Guess what, my fellow up-our-rectums-in-debt former college students? President Obama has decided to do something about the mounting, long out-of-control problem of student loan debt! For those who have yet to enter college, or who just went to work in the service industry without bothering with higher education, or who did go to college and ended up working in the service industry anyway… that means the many, many millions of Americans who are in worse financial debt than credit card junkies. This is because our system of higher education charges exorbitant amounts of money to get a degree, rather than having the government provide it for us so long as we work hard in our studies and keep up our grades.
The American college system is an integral part of our heavily unregulated capitalism’s “can’t pay, can’t have it, no matter how much you may need it” way of doing things. Yanno, kind of like the health care industry, housing industry, food production industry, utilities industry, blah, blah blah… you get the gist, I’m sure.
Well, we don’t really need college, you say? Certainly not like we need food and shelter, huh? I guess that depends on how basic you want your skill set to be in a market economy, and how capable you are at getting a lucrative job that enables you to afford the other basic necessities in life. And having enough left over following that to actually have a life that goes beyond “simply existing.” Due to the fact that those of us who make up the 99% typically did nothing to oppose the rising cost of university education for over 30 years–let alone challenge the fact that it had a financial cost in the first place–when it first started rising to outrageous levels, it rapidly got so out of hand that by 2010 college debt actually exceeded credit card debt as the most prevalent type of debt afflicting people under an economic system that thrives on creating mass indebtedness. Obviously, the highly profitable business of debt collection exists for a reason.
Worry not, though! The problem has gotten so bad that President Obama, that sterling advocate of the working class, has finally noticed and acknowledged it. Better yet, he has a plan! And it’s couched in some great language which may possibly be capable of fooling – erm, convincing (yeah!) – a few of us that it’s something more than empty window dressing! What a thoughtful guy our champion of capitalist hegemony is!
Below you will find what the President is calling the Student Bill of Rights (with some ironic emphasis on the word “bill”). Assuming his public relations people mistake our mass apathy and defeatism for raw stupidity, calling it that should really invoke thoughts of a Constitution-rocking assault on college debt and the right of our higher learning institutions to put us into massive debt for an education. Please note that I’m not helping President Obama pull off an ironic joke on you… this is really what it says:
For ease of understanding political doublespeak, I’m going to helpfully translate each listed student right in this bill:
I. Higher Education in America is still going to cost money and be operated on a for profit basis. But we’ll call it “affordable” to utilize the same simple psychological pacification technique as companies who price something at “$99.99” instead of “$100.00.”
II. The government is going to continue the availability of a few, quickly tapped out government grants (that’s why they call them “Tap” Grants) to ease the fact that loans are typically still going to be required to pay for the bulk of a college education, and will remain readily available to provide students with proper “resources” to attend college.
III. Since we’re still going to have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for college regardless of how well we study and excel there, which is not being questioned in the least, the President is asking the legal loan sharks like Sallie Mae (such an incongruously wholesome sounding name for a predator!) to be a bit less pernicious and hopefully a bit more realistic in how much they ask in terms of monthly repayment requirements. And to maybe, hopefully give students a bit of a break on how much interest they pile on when we make their day by inevitably defaulting on the loans. Maybe then we’ll default a bit less often (though it’s much more lucrative for the loan sharks if we do default, but yanno what I mean…).
IV. The President asks for the loan sharks’ bill collection department to be a bit less harassing and less rude when we’re frantically dealing with them over the phone every other month following the end of our graduation grace period (that’s six months after cap and gown day, peeps!). As in, trying harder not to say things to us like, “Well, ma’am, you do what you have to do, and we’ll do what we have to do…”; “So you have no one in your family you can borrow just $300.00 from to get you through the month with us?”; “Yes, sir, I know you have rent and a family to feed, but it’s not our fault you wanted to get a college degree…”, etc., et al. The President also wants them to be required to give more accurate and less convoluted and confusing repayment details so that we’ll be somewhat more likely to know what we’re getting into when we head into the university accounting office to sign those papers. He also asks for “fair” treatment, which I suppose can mean anything anyone using the term wants it to mean (he’s not picky when it comes to euphemistic terminology!).
There are a few other things to glean from the provisions our esteemed President included in this awesomely meek Bill of Rights:
1. You know how the German government announced a few months ago that as of January of 2015, no university within that nation will charge students for higher education, because the state is more than capable of providing it not only for everyone there but also any number of foreign students (including Americans), as mentioned by me in a previous blog entry? Well, that’s not going to happen here!
2. The President is acknowledging the problem and pretending to do something about it so he can appease the growing anger of his increasingly indebted constituents while not doing too much damage to the profit-making greed of the legal loan sharks who likely poured enough money into his campaign coffers to literally cover a lengthy college education for two-thirds of the people in this country.
3. The illusion and suggestion of change is better than actual change sometimes. Right?
4. You don’t bite the hand of those who feed you, and while these legal loan sharks bite us 99 percenters a lot, they do much to feed the President. So instead of biting their hands he decides to give them a harmless little nudge instead, much as your cat does when she wants you to feed her.
5. The President is trying to convince the lot of us 99 percenters to continue putting our faith into the Democratic Party to solve our manifold problems as exploited pawns of the corporate ruling class who ensure his pockets are always stuffed with pieces of paper engraved with portraits of his predecessors. He’s confident this will work yet again since our reliability in working so efficiently to make his bosses super-wealthy is matched only by our equally reliable displays of apathy, ease of appeasement, and willingness to accept the smallest little crumbs in place of a whole pie.
6. We’re still going to have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get a college degree. Did I make that clear yet? Because the President did.
“Simply put I want to make it clear to those powerful people whom I am indebted to that I won’t give too many crumbs to those millions of fine citizens who are indebted to them in a considerably different way.
“I’m not gonna go apeshit crazy like my counterpart in Germany! If they point the Germany thing out to me, I’ll just give them the ‘what may work in Germany won’t necessarily work in America’ spiel, like I did regarding health care when it was thrown in my face that Canada has had universal health care for a long time.
“And worry not, my faithful campaign contributors, I won’t mention the numerous limitations and stipulations placed on those two years of free community college. And of course, I’ll make sure all of them are written in the usual complicated fashion, with all of the usual highly technical business-centric jargon that will prevent them from understanding what they read in the first place. You know, like those terms of agreement clauses everyone just signs without bothering to read?
“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way to convince them that two years of community college actually amount to something. After all, we created the concept of the ‘associates’ degree’ to convince them of that, and it worked, right?
If that doesn’t work, I’ll just hit them with the ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ spiel.
And if that doesn’t work, I’ll appeal to their reliable defeatist attitudes by giving them the ‘Stop expecting a miracle!’ spiel. And of course, I’ll pay for those meager two years of community college by cutting social spending on primary and secondary education.
“If the Congressional Republicans and my fellow centrists in the Democratic Party complain we’re still giving them too much after that, then, well, we’ll go back to saying that we have to cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid.”
“Wait, did I say give them two years of publicly funded community college? I meant to say one!
“Oh my god, who just called me a ‘socialist’? Take it back, it’s not true!
“Okay, okay, one semester, and only if they earn a B grade or higher? Calm down, ladies and gentlemen of the House, I’m sure we can work out something you all find reasonable…
“And c’mon now, Mr. Gingrich, but calling me a ‘shameless pinko’ is just a bit out of line, don’t you think?”