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

Thursday, November 3, 2011



Barack Obama announced a "new" plan last week regarding relief for student loan borrowers. There has been a great deal of confusion as to who is eligible to benefit from this proposal if it does ever really go into effect. The proposal is only a variation of an earlier version when President Obama made the notorious statement, "In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college."

The proposal just changes current consolidation options, income caps, and repayment plans for certain students, but will not help many others. It also has some hidden IRS penalties that takes away loan debt and increases tax debt. Most people are unaware of this.

One the positive side, it does reflect that politicians are beginning to look at the issue of excessive student debt in this country, and are listening to Occupy protesters and other activists in this area.

It does not help those in default or in private loan hell. It does not address the cost of education and skyrocketing tuition costs. It also does not deal with the unethical relationship between lenders like Sallie Mae, the government, and the colleges and universities. And it certainly does nothing to address the fact that there simply are not enough jobs for college graduates in the US to support the kind of debt people are getting themselves into- erroneously believing they are making a sound investment.


Student loan activism in the US right now is mainly centered around the following ideas. These ideas were discussed in the previous post, but are worth revisiting after Obama's pitiful response to the student loan crisis was revealed.

1. College needs to be affordable. If not free it needs to be close to it. We had a system like this once in this country and other countries have it now. It is possible. The public university system needs to be expanded, and subsidized by the federal government. The student loan system as it stands now hurts students, and helps lenders and university administrators get wealthy. So that system has to go. Private school tuition should only be payable through grants, scholarships, and private funds. That's it. They are not worth the debt in almost all cases. For profit pig-schools like University of Phoenix can take their garbage degrees and get out. The student loan gravy train they have been exploiting has come to the last stop.

2. People need to be able to make a living wage without a college degree. College is simply not something everyone wants or really needs. Vocational and trade schools are great, and they can be expanded as part of the public university system. Minimum wage needs to be increased and society needs to respect all occupations and recognize that people have a right to be compensated and treated decently even in "unskilled" positions. Social attitudes about this have led to too many people pursuing education solely as a means to survive in America. Barack Obama wants a more educated America, and encourages people to go to school, but it costs too much, and there aren't enough jobs.

3. Restore student loan bankruptcy protection. This will not solve the issue of student lending corruption and overpriced tuition. But it will offer relief to those in the most trouble, and it will begin to change the system, as it will show just how over-rated these degrees are. All other consumer debt in the US can be discharged in bankruptcy. This includes million dollar corporations, and gambling debt. It is simply unfair that students don't have the same protection. Bankruptcy is no joyride for people. It is a tough thing to go through, and has many consequences.

4. Forgive student loan debt. The student loan scam is just that. It is fraud. As other activists have said, when debt is fraud it needs to be forgiven. Not everyone agrees with this, but the more one learns about how there came to be 1 trillion dollars in student loan debt in this country, the more likely one is to see that the behavior of the colleges and lenders is criminal- and the government sanctioned the crimes. The way to make it right is to forgive the debt, and leave the colleges, lenders and government to absorb the losses. A variation of the forgiveness plan would be to charge the students flat rates for already earned degrees (ex: $8,000 for a 4-year public university degree) and forgive the rest.


1. ALL EDUCATION MATTERS is an organization that works to improve the system of higher education and how it is funded, and approaches this from various angles.

2. STUDENT LOAN JUSTICE fights for restoring bankruptcy protection to student loans.

3. FORGIVE STUDENT LOAN DEBT TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY is lobbying for forgiveness of student loans on the basis that the system is out of control and the lending practices have been deceptive and unethical.

There are many Facebook groups associated with the Occupy movement that provide informative links to all sorts of activism in this area which you can participate in. Momentum is building!



  1. I don't like the term "forgive," in association with student loans. It connotes that one has committed a sin or crime. I suppose that one should seek forgiveness, for the following situations: if they cheat on their spouse; pissed away a paycheck on the slot machines and card tables; drove over the neighbor's lawn; failed to notify the police that an assistant coach on the football team preys on young boys.

    Actually, for that last example, one should spend time in jail. Evidently, "forgiving student loan debt to stimulate the economy" is a catchy phrase. It sounds better than saying, "Allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy, so young people can stimulate the economy through consumer spending."

    Keep up the good fight, Paul.

    1. Greetings,
      I just developed and signed the following petition addressed to: Federal Government. I could really use a little help to get this going!

      Relieve student debt and stimulate the economy.

      It is no great secret that we as a society are at a crucial point in time…..a fork in the road if you will. A point in time when hope for help seems to be in the forefront of everyone’s mind who believes change is coming. We either continue heading down a path that will indefinitely lead to the end; end of growth and the end of virtues and commonalities that we seem to be taking for granted. Or we choose to veer off course; we choose to set the stage for an unprecedented chain of events that will reshape our society. We choose to say no more to establishments that fail because they will not change their behaviors and course of action. We choose to say no more to the greed on Wall Street, banks, and big businesses that can’t seem to manage financial assets in a manner that allows them to grow and prosper but rather than dwindle and fail. We choose to say enough; to those select few that are charting the course for this entire country’s fate.
      To read more about what I'm trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

      The entire document can also be viewed on You Tube @ http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4A6FE95F878898AE


      Chadwick Bacon

  2. I think this is one of the first articles I've read speaking the bullshit truth about Obama's proposal. Too many people are giving kudos to this bozo again for another half-baked mess that doesn't get to the root of the problem, the other two being A) the housing and B) the healthcare nightmare.

    Let's face, anything the O-idiot does right now is to make him look better (and more compassionate) than the other side while not pissing off his corporate owners. And that's all anyone needs to know about the situation we are in and what he will do to "address" the problem.

  3. @ Nando: I totally agree with you. "forgiveness" has many false implications. The same is true for the term "jubilee", which has a suggestion of foolishness and being reckless. It is true though that the concept of forgiveness has a "catchier quality", so that is why I have repeated it.

    @ Cathy: I also agree with your points. Barack Obama has proven himself to be a corporatist. He talks a better game than a lot of politicians, but let's face it- the competition has gotten pretty dumb over the years. I wish Obama didn't sell out like he did, but he has- and he needs to get out. People need to stop believing the garbage pouring out of the mouths of politicians. Things are way too out of control at this point to have even a shred of faith in the establishment parties.

  4. I'm glad that more ppl are posting blogs like this. It seems to me that at the core of many of our problems today is lack of community, i.e., people aren't coming together, aren't connected, aren't communicating. What I mean is, people who aren't struggling w/debt don't care about those of us who are & ppl who are hurting are just hurting alone.

    When I try to talk w/ppl about stu loan debt, I get told that it's "my fault" for taking out the loans. Then I have to explain to them that that was my financial aid, that I couldn't find a job that paid well enough to pay $30K per year in tuition out of pocket, etc. But why do I even need to explain this? Seems like common sense to me. Yet Americans are just so disconnected from ea other that instead of supporting ea other we're pushing ea other away, passing judgment, making assumptions, etc. If ppl cd just come together & show some concern for ea other (instead of living on our own pvt islands) I think that wd solve most of our current problems. But the reality is, many Americans voted for these Draconian student loan practices. I really think that is the core of our problem right there. Why do we vote against our own best interest, against ourselves? Why is it easier to believe that poor people are cheating, getting handouts, etc. than it is to understand there are millionaires (&up) who get all sorts of handouts in the form of tax breaks and bailouts? Why can't we stick together and support each other?

    Just my two cents.

  5. I think that if a person obtained a loan for higher education, they themselves need to repay it. Why should others pay for their benefit? If the argument is that they got bamboozled by the system universities and loan providers), I would have to say that that did not happen overnight, but rather over time, quarters and semesters. Students always have a choice to change direction, but they chose to continue the borrowing. And let's not forget, these debts are not just for education but more as a short-term lifestyle, meaning that students could have work full-time to pay for classes and go to school part-time. This may take more years, but that is the deal. If a person already has funds for education, then they have more choices. Providing loans is not the problem, taking the loans is the problem. Students take loans. Therefore it is the students problem. Let's not make tax payers pay for their (mistake) lifestyle choices. Getting a higher education (and employable skills) is not a right, it is something like most other achievements which is earned and one who engages in educating him or herself needs to make sure they will be able to provide products and/or services in demand. There is a difference between degrees in engineering versus sociology.



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