elise t on Mon, 21 Nov 2011 18:15:22 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Debt Campaign Launch

Sascha's comments represent a vast and very problematic oversimplification
of things. The oversimplification is itself, offensive, seeing as it
steamrollers over the actually existing conditions of student loan debt
So let's go through some of those conditions and issues, shall we? For the
sake of clarity and etcetera.

This is not about some people choosing to go to Harvard over their state
college. If it were, i doubt we'd be talking about 1 trillion dollars in
debt owed, which is where student debt currently sits.

Student loans aren't just innocuous things, money that banks and
governments have so graciously lent the impoverished so that they too can
go to school. And loans are not taken out exclusively by those seeking
elite educations without the familial bank accounts to back them up. Loans
are taken out as almost a prerequisite of getting an education for most
middle and working class kinds, and make no mistake - getting an education
is almost a prerequisite of getting a job.* We can no longer think of debt
in terms of individual choice. Rather it has become an indispensable
condition of future employment*.  Therefore taking on student debt,
especially in the massive amounts that people are taking on today, amounts
to a collective wage cut to approximately two generations of students, as
graduates are forced to hand over a portion of their earnings each month to
lending institutions.

And the student loan industry is a burgeoning one, and debt is a productive
moment for capital. Student loans have become the most lucrative form of
debt in the finance industry. Lenders have incredibly invasive collection
rights, able to break into people's homes and arrest them, and there are
absolutely no provisions for bankruptcy. If you declare bankruptcy your
debt is erased - except for your student loans. Student debt is NOT simply
people borrowing money to pay for things that they can't afford (and that
arguably they should NOT actually have to pay for) but rather is an
industry that allows the financial aristocracy to continually plunder the
working class, and the student loan industry is engaged in unabashed
profiteering on the backs of those least able to afford education.

Student debt also heavily influences and changes the ways in which higher
education is understood. It reinforces a commodity approach to higher
education which is resulting in the dismantlement of universities as we
know them. The burden of debt profoundly shapes the kind of knowledge that
students pursue, and that universities offer. Students that owe a pound of
flesh to the bank, for example, might be inclined to think twice about the
vocational merits of Shakespeare studies.

You may see education as a consumer good for which one must pay - I don't
agree - but the current system of nearly enforced higher education, huge
tuition fees and cost of living expenses and predatory loans is completely
unsustainable and something that earlier generations did not have to abide.
It must be changed, and this campaign is the first step towards changing it.

In toto, your argument seems to come down to "if you can't pay you
shouldn't go" and, in the case of higher ed, or, for that matter, in the
case of having access to a home or anything else. I don't buy that argument
as it fails to take into account so many complexities, as your pat answer
to the occupy student debt movement shows.

On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 8:09 AM, elise t <elise.thorburn@gmail.com> wrote:

> Wow,Sascha. Talk about simplifying things. This is not about some people
> choosing to go to Harvard over their state college. If it were, i doubt
> we'd be talking about 1 trillion dollars in debt owed, which is where
> student debt currently sits.

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