Friday, October 14, 2011

Letter of Support from Australia: "Your work is resonating far and wide"

Last week, I received a great letter from a gentleman in Australia. While the majority of my readers are from the U.S., I actually am receiving more and more hits outside of the country. I receive a lot of letters of support, but those will be followed by hate mail and attacks. So it was quite nice to hear from an Australian who supports my work - that's to say, the timing was just right. This indicates, again, that we're getting LOUDER and LOUDER and LOUDER.

Here's what he had to say:

G'day Cryn,
I'm a regular reader of yours and some of the other blogs on American student debt, out of Australia.  I was stunned when I first stumbled across this issue, which later gave way to outrage - it blows me away.
Anyway, I've wanted to try and do what little I could to raise awareness of the issue here, where we enjoy largely subsidised higher ed with a modest and relatively soft 'co-payment' system.  'Debts' are owed to the government, and only payable once income reaches a certain level.  Repayments are then deducted automatically through the tax system, and interest is pegged to CPI.
I've also been monitoring the 'Occupy' movement with interest, and one thing frustrating me in local coverage was the absence of what I sense is a big driver - student debt - and a lack of appreciation of just what you are up against.
Moved to act, I've today written the following piece, published to the opinion section of our ABC (major public broadcaster):
I really wanted to emphasise the debt angle (and hope I got the broad details right!).
Anyway, the very best with your endeavours.  I wanted to let you know your work is resonating far and wide.
Jim Forbes
On behalf of the indentured educated class, I want to publicly thank Jim for his support. It means a great to all of us.


Anonymous said...

Thank-you, Mr. Forbes, for your comments and article. Your article was very insightful and hit the nail on the head. Your support and understanding of the situation is very much appreciated.

I was fortunate enough to have lived overseas for a few years and the differences in life for an American versus individuals from other developed countries was stunning.

I speak four languages, have a law degree, have 16 years work experience and have $60,000 of debt for my law degree. I currently make $13,000 a year at a job that requires I use one of my foreign languages (and am lucky to get that compared to most others with law degrees, who make much less). I work 50 hours a week, have never had health insurance (ever!), have no paid holidays and no vacation per year at all. If I get sick or injured, I'm screwed. Since I have no sick days, I frequently come to work when I am sick because to not come means I would lose my paltry pay for a few days. The conditions under which I work remind me of those under which factory workers worked in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This is what the U.S. has come to.

My friends from overseas have it unbelievably better. In fact, if most Americans knew how much better, they would be swarming in droves to move. Their workweek is 35 to 39 hours a week. They speak at least 3 languages, for which the government or the employer picked up the cost for them to learn them. (I had to pay to learn my languages, for which, as I mentioned above, I make $13,000 a year.)

Because education is typically subsidized in developed countries (the U.S. is one of the few countries that don't - no wonder we're behind in education), none of my friends overseas have massive student loan debt. They ALL have health insurance, 4 to 5 weeks of vacation, sick pay, paid holidays, etc. And they earn much more than I do. In other words, they work much less to get much, MUCH more than an American does.

Why have Americans accepted this? It eats me up to know I had to pay so much in American for everything I have - my education, to learn my skills, etc. - and I get so little for it: no health insurance, not even a week of vacation, no holidays or sick days, etc.

Why have we given so much to get so little and yet many still believe we are the greatest country in the world? We have been sold a false sense of patriotism, so that we would never question or ask for more. It kills me to see my European friends traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, while I am privileged to work 52 weeks per years, never taking a week off or even a sick day off. And am I ahead for my effort? No! I am $60,000 in debt for the cost it took me to get a $13,000 job with no insurance.

Are we finally waking up and realizing how little we truly have?

One Who Survived said...

As an American who has settled in Australia, I disagree with only one thing Mr Forbes wrote:

"Australia by contrast is utopian. We have our problems, like an uninspiring political class..."

To my mind, as a native-born citizen of the American Empire, an "uninspiring political class" is a blessing. Inspiring politicians are a menace; their proper role is just to stick to their properly dull jobs and leave inspiration to the Dalai Lama or poets or Franciscans.