We are in this together....

Do you know if you are part of the 99%? Polls show that lots of middle class people think they are doing better than they are…40% of Americans think they are in the top 1%. In reality, you would need a salary of $750,000 to be in that group. Follow this link to see how your income ranks.

I’m planning a personal finance unit for my ninth graders, so that they can get a clear picture of why a $12.00/hour job or even a $20.00/hour job may sound great now, but doesn’t go too far when it comes to paying for regular daily expenses, plus health care and saving for retirement. But we’ll also be talking about the pros and cons of taking out student loans for education, and what you can expect to happen to your wages over the long term, and what you can expect from your expenses. We’ll talk about what happens when you bump up through the tax brackets on your way to middle class success, and why sometimes you end up in situations where you work more and earn more, but you pay more taxes, have more expenses and end up wondering where that American dream is that you were chasing.

We’ll talk about how $20.00/hour is a great wage, and maybe you even have health insurance on top of that, but if your deductible is high and your kid gets leukemia and you max out your coverage, you better have an alternate plan. For a lot of people, that means spaghetti dinner fundraisers and begging for change from strangers via a container next to the register at the 7-11.

Older people are fond of recalling tough times and telling you how they always struggled and times were tough. This may be true for them, but to engage in a debate about national policy, one must have a clear picture of what is happening on a larger scale. I like this video because it rather quickly explains some of the talking points that we hear repeated in the media. Pay close attention to point number 5. Is that why you and I aren’t standing together?

This movement means a lot of things, but it’s not really about restoring fairness. Life is not fair, and we can’t make it that way. I don’t support Occupy Wall Street because I want things to be fair.

This is why trying to isolate economic inequality to problems with the tax code is a big mistake.

As a teacher, this movement matters to me, because a kid who doesn’t have stability in his home, who moves a lot, has a parent working 2 or 3 low-paying jobs, poor access to healthy foods, or healthcare, is a kid that is very difficult to educate.
And he’ll be sitting right next to your kid in school. Even in the nice, suburban, graffiti-free schools.

The difficult to educate kid will take a lot of my time. Your kid will get less. I’m sorry. I wish it weren’t that way. When this happens on a large scale, I’m pretty sure it has a strong impact on dumbing down the whole lot of us. Except of course, the super-rich, who have their own schools, their own gated communities, their own doctors, their own airports. And their own politicians.

Before you dismiss the Occupy Wall Street protests, consider how you actually fit into the big picture.

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