You know better than I do what has to be done, the kind of problems you face. Just go ahead and do what has to be done. Don’t be intimidated, don’t be frightened, and recognize that the future can be in our hands if we’re willing to grasp it.
(TW: RAPE) If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.
A Republican elected official in Maine actually said this. But what war on women? (via whitegirlpolitickin)
I think this is something I’m going to point people to when I tell them that the pro-life position is directly related to rape culture.
Repeatedly exclaiming “What The Fuck?!?” to myself, curiously turning my head around - trying to figure out what time we live in. It’s 2014. really????
An unassuming allegiance and acquiesce to overwrought, rotten, mismanaged, techno-fascists, gluttonous, anti-life specters while proclaiming independence, enlightenment, progressiveness[or “progress”], and most embarrassingly of all, “balance”. As the tightrope chorus boast, “never get too high or too low”, though the American consciousness has been trying to scratch its’ maneuvers into the surface of Heaven and beyond and since before barack obama took office and this ideology hasn’t been stopped since or henceforth post his-positioning. American exceptionalism has remained expansive, as we go about carving our names & our weapons into the faces of other country’s people so that they don’t ever dare to “threaten us” or forget if they do: did she forget that the entire reason we have been at war, ravaging select regions of the planet for decades+ is based on illegitimate claims, and that power which is illegitimate from its’ inception doesn’t suddenly become ‘enchanted’ & legitimized when that power starts to “look like you”? It is either outrageously naïve, ignorant, or a fraud, to lay claim to self-knowledge, to love, to harmonic trans-humanism, to inclusivity of sexual & psychic space, to workers’ rights, to peace, and all the assorted blessings that come with these wants, when you align yourself with brute-force, and give your stamp of approval to government-sanctioned ultra-violence ad infinitum in the name of preserving our way of life which is a disastrously dis-proportionate toll on the earth’s dwindling resources at the expense of other people in the name of “national security”. What does she think about the affectionately called ‘pink house’ in Somalia, or AFRICOM, which appears to be a modern-day “scramble for Africa”, although, of the world’s nations only America is participating, and it is not so much a race for people and goods, but the pig-headed iron-fist of Militarizing entire zones of life irrespective of “blowback” in an attempt to prevent another ‘terror attack’, or the disposition matrix, or the NSA [for christ-sake they’re making personality profiles based on [y]our meta-data, and you based your first album on fritz lang and have nothing to say]? All my enthusiasm for Janelle monae is melting like a wax sculpture. I struggle (at first) to rationalize this horror, this seeming conflict of interests, and morals, and of intent, but there is no excuse: it is trying to complete a rubix cube with an inadequate dispersion of colors; too many yellows & not enough greens, no matter how many times I try to solve it, it is impossible. I lobby the same critique to ?uestlove, who oh so proudly as his twitter profile picture has a photo of him standing next to the president, and Jay-Z, who had a monumental opportunity to engage in an open discourse about the New York that’s being created by Bill Bratton & Ray Kelly & John Miller (& everyone who thinks like them, the complicit ranks, and the self-hating pigs, et al) + the ill-begotten representation & mischaracterization, and anxiety-laden portrait of young brown youths in America amongst our generation(s) and the prioritizing of the protection & gated logistics of capitalism and market exchange as a sacred animal to be guarded instead of standing witness to a young man’s dignity as he enthusiastically (I assume) was about to purchase a product for which he had saved up using his fucking work-study money, but instead, deferred to this: “I do charity.” “I give money”. End of conversation, what a fucking insult. This is further digging-a-head in the sand mentality, because I assume, in all my ignorance, that he probably thinks of himself as contributing to [the] black community, whatever that fucking means, but writing a song (‘Picasso Baby’), which may as well be a jingle for the fucking Waltons, bragging about how your child is leaning on basquiat “because you own it”, while Lester Holt goes on NBC and does a 10-minute closing special about the egalitarian awareness & affection of the Walton art museum (Crystal Bridges) while exclaiming the “positive side-effects” of bringing kids to interact with art (as if this was bell’s theorem) without penetrating the fact that this is also supposed to double as a “history” museum of America-through-art and Alice W. is going to do the narration, is just a fucking mockery. But anyway, what are these dudes thinking? ?uestlove, Janelle Monae, Jay-Z, and all the other musical artists who proudly & un-thinkingly proclaim their allegiance to the white house & smile in photos & expressing thanks for re-presentation by proxy to an insurmountably corrupt power system of revolving doors, eco-cide, spying, slaughter, misinformation, desensitization, theft, sexism, lying, and the list goes on, all because the presents “is black”? I mean, what are you thinking? And I say this because, and I would put money on it, with 100% confidence, that Janelle Monae, and ?uestlove, and Jay-Z, and any another contemporary working musician with a modicum of character & world-awareness wouldn’t take pride in being associated with, aligning themselves to, bragging out, performing for, or taking a photograph with George W. Bush. I put money on it (the joke here is that I have none). So, why, would you do all the above, and then some, for Barack Obama? – who, on paper, is 5x ostensibly worse at least – if we are comparing the two administrations, and how things are visibly worse, not because obama inherited a bad lot, but because he took everything crime – because they are crimes, let’s be clear – enacted by the Bush administration, and codified them, expanded them, gave them a nice veneer, very nice for Goldman Sachs, very nice for the stock of Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, and Haliburton, but not so nice for people. Or the land. Or the air. Or the animals. Or the sea. Or the sky. Or the internet. Or the ether. Or integrity. Or anything really. So I’m scratching my head here trying to figure out why[where?] the inspiration for association comes from: I called it “maudlin solitary”. Maudlin because it is empty, it is without honor, it’s a non-thinking allegiance of the apparition of power, based on race – nothing more & nothing less. Your blackness was literally bought for a wink & a smile. One need only spend a minute with Susan Jacoby & return to any footage of public address obama has ever given before, since, and after he took office, and count the number of times he says “folks”; you will need both of your hands, and your toes, I guarantee it – you may need to rely on your family members to fill the subsequent utterances when you run out, even as he publicly snubs art history & quips that he “doesn’t want to receive any e-mails about it”. There’s a lesson to be learned in the afterlife of Egyptian mythology illustrated in the Book Of The Dead, where the soul must pass through the guarded portal of the chimeric creature Ammit, (of crocodile, lion, and hippo parts), where the heart is weighed on a scale (by Anubis), and if the heart is lighter than a feather (belonging to Ma’at, the goddess of truth), the soul is allowed to pass through to – what I assume is the Egyptian equivalent of “heaven”, or nirvana, ‘peace’, etc. If the heart weighs more than a feather, well, you can use your imagination. All of the above artists, war-mongers, cheerleaders & blind-faith dealers of exceptionalism, the American way, and the death of our relationship to this planet, the only one we have, would do well to heed the above meta-image. Oh yeah, I learned this in my Tuesday morning, 10AM “useless” art history class. Fuck you. : )
A Critique of Janelle Monáe, G.S. Ultra-Violence, and “Maudlin” Solidarity
P.S. If her next single isn’t called “Kill List”, my worst fears will be confirmed.
If I put a gun to someone’s head, say, a 30-year-old healthy male, pull the trigger, and kill him, assuming an average life expectancy of, say, 84, you can argue that possibly 54 years of life [were] stolen from that person in a direct act of violence.
However, if a person is born into poverty in the midst of an abundant society where it is statistically proven that it would hurt no one to facilitate meeting the basic needs of that person and yet they die at the age of 30 due to heart disease, which has been found to statistically relate to those who endure the stress and effects of low socioeconomic status, is that death, the removal of those 54 years once again, an act of violence?
And the answer is ‘Yes, it is.’
You see, our legal system has conditioned us to think that violence is a direct behavioral act. The truth is that violence is a process, not an act, and it can take many forms.
You cannot separate any outcome from the system by which it is oriented.
Writing on virtual, evanescent screens in their air-conditioned enclaves, situated well above saturated coastal regions teeming with desperate populations, they will ask themselves why any nation - let alone the world’s wealthiest - would permit a cabal so xenophobic, so vehemently anti-science to dictate climate policy at a time when the whole of human civilization stood dependent on concerted, cooperative action. They will ask why any nation would have empowered those whose sole objection to scientific truth boiled down to the fact that it was presented to them by an international organization, made up of folks with odd-sounding names and possibly even different skin colors than themselves.
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All you need to do is reblog this post for a chance of winning this very special package!
Giveaway ends January 1st!!! The winner will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.
Good luck everyone <3
I REFUSE TO PAY BACK ANY OF MY STUDENT LOANS.
—I posted this as my facebook status a few weeks ago. As of now, it has 48+ likes, and 56 comments, a variety of contributions from friends with varying viewpoints ranging colorfully across the spectrum: you can view that conversation here - https://www.facebook.com/ogun.afariogun/posts/10151888403974052?notif_t=like the majority of (most) recent comments are from me, as I continually update the feed with new information which brings the clarity of my cause for action/protest into context & continuty. My reasons are manifold, expanding everyday with the incresae of knowledge I consume, concerning our governmental actions domestically and abroad. It is my commensuration that this country needs a non-violent reckoning, which cannot be developed in the future or patient for outside interest. It can only only be expressed;
as a shortcut, please supply yourself with the links below (this basically functions as a condensed version of the facebook conversation, sans my friends’ comments, which I encourage you to visit because every contribution is valuable): reblog, or share this if you want to continue the conversation: (also, feel free to add to this list if you have additional reasons. it is an ever-expanding mind growing map of interest & dissent.) love & peace. ♡
"I refuse to pay back any of my student loans."
To push the point further home, they are already attacking the youth. (This article is from 2008, but it’s still relevant, pertaining the prescribed circumstances we find ourselves in). I don’t know if any of you have heard of Arne Duncan (I didn’t until recently) but it doesn’t bode well.
“As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree”
“Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die”
“We are born into a government 60 years in debt/
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt”
From the comment thread on a discussion board under the headline of Elizabeth Warren (a [DP] senate member from Massachusetts) who is introducing a bill to “give students the same loan rate as federal banks”, one user said “A dead person defaults by not having enough assets in the estate to pay the loan plus the higher administration costs from trying to get the loan paid.” We deserve better than this. You deserve better.
"Could things not be more explicit? Empire toys with our flesh, desiring of us vulnerability, exposure and submission to its will. Empire utilizes our flesh for its own purposes, for the strengthening of itself over and against the needs, the desires, of peoples. Empire is the production of competition. It allows some of us to go to good schools and learn and have good jobs and “strong” families. It creates the conditions where many of us have substandard educations (like in Philadelphia where over 3700 teachers, principals, teacher aids, nurses and other staff will not have a job come Fall 2013) and live in perpetual poverty while never challenging the fact that there is no state in this union where one could work 40 hours a week earning minimum wage and supply for their own or a family’s needs. And all this in order to proliferate the inequities and the structural coherence of the nation-state enacted through the dispersement of violent and violative force, through the promise and proliferation of terror throughout the world. But because we want to be citizens, because we desire recognition and protection under law, we contend against each other without ever asking more fundamental questions about what it is we desire, who it is we wish to be. This is the game of empire, the ruse of the promises of citizenship. If citizenship protects under law, perhaps now we can begin considering what lawlessness looks like and what the productivity of fugitivity in our times is. Because we are here, at this moment in time, where we are granted the privilege of seeing, with grave acuity and clarity, the vulgar means employed for nation-states to give and withhold “rights” to individuals, seemingly at its whims.”
(1) “It shouldn’t have happened. Most of our financial crisis in the past is due to some macroeconomic event— an oil disruption, war. This was caused by a few institutions, about 20, who, in my opinion, lost all credibility relative to managing their risk. And the sad thing is it should never have happened. The management should have stopped it before it got big. And people are suffering for something that should never have happened.”
“Bankers borrowed one set of ideas that had been developed in the commodities market and applied it to loans for the first time. This idea was essentially created under the banner of making the financial system safer.”
“The campaign to roll back Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era set of reforms was led by the country’s biggest bank, CitiCorp.”
“We saw borrowers given loans that were greater than the value of their home. Home buyers were getting loans that had no income. The borrower, particularly the elderly or the low income, had no clue as to what they signed. There was a tremendous growth of mortgages that we knew made no sense financially.”* & “When you have a high interest rate, then you have high points. Then you have pre-payment penalties, when you have balloon payments, when you have adjustable-rate mortgages and when you layer those bad practices on top of a high interest rate, it becomes predatory.”*
“By 2007, 2008, all the smart money knew the game had ended, and all the banks tried to effectively repackage what they were stuck with as quickly as possible and get it off their books. But there was second parallel movement which was going on, which was all about, “How can we take advantage of it?”
(2) “Those in control of the system have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams as 72% of all the wealth in the US is held in the hands of 5% of the population, with 42% of this in the hands of the top 1%. The top 1% now “earn” over 20% of all the income in the U.S., a level exceeded only once before in the 1920s prior to the Great Crash of 1929 and ensuing Depression. During the heyday of middle class upward mobility, from 1950 through 1970, the top 1% earned 10% of all income.”
(3) “President Bill Clinton publicly declared “the Glass–Steagall law is no longer appropriate.”
(4) “They trying to stress us out so much to make us leave, so they can take over. You can see neighborhoods now that were straight crackhead central, and now it’s hipsters building gardens. In some sense, they want everybody from the city to move to the outskirts and suburbs so they can take over—not saying white people or black people, just rich people.”*
(5) Still, the difficulties white America has faced during the foreclosure crisis don’t compare with what Wall Street and the banks have inflicted, physically and psychologically, on African American neighborhoods. As countless leaked documents, insider dispositions, and Department of Justice filings demonstrate, those neighborhoods were systematically and illegally targeted for the worst of the worst mortgages. As one former Wells Fargo mortgage broker explained in a sworn affidavit, “The company put ‘bounties’ on minority borrowers. By this I mean that loan officers received cash incentives to aggressively market subprime loans in minority communities. This pushing of predatory loans was all the more insidious because these same communities had been starved of mortgages for decades as a result of the Federal Housing Authority’s refusal to guarantee loans in communities of color. As Mike Fannon, development associate for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, explained, “The same banks that denied capital now injected too much toxic capital and decimated the local economy.”*
(7) “It was, in fact, a financial shell game where we were manipulating banking results by moving the risk out through one door, but bringing it back into the banking system by another door. The risk was not leaving the banking system, and everybody in the world was connected to these chains of risk. And if any part of that chain breaks down because they can’t honor the contract, the entire system implodes.” (#1: 2)
"In Britain, students don’t begin paying off their loans until they find stable employment, and the cost is in proportion to their earnings. Australia similarly ties the cost of paying off the loan to the income of the graduate. In Denmark, education is considered a right by the people and an investment by the government, and is therefore free. Some students are even offered a stipend by the government to defray costs. Norway has a similar system of higher education, and in Sweden, students pay only a small fee. In America? The university is considered a commodity, one that can easily be purchased by the wealthy, but not the poor. These approaches represent a fundamentally different cultural attitude: elsewhere, education is a public good, an investment or a right; in the U.S., it’s a privilege reserved for wealthy elites.” http://www.salon.com/…/25/does_america_hate_millennials/
"In an August 2013 article titled “Larry Summers and the Secret ‘End-game’ Memo,” Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization. The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations.” http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/making_the_world_safe_for_banksters_syria_in_the_cross-hairs_20130905?ln
"The pressure on higher education to become some kind of marketable commodity is everywhere. It’s not just Astor Place, or New York City, or the United States. Something is changing about the character of education. There were lots of places in the United States that offered free education until the ’70s. It was once nationally mandated to think of higher education as a public good—that it was simply good for democracy. Now, education is a piece of private advantage you purchase in the big competition for jobs. Look at President Truman’s 1947 report on higher education—it was quite clear that everyone thought it was in the national advantage to make higher education as accessible and as cheap as possible. What the hell happened to that?”
"The United States is more majoritarian (winner takes all) in its political institutions than many nations, but also has a higher degree of inequality, which suggests the possibility that less-majoritarian systems may in fact have less inequality. Empirically, the use of proportional representation – in which at least some members of the legislature are chosen in proportion to the vote of an area, not in elections in single-person districts – correlates with lower levels of economic inequality. Austen-Smith (2000) and Iversen and Soskice (2006) march this stylized fact in theoretical models. Although the proposed mechanism varies, the central insight is that plurality rule (where the candidate with the most votes wins) is conducive to two-party political systems (Duverger 1954). In turn, political bargaining in two-party systems tends to privilege coalitions of the middle and upper classes against the poor. A related institutional distinction compares parliamentary regimes, which lack a strong separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch (because the executive is selected by the party with a majority in the legislative branch), to presidential-congressional regimes like the United States. It is an open question as to the robustness of the conclusions of various theoretical models of the politics of inequality. In at least some cases, the theoretical predictions are not robust to changes in assumptions. For example, Olszewski and Rosenthal (200) show that political coalitions and after-tax outcomes can shift dramatically in certain models when a quasi-linear utility function is replaced by a Cobb-Douglas utility function. In the past, most political economy models that depart from majoritarian settings imposed some form of compromise bargaining in the political process (for some different approaches, see Baron and Ferejohn 199; Alesina and Rosenthal 1995; Grossman and Helpman 1999). However, as compromise has been expunged from the Washington political dictionary, political science models of policy formation have largely turned to ‘pivot’ models following the seminal work of Krehbiel (1998). Pivot models embed the institutional structure of the political system of the federal government. In order to change policy from the status quo, legislation must pass over hurdles that include passage by simple majority in both Houses of Congress, the 60 votes needed to shut down possible filibusters in the Senate, and the two-thirds majorities in both houses needed to override vetoes by the president, followed by challenges in the courts and possible foot-dragging or noncompliance in the states. Models of these institutional processes identify the actors whose support is necessary for policy change. These actors are known as ‘pivots’. Potential pivots include the median representative in the House (or perhaps, the median member of the majority party), the filibuster pivot in the Senate, and veto override pivots in both houses. At a given time, which of the potential pivots will be the pivotal legislator depends on the distribution of liberal-conservative preferences in the two chambers. The internal rules of the two Houses of Congress also constitute hurdles. Of course, the membership of the US Congress is not simply determined by popular majorities, which leads to additional hurdles. Article V of the US Constitution has one unamendable provision that give each state two votes in the Senate, without regard to population. The provision creates a situation in which some senators represent far fewer people than others. A pivot hurdle on the Affordable Care Act was Ben Nelson, the Democratic senator furthest to the right. Nelson is from Nebraska, which has its two of the 100 senators but only three of the 435 representatives. Majority representation in the House is distorted by geographic sorting of the population and, to a lesser extent, by gerrymandering that favors the Republicans. Gerrymandering explanations are rampant in the media but they should not be exaggerated. Democrats lost the House in 2010, but they won it with the same apportionment in 2006 and 2008. While gerrymandering has a Republican bias, it does not seem to contribute to polarization. Both geographic sorting and gerrymandering are discussed in more detail in McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal (2009). Multiple pivots imply that status quo policies may become gridlocked. The range of gridlocked policies expands theoretically, and has also expanded empirically, as polarization of legislative output (McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal 2006, pp. 177-183). Even if gridlock is sometimes overcome, policy change will need to be moderated to attract the support of critical pivots. In the first two years of the Obama presidency, for example, the stimulus package, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Dodd-Frank Act all passed. However, each piece of legislation was sharply limited by the need to obtain 60 votes to avoid a Senate filibuster. All three initially passed the Senate with exactly 60 votes. To obtain passage of the stimulus bill, the administration needed to cut $200 billion of assistance to state and local governments. Among the many concessions made in Dodd-Frank, a tax on banking transactions was removed to obtain the pivotal vote of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts (McCarty, Poole, Romer and Rosenthal 2010). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did raise certain taxed on those with high incomes, but in many ways it was constructed to appease insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Taxes were also increased on high incomes in the “fiscal cliff” legislation of 2012, but rates remain well below the levels in effect before the Reagan presidency. Moreover, this legislation ended payroll tax cuts that had provided low-income tax relief during the Great Recession. In the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives. The pivot was thus shifted from the relatively moderate 60th (from the left) position in the Senate to the quite conservative House median. The 2012 tax legislation reflected this shift. Legislative gridlock also allows policies to drift. In principle, this effect could increase of decrease inequality. For example, an unindexed income tax rates lead to “bracket creep” and higher taxed as inflation gradually pushes incomes into higher tax brackets. But in practice, indexing seems to have been applied more often where it prevents the rich from suffering the effects of a drifting policy: income tax brackets are indexed for inflation, but minimum wages are not. Gridlock may also produce bureaucratic drift: those who are regulated can turn to a variety of different regulators at the federal level, as well as in the states the courts, and when the legislature is gridlocked, these regulators become freer to pursue their own policy objectives without fear of legislative override (Ferejohn and Shipan 1990). This dynamic was very important in financial deregulation (McCarthy, Poole, and Rosenthal 2013). For example, the barriers between commercial banking, investment banking, and insurance enshrined in Glass-Steagall were whittled to nearly nothing by regulators and court decisions well before Congress officially repealed the law. Regulatory conflict between the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the FDIC also facilitated lobbying as a gridlocked Congress first took two years from the financial crisis to enact Dodd-Frank and then produced a bill with substantial regulatory discretion (Bair 2012). Financial industry lobbyists have to date been very successful in modifying and delaying new rules, many of which are still being written. But legislative polarization makes it exceedingly unlikely that Congress will be able to revisit Dodd-Frank and correct its shortcomings or overturn regulatory decisions.” Why Hasn’t Democracy Slowed Rising Inequality? [Journal of Economic Perspectives] Pages 16-18 http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.27.3.103
"Unger argues that in order to design and implement such innovations, we must “speak in the two languages of interest calculation and political prophecy”—pragmatic utopianism. He correctly points out that institutions shape our perceptions of interests as well as our ideological predispositions, and that when designing institutions we cannot allow them to become rigid and inflexible, no longer able to serve the needs of citizens. Institutions must be able to adapt to new situations, adopt good ideas from elsewhere, and correct mistakes. Given the influence of institutions in our lives, economics, and politics, we must be willing constantly to innovate, tinker, and experiment.”
"Student loan debt is now the largest form of unsecured debt in the country today, surpassing credit cards and auto loans. Student loans were 3rd on the list just 8 years ago. The problem here is two-fold. On one side you have the amount of student debt nearly tripling in 15 years. On the other side, you have the job prospects of recent college graduates getting worse and worse.”
"I’ve always wanted to know what the end game is. Whether or not you blame people for making a huge mistake in their teens the fact remains that there are huge numbers of young people with massive amounts of debt. What is going to happen to them and the economy? Having so many people withhold spending, on houses, apartments, cars, food, clothes, so many other things, has to have some sort of affect on the economy as a whole, including people who make a living selling houses, clothes, whatever. Some groups will profit from this debt, such as banks, debt collectors, and school administrators (not the professors, I know they aren’t the reason tuition keeps rising), but most people won’t. It isn’t enough to simply blame college kids for their mistakes, there has to be a plan to move forward. What’s the plan? Condemn millions of people to decades of massive debt? Some might be in favor of that, but they too will feel the effects of this down the line.”
"You know what’s even cooler? If this is law or med school debt, they can take your license if you don’t pay! Judgments against you and no way to pay them! Hooray!"
"I think a big part of the problem is the way everybody focused on college educations as being part of/the gateway to the american dream. They looked at what kids had at the Ivies and the other elites and tried to democratize that without acknowledging the socioeconomic circumstances that allowed those schools to do their thing. Beautiful, country club-like campuses with ivy encrusted dorms and faculty able to teach every obscure arts or humanities major under the sun were fine for the socioeconomic elite who could afford all of that and didn’t have to worry about whether or not they’d have a job or loans after they graduated.
The rest of the country then looked at that and wanted that for their kids as well, regardless of their circumstances. In a way, a college education for the middle class went from being a commodity, attained with relatively little financial pain at state schools and junior colleges, to a aspirational luxury item no different than a leased Lexus or a mcmansion paid for with a balloon mortgage. The free availability of credit allowed tuition to balloon as lesser private institutions pulled out all the stops to acquire the dorms, recreational spaces, administrative salaries and majors once available only at the elite schools. The mantra of “follow your heart, no matter what the cost” was repeated ad nauseum by professors and school administrators looking to protect their own hides, and the middle class bought the sell job hook, line, and sinker.
Because of that, we now have the problem we face of kids drowning in debt to acquire majors that leave them with little chance of paying back those loans in a reasonable time frame. There wasn’t anything wrong with pursuing a liberal arts degree at an expensive school so long as that school had the academic reputation to match and your family was able to truly afford the education. Graduating from Harvard or Stanford with an english degree your parents paid for makes sense, as their is a good chance you’ll be able to get into a good PhD program and land a professorship one day. That same degree from a relative no-name private school with $100,000 in loans to pay for it is a much less solid proposition.
Unfortunately, many families clearly when faced with the decision about where to send their kids to school succumbed to the sell-jobs and peer pressure. Instead of thinking rationally, they sent their kids to cushy private degree mills that were long on creature comforts but short on academic reputation(while still costing as much or more as that Harvard education), because “they deserve it”. At these schools, their kids enjoyed four years of relatively stress-free “life experiences” while taking on enough debt to purchase a nice yacht.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that it’s everyone’s faults. The schools, for selling an purchase that really only makes sense if your parents are loaded. The parents, for failing to think more rationally about whether that random private school education is really worth $35,000 more per year than the local state school. Finally, the students shoulder a bit of the blame as well, for signing on the dotted line without thinking critically about their futures or job prospects.
And don’t even get me started on the for-profits.”
"That student loans aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy AND lenders can now charge commercial interest rates (generally above 6%) should be criminal. Lenders should have the security of nondischargeability combined with capped interest OR commercial interest rates to offset the risk of default. NOT BOTH. USURY.
THANKS, BUSH. (AND OBAMA.)”
Various samples from the comments section - appreciatively wide-ranging spectrum of opinions and experiences: http://gawker.com/one-in-five-people-cant-repay-their-federal-student-lo-1041788629
"The solution may lie in drastic regulation and tax policy changes that prevent the rich from getting the biggest income bounce post-Recession, Saez writes.
“Such policy changes took place after the Great Depression during the New Deal and permanently reduced income concentration until the 1970s,” Saez wrote.”
The lines are drawn clear & bright; not only does this play into the old GOP myths circa-the [post]Great Society era, where governmental programs for the struggling were critique by republicans [though this is less a partisan issue than it appears to be and All parties are guilty of negligence] as “handouts”(you see newscasters/mouth-boxes on ‘news’-stations still using this condensing rhetoric today), but it also show that we are willing to spend millions (trillions) on manufacturing military weapons which either do Not work or don’t get used, and are just as easily forgiving when that money [and material, time, and labor] goes to waste, but spending roughly $133 dollars a month on a starving family is too much to ask. see this 1999 article with regards to the Great Society success/failure :
My favorite is the high school girl: http://vimeo.com/49277427
"Because many mid-skill jobs are being lost to globalization and automation, recent U.S. growth in low-wage jobs has not come fast enough to absorb displaced workers at the bottom.
Low-wage workers are now older and better educated than ever, with especially large jumps in those with at least some college-level training.
"The people at the bottom are going to be continually squeezed, and I don’t see this ending anytime soon," said Harvard economist Richard Freeman. "If the economy were growing enough or unions were stronger, it would be possible for the less educated to do better and for the lower income to improve. But in our current world, where we are still adjusting to globalization, that is not very likely to happen.""
"The Obama administration is transporting Wall Street logic into higher education by proposing to measure the value of a college by the earnings of its graduates. This conceptual coup may be the best news for Wall Street since the abolition of Glass-Steagall."
"When I was growing up, it was assumed that America’s shared prosperity was the natural endpoint of our economy’s development, that capitalism had produced the workers paradise to which Communism unsuccessfully aspired. Now, with the perspective of 40 years, it’s obvious that the nonstop economic expansion that lasted from the end of World War II to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 was a historical fluke, made possible by the fact that the United States was the only country to emerge from that war with its industrial capacity intact. Unfortunately, the middle class – especially the blue-collar middle class – is also starting to look like a fluke, an interlude between Gilded Ages that more closely reflects the way most societies structure themselves economically. For the majority of human history – and in the majority of countries today – there have been only two classes: aristocracy and peasantry. It’s an order in which the many toil for subsistence wages to provide luxuries for the few. Twentieth century America temporarily escaped this stratification, but now, as statistics on economic inequality demonstrate, we’re slipping back in that direction. Between 1970 and today, the share of the nation’s income that went to the middle class – households earning two-thirds to double the national median – fell from 62 percent to 45 percent. Last year, the wealthiest 1 percent took in 19 percent of America’s income – their highest share since 1928. It’s as though the New Deal and the modern labor movement never happened.”
"This is the third act in an improbable triple-fucking of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era. Five years ago this fall, an epidemic of fraud and thievery in the financial-services industry triggered the collapse of our economy. The resultant loss of tax revenue plunged states everywhere into spiraling fiscal crises, and local governments suffered huge losses in their retirement portfolios – remember, these public pension funds were some of the most frequently targeted suckers upon whom Wall Street dumped its fraud-riddled mortgage-backed securities in the pre-crash years.
Today, the same Wall Street crowd that caused the crash is not merely rolling in money again but aggressively counterattacking on the public-relations front. The battle increasingly centers around public funds like state and municipal pensions. *This war isn’t just about money. Crucially, in ways invisible to most Americans, it’s also about blame.* In state after state, politicians are following the Rhode Island playbook, using scare tactics and lavishly funded PR campaigns to cast teachers, firefighters and cops – not bankers – as the budget-devouring boogeymen responsible for the mounting fiscal problems of America’s states and cities.”
*This war isn’t just about money. Crucially, in ways invisible to most Americans, it’s also about blame.*
"Obama had already set himself up as a great champion of student rights by taking on banks and greedy lenders like Sallie Mae. Three years earlier, he’d scored what at the time looked like a major victory over the Republicans with a transformative plan to revamp the student-loan industry. The 2010 bill mostly eliminated private banks and lenders from the federal student-loan business. Henceforth, the government would lend college money directly to students, with no middlemen taking a cut. The president insisted the plan would eliminate waste and promised to pass the savings along to students in the form of more college and university loans, including $36 billion in new Pell grants over 10 years for low-income students. Republican senator and former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander bashed the move as “another Washington takeover.”
The thing is, none of it – not last month’s deal, not Obama’s 2010 reforms – mattered that much. No doubt, seeing rates double permanently would genuinely have sucked for many students, so it was nice to avoid that. And yes, it was theoretically beneficial when Obama took banks and middlemen out of the federal student-loan game. But the dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It’s not the cost of the loan that’s the problem, it’s the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.”
"Tuition costs at public and private colleges were, are and have been rising faster than just about anything in American society – health care, energy, even housing. Between 1950 and 1970, sending a kid to a public university cost about four percent of an American family’s annual income. Forty years later, in 2010, it accounted for 11 percent. Moody’s released statistics showing tuition and fees rising 300 percent versus the Consumer Price Index between 1990 and 2011.
After the mortgage crash of 2008, for instance, many states pushed through deep cuts to their higher-education systems, but all that did was motivate schools to raise tuition prices and seek to recoup lost state subsidies in the form of more federal-loan money. The one thing they didn’t do was cut costs. “College spending has been going up at the same time as prices have been going up,” says Kevin Carey of the nonpartisan New America Foundation.
This is why the issue of student-loan interest rates pales in comparison with the larger problem of how anyone can repay such a huge debt – the average student now leaves school owing $27,000 – by entering an economy sluggishly jogging uphill at a fraction of the speed of climbing education costs. “It’s the unending, gratuitous, punitive increase in prices that is driving all of this,” says Carey.”
"But the main question is, how is the idea that the government might make profits on defaulted loans even up for debate? The answer lies in the uniquely blood-draining legal framework in which federal student loans are issued. First of all, a high percentage of student borrowers enter into their loans having no idea that they’re signing up for a relationship as unbreakable as herpes. Not only has Congress almost completely stripped students of their right to disgorge their debts through bankruptcy (amazing, when one considers that even gamblers can declare bankruptcy!), it has also restricted the students’ ability to refinance loans. Even Truth in Lending Act requirements – which normally require lenders to fully disclose future costs to would-be customers – don’t cover certain student loans. That student lenders can escape from such requirements is especially pernicious, given that their pool of borrowers are typically one step removed from being children, but the law goes further than that and tacitly permits lenders to deceive their teenage clients.” *This paragraph is ample* http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/ripping-off-young-america-the-college-loan-scandal-20130815#ixzz2g02oldeb
"Administrators are not only well staffed, they are also well paid. Vice presidents at the University of Maryland, for example, earn well over $200,000, and deans earn nearly as much. Both groups saw their salaries increase as much as 50 percent between 1998 and 2003, a period of financial retrenchment and sharp tuition increases at the university. The University of Maryland at College Park—which employs six vice presidents, six associate vice presidents, five assistant vice presidents, six assistants to the president, and six assistants to the vice presidents—has long been noted for its bloated and extortionate bureaucracy, but it actually does not seem to be much of an exception. Administrative salaries are on the rise everywhere in the nation. By 2007, the median salary paid to the president of a doctoral degree-granting institution was $325,000. Eighty-one presidents earned more than $500,000, and twelve earned over $1 million. Presidents, at least, might perform important services for their schools. Somewhat more difficult to explain is the fact that by 2010 even some of the ubiquitous and largely interchangeable deanlets and deanlings earned six-figure salaries. "
This: http://www.thenation.com/article/176121/poverty-2013-when-even-diapers-are-luxury# and this: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-dole-daschle-food-stamps-20130916,0,6146601.story and this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jay-kirell/veteran-food-stamps_b_3963203.html
“But any time you imply to millennials, or anyone for that matter, that they should “stop complaining, you don’t have it that bad,” you ultimately work to prop up a system of inequality — which is often the root cause of unhappiness. After all, there’s not too much to be happy about when you’re living in a society where your life — food, shelter, healthcare, etc. — relies on a financial system that is structured in a way that squeezes profits out of a majority of people, who are left unfulfilled, to fulfill a few people’s lives and make them very wealthy.”
“The fate of Dodd-Frank over the past two years is an object lesson in the government’s inability to institute even the simplest and most obvious reforms, especially if those reforms happen to clash with powerful financial interests. From the moment it was signed into law, lobbyists and lawyers have fought regulators over every line in the rulemaking process. Congressmen and presidents may be able to get a law passed once in a while – but they can no longer make sure it stays passed. You win the modern financial-regulation game by filing the most motions, attending the most hearings, giving the most money to the most politicians and, above all, by keeping at it, day after day, year after fiscal year, until stealing is legal again. “It’s like a scorched-earth policy,” says Michael Greenberger, a former regulator who was heavily involved with the drafting of Dodd-Frank. “It requires constant combat. And it never, ever ends.”
“This is not the first time a Wall Street titan has unintentionally revealed a mind-boggling degree of entitlement. Apparently, it’s not enough that high-level bankers have all avoided jail for crashing the economy through widespread fraud. It’s not enough that they are enjoying record profits once again, that they have effectively captured the regulatory agencies that are supposed to police them or that the “too big to fail” firms have only grown larger since the bailouts. When politicians call them “fat cats,” or the public expresses outrage at their insatiable appetite for material wealth, they respond like a powerless minority facing the cruelest oppression.”
“The facts of nature cannot in the long run be violated. Penetrating and seeping through everything like water, they will undermine any system that fails to take them into account.”
What else? …
I simultaneously feel like crying, throwing up, and killing myself all at the same time every single day.