Thursday, February 2, 2012

Between the Top 1% and Bottom 99%

Occupy Wallstreet has dominated the national media since its inception back in September, but the movement felt easy to ignore within the confines of Claremont. The 5-C’s didn’t become a huge, vocal force in the fight like U.C. Berkeley did. There was no Occupy Claremont with police intervention and violent arrests. While the Berkeley students protested rising public education costs and simultaneous state budget cuts, most of Claremont went along their normal routines. Back in November, The Student Life reported on two Pitzer students who had been arrested at Occupy L.A., and I heard a few scattered accounts of students going in to LA for the afternoon to participate and observe, but the majority seemed unaffected by Occupy LA.

Moreover, I’ve had a difficult time placing myself within the movement. Our class discussion on the 1% touched on where we fit in, but it’s still unclear. Why is there no middle ground between excessive wealth and extreme property? What about the top 10 %? Or even 20%? Considering private colleges and universities in America costs upwards of $50,000 a year, a family making $130,000/year would have depleted their bank account if they sent two children to college. According to the online chart, that income would place them in roughly the top 19% in Seattle, top 4% in Flint, Michigan, and top 16% in Dallas, Texas. Where do they fit in among the movement? Someone in class referenced a Jon Stewart episode that featured Stewart going to the movement and seeing all of these well dressed students on their shiny macbook pros “fighting for the movement.” I tried to find the link on google, but I could only come up with a clip from a November 2011 episode making fun the of class divide at Zucotti park in New York where Stewart made fun of the sharp divide of the “yuppies” and the “ghetto,” both participating at Occupy. Reading the tumblr “We are the 1%, We stand with the 99%” highlights the confusing emotions many people feel whose parents money helped them be where they are today.

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