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No, not Occupy. Not quite.

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Castigated as violent by the powers that were, the CLASSE student union protests -- which lasted months this last Spring and brought out hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Montreal -- yesterday clinched an incredible victory.

The tuition increase that triggered such social strife in Quebec was cancelled Thursday during an action-packed first full day in office for the Parti Quebecois government.
Derided as rabble and repressed by the then conservative government of Jean Charest, which passed a law that essentially made it illegal to conduct mass protests, the CLASSE student movement has had the last two laughs. In early September, the Charest Liberals lost an election they themselves had called early, and yesterday the new Parti Quebecois government repealed the hated tuition increases.
Marois said tuition will go back to $2,168 -- the lowest in Canada. With the planned increases, it would have been $600 higher this year and would have kept growing each year.
But that's not all. As the CLASSE protests continued to grow, they morphed into a more general fight about austerity policies. In line with its anti-austerity posture, The new Parti Quebecois government has announced it will
  • Not decrease funding for universities
  • Support indexing tuition hikes to inflation
  • Cancel a $200-a-year health tax and replace the lost money with income-tax increases for top-income earners.
  • Shut down the aging Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor

And, oh yeah

Marois said she will also cancel the Charest Liberals' controversial protest legislation.

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Parade route given to police as required by the new law

Game. Set. Match.

The Occupy movement was never able to mobilize hundreds of thousands. Even on it's best days so far in Oakland and New York, a few tens of thousands were brought out to protest the one percent, austerity and repression.


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Montreal, Spring 2012

The odd thing about this is that tuition in Quebec is far lower than in the United States, the rich are taxed at higher rates, and the social net in Quebec is much more protective, with single-payer health care for all and other social services more readily available.

In the US, everyone who has any awareness at this point (and perhaps that is the problem) understands how banksters and their cronies destroyed the economy, and how the wealthiest continue to increase their share of America's wealth, leaving a few crumbs for the near wealthy and nothing for the rest.

It's obviously going to take more than the stark reality of vast and increasing income inequality and the spectre of austerity for Americans to do something about their government for and paid for by the one percent.  But what?

Very few Democratic politicians -- Elizabeth Warren being an exception -- are willing to stand up and speak sensibly against an austerity imposed by these wealthiest on the rest of us. The President's dream seems to be a 'grand compromise' where large cuts in the safety net are traded for miniscule tax hikes on the rich -- it's a good thing Republicans have been too stupid to know a good deal when they see it.

What's the (practical) answer? Damned if I know.


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For the moment I wear my red square, a symbol of solidarity with the Montreal protests, proudly.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:12 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Policy Zone, Healthcare Reform - We've Only Just Begun, and SFKossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That tuition is unbelievable. If Romney wins--I'm (10+ / 0-)

    heading to Quebec.

    If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

    by livjack on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:22:24 AM PDT

  •  We need to be reminded constantly (6+ / 0-)

    of the value of direct action. Given the stated intent of this venue, "electing more and better Democrats," this emphasis keeps us real. Keeps us honest. The media tries so hard to kill grassroots protest as a phenomenon all the time. We're here keeping it alive.

    Enthusiastically tipped and rec'd.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:40:54 AM PDT

  •  ...hahahaha...great route!!!... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, fuzzyguy

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences.

    by paradise50 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:51:04 AM PDT

  •  Time to bring up secession again? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, FogCityJohn
  •  This may be dumbing down/oversimplifying but.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, fuzzyguy

    ...do you think the difference is that the gov was trying to take something away or make it harder to obtain, vs the Occupy protests and others in the US tend to be more about getting something that doesn't yet exist?

    •  Can't really say. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GoGoGoEverton, aliasalias

      But yeah, I think in Quebec people were responding more strongly to the realization that the ultimate result was going to be an end to public college education at minimal cost.

    •  No. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jpmassar, aliasalias

      Free tuition (at least at state universities) used to exist in this country.  The University of California system was a prime example.  So to the extent the Occupy movement has protested the increasing cost of higher education -- something they've done repeatedly here in California -- they're not asking for anything that's never existed.  They're seeking restoration of something we once had but which has gradually been taken away from us.  (BTW, we can thank Ronald Reagan for requiring tuition payments at UC.)

      Similarly, although America's social safety net has never been as generous as Canada's, let alone most of Europe's, it was once more generous than it is now.  Look no further than Clinton's much-touted welfare "reform" for evidence of that.  

      Since Reagan's election, there's been a sustained right wing offensive not only on policy but also on the framing of the political debate.  The debate has been moved so far to the right that modern day Democrats would never dream of speaking in the terms used by people like Hubert Humphrey.  Does anyone remember the Humphrey-Hawkins bill, for example?

      In short, I think a lot of what Occupy demands is simply a matter of reclaiming some of what we've lost.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:07:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect that what the move to the single (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, allie123

    currency in the European union has shown is that the currency is worthless and countries that print their own can produce as much as is needed.
    Going to a single currency was a matter of convenience for the citizens of the region who would not have to be constantly dealing with exchange rates.  However, then the countries discovered that in ceding control over their money, they had given up independence, as Greece discovered to its chagrin.  Then, when Greece threatened to back out and go back to the drachma (?), the European Bank decided that the country could have as much money as it needs, as long as it promises that the Euros will flow back.  In other words, Greece had to commit to keeping the money moving.
    Because, it turns out, that's where value lies--in money that is moving around.  When people hoard it in the expectation that value will increase if there is less in circulation, they simply undermine the economy in the interest of increasing the value of something that is worthless.
    Money is sort of like honesty. It's only bad, if you have none. There can never be too much money. "inflation" is a consequence of scarce resources -- i.e. not enough being produced.  
    Money is nothing but an IOU that, because it is backed by the good faith of the issuer, comes with a guarantee that it will be honored wherever the issuer is in good standing. If you don't need such a guarantee because it's your neighbor whom you owe or who owes you a debt, then there's no need for money to change hands.
    Because the bean counters in governmental agencies can't keep track of that, they call it the "shadow economy" as if it were somehow shady.
    When it comes to reliability we have an example in Green Stamps of an unreliable issuer.  When those were no longer honored, lots of people were defrauded and merchants offering lower prices got an advantage.

    Anyway, what out speculators and money hoarders have to learn is that they are hoarding worthless stuff and it's not going to be worth more, the longer they keep it out of the economic stream.  That's what the Fed is trying to signal when it announces that the interest rate it charges banks will stay at zero percent until 2015.
    Remember when interest rates used to be adjusted every three months?  They finally gave up on that gambit to manage the economy. All it did was cause financiers to gamble.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:25:22 AM PDT

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