PUBLISHED TUE, 5/28/2013 – BY REBECCA HISCOTT, OCCUPY.COM
The answer appears so simple that even Saturday Night Live has made a gag of it. To escape the nightmare tide of rising debt, all Americans need do is control their consumption, right? Resist the pull of the flat screen TV, the closet full of brand names, the smart phone. It’s just that easy.
Or is it?
In May 2012, members of the Occupy Wall Street publication Tidal and its working group, Occupy Theory, called for a series of open assemblies to re-evaluate the Occupy movement’s strategies. Conversations quickly coalesced around the topics of education and debt, and the Strike Debt group was born. Taking a cue from the student protests in Quebec, the group began to hold weekly assemblies in Washington Square Park and adopted Quebec’s red square as a symbol of solidarity.
“We realized that student debt, medical debt, housing debt, credit card debt – these are all necessities of life, and people are stuck,” said Susan Meaney, a member of Strike Debt’s organizing committee and a mother of two college-age children with student loans.
With roughly 75 percent of Americans mired in some kind of debt, much of it medical or educational, Meaney said, the blame cannot rest on the debtors. When basic necessities like health care and schooling are partially or entirely debt-financed, consuming less is not the answer.
Continue reading YOU ARE NOT A LOAN: STRIKE DEBT AND THE CHALLENGE OF THE ROLLING JUBILEE
by Chris Brennan, World Austerity Report
The egalitarian Left is long overdue for soul searching. For decades the Democratic Party, ostensibly the instrument of progressive policy, has informally renounced its New Deal roots. Consequently, the middle class, long held as the linchpin America’s democratic system, has been dramatically attenuated from its peak in the post-New Deal state of the 1940s. In this reorientation of America, the physical economy — America’s highly skilled labor force, manufacturing capacity, and infrastructure — has languished to a near moribund state while a veritable financial casino economy has emerged transcendent.
Although this phenomenon cannot be entirely ascribed to any single political leader or movement, its center of gravity is undoubtedly Wall Street. The Democratic Party — imbibing on years of “free-market” orthodoxy and neoliberalism, has rejected its erstwhile commitment to economic progress for the average person. Instead, it has enabled the financial interests of the owning and possessing class to enrich itself at the expense of the vast majority of Americans, leading to the glaring income disparities that have become a feature of current public discourse.
Continue reading Tracing the Democratic Party’s Pivot to Wall Street
“Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural, 1933
Those words are just as relevant today as they were in March of 1933.
Unfortunately, today there is no FDR, no Harry Hopkins, no Henry Wallace,
and worst of all, there is no New Deal. If you are reading this in the United
States, then you are, indeed, standing amongst what little remains of the New
Deal state. This is the state in which the middle class became the majority of
the population. The state which checkmated Fascism and Communism. It put
millions of Americans to work in a matter of hours and brought electricity to
the poorest parts of the US. The New Deal also created the infrastructure which
made possible an educated population capable of putting a human on the Moon
and unlocking the secrets of the atom.
Continue reading World Austerity Report: From the Desk of the Editors
From the UFAA website, Submitted by Polly Hughes on Wed, July 17, 2013
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela
Education is, indeed, the key to changing the world. As our forefathers declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . . that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence
But, what’s happening in the name of education reform today is not going to change the world in the way that Mandela or the authors of The Declaration of Independence meant. In America, under the guise of education reform, an initiative called Common Core is an insurance policy issued by some of the most powerful think tanks and foundations of both the left and right to mega-corporations, such as Walmart. Ultimately, Common Core, through its behaviorist methods, will provide legions of workers educated-in-name-only, ready to accept low-wages inside union-less quasi-sweatshop service jobs. The 1% gets wealthier while the 99% are mired deeper into austerity and have no recourse but to accept these conditions set by employers.
Continue reading Common Core: Walmart’s Answer to Education in the Age of Austerity
Submitted by Kyle McCarthy on Tue, June 25, 2013
Among the deepest and most cruel cuts of Washington’s ongoing “sequestration” process are those to disabled children. Funds for special education – like Head Start, senior nutrition and other programs serving the most vulnerable in our society – are being slashed not for any defensible purpose but to satisfy criminal bond rating agencies.
As detailed by Sen. Tom Harkin, special education grants for young learners alone were cut this year by nearly $1 billion. Affecting critically-important early intervention, preschool and elementary education, these cuts not only put a greater burden on families and local taxpayers, but represent a further erosion of the right to public education, achieved only in the late 1970s, for students with special needs.
Disability advocates are forecasting a further $2 billion in cuts to these and similar programs, a prospect rejected by the National Education Association as “devastating”.
Continue reading Austerity cuts attack special education
by Kyle McCarthy, UFAA , April 16, 2013 According to its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that America needs to invest $3.6 trillion in infrastructure by 2020.
This sum – targeted to roads, rail, bridges, power, water, schools and similar projects – is roughly equal to the entire US Federal budget for a year. Paid for on-budget, these upgrades would add $600 Billion per year, costing more to the American taxpayer than Medicare. Paid for by borrowing, the interest on the national debt, already expected to reach $1 trillion per year by 2020, would spiral further out of control.
Continue reading To Rebuild America’s Infrastructure, Stop Spending and Start Lending!