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The Spark That Could Ignite the Occupy Movement on Campuses Across America

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If you saw the videos of campus police dousing UC Davis college students with pepper spray you may be witness to the spark that ignited the Occupy Movement on the nation's college campuses. That mindless, brutal reaction to peaceful demonstrations has the potential to motivate and energize millions of students at colleges and universities to become part of the movement to restore justice and equality in this society by reigning in the power and control of the wealthiest of Americans; that 1% whose interests are furthered by its facilitators in the corporate world and the U.S. Congress.

 

Millions of college students are becoming more and more disillusioned as they see their hopes for the future unraveling. They see a dysfunctional government that no longer has the capacity to address this nation's most critical problems; they watch as those at the top of the income ladder use this government and the corporations of America to accumulate more and more wealth. And now as they try to air their own grievances against this embedded system through peaceful protests, they are denied that constitutional right of free speech by the stifling, suffocating might of today's law enforcement agencies.

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These students are now being subjected to the very same overly aggressive police actions that have been experienced by the Occupy Movement members in New York City, Oakland, Portland and many other cities across America. The unrest and disillusionment that has been building up across America now includes these students who we need to understand represent the future of this nation. They are a part of that 99% of Americans who are the foundation of this country.

 

Here's the dilemma that so many of these students are facing. At 17 or 18 years of age those who have the desire begin the process of preparing themselves for the future by acquiring a college degree. Let's say their annual tuition including room and board is typically $30,000; some tuitions are far higher. As they go from year to year, financing their education with student loans, they are also subjected to constant tuition increases.

 

And when they graduate what happens. They are burdened with loans of anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 and often as much as $100,000. And as they look for jobs they find it nearly impossible to find them. So what's going on here? The colleges keep increasing their revenue through higher and higher tuition, those who make the loans to the students make a killing through the interest that they will be getting for many years to come -- these are the clear winners. And who are the losers? Quite obviously, it's the students who take a real beating.

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They graduate eager to join America's workforce and begin successful, meaningful careers. But what they find as they go out on their own is a vast wasteland in which corporations have closed thousands of factories, eliminated millions of workers' jobs through outsourcing and are totally unwilling to invest their massive surplus funds in helping to create jobs which could stabilize this economy. That has to be a futile, hopeless feeling for those who are following in our footsteps.

 

Currently, student loans in America total $830 billion and, before long, they may reach $1 trillion; that's not only shocking, it is just plain incomprehensible in a nation as rich as America. That's a national shame, America should be better than that. There are many people in America who look with disgust and revulsion at many of the countries in Europe in which student tuition is paid through national taxes. And if you suggested to them that America could and should do the same thing for its students by scaling back its ongoing agenda of war and using those funds for a system of national education, they would immediately label you as one of those dreadful socialists.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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