Print Story Even after reading the lists of demands floating around...
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By gzt (Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 11:53:59 AM EST) gzt, test, chess, getting stuff done, bilbo, occupy wall street (all tags)
...I'm still not quite sure what the Occupy Wall Street people are hoping to accomplish. All I know is that they're sans culottes. Still, I support the idea that something isn't going right, something should be done, and nothing has been done. Stiglitz is right that Wall Street has found a way to "socialize losses and privatize" gain, and that's just wrong.


Here are a couple ideas floating around that are just bad (though not all of these are on the terrible list of proposed demands floating around):
  1. Get rid of the Federal Reserve. This is a Ron Paul idea. No, we need the Federal Reserve. Anybody who says otherwise is a dangerous fool. Well, I should be nicer. Ron Paul is not a fool. He knows exactly what he is doing and what will happen when he does what he does. His followers often don't know the first or the second, really, and don't realize that what will happen is, by most conventional metrics, Very Bad.
  2. Cancel student debt. That would be very nice for my family, personally, but it's a bad idea on very many levels. There are a couple things that might be okay in my uneducated opinion: more government assistance on federally subsidized student loans (say, additional tax credits, partial cancellations) and adding some structures that alleviate some of the burden of student loans (subsidies that lower interest rates, more government help for people with low incomes post-graduation). But cancelling student debt just could not work.
  3. Gold standard. No no no no no no no no. No. Fortunately, this has no chance of ever happening. See #1, except doubly so.
  4. Another bigger stimulus. This is a good idea, but nobody occupying Wall Street seems to be in favor of it, as far as I can tell. What can I say, I like Krugman?
  5. I just saw a list of demands - they're almost universally terrible.
Perhaps something does need to be done about student loans, since a lot of people did go for the implicit social contract: go to college, rack up some modest student debt, but get a job out of school that pays for the loans. If you were reasonable and got ~$20,000 of debt, that's really only around $200/month, which is certainly feasible with just about any real job. However, the collapse in 2008 has meant that nobody has been hiring for three straight years. There is an absurd level of competition for a limited number of spots. Well, tough nuts for them.

Crrrrud, I should get this little bit of work for this one person done, um, yesterday.

It was an inside job: http://i.imgur.com/fqQw2.jpg

Apparently Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor, is going to play Radagast in The Hobbit. He was also second in line to play Bilbo in LOTR.

We watched the end of the first ever Doctor Who serial last night. She enjoyed it. We'll watch the Dalek one, then a couple other episodes, then move on to Troughton. Most of his stuff didn't survive, but I'm sure there's something worth watching.

Test Thursday. Shouldn't be so bad. Not quite sure what it will be like.

I need to be better at chess.

< Programming getting back into it | Where we're at. >
Even after reading the lists of demands floating around... | 44 comments (44 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Which one? by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:07:41 PM EST
I started watching the Aztec Who on Netflix, but got distracted.


The first one... by gzt (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:19:15 PM EST
...is the cavemen one after Unearthly Child. We could watch The Aztecs, but I don't want to tarry too long on Hartnell.

[ Parent ]
Wall Street protests by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:12:41 PM EST
I support the instinct behind the protests, because there certainly is something going really, really wrong in this country economically, and it is very much related to the too great accumulation of wealth in that "1%".

I suspect as long as the trend continues, with the poor classes increasing in size and wealth being concentrated on the top, the protests will grow in strength.  Having a very large number of young people with no real job prospects is extremely bad for society as a whole.

I'm just glad they are currently mad at the "1%" not the "10%".
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

But Radagast is not in The Hobbit. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 01:50:31 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

You are correct. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 01:52:18 PM EST
He is mentioned, though, so I presume the movie will expand on that.

[ Parent ]
That book is called by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #26 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 08:25:36 PM EST
"Some Short Dudes Look for Treasure" by Ron Token, Jr.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I got some news about Arwen, too by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:38:38 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Yes but... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:27:59 PM EST
She's a lot hotter than Radagast.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Gold standard by Herring (4.00 / 2) #6 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:12:32 PM EST
I don't understand the obsession - the value of gold is just as susceptible to market crap as anything else. Why not "the cheese standard"? At least you can eat cheese.

Something needs to be done about the financial system because it's fucking ridiculous. The amounts flying around in derivatives and associated bollocks are many, many multiples of the "real" economy. Unfortunately there's no easy way to climb down from where we are (maybe let all the banks go bust and have a government bank pick up the retail side - hey that might actually work).

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

gold standard by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:19:57 PM EST
the people who are in favor of a gold standard are in favor of it because it means a constant (give or take new gold discoveries) money supply. this is believed to be good because it is anti-inflationary.

of course, i dislike the gold standard because i believe it is intrinsically deflationary if there is a growing population, and because i think deflation fucks over the poor to benefit the rich.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Money by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:27:26 PM EST
We should define a new monetary unit called the "populucu" that is backed by people.  Every time a person is born, one populucu is added to the money supply.

(There may be some satire in the above proposal.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Even more revolutionary by Herring (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 05:17:57 PM EST
Every person, regardless of wealth, has an equal say in the political process. I like to call it "one person one vote". It would mean that CEOs of massive corporations had no more influence over the government than a building labourer.

Can't see it every taking off though.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
That's crazy talk! (nt) by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 07:18:43 PM EST

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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Satire? by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 07:25:21 PM EST
I suppose it is. I think I heard an explanation of the "sovereign citizen" movement that worked exactly that way.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately by Oberon (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:17:50 PM EST
Inflation also fucks over the poor and (relatively) benefits the rich.

The poor can't win, really.


How now, mad spirit?
[ Parent ]
Poor by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #14 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:31:14 PM EST
Being poor fucks over the poor.  Simple as that.

Money == power.  Power being the ability to make the world conform to your wishes.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Yes and no by Herring (4.00 / 1) #17 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 05:14:58 PM EST
Initially, for my parents, their mortgage was fairly harsh and times were certainly tight. However, inflation through the 70s and 80s meant that it decreased to the point where it was pretty insignificant.

Inflation is bad for the poor though. Not so bad for the indebted middle-classes.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
inflation is bad by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #40 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:41:44 PM EST
for people on fixed income - rentiers and retired people.

inflation is bad for people whose wages do not keep pace with inflation.

inflation is fantastic for debtors who rely on wage or sale income which keeps pace with the inflation.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Cheese standard. by technician (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:41:17 PM EST
Holy shit.

I think you just invoked a piece of magic that defines our monetary plumbing here at HuSi.

The Cheese Unit.

The CU.

One CU = one diary? Or one comment that has at least 2 +4 ratings?

[ Parent ]
It's not so simple by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #36 Wed Oct 05, 2011 at 05:05:55 AM EST
The cheese standard itself is well and good, but what type of cheese?

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
It's a fine question, by technician (2.00 / 0) #37 Wed Oct 05, 2011 at 07:03:29 AM EST
and we can probably find some common ground to assign different values to the cheeses.

[ Parent ]
good money drives out bad by gzt (2.00 / 0) #39 Wed Oct 05, 2011 at 07:50:54 AM EST
So we'll start with American and let evolution take care of the rest.

[ Parent ]
Cheese unit by Herring (4.00 / 1) #38 Wed Oct 05, 2011 at 07:27:40 AM EST
Does that only apply to the dairy section?

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
For thousands of years, gold was rock solid stable by lm (4.00 / 2) #22 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 06:48:43 PM EST
You know, back in the day when various governments used to set the price of gold by fiat.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Hell by duxup (4.00 / 1) #33 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:26:45 PM EST
I'd argue gold is more speculative now than ever.  In the past gold was widely used in industry.  Not sure that makes it any more attractive to peg your currency on but my understanding is today gold's use in industry is far less than in the past, making that market mostly driven by speculation without much actual demand for it to give it some buoyancy. 


Of course fundamentally it is a stupid idea, but even the idea that it is magically more stable to stick to... gold seems absurd.


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[ Parent ]
OWS people by Orion Blastar (2.50 / 2) #11 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:40:32 PM EST
Basically Corporations in the USA are too greedy and need reform because they are corrupt.

How many of you are unemployed, how many of you got wrongfully terminated or laid off? How many of you got medical bills you cannot pay because your employer's health insurance didn't cover it. When I got too sick I got fired. Every job I had since I got schizoaffective disorder as soon as they discover I am mentally ill I got fired. Discrimination sure but if I filed a suit with the EEOC I'd never get hired again as employers would do a background check and see I sued a former employer and not hire me. I had that happen to friends before, some killed themselves over not being able to work.

But anyway, you got managers being paid too much and not paying their employees enough or giving them the benefits they need. As soon as someone gets sick they are fired, and considered to be a liability. Eventually corps hire 20 somethings out of college because they can overwork them and they don't know management tricks yet, they'll work for less salary and no benefits or 401ks, they won't do as good a job as an experienced person but they get work done. After a while H1B Visas hire workers at minimum wage or they offshore the work to a third world nation and pay them $100/month to save costs.

Meanwhile all this ruins the economy and puts many out of work.

Health insurance needs reform too, real reform. What I feared happened did happen, the so called reform ended up making health insurance worse in the USA. We got people with insurance getting higher co pays, and people not allowed to get insurance because of pre existing conditions even though we got promised the health care reform laws would fix that. Nope it did not.

I guess people get a bit upset over that. I saw many dressed up as zombies protesting with fake money in their mouths.


"I drank what?" - Socrates after drinking the Conium
Suggestion by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:45:18 PM EST
Become a contractor.

Over here we operate through our own personal companies and therefore our medical records are our own business.
Granted you won't get the discounts from being in an employee health scheme, but at least you'd have a job.

Obviously the rules over there may be different....


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
Yeah the rules over here are different by Orion Blastar (1.00 / 1) #16 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:50:08 PM EST
for example Michael Crawford was a contractor and worked for clients like Apple etc. His employer screwed him out of seven years salary and he had to earn money on the side with another job. But that contacting job while it did not pay him a pay check, the IRS saw it as income and taxed him the hell out of it. So he moved on a lot from one contracting job to another, getting screwed by bodyshops. When he posted about it, he got sued and his posts removed and he spent some time in a mental hospital as well.

I was a contractor for a bit, worked for the US Army as a client. Seemed to do alright but we closed down the army base and the job went away.


"I drank what?" - Socrates after drinking the Conium
[ Parent ]
A good reason not to be a software contractor by Orion Blastar (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 08:42:07 PM EST
in the USA:

www.youtube.com/watch

The Contracting companies screw you and then the IRS screws you, and then nuts like Joe Stack fly planes into buildings. Rick Sanchez covers it and interviews MDC over it, then later gets fired and the whole thing is covered up. Even deleted from Wikipedia to cover up how US software contractors get screwed. I do not support violence and terrorism. I'd rather just write about it and spread the word how US software contractors get screwed and educate people. As a civil rights activist and former software contractor I think my freedom of speech is covered just as much as anyone else's.


"I drank what?" - Socrates after drinking the Conium
[ Parent ]
Ron Paul by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 05:29:27 PM EST
I won't argue about the fed, but he's the most powerful non-system guy in American politics, and his fiscal views are the most realistic of anyone in federal politics that I know of. The system guys are all trapped within the same old economic narratives and the goal of funneling more money/power to them and their sponsors. It's too bad Paul's social views are so reactionary. Even with that - if he got the nomination, I might vote for him over Obama due to my belief that the social gains of the 20th century require a strong middle class at their core, and I'd rather see the core held than trying to keep the gains themselves held together with duct tape which will inevitably fail.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

wait wait wait by gzt (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 06:09:26 PM EST
He wants to abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard and his views are the "most realistic of anyone in federal politics"?

Abolishing the Fed could be feasible (it's still a little loony), but "the gold standard" immediately means "not realistic".

[ Parent ]
yes by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 06:18:43 PM EST
although his reasons for wanting to move to a gold standard have nothing to do with the reasons I think that or something similar is a step in the right direction. The standard economic narrative assumes that infinite economic growth is possible. We were able to assume that since the dawn of the industrial age, but we can't anymore. We're going to have to invent an economic system that works with zero growth, and the gold standard is a step in the right direction.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
Delusional Paul by Oberon (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:13:27 PM EST
I agree with you about the lack of alternative voices, but ....

I've got into some interesting discussions with Ron Paul fans before, and unfortunately it seems that he and his followers are gripped with the delusion that free markets are the answer to very nearly everything.

I believe that way lies a shrinking of the middle class, not its growth.

(Plus he is against the Civil Rights Act -- and while I appreciate that this is motivated by libertarianism and not racism, I could no more vote for someone who would stand aside for racists, than for the racists themselves).


How now, mad spirit?
[ Parent ]
Not for long by duxup (2.00 / 0) #34 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:36:32 PM EST
Isn't he betting the farm on his current presidential run?  Specifically not running for his congressional seat again?  So he will be out of politics soon with his power draining away to some extent.

Paul happens to say some correct things here and there, very correct, some about 9/11, some about military spending, etc.  Except they just seem special to me because nobody else will say them, but it doesn't make him electable to me.  Also all those correct things make him untouchable for the GOP, they tolerate him at best.  IMO Paul's association / compromise simply being a GOP member makes him suspect / tainted even when it comes to what he is right about.  Everything he is spot on right about... I'd argue the GOP has played a bigger hand in than even the Democrats to some extent (although the parties are somewhat hard to tell apart at times).

On the other hand his other polices would seem to save the nation from a government dominated by corporations using the government to do its bidding... to just a nation dominated by corporations.  I don't see his alternative much different than the direction we are already moving toward.
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[ Parent ]
Go long on shotgun shells. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 07:45:43 PM EST
I somewhat suspect it is too late for protest movements. The political system as it stands in the US is not capable of handling what's coming down the pike, unless things go a lot better in Europe than it looks like they will. What is needed now is heavy fiscal stimulus and monetary policy geared toward increasing the supply of money, not keeping inflation down. But that can't happen right now. One political party actually wants the economy to continue to suck, the other couldn't be troubled to fight a good fight (saving the economy) when they had the wherewithal to do it and instead blew their very solid majority on health care reform -- maybe a good cause, but not as critical as the economy. 

I still don't quite understand what happened over the summer. I was out of the country and away from domestic news, but it seemed to me that the Chambers of Commerce were actually backing this debt limit horseshit the Republicans pulled, which really made me wonder. Those guys were exactly the people I thought were going to reign the Republicans in, but it didn't happen. It's all so bizarre. Why pursue policy goals whose only obvious advantage is to depress the price of labor when the labor market is already so heavily in the favor of employers? And why so aggressively? I guess my go to theory about Republicans is that it's really just about how pissed off they are about the Civil Rights Act.

I think the demands I saw were stuff like a tax on financial transactions, taxing capital gains as wages and the student loan thing, none of which seem particularly compelling to me. Maybe there is is real money to be had on those two taxes and if so, maybe it's something worth considering. Seems to me the student loan stuff is just self-dealing. Students want a refund from their universities. We've been telling them to ask for one for years. Now they're doing something kind of like that, but seems to me the real culprits are the universities and the students themselves, not the government or banks who helped finance their overpriced educations. The university system is another critical American institution in dire straits, though it seems the answers there are easier. In any case, I don't see how any of this convinces Congress to pass a serious stimulus package. 

Seems to me we're headed for a Mad Max style meltdown of society as we know it, as predicted by Dan Drezner in 2007 or so. Personally, I'm looking into purchasing an abandoned missile silo and stocking up on shotgun shells.


the problem with missile silos... by gzt (4.00 / 1) #28 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:00:53 PM EST
...is that they're in the middle of nowhere. Like, Omaha. Shuck that jive.

I agree about Obama and spending his political capital on the wrong thing. Yes, the Chambers of Commerce turned Republican. It was silly of them. I have doubts about whether being in the country at the time and following the news would have helped. The events of this summer were pure madness. What is real madness is that I didn't cash out everything I had and go short: it was clear then that nothing would be going up for a long time.

I really need to take a look at the business model of the modern university as compared to several decades ago. I know that things are getting a lot more pricey - just as fast as health care - and schools are trying to compete for students on the value of the fringe benefits they offer. They are also having a lower student:administration ratio while also trying to get rid of tenured positions wherever possible. It seems obvious to me that schools would be much cheaper if they cut the perquisites and strictly extracurricular programs for students and the administration those require, all without compromising the purported intellectual aims of a university. Then again, only fools and rich people pay sticker price for a private school, so perhaps I'm off base. I'm also perhaps overestimating the expense those contribute to the pro forma $40,000 tuition bill. Whatever. This is unsustainable. Harvard et al get away with charging that because their endowments are large enough that, as I said, only fools and the rich pay the sticker price, and they don't admit fools. Other private schools can't be that generous, so fools rush in thinking that $50,000 of debt to go to, viz, Macalester is somehow going to place them better in the world than $20,000 at a public school.

As an aside, I once helped analyze some data about the average debt of students who graduated with debt from a variety of schools. The Ivies came in around $8-12 (princeton, of course, was at 0), while most everybody else, public or private, was around $20k - perhaps commonly because something around there was the limit of federally-subsidized loans for four years at the time.

Suffice it to say, I'd be interested in some papers, articles, or a book about how student debt works and the business model of the modern university. I'm sure there's something interesting to say in there and I'm sure somebody's said it.

[ Parent ]
Student debt is pretty wack. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #30 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:43:51 PM EST
An ex-girlfriend of mine managed to rack up something like 80k in student debt by my estimation. I think there are plenty of people in that boat. Last I heard her plan was to get it cancelled by being some kind of lawyer in the employ of the government for ten years, although I'd be a bit surprised if she managed to pass the bar. I believe there are other ways out of student debt along those lines, but I never bothered to look into it very seriously. I don't have that much myself and I'll be damned if I'm going to teach high school addition classes for it.

What's happening to the younger generation right now is just one of many real crimes going on right now and I wonder where it'll go. Unless some kind of magical recovery starts pretty soon, we have the makings of some serious social strife in this country and in Europe. The baby boomers have failed future generations in a really big way. Perhaps they'll get a chance to see what they looked like at that age. 

[ Parent ]
law school debt is truly pernicious. by gzt (4.00 / 1) #31 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:52:00 PM EST
the bottom fell right out of that market. somehow our old pal nathan was able to land a jorb (at a prestigious firm, too), but a lot of people are SOL after '08. med school debt isn't so bad, you're sort of guaranteed a jorb if you succeed. other than that, i think only fools pay for grad school.

[ Parent ]
That's good to hear about nathan. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:55:42 PM EST
He's a good man. 

[ Parent ]
i am! by nathan (4.00 / 1) #41 Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 11:20:04 PM EST
Sorry, just started reading HuSi tonight after a 14-mo hiatus, thanks to seeing GZT IRL. Thanks again, GZT; I had a very nice time, and the book is hilarious.

So here's my story. I got 177 LSAT, took a scholarship to a lower top 10 school (not a full one, sadly - don't apply in January) and got really good grades in 1L (which is when they hire you.) But at the same time I applied to firms, hiring fell off a cliff. In the class year before mine, my firm took about 8 times as many summer associates as it did in my class year. This decline in hiring was typical of the Chicago market. In the previous class year, firms in Chicago had about 950 NALP summer associates. In my year, they took about 250.

Unlike real grad school, in law school almost no one gets merit money, and unranked diploma mills charge almost as much as Harvard. Tuition alone is mid five figures per year ($36,000 or so to over $50,000 at Berzerkely) and desperate grads from tier 1 schools will take anything they can get.

Personally, I'm fine, assuming I don't get fired about 95% of us get fired by year 8. My firm pays first years around $3000/week, so assuming I can stay in the business, I'll be able to repay my loans. But at an average starting salary of around $45k in a major metro area, and with typical non-dischargeable debt loads of $150k at 7.9%, non-NJ250 first-years lucky enough to actually find jobs may still find themselves paying $1500/mo ($18k/year) of their post-tax salaries to Sallie Mae for a very long time.

Every field has its sucktastic qualities at present, and I don't mean to imply that lawyers are even worse off or deserving of more pity, but that's their particular situation.


[ Parent ]
Sounds good. by the mariner (4.00 / 1) #42 Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 11:11:54 AM EST
It's good to hear lawyers other than you are getting the shaft, too.  




[ Parent ]
I recommend subscribing to the gzt RSS feed by gzt (4.00 / 1) #43 Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 01:39:53 PM EST
that way you don't have to actually read the rest of the site. assuming, of course, that you're interested in reading my diaries, which you certainly don't have to be.

[ Parent ]
it is, after all... by gzt (4.00 / 1) #44 Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 01:56:56 PM EST
...mostly whingeing about being bored.

[ Parent ]
Yar by duxup (2.00 / 0) #35 Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:42:12 PM EST
It is like being an American Football fan.  I love the sport.  Then I hang out with fellow fans.  I hate them...  We're all on the same side, but damn they're stupid.

Same goes for some of the protesters.

Student debt needs to be dealt with at the source, colleges and universities.  
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Even after reading the lists of demands floating around... | 44 comments (44 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback