Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupying Assumptions

Now that the Occupiers are temporarily unoccupied, I thought I would bring up an interesting piece from The Christian Science Monitor: an online publication.

The Christian Science Monitor, a periodical that was founded on the principal of non-sensationalist journalism has an interesting piece on the demographics of the Occupy Wall Street Crowd in Zuccotti Park in New York City.  While they are not the only “occupy” movement, they are the group closest to Wall Street.

Gloria Goodale, Christian Science Monitor, 1 November 2011 (Hat tip: NC).

·         60 percent voted for Obama

·         73 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance

·         97 percent disapprove of congress’ performance

·         42  percent will for the Democratic candidate in their U.S. House District

·         Less than 2% will vote for the Republican candidate in their U.S. House District

·         78% think the economy has gotten worse

·         75% view the Tea Party unfavorably

·         The average age is 33

The article then discusses financing.

Another somewhat surprising aspect of the movement regards its financing. According to the online pay site, its donation numbers show that the overwhelming online support comes from “average, middle-class donors,” says chief executive officer Bill Clerico.
 “The vast majority of those giving have incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range,” he says. The median donation amount is $22, while the average rises to $60, which shows that there are a few “very large donations sending the average amount higher,” adds Mr. Clerico. To date, his company has processed more than $325,000 in donations to Occupy Wall Street.

They did not make note of a large group of homeless people within the crowds.  Given the heavy play made of this issue at the partisan (the other way) Fox News, one wonders if this isn’t at least in part a “tempest in a teapot” issue.

If I were to characterize them, I would call them relatively young democrat leaning swing voters.  Thirty-three does not sound particularly old, but with all the advance degrees and internships needed to get going in the high-pay atmosphere of New York City, a lot of these people have spent a lot of time working toward high paying positions only to be disappointed.  A typical Lawyer isn’t even going to get their first real job until they are 27.

The income distribution of donors indicates that most of them are college educated with a leaning toward advanced degrees.  I imagine that a number of them fit the profile of the small donors that contributed to Obama’s first presidential campaign, but are holding back now.

The commonality with the Tea Party, besides the overlap with the anti-corporate bailout meme, to my mind is that you have the enfranchised middle class demonstrating for its own perceived benefit.   The older Tea Party did not want to disband Social Security payments, and the younger Occupiers want student debt relief.  Note that both of these items are transfer payments:  Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme after three years of payment, and debt relief is going to go against government (tax payer) backed loans.

Given the emphasis on benefits, both groups appear to be under the impression that we can continue to have the expansionary (mathematically challenged) compounding growth economics that have held sway for the very short period of time known as the industrial revolution.  They view the machine as temporarily broken, rather than being permanently out (or starved) of fuel.

Maybe they are correct.


PioneerPreppy said...

Good stats to know.

I would point out that while the tea party people paid into SS for most if not all of their lives the OP's just got a loan that they now want out from under. So I do not consider them similarities. Most people would be fine with just having their SS paid back to them and be done with it.

russell1200 said...

Most people would be fine with just having their SS paid back to them and be done with it."

That is only because most people don't realize that after the third year of SS, they would be out of money.

PioneerPreppy said...

With what I have paid into it I could make myself a much better return off that lump sum than I would get back in over payments.

russell1200 said...

As far as future benifits you may very well be correct. And of course if you die young, you don't get anything. But for todays retires dying at the average age they do extremely well- at least until the Ponzi scheme catches up with us.

Historically, returns on stock investment have been 3% above inflation which makes sense because that comes very close to matching the 3% average growth of the United States economy.

Most people don't put away (via voluntary and SS deductions) nearly enough money to retire on 3% above inflation returns. Even if you boost the percentage because of the annuity aspect of the savings (some dying early) most people will still fall well short.

That is why the boomers keep chasing bubbles.

That is also why all those stories about municipalities opting out of SS (as only they could do) and their janitors retiring with millions of dollars is misleading. If your pension fund had a bunch of tech stocks and your retired right before it lost 90% or its value, you did pretty well. The people set to retire the next year - not so well.