POWER

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"POWER CONCEDES NOTHING WITHOUT DEMAND...

...IT NEVER DID AND IT NEVER WILL." - Frederick Douglass


 PULLING OUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND


Remember, the people (greedy sociopaths and criminals) who created and/or changed the (student lending/higher education) system know how to work it and manipulate it to THEIR ADVANTAGE. It's been happening for years, and many of us had no clue what was going on, and how bad it was getting.

Our only chance at fixing this horrible situation is waking up, becoming informed, and taking action. If you are reading this blog, then there is a good chance you are at least are doing the first step. KEEP GOING!
 
Information and commentary is rapidly expanding on the student loan crisis- which is a good thing. But far too many people are unaware of the severity of the corruption in student lending that is strikingly similar to what happened in real estate.

The following post comes from the Medicinesux blog, and was posted a year ago. Still relevant, and still scary! Thanks, Medicinesux, for bringing it to our attention.


“Until recently, I thought that there would never again be an opportunity to be involved with an industry as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the subprime mortgage industry. I was wrong. The for-profit education industry has proven equal to the task.” -Steve Eisman (renowned hedge fund manager who called the housing market collapse)


I have been preaching for almost two years now how the student loan crisis is shaping up to be one of the most catastrophic financial disasters to lay assault on this country. And it is. Education in America has been hijacked by a cartel of banking thugs and administrative wolves cloaked in sheepskin all in cahoots with the US govt. Though the media has SLOWLY been picking up on this issue, our govt continues to sleep behind the wheel (surprising?). I have done quite a bit of research on this very topic and have quite frankly been blown away by all the disgusting corruption and greed that goes on behind the curtain. Everything from former for profit college lobbyists now working at the Dept of Education to recruiters drumming up warm bodies at homeless shelters to the University of Phoenix’s impressive 4% graduation rate for online students is enough to make my head spin in utter disbelief.


Today in France the youth are protesting in droves after the govt proposed raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. I can only imagine how they would react to our student loan situation! We should be in the streets going ApeSh!t over this. Check out the graph above and see for yourself how this bubble is inflating beyond belief. It makes the recent housing bubble seem like a mere blip! Scary graph indeed!!! (from Medicinesux).


This blog site hasn't been updated in a while, but it provides great links and information. The author also reiterates THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF RESTORING STANDARD CONSUMER PROTECTIONS TO STUDENT LOANS!!

 WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?




This book by Alan Collinge, provides an excellent explanation of the student loan crisis and how it came to be. You can not argue with these facts. If you know something is not right in the world of student lending and the cost of education in this country, but you can't quite explain it (or even fully grasp it yourself)- this book will help you become more informed, and want to get more involved. It's worth the money. Get it today!




HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM (BIG TIME)



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What are some of the things you have learned about student lending and higher education that have made you angry? What are your thoughts on doing something about it?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY

The student loan crisis is a serious one- a very serious one. Although it continues to gain more attention from the media, the government is doing far too little- almost nothing, really- about it. That is why it is so important that people are beginning to speak out on this topic. Even those not directly affected by unmanageable debt should be concerned about the problem, as it ultimately impacts all of society and the economy in significant ways.

People need to take action. This is already happening, and as time moves on, this action will undoubtedly increase. We all have ideas on what we might like to see going forward- but we have to stay grounded. Anyone who is considering harming themselves in an act of civil disobedience should please refrain from doing that.

The riots and protests in the Middle East this year inspired many people who had felt that citizens can never bring about true change. But they can. They can, and they have, and they will again. We can change things. But we have to fight and not harm ourselves in the process.

It is no doubt a very depressing state of affairs in this country these days. The despair this can cause is a great catalyst for taking action. But if you are feeling severely depressed, or if the action you feel like taking involves harming yourself, or someone else, then please seek some help. PLEASE CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE AT: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is free and confidential. There is no shame in feeling depressed or suicidal. Everyone has their issues.

THINKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: ACT UP
 
When the AIDS virus first started to appear in the early 1980's, politicians didn't even want to discuss it- let alone take action to address the crisis. Ronald Reagan was notoriously ignorant in regard to AIDS. His world view did not include concern for a disease that primarily was affecting gay men and intravenous drug users.

How then did AIDS end up receiving so much attention and funding for research? How were medicines eventually developed that turned an AIDS diagnosis from a death sentence into a chronic, manageable health condition? How did social programs to help AIDS patients and fight discrimination come about?

PEOPLE DEMANDED ACTION, AND THEY GOT IT...THAT'S HOW!

AIDS activism of the 1980's and 1990's shows us what happens when people demand action to a crisis. ACT UP was a particularly controversial activist group, but they got their message out there, they demanded change, and they were instrumental in getting it.

Maybe this is an activism model the student loan movement can borrow from. In any event, we must demand change; and we will likely have to get political attention in some unconventional ways. Apparently 1 trillion dollars in student debt, the worst job market since the Great Depression, and soaring tuition costs isn't enough.

What ways might we get politicians to listen up? What ACT UP-style protests from the past might work for the student loan movement now?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NOW IS THE SUMMER OF OUR DISCONTENT

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

The previous post briefly discussed the growing student debt advocacy movement, and how it has been influenced by the law school "scamblog" sites in recent years. Through their writing, these scambloggers- law school students and graduates- have illuminated a severe problem in this country: greedy and dishonest institutions fleecing America's new generation of students and professionals, and hastening the destruction of the middle class. Now it is time for others to speak out as well.

THE LAW SCHOOL SCAM EXPOSED

Essentially, new, unnecessary law schools have continued to open, thanks to the unconscionable accreditation "standards" of the ABA (American Bar Association). These "law schools" charge exorbitant tuition, leaving many graduates with six figure, undischargeable student loan debt, not including any undergraduate loans. To make matters worse, the employment market for new lawyers is not only down because of "the economy", but it has changed permanently due to advancements in technology, and the outsourcing of American legal work to foreign countries.

Many law school graduates can not find legal jobs, and have difficulty gaining employment in other fields because of their advanced JD degree. The false reporting by US News and World Report, as well as the various universities themselves, has misled many prospective students regarding the realities of post-graduate employment opportunities. The ABA and some "law schools" are KNOWINGLY OVERSATURATING THE LEGAL MARKET with graduates that will likely NEVER FIND EMPLOYMENT IN THE LEGAL FIELD, and misleading and harming students who will struggle seriously with their student loan debt for decades!

This problem is not only experienced by students of lower-ranked schools (better known as Third Tier Toilets), but from "better" schools as well. Either way, it is an unacceptable situation being fueled by extreme greed on the part of the part of the ABA, the universities, and the lending institutions. Some people are getting extremely wealthy from this system of "education"- and it's not the graduates.

THE REAL LAWYERS OF ORANGE COUNTY

Check out this recent Craig's List job posting for an administrative assistant job seeking law school graduates- in case you have any doubts about the changing nature of this profession!

SAD BUT TRUE: THE LAW SCHOOL SCAM MADE SIMPLE

ANSWERING THE CALL TO ACTION: A LIBRARY OF INFORMATION

Recently this blog called on subprime advanced degree holders from other fields to speak out about their experiences with loan debt, misleading marketing information on the part of their schools (as well as other sources), and the current realities of employment with their degree.

The first response came in regarding the MLIS degree (Master of Library and Information Sciences), and it appears to be rife with some of the same sort of corruption we have seen in the law $chool bu$ine$$. This will be the first degree to be explored in a series on this blog called SUBPRIME DEGREE EXPOSÉ. This series will begin in July, and will be followed by similar posts about subprime degrees in other disciplines.

AN OPEN CALL, A CATTLE CALL, A STANDING INVITATION

There is a movement to take on student lending corruption, and if you are a victim- and there are many of you out there- BECOME INFORMED AND SPEAK OUT! Tell us about your subprime degree. You can contact this blog at paul.small2007@gmail.com. If you prefer, just leave a comment below this post. If you are so inclined, consider writing a blog of your own or becoming involved in another way.

STOP THE INSANITY

The student lending crisis in America needs to be further exposed, and relief for those who need it must be demanded. Young, naive students should be protected from falling into the trap, and being ripped-off. Changing the higher education system so that it is about (affordable) education for students and not higher (undeserved) salaries and bonuses for corrupt, greedy, pigs in university administration, or the $tudent loan companie$, etc. has to happen.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A SUBPRIME DEGREE? 

The term subprime lending is widely used in describing the types of loans that led to the collapse of the US housing market three years ago- which had a ripple effect in the global markets, and has devastated the lives of many people and their families. It basically refers to making loans to people who are thought to have potential difficulty paying back the loan, and as such they are given less favorable lending terms and interest rates. Due to lack of government regulation (deregulation), criminals masquerading as businesspeople actually have devised schemes to profit off of borrowers who end up defaulting on their loans.

Mortgages and student loans are different in ways, but both can be subprime. Students are regularly allowed to borrow to the max to finance degrees presumably to pursue a career in that field. Many students borrow large sums of money without fully realizing the degree they are borrowing for may not help them get any job that pays enough to pay back the loan.

$100,000 in debt to become a social worker? $90,000 to study film? How about a BS in history for $65,000? Sound like a good ideas? Hmmm... probably not. But, young, naive students do it all the time, not fully understanding the serious ramifications this will have on their future.

POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS TO THE CRISIS

Opinions on how to approach the student debt fiasco in America are mixed, of course. The problem is systemic, having been influenced by various areas of politics and culture over the past couple of decades. The debt crisis will not go away by itself, and student loan defaults are increasing. The media is covering the story more frequently, and a simple Google search will reveal this- from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and even the foreign press.

Perhaps the single most important change that must be demanded from politicians is the return of standard consumer protections to student loan debt- meaning that this debt can be discharged in bankruptcy- like all other types of debt. Currently, student loan debt is the only type of debt that can not be discharged through this process. Credit card and gambling debt- no problem. The Student Loan Scam, by Alan Collinge is an excellent source of information regarding specifics on this topic.

By allowing this change in The US Bankruptcy Code, the most severe cases of harmful, unmanageable debt could be offered relief. But it would also begin to change the extremely profitable, and corrupt system of overlending to students!! If you don't already know this, LENDERS MAKE EVEN MORE MONEY WHEN A BORROWER DEFAULTS!

Sallie Mae loves it when someone decides to go to a third tier toilet law school, or an expensive private school to get a degree to prepare for a career in an underpaid profession, like teaching or social work. But, if lenders know that bankruptcy is an option for the overburdened borrower, they may not be so quick to let an 18 year-old get in over their head financially for a liberal arts degree at their "dream school."

Restoring these protections is an essential first start, but that alone will not be enough. Other solutions will be mentioned in the next post. What are your thoughts on solutions to the debt crisis?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A CALL TO ACTION:

ATTENTION ALL:
MDs, MBAs, MAs, MLISs, MSs, MSWs, MSCJs, MPAs, MPPs, MFAs, and PhDs:

Each passing day the student debt crisis becomes more serious. But like a virus with a long incubation period, it is not immediately obvious, and is often disguised by symptoms of other illnesses. Why this is, and how this came to be, has been the focus of much discussion in recent years- and in fact, a movement has started to expose this issue for what it is: a greed-based scandal that is going to create further economic turmoil in this already hurting country.

The intention of this, and other blogs, is to explore the nature of the student debt crisis in America and to bring about change by demanding our politicians take action! It is extremely important that any and all who are affected by, or concerned with, the student debt crisis begin to educate themselves and speak out.

SCAM BAM, THANK YOU MA'AM

The law school scam blog movement has been instrumental in exposing some of the fraudulent horrors in the legal education industry, the corruption within the ABA, and it's incestuous relationship with US News and World Report. These blogs, as well as blogs like All Education Matters, have done an incredible service in exposing the fraud that is leading so many young citizens to make unwise "investments" in education, and to seriously impact their lives negatively for years and years to come.

It has been law students and lawyers who have spoken out most notably thus far. However, what they have discussed is essentially the one area they are most familiar with: law school. Law school has definitely become a racket and a scam in this country, and it continues to get worse. But the corruption in the law school business is part of the larger STUDENT LENDING SCAM that affects an even larger group of students. This is a systemic problem.

SUBPRIME DEGREES: ADMITTING IT IS HALF THE BATTLE

Again, the exact nature of student lending corruption, and what we need to do about it requires more time to discuss. I currently am reading The Student Loan Scam, by Alan Collinge, and it truly makes my blood boil. I highly recommend it as a great way to become informed on the topic.

BUT NOW YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!! If you hold an advanced degree ( MDs, MBAs, MAs, MLISs, MSs, MSWs, MSCJs, MPAs, MPPs, MFAs, and PhDs), and your life has become unmanageable because of the debt you acquired to pursue it- PLEASE SPEAK OUT. Please contact me at paulsmall2007@gmail.com,  or visit these blogs: All Education Matters or Third Tier Reality and message their respective authors.

AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DESTROYER

Of course, the student debt crisis affects many different people, and their families- from community college students to medical school graduates- and all are equally important. The student lending fiasco ultimately has to be addressed across the board. However, advanced degrees have become increasingly lucrative for universities (and therefore lenders as well) as more and more people with a bachelors degree find it "necessary" to go back to school in order to get a "good job." The student debt relief movement needs people from various backgrounds.

If you went to school to be say, a social worker, and are embarrassed that you accrued $100,000 in student loan debt- don't be, and don't let that keep you from speaking out. There are plenty of people in your shoes. The total national student loan debt amount is approaching 1 trillion US$!

It is important to get some information on various cases across different fields of study, to understand the scope of this. Essentially the student loan industry is getting extremely wealthy by over lending to the misinformed, and unduly optimistic, and now we are facing grave consequences as a society. Not to mention, many of us took on our debt before or during the Wall Street Rape of 2008- drastically changing the economic landscape we now find ourselves trying to function in. Please speak up and let us know your story. If you are suffering from student loan injustice- you are not alone. Help is mobilizing.

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!!
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