Thursday, April 26, 2012

Contract With Evil

Wednesday was a busy day in political news around the country.

After winning five GOP primaries on Tuesday, Mitt Romney was already Etch A Sketch-ing his way towards positions different from those he's taken over the last year. The Republican National Committee reticently admitted Mitt is now their 2012 nominee - like it or not - and Newt Gingrich unofficially conceded to the former Massachusetts governor. Elsewhere, the conservative activist judges on the Supreme Court appeared ready to overlook judicial precedent and throw even more of their credibility out the window, by validating the racist SB1070 anti-immigrant law in Arizona.

College students in America were also protesting on Wednesday. This time, it was the fact that American student loan debt is now at the all-time, world record level of over $1 trillion dollars.

That's not a typo or an error. It's this: $1,000,000,000,000.

There was one more bit of related political theatre on Wednesday. House Republicans chose to change their previous position, follow Romney's recent flip-flop, and support extending current interest rates for student loans. Of course, in the process, the current GOP-led House did the only thing they know how to do. They took a political hostage.

The House position on allowing students to keep paying the current interest rate is that they're now in favor of keeping the rate low - so long as they can pay for it by stealing money that is supposed to be spent to implement the Affordable Care Act.

The position of the Wall Street-supported, corporatist Republicans is simple; students took out the debt, and regardless of what shackles were placed on them, or what obstacles have been put in their way, once a student has taken on that debt, the student - and their families, spouses, and even friends - should be forced to pay the debt back, no matter what. Their position matches, in a disgusting way, the methods used by the lowest drug dealers and terrorist hostage takers, and mirrors the position they put the country in on the payroll tax cut fight last year.

The banks behind the student loan monster don't even care if a student is dead. They want their money. Period. You see, to them, nothing is more sacred than a contract - so long as they are the beneficiaries.

Of course, they forget that the point of a student loan in the first place is a social contract with society.

No one, of sane mind, would go as far into debt as it takes to finish college today, without having an decent opportunity that the debt they will be incurring will result in a better life.  Frankly, we wholeheartedly agree: there is a societal cost we all must carry if we're going to make the barrier to having a decent middle class life - or better - be college or tech school, that nearly always requires taking out a student loan.

If society, through its schools, government, and student loan companies (which are really just banks by another name), doesn't do everything possible to help make the investment in our students valuable - and in fact, undermines the possibility of many of those students being able to repay the loans? Such a society - controlled far too much by the big banks - has already reneged on their part of the contract. Such a society may also have already sold part of its soul to demons and monsters.

Unfortunately for millions of Americans, that's where our society now is. The banks still want their money, whether the students are dead or alive - and our laws allow them to literally paw through the fiscal corpse of a dead person, and reach into their families' pockets.

This is what we should have expected, when we let the banks get between students and their education. That the demons are now crawling out of the small print and demanding what they think is theirs shouldn't surprise anyone.

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