But early morning (Occupy Boston, part 2)

[Note from Kathie Malley-Morrison: This is Part 2 of our guest post from  John Hess of UMass/Boston, reporting on Occupy Boston.]

Occupy Boston signs of freedom and the movement

Photo by Twp. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license.

When you hear chants like “How do you solve the deficit? End the wars and tax the rich!” and “They got bailed out, we got sold out,” you are in the company of people with a very good understanding of the current situation–neatly summed up in the chant “We are the 99%!”

Where all this will lead, we don’t yet know.  But there seems to be a growing wave of discontent that first showed itself in Wisconsin. I read that demonstrations of support for Occupy Wall Street have occurred in over 100 cities and that mini-occupations like Occupy Boston are spreading, even to Europe.

What drives this movement is clear to me:  it’s common sense based on the obvious fact that most of us are not being treated fairly by this economy, this social system.  We work when we can get a job, but are not properly rewarded.

Reports show that real incomes for most Americans have dropped significantly since the recession officially ended.  Education (coupled with hard work) has been the traditional path to a better life for most Americans, yet educational costs are now staggering.

My university, UMass Boston, has seen state funding drop from some 77% of the budget in 1985 to around 26% this year.  The shortfall has been made up by heavily increased student fees, which are now over $9,000 of the approximately $12,000 it costs in-state students to attend our commuter school.  Why?  In large part because we will not tax the rich or the corporations. (I have been told that the head of GE pays less income tax than his personal assistant.  Even if he doesn’t, I’ll bet he doesn’t pay much.)

There is much cause for optimism.  A generation, no, a nation, seems finally to be waking up, even though it is but early morning and we are still rubbing the sleep from our eyes.  Maybe another slap of cold water will bring us fully awake to seize the new day that is dawning.

John Hess, Senior Lecturer in English and American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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4 Responses to But early morning (Occupy Boston, part 2)

  1. Jessica says:

    As a person who lost their job in 2008 and has found another recently I can certainly empathize with what these protestors are fighting for. I am currently back in school getting a Bachelors and Masters degree, but I fear that it will be of no use. I know that this has a great potential to affect me personally because it is my generation coming out of college that will have a tough time finding decent work. The Government makes the decisions for us and we are stuck trying to pick up the pieces, this seems unfair.

  2. Gold Dust Twin says:

    I have read John Hess’s fine essay and want to add my much more than two cents worth. All we have to do is look at the Cost of War figures multiplying horrifically on our right and recognize that this factor is a major cause of increased student fees and all the other “many-headed multitudes” of expenses in our lives. Bringing home the traumatized troops in Iraq is a small start. Closing US military bases stationed all over the world would also divert billions of dollars for domestic needs, including those of the returned soldiers.

  3. Sarah says:

    Earlier today I came across this concerning Occupy Boston: http://www.bu.edu/today/2011/youspeak-occupy-boston/. One thing that caught my eye was when the author wrote, “the federal government reported last week that the number of Americans making $1 million or more annually has grown 18 percent since 2009, while the number of jobs fell by 500,000.” However, it doesn’t surprise me that people are protesting and that the Occupy movements are continuing to grow.

  4. kathiemm says:

    Hi, Sarah. Thanks for your comment.
    There has been evidence for years in this country that not only are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, but the middle class is shrinking as more and more people lose jobs, or get stuck in low paying jobs without benefits, and see their savings wiped out from illness or accidents to themselves or someone in their family.
    I agree with you, it is not surprising that people are protesting and that the Occupy movements are spreading.

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