What Does Wall Street Cost You? And Education Costs Out Of This World …

How much does Wall Street cost the country?

Sarah Anderson of The Nation put together some numbers:

Bank of America had impeccable timing when it decided recently to charge a $5 monthly fee for the privilege of using its debit cards. The notorious bailout baron, having just announced 30,000 job cuts, decided to stick it not to the platinums, not to the golds, but to the debit card masses.

Occupy Wall Streeters could not have asked for a more perfect target. They’ve melted the bank’s debit cards, organized “mass account closures” and rallied outside numerous branches around the world.

So thanks, Bank of America, for making one of the costs of Wall Street greed so crystal clear.

But wouldn’t it be illuminating if we got a monthly bill tallying up all the ways the financial industry makes the 99 percent pay for the pleasures of the 1 percent?

I’m not even talking about the incalculable costs of the 2008 meltdown, the bailouts and the ongoing crisis. I’m talking about the less conspicuous ways the financial industry picks our pockets. Here are just a few examples:

§ Oil speculation: $82 per month. Ordinary Americans pay extra at the pump because of high-roller gambling in oil futures markets. When gas was nearly $4 per gallon in May, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, professor Robert Pollin estimated [see PDF [1]] the monthly cost of this speculative premium at $82 for the average two-car family. A new report [2] by Better Markets finds that excessive speculation on food commodities also inflates our grocery bills.

Americans for Financial Reform, Maryknoll, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and other groups are fighting for regulations that could end such brazen price manipulation. Among the proposals: strict limits on how much of the market a single speculator can corner.

Read the rest here.

I’ve blogged here recently about the costs of education. Well, some new numbers came out this week to illustrate just how much college costs have been climbing.

First, a graph from Freakonomics:

And now some numbers from the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’sTrends in College Pricing 2011 and Trends in Student Aid 2011:

  • Published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions average $8,244 in 2011-12, $631 (8.3 percent) higher than in 2010-11. Average total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, are $17,131, up 6.0 percent.
  • Published out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities average $20,770, $1,122 (5.7 percent) higher than in 2010-11. Average total charges are $29,657, up 5.2 percent.
  • Published in-state tuition and fees at public two-year colleges average $2,963, $236 (8.7 percent) higher than in 2010-11.
  • Published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities average $28,500 in 2011-12, $1,235 (4.5 percent) higher than in 2010-11. Average total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, are $38,589, up 4.4 percent.
  • Published tuition and fees at for-profit institutions average an estimated $14,487 in 2011-12, 3.2 percent higher than in 2010-11.

The moral of the story is, college costs are climbing much faster than the cost of living and even medical costs. Get a higher education while you can still afford it.

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