This coming January, the Occupy Movement is coming to the University of Texas at Austin! Yes, I have heard of its existence downtown (http://occupyaustin.org/). And I have always been an avid supporter of the worldwide movement since its inception at Wall Street. But now, the movement will soon be real, in front of my eyes, at the footsteps of our beloved tower. I no longer have to think about traveling to New York or Oakland or any other place out of my reach. The time has come for us to stand united in solidarity against those who have taken our money, effectively leaving the poor and middle class in worse conditions than they were before. As UT students who make little to no money, who have no time to get a decent job, who have to pay for their education, none of us can sincerely appreciate those with the most power who make a secondary education even more difficult to obtain. Despite what the media has done in an attempt to misrepresent or even smear the movement, we should all be informed of the truth behind the solidarity before we make any sensible judgments. And as students, we should all be in full support of the Occupy Movement.
As most of us have felt the consequent pain, the recent budget cuts in the national and state level have caused the most pain in the middle and lower classes. And I would assume that UT is comprised of mostly middle and lower class people. (In other words, we do not have millions of dollars in our bank account). Just earlier this year, and even more crushing if you witnessed in high school, many teachers were laid off as a result of this financial mess. In my high school alone, around 16 teachers of a staff of over 100 got the axe swung at their blossoming careers, all because the school district lacked the money to fund our education.
To those who accuse that this movement is an uprising of lazy liberals, I wholeheartedly disagree with your notion that this is an issue of left versus right. Rather, it is a movement that seeks to change the power structure in which we live: the rich and powerful hoard all our money, while the powerless suffer the consequences. In the midst of my teachers’ job crisis, many of us, regardless of our political beliefs, openly criticized our superintendent of receiving bonuses and car allowances while lowly teachers received much more unjust treatment. Our superintendent completely refused to take a pay cut, a sacrifice that would have saved the jobs of a handful of teachers, not to mention the education of future generations.
The same applies to our budget. A practical example of our budget problems can be found in the oil industry. A study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office shows that capital investments on oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9%, significantly lower than that of most other businesses (and most Americans). And because of the existence of numerous other loopholes, some oil companies are able to pay virtually nothing in taxes. While these big companies make millions of dollars in profits each year (their CEO’s have made millions in bonuses) and share almost none of their income with other Americans, families with modest salaries, like my own, pay a hefty part of their incomes on taxes. But somehow, our representatives are either oblivious to this disparity, or they simply do not care. In May of 2011, a proposed bill to eliminate some subsidies for oil companies, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, failed to gain the necessary amount of votes for debate. The 48 Senators who voted for cloture received $370,664 on average in campaign donations from employees and political action committees representing oil. Those who voted to consider the Act were paid a measly $72,145 (Kretzmann). In subsidies, this cost the federal government $43.6 billion over the next 10 years (Taylor).
So that’s what happened to our budget. We have the ability to tax the wealthiest Americans, asking them to pay their fair share in taxes. But alas, the power struggle that exists in our country allow the rich to pay less taxes as a percentage of their income than do the rest of Americans. Money that could be used to fund the education of many hardworking Americans who cannot afford a post-secondary education. Money that could be pumped into the pocketbooks of citizens who otherwise cannot pay for goods. And without customers, big businesses do not produce anything. And the economy slows to a halt!!
So we have all complained about the hikes in tuition in the past few years. This is why we should all be charged to participate in this Occupy movement. We deserve a right to education. And we must fight so that all people, regardless of their income, have the same opportunity to learn the skills they need for work and for life.
And to those of you who may still disagree with me, I urge you to do a lot of in-depth research rather than just listen to what the mainstream media tells you. Before you make any rebuttals against me, look up the facts and analyze the reasons and passions that have surfaced among the Occupiers rather than make baseless, shallow assumptions.
Occupy the Tower!
Kretzmann, Steve. “Senators Opposing End of Oil Subsidies Received Five Times More in Big Oil Campaign Cash.” The Price of Oil. Oil Change International, 17 May 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.
Taylor, Jerry, and Peter Van Doren. “Eliminating Oil Subsidies: Two Cheers For President Obama – Forbes.com.” Forbes.com. Forbes.com LLC, 3 May 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2011.
United States. Congress of the United States. Congressional Budget Office. Taxing Capital Income: Effective Rates and Approaches to Reform. 2005. Web.