OWS at Six Months: Reflections on the Winter Occupation

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Occupy’s six-month birthday celebration last Saturday at Zuccotti Park was first spent in celebration: the scene was joyous with friends reuniting after winter hibernation. “Spring training” regimes were conducted. The drum circle was back, and mic checks once again created a collective voice.

But when protestors undertook a spontaneous, albeit brief, reoccupation, they were met with the most violent and unrestrained NYC police force to date. MTA buses were commandeered and over seventy arrests were made. The significance and power of the park was clear once again.

Police violence was immediately challenged with solidarity marches in New York and throughout the country on Sunday. In spite of a winter predicting our demise, Occupy is alive again this spring. Not that we were ever really dead, but since the cops evicted Zuccotti the first time last fall, OWS has been struggling to find a way of staying meaningful without the spectacle of the park. Liberty Park offered a sense of commonality, a point of access, and a feeling of empowerment that has been difficult to replicate.

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The Student Debt System: a Critical Juncture in the Production of Inequality

For most Americans student debt is a simple matter: you got the education, you agreed to pay for it, you can’t give back your brain, so suck it up and get to work.  Unfortunately, this sort of logic fundamentally misunderstands the systemic sources by which so much student debt has been incurred, and the long term inequality this debt is creating.  The misunderstanding most Americans have of the student debt cycle is particularly dangerous now that the amount of education debt is about to pass the 1 trillion dollar mark, which amounts to about four thousand dollars for every man, woman and child in this country.  According to the Project on Student Debt, of the class of 2008, 41% are either delinquent or in default.  Many recent reports have already begun to theorize student debt as the next bubble about to burst.  Unfortunately, this bubble has the potential to slowly ooze, causing unrelenting suffering for a generation, and even greater economic disparity for the 99%.

When you look carefully at the student debt crisis, you can see that it has been caused by complex relationships between four distinct types of entities:  governmental agencies, lenders, educational institutions and consumers.

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