Many self-occupied people are growing apprehensive about the potential disruption of their business activities, their family routines, and their leisure by the massed marches and encampments of the Occupy Wall Street, and now Occupy Public Spaces movement. Let’s just call it the Occupy Movement, or OM (“Om manipadme hūm”).
It is obvious that much of the energy and vibrancy of the OM comes from its young adult participants. Many of these are students, or former students, who have painful amounts of debt for education loans, which are difficult to pay off since good-paying skilled employment is not widely available. The laws establishing the federally-funded student loan programs prevent student borrowers from shedding this debt by declaring bankruptcy, so these debts are albatrosses (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) aborting careers or impeding their progress.
It is my belief that such debt should be cancelled, or at least partially cancelled and refinanced on much easier terms. This is, after all, what was done to “recover” the Savings and Loan Industry (1989) and the commercial banking industry (2008) after their respective bankruptcies. This same model was applied in Europe earlier this fall to stabilize the currency (the Euro): German Chancellor Angela Merkel forged an agreement with the European banks to write off 50% of the Greek debt, in exchange for recapitalizing these banks from the public coffers (mainly German) for the remainder.
Would cancelling student loan debt, or refinancing it on much gentler terms, solve Occupy Wall Street? That is to say “make it go away” as so many ruffled as-yet-uninundated petty bourgeois wish? No, but it would address the problems of a sizable portion of those in the OM. The complete solution to making the OM history is to undo thirty years of neo-liberalism. If one were to try to put that goal into a list of “action items” or “demands” it would stretch beyond the horizon, certainly one of the reasons the people of the OM have not been willing to be corralled by a few specific demands. What’s wanted is a transformation of political economy worldwide, and that must begin with a major shift of global public consciousness: how we think about society, economics, and “progress.”
Still, our inability to solve the root problem of generating popular prosperity globally, and quickly, should not prevent us from solving one small local manifestation of that problem, since we can. In this spirit, I propose the establishment of a National Students’ Recovery Bank, and I make my case in the following article.
A National Students’ Recovery Bank
21 November 2011
I believe this is a matter of inter-generational solidarity, and I hope you find the idea worthwhile enough to recommend it to others.