to collect the garbage for the rest, nor can it make it likely that any of them will become rich. 

Teach kids about economics, loans, and in particular, teach them about scams.  In fact, “Scams” should be a fucking class all by itself.  Perhaps even two classes. Would you prefer your kids know how to spell or would you prefer that they know better than to involve themselves in any work-at-home scam? Would you prefer that they spend a year analyzing classic literature or would you prefer that they not only know how to calculate the cost of a loan, but that they understand that doing so is a requirement of not getting shafted by a lender? I guess some might say that the kids need more “street smart” rather than “book smart.” There's no reason why they can't get their “street smart” while they're in school.

2.  Fewer scams.

Obviously we need more laws against much of the shit which is presently tolerated.  The department of homeland security should be refocused on pretty much anything that is advertised on television that isn't food.  ...and don't forget all of the work-at-home offers in the newspaper.  People lose money on worthless diet pills every day, the only result being that someone becomes richer while everyone else gets less than what they deserve for the work they've done.  Misleading people for the purpose of collecting their money shouldn't be legal just because of something in the fine print.  Indeed, comments like “not everyone will be successful” are complete lies when the truth is “virtually no one will be successful.” This stuff shouldn't be legal.

3.  Universal healthcare.

The fact that virtually everyone on the 99% blog mentions healthcare says it all.  A system that depends on people being healthy enough to earn money to pay premiums is broken by design.

4.  Same government service, less government spending.

If your personal budget is thin, it'd be nice if you could just cut something out of it since that would be a quick and easy solution, but it's quite likely you're already not paying for anything that you don't want.  So you usually can't cut things entirely in order to save money.  Yet that is the only thing that politicians want to do.

Instead you look for waste.  Is your electric bill too high? Well, you can turn off the electricity, or you can turn things off when you're not using them, turn down the thermostat, turn off the AC, seal cracks in the windows, turn off some lights, etc.  Even buy a Kill-a-Watt for $20 at Home Depot and have it tell you how much every damn thing in your house costs to run.  It's a lot more work that way, but at least you get to make intelligent decisions about what to keep and what to cut rather than hacking away blindly.  Worst case you might buy some insulation and seal off half of your house so that you can pay only half as much to heat the half you live in.  However, you don't just turn off the electricity.

Reducing costs is rarely as easy as finding some large expense you can cut or greatly reduce.  (...but we likely have an exception with the military.) Usually you have to find small ways to reduce the cost of everything so that they add up to big savings.  Who hasn't heard the story of some government department finding things to waste the remainder of their budget on at the end of the year because if they don't spend it then their budget will be reduced next year? It would seem that we might save some money all around if we can put a stop to shit like that.

One huge area for savings is the ministry of peace.  It only wastes money to constantly manufacturer new and better weapons we'll never use just to replace the older weapons we also never used.  Just ally ourselves with other peaceful nations and rely on the fact that, between all of us, we'll have enough to take out the lunatics should they attack any of us.  How many days did we need to take over Iraq? ...and that's the process of invading another country.  For actual matters of defense we'd have the upper hand due to the conflict being on our home turf.  Anyone we might need to defend ourselves against isn't all that strong.  To spend so much on defense makes no sense at all.  ...and let's not even talk about the “war on a few lunatics who got lucky that one time.” If the world becomes a more dangerous place, it won't happen overnight.  We'll have some warning to start building up our military again.

5.  Better consumer protections.

Credit card companies shouldn't be allowed to tell retailers how much they are allowed to charge their customers.  If retailers want to pass on the cost of credit card transactions only to those who use credit cards, they should be allowed to do so.  Then people can see just how much of their money is going to their credit card company.

If your bank is going to pay for your free checking account by charging ridiculous fees when you accidentally overdraw your account due to their "deposits not available until end of the next business day unless you deposit after noon in which cause they're not available until after the end of the business day after the next business day" policy, they should be forced to mention that sort of shit rather clearly when you open the account. 

When people apply for loans, it should be a requirement that they are informed of the total cost of the loan, including all interest and fees. 

Most everything presently advertised on television should be considered an illegal scam.

What shouldn't the 99% demand?


I've outlined the problems above.  None of those problems will be solved by increasing the taxes on the rich.  (Not that I care to comment on whether that should be done, as such a comment would require sorting fact from shit that I've heard, which I don't care to do.  I care only about all of the other shit I've mentioned.)

Also, while I admit I hardly know shit about how corporate taxes work, I fail to see how any income taxes for corporations is a good thing.  I don't see how they could do anything other than guarantee that only the companies with the sleaziest tax practices become the largest companies in the country, due to being the companies with the most cash on hand to expand their business.

The demand for corporations to pay income taxes just seems to be a failure of having a logical plan for taxation, much like taxing people with both income taxes, sales taxes, and a variety of other taxes isn't all that logical.  Much the same, it's probably just another way to raise taxes on individuals without appearing to raise taxes since, as corporations are made of people, those taxes are ultimately payed by people anyway. 

As I said above, money is a representation of human labor.  Thus corporations pay taxes with human labor.  To think that corporation taxes aren't just human taxes in disguise is absurd.  People pay those taxes because people are the only source of money.

...and what should the 99% do?


First of all, they shouldn't buy anything without looking around for the lowest price.  Especially medical care as it's one of our largest expenses due to the fact that absolutely no one shops around for the lowest price, short of finding someone who will accept their insurance.  I recently learned that a cheap dentist costs only 25% of what an expensive one costs.  ...and that was just between the two I visited.  I can't imagine what I'd find if I looked for the most expensive and the least expensive to compare.

The simple fact is that x-rays are ancient technology, but unless you ask around for prices rather than simply going to whichever lab your doctor points you towards, there's no incentive whatsoever for the price to be anything less than astronomical.

Always ask for prices before you obtain any service.  You can never assume you'll be charged a fair price because the moment you stop asking is the moment you'll get raped.

Stop obtaining loans for shit.  Especially houses and cars.  Do you know why houses and cars are so expensive? A lot of it is because people don't have to pay for these things immediately.  When you can just get a loan, you don't have to think about just how fucking much money $100,000 is.  Thus sellers have less incentive to offer reasonable prices. 

Cars are similar.  Inexpensive yet new cars exist for those who look for them.  They'd likely be even less expensive if there were more demand for them.  ...but, since you're getting a loan, you might as well opt for the power windows and every other feature which is priced for far more than it costs.  Why is it priced for more than it costs? Because you want it. 

The goal is to get as much money from each customer as possible, regardless of how much money that customer has.  So inexpensive cars with no options are offered near the price it costs to produce them.  Then options are added, all very basic things like a modest stereo and electronic door locks, but these options are all priced for more than they cost to produce.  In that way, the more you can afford to pay, the more profit the car company makes, but in the case that you don't have much money, the car company still gets whatever profit it can from you since it still sells you a car.

Lower your expectations.  Much of the reason people feel so poor is that they have such high expectations.  We have well-insulated houses, computers, internet, telephones, television, and so much food that most of us have become obese, yet we think we're lacking somehow.  We also can't find jobs, yet farmers say they can't hire anyone other than illegal immigrants.  Who, by the way, seem to be rather happy working jobs we don't want while living with ten roommates in a three bedroom house and trying to stay hidden from the police.  Yet we're upset because we thought that by going to college we'd be guaranteed a well-paying job, yet we can't find one, and won't take one that isn't well-paying in the meantime, and we're barely scraping by while posting on Facebook all day and apparently having plenty of spare time to wander around Wall street as they apparently aren't busy looking for a job.  No, let's not do anything like pick up a few roommates if we can't afford rent.  We can't lower our standards by having less than one bedroom per individual.  No way.

However, I can't say I blame anyone.  I don't want to share my bedroom with anyone.  Indeed, if I could afford it, I wouldn't share my apartment with anyone.  Even if it meant that I'd have to constantly bitch and whine that I can barely afford my rent.

That, however, is the ultimate problem.  No matter how much money you have, you can always find something else to want.  Our society is built around want.  ...and given that no one really wants money, but instead we want stuff, it's only natural that we have no money because we're spending it all on stuff.  Whether that be things that are easy to give up like cell phones or video games, or something that's more difficult to give up like an apartment that we don't have to share with anyone, we all have shit that we could give up if we really had to.  That's why so very few of us are living on the streets.  We may all think that we are just barely scraping by, but if that were true, we'd have a lot more homeless than we do.

TL;DR


The 99% should demand less bullshit, but we should realize that a portion of that bullshit is our own decisions and expectations.  Yes, we're being fucked by the rich, but at the same time, we are bending over while they stand behind us.  Perhaps we should stand up and turn around.

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