Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How do you understand your own disillusionment?

I understand my own deep feelings of disillusionment and hopelessness when it comes to the student lending crisis and how the problem fits into a broader context  - I am well-acquainted and even comfortable with these patterns of thoughts now. The frequency of these thoughts ebb and flow.  However, I'd like to hear from you. How do you understand your own disillusionment as an indentured educated servant? How does it crop up in your everyday life? 



JDpainterguy said...

That's an easy one.

After a while the debt grows so huge and hopeless it becomes like: "What's the use of even trying anymore?"

But of course we can't give up. I'm still "young enough", but I sometimes really wish I had my youth back.

What the hell, Sisyphus at least was able to move his boulder, which has to count for something.

My debt will never budge without bankruptcy or some kind of change.

gail said...

I firmly believe that the country is headed for a true revolution. I have believed this for quite some time and now it has been reinforced by what is happening in Wisconsin and throughout the country. "We the People" are finally fighting back. This gives me hope and helps me deal with my own disillusionment. As I read the tweets and the FB links I realize that I am not alone and "we" are fast approaching the end of our rope...finally. I encourage everyone to fight back against the crushing debt of the indentured educated, fight back against the banksters who are ruining our lives while collecting their millions in bonuses. If you do something instead of just rolling over and taking it, you will feel so much better about yourself and all that you are dealing with! Power to the People, where it belongs!

JPR said...

@JDPainterguy - yes, I see absolutely no way out at this point, and the system is rigged in such a way that change ain't coming anytime soon, thus

@gail - I have that sense as well. I believe that an intentional, en masse strategic default might be the right way to go.

All I know is, we are on a trajectory toward the permanent disenfranchisement of a huge swathe of the population, and half the country just smugly says "it's your own fault", the other half just doesn't really care, as long as their lives stay stable. And the system itself is rigged against ever being fixed. It's a situation where there's no way out. So maybe *destabilizing* the lives of the uncaring other half through radical action - rather than softer-form 'awareness'-building - could be the most effective way to wake this country up and *force the issue.* I don't know.


C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Here's what encourages me about your post, Gail. You don't sound hopeless. Instead you see a way out of this situation and that isn't just about you. You see the possibility of change for all of us.

Anonymous said...

There have been days where I see everything as so hopeless that I break down and sob for hours on end. For a long time, I couldn’t even talk about money without crying; it is so overwhelming. I think about all the things that I had hoped for, worked towards and dreamed about – what I thought college would do for me. I think bitterly about my financial future – how will I ever afford a house, children, a wedding, retirement, investments of any kind – a normal life? How much of my working life will be spent throwing money into the seemingly bottomless pit that is a 6-figure student loan? I think about how, after over $40,000 of payments, I have seen the payoff balance go down by only $1,000, with callous resentment.

Every dollar I spend reminds me of my debt, every single day, and it seems as inescapable as ever. It’s a weight on my heart, my mind, and my family, and to think about the excitement with which I got my acceptance letter, which seems like a death sentence now, breaks my heart over and over again. I budgeted so carefully in college – lived on $20/week in New York City to try to be responsible. No meal plans, no partying, no spring break vacations… I felt like I was doing everything in my power to spend as little as possible, but it was for nothing. I think about how hungry I was, how I squirreled away food from free events at school; how I still do that now…

My frustration with my own naïveté is sometimes unbearable – but how could I ever have known? They told us it would get better – that I would only have to borrow so much the first year, my parents sighed, “I guess it’s the only way.” When I think about how badly we were lied to, I burn. The numbers seemed so huge and unreal. “If only I had known” turns in my head and it’s torture, every day, every dollar.

Anonymous said...

I have six-figure debt. I live the horror every day. I'd like to be able to start my own firm, but that costs money, which I do not have presently. I've been out for almost 10 years now. I've made a dent in my loans over the years, but the principal is still large. My feeling is that there are too many interested people making tons of money off the indentured class to make any reforms. All the banksters selling off the student loans, taking their cut of the interest rates, etc. It's a case of "I got mine Jack" and other selfish Baby Boomer b.s. like "when I was your age, I worked three jobs to pay my way through law school" - yes - one of my deceased relatives actually said this to me once. At that time, law school tuition was like $500 per year! It will have to get worse IMO before the situation gets better. Kiddies these days need to wake up and realize that going to law school, let alone college, does not guarantee a high-paying job, let alone any job! Every unemployed attorney out there is essentially a waste of public resources. All that taxpayer money that could have provided loans to students for something else other than legal study, which would have more benefits to society as a whole. Then the public gets tapped in the a** again because we have to pay unemployment insurance for all the unemployed attorneys.

Anonymous said...

"My frustration with my own naïveté is sometimes unbearable."

When you're 18-21 and have yet to hold a full-time job, you have no concept of what it's like paying back $100,000 in loans. You have no life experience with the concept of compound interest. In effect, it's all like monopoly money, but by the time you sign the promoissory notes and graduate, it's too late - you've signed yourself up to being a debt slave. Every high school student should be taught about economics and interest. I don't recall this ever being taught when I was in elementary/high school. I guess keep 'em stupid and in debt is the department of education's mantra.

Critick said...

Why are people aiming to pay back these loans?
You will NEVER EVER pay them back. Stop trying. The key word is ###management###. There are ways, both legal and "less than legal" to accomplish management. I play by my rules, not theirs. The collectors and servicers use fear and threats of reprisal. They can't do anything to you as long as you are NOT in default. There is no debtors prisons, so take a deep breath.

Once you stop giving them power to run your life its possible to move on. The most important management tip that I can't repeat enough is staying out of default. Its been several years for me, and I rarely think about my loans, if ever. I have north of 200k+. I do have a job, I am married, and the money is good but not incredible or anything. I have a household that I run and I life in the NJ/NY metro area. Yet we go on vacations, we rent, and we have 2 cars. Our lives are sometimes stressful but hey, that is what I chose in taking on this profession. Other people's stress as well as my own.

But People! Most of us are trained and licensed attorneys. Sitting and crying for hours is not a productive option, nor will it solve your woes. YES! Debt is horrible. It can make seeing the way forward hard and sap your will to live.

But my fellow suckers, this is reality. There are bad deals around every corner. We all learned this one lesson the hard-way. Once you get over your initial shock its time to strap on your big boy pants and negotiate. I managed to get my payment (I consolidated btw) down to a very, very, manageable level. Getting all your loans under the feds is part of that process. Getting away from nelnet, and edamerica and all those assholes will change your bargaining powers to some degree. If you are unemployed or making little right now, that is even better. Get your forbearance on. If you have kids and if you are self employed there are a lot of cards you can play to keep your income hidden. Its not hard to trick IBR - or work to get your payments down. This is the real world. Not school. Building a good life and surviving is not always going to be a clean business. There are risks and sometimes you must take them. For yourself and your family.

I found the feds are easier to deal with. They just want SOMETHING from you. I will be happy to discuss some methods of management with people if they want. I suggest that you start by 1) reading the rules and regs, 2) consolidation, 3) figuring out just how much you can spare a month without disturbing your household's discretionary spending.

The reason you should know your rights should be obvious to people. As I said, I would be happy to talk to anyone about it.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Critick - we are not suckers, and we do not accept this as 'reality.' That's what it means to have an imagination - you can DREAM about change. I'm sure you'll laugh when you read that, but let me ask you something. Would you have told black folks in the 1960s that it was their 'reality' to be mistreated by a racist system, and that they were not as 'good' as the white folks in this country? Should they have just stuck with that idea, and accepted it as a 'reality?' Your line of thinking suggests that they should have done just that, but thank God people don't accept 'reality' in the way you do. We're not crying either. Far from it.

Liz said...

My disillusionment comes out in intense feelings of anger against anyone who wants to pretend "the system works" or "grads knew what they were getting into..." and so on.

1) My loan documents didn't reveal that my payments would be applied to interest first, or explain how that would work with interest compounded daily.

2) The ROI information provided at every step in the process was flawed, inaccurate, and appears deliberately contrived to deceive.

3) The bank and the school administrators benefited from a disparity in information that they perpetuated against the people who are now paying for it.

So when someone supports the status quo for either the school or the lender, I hate it. I find it particularly galling when there's that attitude among law students of, "I'll just play by the rules, and that will work out. If it's not working out for you, then probably you just aren't as good as I am at playing by the rules."

"The rules" were designed and enforced by people who benefited at my expense. That's extremely galling to admit, and corrosive to public trust.

JDpainterguy said...

I just wanted to share this:

Last night I wrote to the local Alcoholics Anonymous group, for help, and left my e-mail address and phone number.

Almost 24 hours later, no one has responded.

I can post a copy of my e-mail to them if anyone wants to see it.

A fine how do you do, is all I can say.

That's what I remember best about the AA. They were more about being a club than about trying to help anyone.

Clubs are always like that in general. Never about what they are supposed to have been created for.

I'm having another depressed beer. WTF? I'm 300 grand in lifetime Debt! And better off dead.

And FUCK it! I'll dry out, or not, on my own. In my own time, and in my own way. (I never drive the car when drinking)

Liz said...

Excellent point, "All that taxpayer money that could have provided loans to students for something else other than legal study, which would have more benefits to society as a whole. Then the public gets tapped in the a** again because we have to pay unemployment insurance for all the unemployed attorneys."

And I love the tips on staying out of default. Very helpful, thanks.

Anonymous said...

My disillusionment comes from the fact that I dropped out of society years ago; faced with destitution and unpayable debt, I dissapeared, escaped into an under the table life where I'm supported by someone else for room and board. Somewhere far away (yet close in my mind) the debt builds up, the credit rots, and I drift farther away from ever being able to live a normal life again, let alone fulfill the ambition I had when I entered college.

I believe every student should be able to study what they want, including/especially intellectual fields, and then yes, everyone does deserve a good, living wage job. I believe in that level of social justice.
It enrages me when I encounter half measures--people who only want to legislate reform to the extent that people with a job and life can get relief, or those who "made good faith payments" for seven years or something. I need immediate, real bankruptcy to move forward. Real justice and real fair treatment, not the nasty, harsh american way.

M.Almeida said...

For the moment being, my only lifeline that I see, how I'm "dealing"....is I'm trying to attempt to take a job outside of the country. Anywhere that will allow me to LIVE. Because after finally crunching the numbers (that was never revealed to me when I started all this madness as a naive high school graduate), with six figures in debt, mostly in private loans (AKA negotiations be damned- I get NONE), for a degree that certainly doesn't PAY six figures.... I'm basically screwed to default no matter what I do. My family has also been hit hard by this depression-so I will only be a burden if I stay in America, sorry to say.

I suppose I'm blessed to have an early warning signal about what is to come, but....I am still going into an unknown life, and it hurts that I may have to leave EVERYTHING behind. Alot of my dreams, my family, friends, alot of my possessions, to start over, someplace, I don't really know where right now (I'm hoping Japan, but also on the table is Taiwan, South Korea, China, possibly Republic of Georgia). But for how long will this dream even be possible in our economic environment? How long can I REALLY stay out of the country if Sallie Mae, and possibly the US government sooner or later, are prepared to chase me to the end of my life and then some?

It makes me so sick, sometimes, that my country is quite literally just foaming at the mouth to pull an economic noose on a whole entire population of citizens.

JPR said...

Good comments and discussion.

To me, the only solution left is to DEFAULT EN MASSE, let the system collapse, and rebuild from there.

If enough people grow enough courage to put aside the fear of default, and just REFUSE to participate any longer in this rigged system, we will hit a critical mass (doesn't have to be everybody, just *enough* - maybe 35%?), and the financial system collapses.

Hit the reset button and rebuild from there. I'm willing to get my hands dirty and get bloody over this. Maybe they will start taking us seriously when their lives are no longer *safe* and *soft*.

Mass disenfranchisement calls for mass revolt. Our Founders revolted against England over far, far less.


Anonymous said...

Oh so right on JPR! It will take subterfuge and caution, the Rev word and the T word are synonymous these days. That can equal disappearing without the usual one Chinese warning.

Sun Tzu (read that folks, it is how to win without a battle) said, “The greatest general wins without a battle.” Further, “Know yourself, know your enemy, every battle a victory. Know yourself, but not your enemy, one win for every loss. Not know yourself, not know you enemy, always defeat.”

Know yourself—I can’t help you with that long distance, but if you slow down, way, way, down, and be still, the true learning will start. It does not come from ‘outside,’ but rather inside.

Know your enemy—an e-enemy as much as anything. Electronic trails we leave everywhere. It is harder to be a cash and barter society, but that is what we need to be. No e-trails that the enemy can use. No tax records the enemy can search, (including your local personal property tax such as a vehicle), get your utilities in someone else’s name including the Internet account. Internet accounts are the EASIEST to search…they lead right to your front door every time.

Know your enemy; collectors get off on tracing and finding. It is sport and game to them. Give them so many false leads that you will become cost ineffective to trace. Use your imagination; have your mail forwarded to an address in the Bronx. You can find those addresses while using a laptop at a wireless café. Get a Skype or similar phone number with an area code across the planet or nation or Canada….be creative, have several. Next time you are on a trip, open a bank account in another state…farther is better. The bank ALWAYS runs a secret credit check on you which shows up for collectors to chase. Ha ha!

Know your enemy; ruin the sport by being incredibly frustrating and devious. Use an address you spotted on your way to the bank. Deposit the minimum cash to open the account, draw all of the money out, leaving $20, later that day. A fine rabbit trail and highly regarded among collectors. They will eventually spend hundreds to hire a local attorney to seize your $20 account 

Yes, devious. As deceitful as possible. Weren’t they? Isn’t that how we arrived here? Like Judo, use the enemies momentum and weight against them. Figure that out. Big ships turn slow.

Study. “The Art of Strategy” by R.L.Wing, a cheap book for a win of this size. It is a daily workbook and makes application to all levels of life including how you are your own enemy and how to overcome that.

Fight back, get pissed, you’ll never get even, but you can get free and you can help.

CCRYN: don't you know that googleapis can trace? There are open source tools for that.

H said...

My student loan debt has kept me from doing many thins. It has kept me from obtaining jobs, allowing me the freedom to build a better credit rating because of the high level of debt, and caused me to feel like there is no way out of that huge amount. If this were credit cards, I could file bankruptcy, but for some reason, I decided to go for higher education (the only way I could afford it) and here I am. Is it fair that credit card debt is dis-chargeable in bankruptcy, but they won't even look at your student loans (government or private). I have all government loans consolidated with you guessed it the government. Not that I agree bankruptcy is the answer, but as someone that was given a five minute entrance interview at age 17 , I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Something has to be done about it. It is worse than the housing crisis. I was just reading in a previous post about googleapis. Can anyone explain to me what that is and how to opt out or change privacy settings if possible? Thank you for all your hard work Cryn. You truly are a trail blazer in this field.