Occupy Wall St Tackles Student Debt

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Ben Cohen
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Some interesting developments from the movement that still refuses to wilt under pressure (via FastCompany):

This afternoon at the newly cleared, heavily patrolled, and sparkling (Christmas lights!) Zuccotti Park, a group of activists dressed in caps and gowns made from garbage bags and draped with paper chains announced the official launch of the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.

Led by NYU professor Andrew Ross, the group is trying to get student loan borrowers to sign a pledge of "debt refusal." Once they reach one million signatures, everyone stops paying back their loans. The idea is not to pump up the profits of student loan servicers and big banks by creating a new group of defaulters, but to call attention to the spiraling cost of higher education, the mounting pile of student loans ($958 billion as of this writing), and the Dickensian situation many borrowers find themselves in as a result of the lack of basic consumer protections like bankruptcy on student loans, especially private student loans.

This issue has the potential to explode given the huge numbers of students and recent graduates steeped in crippling debt. The fact that they are young and have few prospects in this economy means they have little to lose by protesting or refusing to pay back their loans.

There is great hope for the OWS movement because it genuinely seems to be waking up big sectors of the population who are refusing to put up with the status quo and are willing to sacrifice for the greater good - an almost unheard of principle in the selfish capitalism paradigm we currently live in.

Change rarely comes from above. For real movement to be made in the American political system, it must come from below - and the OWS seems to be sowing the seeds of something quite significant.

Image by steveleenow via Flickr

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