Could the Occupy Wall Street movement really be about student loans? The protests have spun off a Tumblr blog called “We Are the 99 Percent,” where ordinary people submit photos of themselves holding up their stories (written or printed on old-fashioned paper). And many of the stories are about young people drowning in college loans. “I have $29,685 in student loans. I worry I will never be out of debt,” writes one graduate. “I am hounded daily by the loan company demanding payment,” writes another.
Some pundits who initially dismissed Occupy Wall Street as an unfocused hippie gathering have had their minds changed by the blog. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote that after reading We Are the 99 Percent, he realized that “college debt represents a special sort of betrayal” for the protesters, who were promised that education was the way to get ahead. The fact that the government paid off Wall Street’s debts but not theirs may also have something to do with the anger. As one debt-ridden 99 percenter put it, “I understand that I made the choices that got me here. However, my choices were led by the failed institutions that make up this nation.”