If you were to create a grassroots activist organization to confront the growing sense of political disassociation described by our own writer Jim yesterday, Up To Us would be a pretty good name for the group, wouldn’t it? The whole idea would be that yes, times may be tough, and yes, the political challenges we face may be daunting, but darn it, if we the people of the United States of America don’t stand up and start acting like the citizens our forefathers wanted us to be, well, who will? It’s up to us to fix this mess, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work! I can hear the trumpet call in the distance even as I write this.
As luck would have it, some senior political operators have had this very idea, and they have created an organization called Up To Us – to be seen at ItsUpToUs.org
So, what are they up to at Up To Us? They’re working hard to organize college students to get them active on an issue that should be close to their hearts: Debt.
Most college students are deep, deep in debt. They’ve been told that, if they will go to college, and invest their time, effort, and a lot of money in getting a degree, their lifetime income will increase. The investment will be worth it.
The truth is that even people with advanced degrees are struggling to get jobs, because corporations and wealthy individuals are hoarding their money, rather than recirculating it through the economy. So, students rack up big debts while they’re in college, and then they’re unable to pay them off – and under the latest bankruptcy law, there’s nothing students can do to free themselves of the burden of their student loans. It’s an issue that college students care about passionately.
Strangely, the issue of student loan debt is one that the organization Up To Us does not talk about at all.
Oh, yes, Up To Us is very much concerned with the issue of debt, just not as the issue affects students. That’s because, although Up To Us claims to be “a nationwide campus competition that empowers students”, it actually isn’t a campus organization at all. It’s a shell organization set up by billionaire Peter G. Peterson.
Astroturf operations are nothing new to Peter G. Peterson. Peterson has set up plenty of these, including Americans Elect, The Can Kicks Back, No Labels, Fix The Debt, the Comeback America Intitiative, and Unity08.
Peter G. Peterson is not what most people would describe as college age. He’s gray and wrinkled. His children are all grown up, and have gone through the university system themselves – saved by their father’s substantial fortune from any obligation to pay off student loans. One of his sons, Michael, was given a job as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which created the Up To Us organization.
The wealthy take care of their own, you so. When they say it’s Up To Us, what they mean is that it’s up to the wealthy to give directions, and it’s up to everyone else to follow orders. That’s what Up To Us is all about. It’s an astroturf organization dedicated to creating the false impression that college students favor big cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
Up To Us runs annual competitions in which teams of college students battle against each other for the right to run officialy-endorsed Up To Us public relations campaigns, talking about the danger of the national debt. Up To Us competitions award two thousand dollars to specially selected groups of students. Those student groups use the money to run two-week PR campaigns, about the threats caused by national debt, on campus, through social media, and in the larger community. Up To Us then judges the effectiveness of the PR campaigns, and then, the winning groups get a free meal as a prize. The losing groups get nothing.
The two thousand dollars granted by Up To Us doesn’t go to pay student salaries. Even if they did, the grants would be paying a rate far below the legal minimum wage. No, a single meal is the only payment that students are given for their substantial PR work to promote the economic agenda of billionaires. The message couldn’t be more clear: It’s up to billionaires to decide if poor students deserve to eat – and Peterson’s young shills should be happy to receive one order of pizzas in return for the privilege of serving his noble political vision.
If you know a college student who has been suckered into participating in the Up To Us astroturf campaign, it’s up to you to stage an intervention. Yes, students may be struggling to look for work, but the cruel economics of the Up To Us campaign show that nobody in the working classes will receive any just reward for kissing up to Peter G. Peterson and his billionaire friends.