As we've entered the new year, more and more people are waking up to how badly flawed our political and economic systems are. People are realizing that unconstrained capitalism leads to obscene inequality and a lack of justice and fairness. In addition, the neo-liberal approach to economics and finance is taking us down a path to a bleak future with a devastated environment. What is encouraging though is the increasing number of people, especially young people, who are saying, "enough is enough."
For example, the growing climate chaos has energized many young adults to work for a major reduction in greenhouse gases. They realize that, because of legalized bribery of politicians, they cannot depend on Congress and the White House to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Therefore, students are advocating for fossil fuel divestment on college campuses, including here at CU. In addition, students and others are pushing campuses as well as towns, counties and states to reduce their fossil fuel use by using renewal energy whenever possible.
The Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Dreamers, came about in response to widespread institutional racism. Young people are playing a major role in both of these efforts to eliminate structural discrimination against minorities.
The Occupy movement was led by younger generations who were fed up with the financial bailout of criminals on Wall Street, whereas local businesses and the public were shortchanged — especially those who lost their homes due to foreclosures. Despite blatant fraud, almost none of the criminals have been charged for crimes. Although Occupy was crushed by the police, it was crucial in making obscene inequality a political issue.
Fast-food and low-wage workers have been pushing for $15 per hour, which is still far less than a living wage. College students, with debts that reach more than $1.2 trillion, are also campaigning for student-debt relief. It is a disgrace that politicians prohibited students from seeking relief for student debt by filing for bankruptcy, a bailout that is used in many other ways.
Despite this increased activism, we still need more people involved to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an insane deal that prioritizes maximizing profit over human needs. See citizen.org/tpp for details. We can stop this insanity if enough people voice opposition to their congressional representative and their two senators: Rep. Polis 202-225-2161; Sen. Gardner 202-224-5941; Sen. Bennet 202-224-5852. To get involved locally, please contact Carolyn Bninski at 303-444-6981.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.