Students as Teachers: Facing the World Adults Are Wrecking

By Belle Chesler, who is a visual arts teacher in Beaverton, Oregon. This is her second piece for TomDispatch. Originally published at TomDispatch

During the first week of May 1963, more than 800 African-American students walked out of their classrooms and into the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, to call for an end to segregation. Despite frequent arrests and having dogs and high-pressure firehoses turned on them, they kept marching. Their determination and ceaseless bravery — later called the Children’s Crusade — was captured in photographs and newspaper articles across the country. Through acts of peaceful and defiant civil disobedience, these students accomplished what their parents had failed to do: sway public opinion in support of the civil rights movement.

Fast forward to March 24, 2018. Naomi Wadler, a fifth grader, is standing at a podium in front of hundreds of thousands of protesters at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Young as she was, Wadler, who organized a walkout at her elementary school to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland massacre, delivered a searing and heartfelt speech about the countless gun-related deaths of African-American women in America. Her steely resolve and the power of her message brought me to tears. I wondered: Is this what it will take? Will a new generation of fearless student-leaders be the agents of change that America so desperately needs?

As a teacher, it took me a while to begin to see just what my students truly had in them. During my first two years of high school teaching, I’m not sure I loved or even liked my teenage students. If someone asked me about my job, I knew the right things to say — working with teenagers was challenging yet inspiring — but I didn’t believe the lip service I was paying the profession. Much of my initial experience in the classroom was emotionally draining, engaged as I was in power struggles with those students, trying to assert my influence and control over them.

It seemed so clear to me then. I was their teacher; they were my students. So I set out to establish a dynamic of one-way respect. I would provide information; they would listen and absorb it. This top-down approach was the model I’d observed and experienced my entire life. Adults talk, kids listen. So it couldn’t have been more unsettling to me when certain of those students — by sheer force of spirit, will, or intelligence — objected. They caused friction in my classroom and so I saw them as impediments to my work. When they protested by arguing with me or “talking back,” I bristled and dug my heels in deeper. I resented them. They posed a continual threat to my ego and my position as the unassailable owner of the classroom stage.

Still, I knew something was wrong. In the quiet hours of the early morning I’d often wake up and feel a discomfort I can’t describe. I’d run through exchanges from the previous day that left me wondering if I was doing more harm than good in that classroom. Yes, I continued to assert my right to the ownership of knowledge, but was I actually teaching anyone anything? I was — I could feel it — actively disregarding the emotional and intellectual capacities of my students, unwilling to see them as informed, competent, and worthy of being heard. I was, I realized, becoming the very kind of person I hated when I was in high school: the adult who demanded respect but gave none in return.

The best decision I ever made in a classroom was to start listening to my students.

As I slowly shifted the power structure in that room, my thinking about the way we look at youth and how we treat adolescents began to change, too. We ask teenagers to act like adults, but when they do, the response is often surprise followed by derision.

So it came as no real shock to me that, as soon as the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, started to talk back to the “adults in the room” — the pundits, commentators, politicians, the National Rifle Association, members of other special interest groups, and even the president — they were met, at least in certain quarters, with remarkable disdain. The collective cry from their opponents went something like this: there is no way a bunch of snot-nosed, lazy, know-nothing teenagers have the right to challenge the status quo. After all, what do they know, even if they did survive a massacre? Why would watching their friends and teachers die in the classrooms and hallways of their school give them any special knowledge or the right to speak out?

This nose-scrunching, finger-waving contempt for all things adolescent is a time-honored tradition. There’s even a name for it: ephebiphobia, or fear of youth. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato was quoted as saying: “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

And in some ways, Plato was right: the old should be fearful of the young. You see, the teenagers who marched after Parkland don’t necessarily hate the world; they just hate the particular world we’ve built for them. They’ve watched as the rules of the status quo have been laid out for them, a status quo that seems to become grimmer, more restrictive, and more ludicrous by the week. Fight for an end to police violence against unarmed black civilians and you’re a terrorist. Kneel during the National Anthem and you’re un-American. Walk out of your school to force people to confront gun violence and you’re not grateful for your education. In short, whatever the problems in our world and theirs, there is no correct way to protest them and no way to be heard. Not surprisingly, then, they’ve proceeded in the only way they know how: by forging new paths and ignoring what they’ve been told is immutable and impossible.

A World of Digital Natives

In doing so, those students have a distinct advantage over their elders. Adolescents understand the optics of the future in a way that most of the rest of us don’t. They’ve spent countless hours making YouTube and Snapchat videos and vlogging about their lives. They’re digital natives with the astonishing confidence to navigate the gauntlet of talking heads, corporate news media sites, politicians, commentators, tweeting presidents, and anonymous trolls. They not only do it with remarkable conviction, but it seems to come naturally to them.

They’ve been raised not only to believe in themselves, but also to have faith that there’s an audience online for those beliefs. No wonder Rush Limbaugh has taken to calling David Hogg, one of the most prominent of the Parkland student protesters, “Camera Hogg.” No wonder many on the right have accused students like him of being “paid actors.” Of course, Hogg isn’t acting; he’s simply a kid who has made practice perfect.

According to a 2017 American Time Use Study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American teenagers spend around 4.5 hours per day online, though that number may actually be low. In 2015, Common Sense Media conducted a study that found “American teenagers (13- to 18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework.” Two divergent paths emerge when considering such statistics. Follow one and the research supports the conclusion that excessive screen time has deleterious effects on the mental health and wellbeing of teenagers. Follow the other and you find those same teenagers so finely attuned and well adapted to the landscape of social media that they’ve become virtual masters of the craft.

Seventeen-year-old student activist David Hogg displayed exactly this mastery when he responded recently to Laura Ingraham of Fox News. She had attempted to publicly humiliate him by tweeting condescendingly about how he had been rejected by four California colleges. Hogg proved himself so much savvier than his famous foe when, instead of responding to Ingraham’s mudslinging, he promptly tweetedfor a boycott of her show’s advertisers. More than a dozen of them quickly jumped ship, which was devastating for her. When she issued an anemic mea culpa, he responded on CNN by saying, “The apology… was kind of expected, especially after so many of her advertisers dropped out.” In his measured appraisal of the situation lay a striking grasp of the established order. “I’m glad to see corporate America standing with me and the other students of Parkland and everybody else,” he said, “because when we work together we can accomplish anything.”

That exchange, a real-time adults vs. kids tweet war, had me riveted. The immediacy and efficacy of Hogg’s actions seemed to shatter the well-established dynamics between old and young. Hogg not only showcased his understanding of the way things work in America as so much craftier than Ingraham’s — always go for the money — but also utilized the most powerful tool at his disposal: a single well-aimed tweet meant to upend a seemingly bulletproof target. In doing so, he demonstrated that young people are now capable of speaking far more resonantly than their parents or grandparents could possibly have imagined. The question, of course, remains: Will the rest of us listen to them?

Asking the Big Questions at a Young Age

When focused through collective grief, anger, and urgency, the energy and passion that defines youth can be a powerful stimulus for change. The inherent ridiculousness of the argument against youth-led movements — that students have no platform on which to stand — pointedly overlooks the role of youth as catalysts for social transformation. From the Children’s Crusade of the civil rights moment to the student protests of the Vietnam War, adolescents (and sometimes even children) have regularly been on the front lines of the fight for social change.

The argument against listening to children is often made by those who forget what it’s like to be young. The daily lives of adolescents are, after all, deeply involved in thinking, assessing, analyzing, and evaluating. Nine months out of the year, whether they like it or not, they are actively engaged in education. By the time they graduate from high school — assuming they’ve attended for an average of 6.5 hours per day, 172 days per year — 18-year-olds in Oregon where I teach have spent somewhere around 14,690 hours in the classroom. It should come as no surprise then that, after so many years of being taught how to give speeches, make arguments in papers, support claims with evidence, and study the past, many teenagers are remarkably articulate and well-positioned to grasp the nature of the world they are about to enter. Whether they fully know it or not, they’re regularly being forced to ask the “big” questions about a distinctly messy world and beginning to form their own life philosophies.

Yes, just as I felt in my first two years as a teacher, teenagers can be maddeningly self-absorbed. But (as must be increasingly obvious, post-Parkland) those on the threshold of adulthood can also be astute observers of the world around them — sometimes strikingly more so than the adults who are supposed to provide them with so much wisdom. They’re deeply passionate about the things they love and rightfully skeptical of the world they will inherit.

Asking them to accept the depressing realities of the society we’re bequeathing to them without expecting them to respond, let alone protest, is tantamount to teaching without listening. My students know that the loan debt for their college-age equivalents already stands at $1.3 trillion and is only likely to get worse. It’s a subject that comes up in class all the time. So most of them already grasp their fate in our world as it is. They ask me how they’re supposed to pay for college without incurring lifelong, crippling debt, and I can’t give them a reasonable answer. But of course they don’t really expect me to.

They’ve been told that the richest 20% of Americans hold 84% of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 40% of Americans have less than 1%. They can see those vast wealth disparities for themselves in their lives, in their classrooms. They know that this country is over-weaponized and that neither “hunting” nor the “Second Amendment” can account for it. They’ve grappled with the terrifying reality that they could be gunned down in their own school, at the movies, at a concert, or even outside their homes. When we practice active-shooter drills in the classroom, all those fears are only confirmed. They see that adults can’t protect them and draw the necessary conclusions. So when they disrespect institutions, rules, beliefs, and traditions that look like relics from a past that has wantonly jeopardized their future, and when they disrespect the adults who seem to uphold those traditions, shouldn’t we take notice and listen?

Here’s one thing that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Teachers, exposed daily to these very teens, have been among the first to collectively follow them out of the classrooms and into the streets. The teacher strikes and walkouts in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia indicate that support for grassroots movements is building and that adults are, in their own ways, beginning to stand with and support the young.

Those teachers, often in the streets without the support and assistance of their unions (when they even have them), have opted instead to harness the energy and momentum behind the current youth-led activism and the tools available to them on social media to make their demands heard. Noah Karvelis, a new teacher in Arizona, caught the essence of the present situation when he described his colleagues as being, “primed for activism by their anger over the election of President Trump, his appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, and even their own students’ participation in anti-gun protests after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.”

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  1. Tomonthebeach

    Hard to tell which is more heartening, the coming of age of a budding new teacher or re-ascendance of American youth.

    This was a great essay that nicely articulates our collective moment in time. One has to applaud Belle Chesler’s willingness to put herself (and her readers) on a par with the likes of rude bullies (e.g., Limbaugh and Ingraham) to underscore the level of disdain adults are capable of when challenged by those viewed to be less powerful. That might well be how teens perceive our negative reactions to their challenges. Asking is so much more difficult than telling, in part, because it is hard to listen and talk at the same time — and we learn by listening. To suggest that recent teacher strikes might have been inspired by student marches was a kind final touch.

    I think it is overdue that fellow Boomers who marched for equal rights and a stop to the Vietnam (and all) War, who promoted peace and love vs intolerance and hatred, stand up and encourage this sort of activism which has lied dormant for far too long. It is sadly ironic that every Boomer president has wound up promoting policies that have increased inequality, promoted war, and generally shown disdain for those values we promoted in our teens. Even Nobel Peace Prize winners ironically have set historic firsts in the number of assassinations carried out on their order. Life IS a human right.

  2. divadab

    Good article but I have one quibble – a sixteen year-old can consent to sex, have a job, leave school – basically, a young adult. (a seventeen year-old can join the military and kill the enemy!).

    I object to calling sixteen- eighteen year-old young adults “children”. This is infantilising and wrong. That a teacher calls young adults “children” is indicative, IMHO, of something wrong culturally.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I agree, in general; one thing my recent contacts with high school kids have taught me is that they’re very capable. But you’re ignoring the context. For one thing, “children” mostly referred to even younger kids. But more important, she uses it to make a point: that these are our dependents and successors. We owe them the best start we can give them.

      In English, “child” is both a status, an age group, and a relationship. They are still our children, even when they’re 40 years old and full-fledged adults, because we are still their parents – not only within families, but in society as a whole.

    2. Scott1

      I have had a similar reaction to the labeling of teens as children. My own education was perfect.
      What the autocratic teacher does not grasp is the power of peer to peer learning.
      For me it was in learning to fly where peer to peer teaching & learning was most pronounced and regularized.
      For the youth of today much of the technology they use with alacrity was learned independently of their teachers.

  3. third time lucky

    “A sixteen year-old can consent to sex, have a job, leave school – basically, a young adult. (a seventeen year-old can join the military and kill the enemy!). ”

    “That … is indicative, IMHO, of something wrong culturally.”

    Yep, considering the brain, the main organ of the mind isn’t well , formed until around 25, it is abuse to apply economic violence as well as direct physical cohersion.

  4. The Rev Kev

    You wonder what sort of future that American kids will have after leaving school. They are not stupid because they are young you know. They can see that life after school is a stacked deck and who is dealing themselves the best hand. They know what is being done to them and by whom. Thing is, they know technology and how to use it. Take Hogg’s takedown of Laura Ingraham. It was almost military in its precision. He went straight to her center of gravity – her sponsors – and leveraged an attack on them that had Ingraham making a stock-standard apology that Hogg rightly called her out on. Call it a taste of the future.
    Guess what. These kids will be voting soon and I bet a lot will be voting in 2020. Who do your think that they will be voting for? Trump? A Clinton clone? I don’t think so. I do not know how big a factor they will be in 2020 but I am willing to bet that they will be an even more important factor in 2024. Guess who taught them while we are at it. Teachers! Yeah, the same ones who are going on the attack against their union leadership, their legislators and anybody else that will get in their way. Is Trump going to do to them what Obama did to Occupy Wall Street? Won’t work. Not this time. That sound that you can hear is a clock ticking

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      More to the point, some of ” the kids” may start running for office – – for real get-stuff-done reasons – – – at a very early age.

  5. Eclair

    ‘By the time they graduate from high school — assuming they’ve attended for an average of 6.5 hours per day, 172 days per year — 18-year-olds in Oregon where I teach have spent somewhere around 14,690 hours in the classroom. It should come as no surprise then that, after so many years of being taught how to give speeches, make arguments in papers, support claims with evidence, and study the past, many teenagers are remarkably articulate and well-positioned to grasp the nature of the world they are about to enter.’

    Well, that’s the problem right there. We give our kids too much time to think, learn, analyze, discuss. Can’t have them lurking around ferreting out the ills of the System.

    Let’s make America great again! I uncovered last week, the 1880 federal census, listing my maternal grandmother’s grandfather’s sister and family, living in Johnston, Rhode Island. They came to the US from Ireland, via a decade or two in Manchester, England. Her seven children lived at home; and all are noted as ‘works in cotton mill.’ Including the 15, 13 and 11 year olds. Same for every family in their neighborhood, known as ‘Merino Village.’

    The system of child labor even has a title: The Rhode Island System. Samuel Slater, entrepreneur and builder of cotton mills in that state, created a community, including villages to house the workers and their families, in the late 1700’s. He then staffed his mills with children, aged 5 through 11. They were biddable. And they actually added to GNP, rather than creating a drain on resources. But, most importantly, they had no time or energy to think.

    Of course, by the 1880’s, conditions had deteriorated, the American workers discovered they could get ‘free’ land out West and the mill owners, in order to keep their profit margin high, were forced to import large numbers of immigrants who, with their children, would put in 80 hours per week for cheap.

    As with was the case with enslaved Africans, I am sure the system of forcing 11 year olds to work 80 hours per week, produced thousands of happy children. No worries about the dog eating my homework. No angst over not having the ‘right’ pair of jeans. And no having to eat those abominable school lunches. Most importantly, no worries over some deranged shooter coming into their mill and gunning them down. Halcyon days.

    (I am being sarcastic here, people. Just finished reading Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ “Loaded: A disarming history of the second amendment,” as well as Chris Hedge’s weekly really depressing piece at Alternet and am feeling bitter. Like we are on the verge of creating The Betsy DeVos System.)

    1. The Rev Kev

      You probably know it already but there is a reason why they employed young children in cotton mills. Their small bodies meant that they could go under machinery and do stuff like pull out clogged cotton. Didn’t stop them getting their arms mangled from time to time by the machinery. There is a page on it at but a very evocative photo of an American cotton girl can be found at and is from 1908 in South Carolina.

      1. Eclair

        Thanks for reminding me of that picture of the child at work, Rev. My maternal grandmother’s young sister died at age 15 in 1906; her death certificate lists her occupation as ‘cloth room,’ in one of the local woolen mills. Her cause of death was broncho-pneumonia, in July. I can only think that the infection was exacerbated by her daily breathing in of the wool fibers floating about and polluting the air of the mills. She could have resembled this child.

  6. Walter G Antoniotti

    Long run well-being is up consistently over 4,000 years.
    Executive Summary would help.

    1. gordon

      I’m sure they said the same in the Neolithic. “These kids don’t have to fight cave bears every week like we did. They don’t know how well off they are!” Progress doesn’t just stop when you get to fifty.

  7. Tyronius

    Our nation’s youth have been told they have nothing to lose by protesting.

    Why are we surprised when they believe us?

  8. shinola

    I’d like to believe that today’s teens will carry their idealism & spirit well into adulthood but, realistically, I find it difficult. They too will be co-opted & corrupted just as so many of my generation (boomers) have been.

    How many of the corrupt financial institutions are now headed by boomers? How many boomers are plotters & planners in the MIC?

    I wish I had more hope for today’s kids, though I do wish the best for them.
    Good luck kids; you’re gonna need it.

    1. Tim

      Survival is a powerful instinct.

      If the youngsters can figure out a way, any way to side step their known fate, they will cast aside their morality to partake in the .1%’s benevolence and survive.

      Don’t hold it against them when they do.

    2. jrs

      but really same as it ever was. Even boomer hippies who protested were always a minority of the whole their generation. It did change some things (not near enough).

  9. Andrew Watts

    The very same sentiment was repeatedly expressed about the prospects of my generation. We were suppose to be the great hope of the future growing up in the 90s. Most of us are now members of a lost generation who carry a heavy load of debt and uncertain prospects for the future. The youthful activism on display isn’t an unfamiliar sight either. There was the anti-globalization protests and the anti-war movement accompanied by a vibrant sub-culture. None of which changed our present societal trajectory downward.

    All I know for certain is that reform won’t ever come from the top so it must necessarily come from the bottom.

  10. Anonimo2

    “a searing and heartfelt speech about the countless gun-related deaths of African-American women in America.”

    Reading that one would think that only black females suffer from gun violence in the USA. Is that true? White males never get shot? Shooters in schools make this distinction?

    Maybe we have here another nice example of identity politics. Divide and conquer.

  11. unna

    Young people generally get their understandings of life and the world in their teens and 20’s. Then, they generally lock themselves into those views throughout their lives, and in turn, crash into their own children’s understandings which are sure to be different because the world in a generation will have changed. What will young Mr. Hogg think when he’s 50? Will he grow and change and modify his beliefs as the material and cultural circumstances of Americans change, perhaps for the worse, which may demand altered or opposite points of view from those he currently holds at his now very young age? Can he imagine now that the world could someday twist into an unhappy configuration where he might come to regret the political positions he holds today? How will he himself behave towards his own children if they come to think differently or in ways opposed to his own? Well, this is all human nature, or as I should be saying, “peoplenature”. Thinking for the long term is generally thought to be the better way. But children mostly don’t do the long term all that well. The Children’s Crusade as I remember reading didn’t end well for the children. They were taken by the merchants and then sold into slavery according to the traditional accounts. The traditional account presents a moral lesson, History as story telling under the protection of the Muse.

  12. Oregoncharles

    I spent yesterday afternoon, Earth Day, at an Earth Day fair at a local high school – also in Oregon, obviously. I was tabling for the Green Party; as an activity, we had a petition to the school board to use their bonding authority to put solar panels on ALL the school buildings, extending the project the Green (ecology) Club had accomplished at the high school.

    I was impressed and heartened by the kids. Those on stage were very effective presenters, and they’d organized an excellent event. The issue, as with school shootings, is survival and the kind of world they’ll have to live in – far longer than most of us. I think they know that. One girl asked me about “third party” politics (good question), then listened attentively to the whole lecture. These kids are just reaching voting age; they actually want to know how the system works – and they suspect the standard line.

    Of course, there was plenty of youthful exuberance in the scene, as they wandered through in clumps. And a good thing, too. But those kids, at least, have all too good an idea what they’re facing, and they’re trying to do something about it. It was the most inspiring event I’ve been to in a while – and I go to a lot of them.

  13. Tim

    This upcoming generation is the forth turning right? The generation that is supposed to march into war against the enemy in the name of freedom.

    I guess the adults didn’t realize we are the enemy.

    It’ll follow the same script as every revolution, first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and finally you win.

  14. gordon

    From the Wikipedia article on Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”:

    Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been widely adopted in America’s teacher-training programs. A 2003 study by David Steiner and Susan Rozen determined that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was frequently assigned at top education schools.

    Maybe Jerri-Lynn Scofield missed that lesson. If she had read the book she would have already known all that stuff she had to learn the hard way.

  15. Ernie

    First, the article is a good reminder for us baby boomers. And I agree wholeheartedly with it, and with Tomonthebeach’s comment.

    What I wonder is how much longer we humans have left to change the direction of the world. And how much is it going to take to do so. I think a similar proportion of the boomer generation attacked the problems that were dominating our lives 40-50 years ago. We didn’t have the gun problem our kids have, but the Insatiable – those for whom the power and wealth they already have is never enough and so they engage in ever more rapacious activities – were determined to deploy a stupendously dangerous and irrational technology, nuclear power plants that don’t explode, but leak and spew poison and radiation that harms generations. All our protests and arguments in the ’70’s did little to stop those absurd machines, and today we are still constantly threatened with that technology. Guns are a more immediate danger, so that maybe this generation can make headway with this particular issue. But my fear is that until and unless there is some way to put the Insatiable in their place, they will just wait the kids out, the same way they waited the nuclear protesters out, and then just proceed with their own destructive agenda. And this will go on generation after generation, until there are no more generations. I hope beyond hope that this generation will be able to finally figure out how to put the Insatiable down, so that problems like guns, eternal war, fascism, and so much more can be eliminated.

  16. Summer

    This would be impressive if any of the battles were new.
    It will take ALL generations to stop the constant one step forward, two steps back “progress.”
    You don’t decade after decade, century after century dump responsibility for change on the next generations.

  17. Sound of the Suburbs

    Neoliberalism’s intellectual framework is derived from its economics, neoclassical economics.

    We are being governed by the laws of economics and that is where the problem lies.

    Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy.

    The Classical economist, Adam Smith, observed the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around him.

    “The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers.”

    How does this tie in with the trickledown view we have today?
    Somehow everything has been turned upside down.

    The workers that did the work to produce the surplus lived a bare subsistence existence.

    Those with land and money used it to live a life of luxury and leisure.

    The bankers (usurers) created money out of nothing and charged interest on it. The bankers got rich, and everyone else got into debt and over time lost what they had through defaults on loans and repossession of assets.

    Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy.

    Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else.

    What could be done?

    The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between “earned” and “unearned” income and they conflated “land” with “capital”. They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy.

    The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again.

    The Classical Economists had known that banking could benefit a capitalist economy when they lent into business and industry, but today most of their lending goes into real estate, inflating land values. The mortgage payments have to be covered by business in wages and this sucks purchasing power out of the economy.

    “The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community” Ricardo 1815, a classical economist who knew housing costs should be kept low.

    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      In the early days of capitalism it was glaringly obvious that the capitalists used the labour of others to make themselves rich.

      Today people like Jeff Bezos set up companies to give their employees a high standard of living while they think little of enriching themselves.

      Wait a minute ……

      Maximising profit means minimising wages.

      The inherent class struggle within capitalism, what one gains the other loses.

      To get the full picture look at all three groups like Ricardo used to do.

      From Ricardo.

      The labourers had before 25
      The landlords 25
      And the capitalists 50

      Ricardo kept an eye on how the pie was divided between the capitalists, the rentiers and labour.

      Joseph Stiglitz has recently done something similar in the US.

      The share to labour is going down.
      The share to capital is going down.
      The share to rents is going up.

      “Income inequality is not killing capitalism in the United States, but rent-seekers like the banking and the health-care sectors just might” Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize Winner

      He should have been monitoring the situation like Ricardo before it got this bad.

      This is what happens unseen with neoclassical economics and its happening cross the West.

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