There are also examples of how they criticize people for having had children. Again, Mr. Weiss's document explains this type of situation. A borrower seeking to reclaim some semblance of a life was accused of being reckless for making a personal decision to have a family. Weiss continues:
"Creditors have presented a wide range of aggressive arguments to discredit borrowers' testimony about hardship. In one recent case, creditors aggressively questioned a woman about why she had children [my emphasis] after she took out student loans if she was not going to be able to afford both children and loans. In this case, the creditor's counsel got the borrower to acknowledge that she had borne all of her children after she took out the loans. He then asked her if her children had been 'planned' to which she responded that she was Catholic. Counsel then dropped the subject until closing argument, at that time referring to her religious choice. Counsel said that 'you have to make the decision to have a family in light of what you can afford."
I won't even get into the story about an aspirant who can't take a vow of poverty until she's paid off her student loan debt! (Rest assured, supporters, I've already been in touch with Ms. Torres - the aspirant - and told her about the Forgive Student Loan Debt Movement).
I have some other questions I'd liked answered:
When she stepped foot on her campus as a freshman with a clean academic record, the Financial Aid Office had her take out the wrong loans. I'm almost certain of it. I wrote to Sec. Arne Duncan, to the Attorney General of her state, to President Obama, etc. I haven't heard one thing. Nothing. I think that her case alone warrants some sort of official investigation into possible wrongdoing at the school she attended. So why hasn't anyone responded? Why are we all being forgotten here? Have we not raised our voices enough? Where's that so-called "change" we can believe in?
The little that has been done on the Hill is too little and perhaps too late for millions of Americans struggling with student loan debt. Some of the Representatives who happened to attend this hearing struck me as . . . to put it bluntly . . . painfully out of touch, and so unaware of what it means to be a struggling professional today that they made me dream of being in a place of power that would allow me to draft legislation that would actually mean something for people who are caught in this student lending crisis . . . It also made me think about the stark division between baby boomers and the generations who have come after them. (Mind you, I'm speaking thematically by the way. I'm aware that there are a large number of people who are described as baby boomers who support our cause).
I will defer to the eloquence of Mr. Blair to make this final point. After I posted the first part of this discussion, Mr. Blair wrote in response:
"Excellent report, and very encouraging. Thank you!
I believe very much in your statement regarding advanced degrees hurting ex-grad students in the current job market.
In America large corporations thru small businesses value people that they can subjugate
We (recent graduate students - irrespective of age [my emphasis]) paid to gain those skills which are abrasive to incumbent baby-boomers who want nothing more than to retire fat and happy, just like they were planning to retire before they lost all their money in risky investments. But now they must "work" longer to retire at the same level they had planned. Now the baby-boomers are in fierce competition with themselves, and others outside of their demographic, to 1. keep their jobs, 2. do as little work as possible, 3. make as much money as possible before they retire.
So, our generation(s) must now bear the weight of having to compete with a glut of older workers who are in many ways obsolete in their productivity by default of an unwillingness to learn from younger people who they may consider to be a threat to their positions of authority (and perceived superiority). We must also pay back our over speculated student debt.
We recent graduates of more advanced degrees who are younger seek innovation and efficiency out of a real economic necessity; to pay back our student loans in a timely equitable manner. We also seek the leverage to take our own risks with our own ventures, just like the baby-boomers have. Right now with a disproportionate burden of debt we cannot pay off more quickly we do not have the freedom to organize and innovate, particularly for start-up type ventures. This hurts America. We need the leverage to take risks to innovate. Right now we can only follow orders; orders which are leading us in a direction of dilution, without a clear vision for the future. Let them put our money back into our mouths where it belongs. We've over-speculated on the value of our student loans because of promises of a chance of higher wages which are less likely to obtain."
While I am inclined to believe that what we're seeing is a type of internecine warfare between those in the middle-class, Mr. Blair's remarks about a generational struggle have persuaded me to rethink my original beliefs (i.e., that the crisis resembles an internal type of class struggle). Regardless of theoretical speculation and which one makes more sense, we're all finding ourselves in a desperate collective situation. When you begin to receive emails from college grads telling you, "Thanks for your help! I have a college degree and just went on food stamps today!" you know this problem is serious and that it's not going away.
Try as they might to ignore us and this serious issue, the student lending crisis is here to stay. Allowing for private loans to be discharged in bankruptcy is, as Mr. Applebaum put bluntly, "like putting a band aid on a gunshot wound."