Who Are the 99 Percent?

By:  Ezra Klein

"I did everything I was supposed to and I have nothing to show for it."

It's not the arrests that convinced me that "Occupy Wall Street" was worth covering seriously. Nor was it their press strategy, which largely consisted of tweeting journalists to cover a small protest that couldn't say what, exactly, it hoped to achieve. It was a Tumblr called, "We Are The 99 Percent," and all it's doing is posting 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. 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.

"I am a 28 year old female with debt that had to give up her apartment + pet because I have no money and I owe over $30,000."

College debt shows up a lot in these stories, actually. It's more insistently present than housing debt, or even unemployment. That might speak to the fact that the protests tilt towards the young. But it also speaks, I think, to the fact that college debt represents a special sort of betrayal. We told you that the way to get ahead in America was to get educated. You did it. And now you find yourself in the same place, but buried under debt. You were lied to.

"Married mother of 3. Lost my job in 2009. My family lost our health insurance, our savings, our home, and our good credit. After 16 months, I found a job -- with a 90 mile commute and a 25 percent pay cut. After gas, tolls, daycare, and the cost of health insurance, i was paying so my kids had access to health care."

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