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When student is an occupation: Caught in an economic quagmire, the educated class turns to OWS - Essay Example

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The article entitled “When student is an occupation: Caught in an economic quagmire, the educated class turns to OWS” published on October 28, 2011 by Marissa Brotsoff argues that the students and recent graduates who are currently occupying Wall Street represent a much maligned group who are “among the victims of regressive economic policies and among the potential beneficiaries of social change” (Brotsoff, 2011, p. 1) …
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When student is an occupation: Caught in an economic quagmire, the educated class turns to OWS

Download file to see previous pages... 1) The author maintains that this generation of students have been cornered into an “unattainable, unaffordable model of success” (Brotsoff, 2011, p.1) and have in effect been left high and dry by a society that promised them much, much more. This amounts to a serious grievance, in the author’s opinion but in fact this generation of graduates is the most privileged that the country has ever seen. While there is no doubt that the author speaks from a sense of injustice and resentment, there is considerable evidence that her argument is not based on a balanced reading of the facts. She maintains that that graduate unemployment is rising and salaries are falling, which is true of the last couple of years, but this must be seen in a broader perspective. A closer look at some of the statistics from recent years on the economic advantages that college education brings, shows clearly that it is worthwhile in financial terms to achieve a degree. The following graph based on data from 2002 comprising a group of over 25 year olds who were in full time employment expressed this in a format using constant 2002 dollars, to compensate for inflation: Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oct 23, 2003. http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2003/oct/wk3/art04.htm Over this period both women and men with less than a high school diploma have suffered a decline in their inflation adjusted earnings, but those who are fortunate enough to have completed college degrees have increased their income by one-third (women) or one fifth (men). These are huge gains which have accumulated over time. The gender differences are due to the slow progress that is being made towards the equalization of salary levels. What this graph shows very clearly is the trend towards increased wealth in those who go to college. Such people are indeed an elite in real terms, as far as income is concerned, and even if in present times there is a slowing or slight reversal of this trend, this does not wipe out the huge gains that were made in the 1980s and 1990s. The author is not correct in identifying a genuine grievance, since the slight downturn is nothing more than a small blip caused by the credit crunch. While the value of college education to the individual is one reason why they are seen as an elite, another reason is the value that these individuals collectively bring to the town or city in which they live. Temple (2000, pp. 1-2) argues that the productivity of a city rises when there is a graduate level institution present, bringing increased wealth to the whole community, and advises third world and transitional economies to invest in education, not just for these strong economic reasons, but also because of the huge social and cultural advantages that come with college education. This advantage in the human capital of a region is not measurable in dollars, but rather in the improved status in the community and quality of life that students have, being able to access many intangible benefits through their skills level and enthusiasm for innovation. What this research shows is that a college education privileges a person in ways that are hard to measure but nevertheless very significant. It proves that collectively, this generation of students enjoys a high status in society. An intriguing part of Brotsoff’s argument relating to the “Occupy Wall Street” relies on parallels with previous periods of student activism relating to the Invasion of Iraq which she somewhat presumptuously labels “our Vietnam.” (Brotsoff, 2011, p. 1) Bruntsoff is willing to admit that the student demonstrations of the Gulf War ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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