On September 17th, 2011, people took to the streets in lower Manhattan as Occupiers to denounce the financial and banking institutions that, as they saw it, caused suffering, economic disaster, and unnecessary harm during and after the financial crisis of 2008. Many of the protesters, Occupiers, asserted — and with solid arguments — that the financial industry acted recklessly and had not faced the necessary consequences for their behavior and collective destructive actions. This sentiment, that the banking and financial institutions had and continues to dominate the economic, political, and cultural, landscapes across the world, is not just held by so-called young protesters on the streets. In fact, leading economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, had and continue to make similar assertions. We're speaking, of course, about the big picture. What struck me as significant, being an advocate for student loan debtors, and a researcher on the student loan debt crisis in the United States, were the scores of placards, carefully created by student loan debtors, denouncing their debt. Most striking about these signs was the audacity to publicly stand with debt figures scrawled in huge, bold numbers. Indeed, it is particularly gutsy, since this country not only has little sympathy for student loan debtors, but treats them with outright contempt and disdain. The debtors are frequently accused of being "entitled," and many people (not all) seem to relish the fact that these "young"Americans were foolish when they decided to pursue a "useless" degree in, for instance, the humanities. (Incidentally, not all the student debtors had or have so-called gratuitous degrees. Many of them had degrees in the sciences and so forth). This sort of sentiment has a long history in the United States, a place in which, paradoxically, higher education is revered and also scorned. Contempt has a long history in this country, especially when it overlaps with strong currents of anti-intellectualism.You can read this piece in its entirety here.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Spare Change News: The Student Lending Crisis
I am a regular contributor at Spare Change News. Here's a snippet fro my latest piece about the student lending crisis: