Is the Occupy campaign justified?

When I came to Canada in 1958 I admired an education system that enabled working -class kids to gain a university degree.

When I came to Canada in 1958 I admired an education system that enabled working -class kids to gain a university degree. The summer job income usually covered tuition fees and the cost of accommodation.

Those graduates almost always integrated seamlessly and – silently – into a prosperous middle class existence. But, no more, with greatly increased tuition fees and cost of accommodation that system seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird.

But, by pricing bright young people out of a higher education will not necessarily silence them.

Many, no doubt, have become part of the 99 per cent , the so-called ‘”Occupy campaign.”

A movement that may be untimely and lacking in focus, but that nevertheless gives voice to a deep frustration felt by many.

Until the “Occupy Wall Street,” movement that almost immediately spread to Canadian cities as well, my own political sentiment had become one of quiet resignation and a general acceptance of the fact that we’ve become a nation of haves and have-nots.

What’s more, a nation in which the poor and unemployed no longer have a voice, having been silenced by an uncaring government with the full cooperation of a corporate press.

Ever since corporations now have the status of person and thereby the ability to influence government with huge, what in the political world of make-believe are called “campaign donations,” but in the real world better known as bribery money, many, and not just students, don’t even bother to vote any more.

I remember myself, standing in line to vote at the last federal elections, thinking about Paul Simon’s marvelous line in one of his songs,  “Who am I to blow against the wind?”

(Those “donations” might also explain what would otherwise be an inexplicable reaction of our elected representatives to the 2008 economic collapse – rewards for the guilty in the form of massive bailouts, while the victims got punished with austerity programs.)

Taken into account the fact that any demonstration seems to draw a number of undesirable elements, often causing negative reactions in the media – I believe this campaign deserves to be seen in a positive light; a campaign in which many – worldwide – have spoken out against a growing inequality.

So to speak a warning shot across the bow of the ship of state for now.

But as time goes on a more focused, more coherent message to government might emerge: The well being of the 99 per cent is more important than the profits of the 1 per cent.

Peter van Iersel


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