POWER

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

Monday, June 13, 2011

ASK NOT WHAT THIS COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU- ASK YOURSELF WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY?

Last week a SWAT team stormed a California man's home and detained him and his three children because his estranged wife had reportedly defaulted on her student loans (see story here). To many people this seems like an absurd and completely outrageous scenario. Some I spoke to about the story didn't even believe it, and had to look it up for themselves to realize it, sadly, was in fact true. This incident however, reflects a growing crisis in this country that is systemic in nature and has been increasingly exposing it's corrupt origins.

The American student debt crisis is real, and it is far more serious than a generation of "entitled" borrowers "whining" about their student loan debt- as some uninformed critics have suggested. In essence, the old formula of education being the key ingredient to economic and personal success is no longer working, and it is not just a matter of waiting out a "bad economy."

Many graduates are finding their lives are seriously impacted by the amount of money they borrowed to finance their education, and are coming to deeply regret their decision to ever go to school in the first place. This is true across various backgrounds and areas of study. This idea seems to be in stark contrast to what most of us were presented with throughout our elementary and high school years- that education was the way to get ahead in life. Later we were told by financial "experts" that student loan debt was "good debt" and not to be concerned with it- it's an investment in the future. Yeah, it was an investment in the futures of the people who have gotten rich exploiting our idealism and naivete, and belief that "buying" an eduction was worth it and the right thing to do.

We are not talking about individual debt of a couple of thousand dollars here, and having to scrap plans to go to the Caribbean next winter, or getting a job on the weekends to pay it off. Many students graduate with unmanageable, crippling debt loads, that will impact them far more than they had ever anticipated- changing the course of their entire lives. Is this what we want for this country?

THE STUFF THAT KAFKA DREAMED OF

The student loan crisis is both simple and complex. We have a situation where the US government has increasingly failed to invest in the national infrastructure (and protect young citizens) by keeping education affordable to those who want to pursue it, and providing decent alternatives to those who prefer to make a living that does not require significant advanced education. Predatory lenders and institutions have supported and marketed third tier garbage pit law schools, worthless for-profit schools, and overpriced, unnecessary private schools. The cost of a public education is unreasonably high now as well.

At one point, not all that long ago, it seemed that the US was on a progressive path in terms of higher education accessibility, but then the usual suspects of corporate greed and political corruption hijacked the whole thing sometime in the 1980's. The insatiable greed really took off in the 1990's and has continued to this day. Now, however, the drastic effects are reaching a crescendo.

Unfortunately students and their parents are learning the hard way about the specifics of the student loan/higher education scam. The little known facts behind student lending, university kick-backs, Sallie Mae, education propaganda, among many other things, are enough to make a person wonder if they are going insane. The details are so galling and absurd it defies comprehension.

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT CONTROL

This blog is an effort to join others in the online community who are seeking to expose the corruption in higher education and student lending, and to fight for change and relief for borrowers who are in trouble, or are soon to be. In doing so, we seek to expose the rancid roots of this crisis for what they are: unjust and corrupt. Things have been out of control long enough. We need to act.

Because of the complex nature of the specifics of how we came to have 1 trillion dollars in student loan debt (at at time where we have the worst economy since the Great Depression), and how the corrupt lenders and administrators of "educational institutions" have gotten unbelievably wealthy, as the middle class has dwindled, and the educated have become indentured servants- it is going to take time to explore this in further detail, and present ideas for solutions. BUT YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS AND CAN START TO FIGHT BACK NOW!

You can and should begin educating yourself on the subject of the student lending scam and the pimping out of higher education right away. You can do so by following this and other other blogs dedicated to the topic. There are other resources suggested in the column to the right as well. Encourage friends and any others who might be interested to do the same. Ultimately this situation is affecting society as a whole. Gaining awareness is the first step in taking action. You can participate in discussions with people on the topic.

Do not feel you have to be an expert overnight. It is hard to deconstruct all of this: the FFELP program, PLUS loans, IBR, subsidized, unsubsidized, private loans, Sallie Mae, extended repayment, standard consumer protections, etc., etc. It is just important that people become aware, so as this movement continues to grow and pick up momentum, it has informed advocates demanding change. Learning about this is a work in progress, and something many of us probably have little time for. BUT if pursuing an education has affected your life in an adverse way- you really can not afford not to get involved. Things are not right in this country, and a foul stench is coming from the student lending and higher education industries. Get informed, get involved, and help fix this mess!!

7 comments:

  1. Ask not what "higher education" can do to you. Ask what you can do to reform "higher education."

    If you do not want to see your children, friend and other citizens needlessly put through the meat grinder, then the time to act is now.

    We require people of various skills and backgrounds, to help us wage a series of successful attacks against the "higher education" industry. We are in need of the following: artists, musicians, community organizers, union members, teachers, videographers, accountants, mathematicians, philosophers, and others who can provide sober and vivid analysis to this situation. A broad-based coalition is necessary, if we are going to take this monolith down.

    If your strength lies in face-to-face contact, that is fine. If you are an artist, or enjoy making fliers and signs, great. If you are most effective at beating the living piss out of the indu$try on a blog, that is fantastic.

    In the end, “Higher education” is big business, in this country. “Higher education” was designed to impart much-needed critical thinking skills and the credentials to help people attain a decent lifestyle. Once it has outlived that purpose - and instead shifts its focus to rewarding college administrators/corporate executive - then it is time to remove that system. And to install a new order that will benefit the students, i.e. the people it was ostensibly created to serve.

    A graduate with $100K in NON-DISCHARGEABLE student debt - and anemic job prospects - is not in a financial position to get married or start a family. With the nerve-racking debt piled up, such a person is not likely to be in the right psychological state to reach these life milestones. Many will be unable to purchase homes. While these goals are not shared by everyone, they should remain as options to those who busted their ass to gain an advanced education. In generations prior, one could graduate from a state college, while majoring in History, and land a strong, decent-paying job upon graduation.

    Today, we are seeing people with advanced degrees, i.e. MAs, MSs, MSWs, JDs, MBAs MPAs, MPPs, PhDs, etc. - many from excellent schools - who cannot find work that pays them more than $10-$12 an hour. There is something terribly wrong with the current $y$tem.

    Thank you for your entry into this fight, Paul. I look forward to working with you, and other upset, articulate and motivated graduates.

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  2. You took the red pill. Nice work

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  3. The fight begins, and we are preparing . . .

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  4. I just discovered your blog, and you are now on my blogroll.

    Great writing!

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  5. "This is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize that enough, man. This is crazy... Now get off your asses and do something..."

    AMEN!

    Also added you to my blogroll and to my favorites

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  6. Life may have been easier without college and law school.

    A guy with no bachelor degree makes $1,000 a year more than me in salary. I became resentful after looking at his pay stub. My seven years of post high school was not rewarded by the market. He also has no student debt.

    A locomotive driver makes almost three times my salary, yet he admires me because I'm a lawyer and I chose to hang out at his girlfriend's birthday party. He's probably never met a lawyer before or heard of JD Underground. He thinks I make more than him.

    A guy with only a GED and maybe some limited technical training makes $55k a year working as the IT person at a law firm. He was kicked out of his high school for behavior and grades. I was the good student who made all A's and went on to college and grad school. As the video below suggested, I was an "obedient one".

    Another high school classmate made it his life's purpose not to go to college and to make a lot of money. We thought we was nuts. He was lazy, rebellious, got bad grades, and was cocky. A couple years ago, he was featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a young entrepreneur and property developer making $150,000-200,000 a year.

    The whole idea behind a college degree is not the inherent value in and of itself. Few actually apply the knowledge learned in the major. It's rather, a badge of class membership.

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  7. The revolt must occur. We are beyond 'political action', as that system is captured and rendered an oligarchy. WAR and REVOLT - and the triggering of systemic collapse - is the action available to us. I say we use it.

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