Occupy Your Mind: Student Loan Debt–How Obtaining a College Education Can Ruin Your Life

In this episode we cover a very censored topic: student loan debt. Disturbing facts about student loan debt are rarely covered by both mainstream and alternative media. Why is this? My guess is that Americans–both liberal and conservative–still have a perception that college graduates are wealthier and more privileged than the rest of us.

Seems there are few Americans left with the empathy, compassion and willingness to understand those who are suffering right here in the USA. A lot of Americans are reluctant to give up the “American dream” mythology. To admit that talented, intelligent and well-educated people often don’t make it unless they were born with a lot of money in the first place is hard–very, very hard for most Americans.

In fact, I would liken it to getting a macho, “man’s man” athlete to admit to having once been sexually attracted to another man or to convincing a nun to admit that abortions are sometimes necessary. Liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, Americans are united on one idea: they’re all a bunch of temporarily embarrassed millionaires, convinced that the system will work for them… someday… eventually… if they work hard enough and maintain a positive attitude.

Consequently, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the student loan issue. Propaganda (a.k.a., “fake news”) proliferating across the media persists that college students aren’t budgeting their money and are recklessly taking out loans they can’t afford.

News flash: College students, by definition, can’t afford to take out loans. They’re students, after all. They apply for financial aid because they don’t have much money. But the government, our educational institutions, and sadly, many of our fellow Americans, have decided that student loans should be provided as a form of “financial aid” to needy students. When will we accept that WE have created this problem, not the students who are being victimized by this faulty system?

Never!

But in case you are interested, I’m listing some facts about  student loan debt that you won’t hear spoken about in many media circles. Read on and be enlightened:

–21 states will take away your driver’s license if your student loans have gone into default. Yep, that’s nearly half the country. Montana, apparently, has overturned the law, but not sure why some “liberal” states such as California and Washington State have maintained such draconian legislation. It seems like common sense that preventing a person from getting to and from work would not help that person to pay off debts, but apparently, common sense eludes nearly half the country. (Heck, look who was just “elected” President!)

–Many states will also take away your professional licenses if your loans have gone into default. So if you’re a hair dresser or have another job that requires licensing, you may lose your ability to work, thus making it harder to pay off that ever increasing debt.

–Once your loans have gone into default, the government may garnish your wages,  your tax refunds and even your social security/disability benefits! So… retirement and disability are out of the question! Don’t get sick! Don’t grow old! Gotta get rich quick!

–Student loan debts ARE THE ONLY DEBTS that cannot be written off in bankruptcy. Billionaires such as Donald Trump can declare bankruptcy more than once after making poor or reckless business decisions. Gamblers and over-spenders can declare bankruptcy. One may buy a house or car that one doesn’t need then declare bankruptcy later on. But intelligent people who simply want to better themselves by obtaining an education have no quarter. We are being discriminated against. Why?

–Propaganda spread back in the 1970s, accusing affluent doctors of refusing to pay off their student loans. A study proved this “fake news” to be exactly that–false! Yet the government began to restrict bankruptcy protections over the next few decades until they were removed entirely. This is reminiscent of Reagan’s welfare queen propaganda that convinced a nation that helping poor people was actually a terrible thing to do, thus justifying Reagan’s harsh budget cuts on programs serving the poor.

(What? Are you suggesting we can’t trust the government? Heavens, no. I’d never suggest such a thing.) Find out more by clicking on the link below:

https://consumerist.com/2015/03/17/you-cant-discharge-your-student-loans-in-bankruptcy-because-of-panicked-1970s-legislation/

One Fraud Case Used to Accuse All Welfare Recipients

How Reagan Killed Welfare

–This is NOT a  “millennial” issue. There are student loan debtors of retirement age who are having their social security/disability payments garnished because of student loan debt.

–The not-so-very-liberal Bill Clinton administration removed bankruptcy protections for student loans in 1998 and decided to garnish social security benefits from debtors in 1996. (Still LOVE Hillary?) Of course our dear friend (fiend?) George W. Bush kindly placed the final nail in the coffin in 2005 with the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Consumer Protection Act (another Orwellian term for a law that does the opposite of protect consumers. Like the Patriot Act, it’s another fear-based law proclaiming to protect us–while it actually exists to protect them from us. Their fear of us, the people, and a possibility of another revolt similar to that of the sixties when hippies stopped a war and got men putting flowers in their hair.) But never you mind what I have to say. Ignorance is strength, right?

BankruptcyAbusePrevention and ConsumerProtectionAct

FinAid.org Student Loan Bankruptcy Timeline

You know, we Americans may have lost our ability to recognize that we’re all in this together but those in power have not. They truly are in this together. Yes, Virginia, there is a conspiracy. Politics is a game of conspiracies where the powerful struggle to maintain their power over the masses. If you don’t believe in conspiracies then, sorry, but you don’t understand how politics works. The truth is, Democrats and Republicans are both secretly and very deeply in love. Touching, isn’t it?

Touché!

–This is unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. They were written to please the colonists who were concerned that the US Constitution was not democratic enough. The Bill of Rights prevented the federal government from taking too much power by granting powers to the people. You can read the Bill of Rights by clicking on the link below:

https://www.aclu.org/united-states-bill-rights-first-10-amendments-constitution

The 8th Amendment clearly states that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Of course, our government has violated that amendment many times, most disturbingly by the setting up “secret” torture prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib in an effort to get around our nation’s laws against torture.

Of course, the 6th and 7th Amendments are supposed to guarantee us a speedy trial that allows members of the public or a jury to be present as witnesses. (Witnesses provide important oversight over power.)

But we student loan debtors are granted no such luxury. We are treated like illegal aliens within our own country. In fact, an immigrant could live a better life in the USA than a college grad saddled with massive student loan debt. How can this be?

Well, it seems that laws no longer matter when an ignorant, dumbed-down population isn’t familiar with its own laws and appears to not care anyhow. It’s easy for politicians to break laws them simply create new laws that make what was once illegal, now legal, so they can continue to break laws.

Could this ultimately be the reason for draconian legislation against student loan debtors? To further dumb-down the masses by discouraging higher education? The liberal arts teach us to be philosophical, to question authority, to use our imagination so that we can create a new reality. The liberal arts teach us the mistakes made and lessons learned from history and a lot about human nature. All of this is very useful for creating a better world. Is that way the liberal arts are now being vilified? (With apologies to Meryl Streep.)

By the way, if you have student loan debt, don’t give up. Write to your Congress person and insist that bankruptcy protections be restored. Contact activist groups such as the ones listed below to get involved. Better yet, contact alternative media sources such as TYT Politics, DemocracyNow, et al, and every alternative source you can think of then pressure them to cover this story.

The American people need to know that student loans are ruining lives. This is a serious issue and needs to be addressed. Americans need to be informed. Our politicians don’t care about us, but they can be made to care. They can be embarrassed into caring. Right now, they’re just hoping that Americans won’t find out the truth so they can keep getting away with what they’re doing. So perhaps contacting  Congress won’t work, but contact the media! As many sources as you have time to contact. Let’s get the word out!

Click on the sites below for more info:

StudentDebtCrisis.org

StudentLoanJustice.org

 

 

Occupy Your Mind! American Apathy

If you’re well-informed on American politics, then you’re one of the few. Most Americans appear to be apathetic, at best–cold and callous at their worst.

Why is this? A new political podcast called “Occupy Your Mind” attempts to answer that very question.

So far, we’ve narrowed our reasons down to the following:

–Exhaustion: In other words, Americans are tired of hearing about the problems. Make them go away, already! It’s just too depressing. Besides, many people are working at two or more jobs just to make ends meet. They simply don’t have the time or the mental energy to care about the state of the world while they’re struggling just to survive, which brings me to the next reason.

–Overwork and Financial Struggle: Struggle brings out the worst in people. People tend to get selfish when their basic needs are not being met.

–Fear: What happens to political activists? Ultimately, most of them do not live long (Noam Chomsky not withstanding.) But those of us familiar with the red squads, CointelPro and the McCarthy era may have had encounters of our own with the establishment that is very much afraid of we the people. (Is surveillance in place to keep “us” safe or to keep them–the government and big business–safe from our potential revolt?

–Ignorance: Quite simply many Americans just don’t know about current events, history and their contemporary society. The notion of “rugged individualism” has convinced many that the past and present and our environment don’t matter, that all that matters is what is happening inside us as individuals. It’s a motivational idea for some but for many people it’s self-destructive. No one is an island. We all share the planet and can’t avoid being influenced by our surrounding community.

–Disconnection: There’s probably a better term for this. Chris Hedges refers to atomized Americans. We’re a fragmented society, filled with millions of people who are afraid to talk with each other, who can’t get intimate, can’t connect, work, play or cooperate effectively with each other. Those in power are working hard to drive us further apart, using fear and limiting our ability to interact publicly.

–Media Addiction: How do years of watching television affect our thinking? Have we lost our ability to interact with each other directly? How often do people talk with each other without distractions or interruptions coming from cell phones or blaring TV sets in the background? How can people communicate with each other and learn to resolve conflicts when we rarely talk with each other anymore?

 

Perhaps we’ll come up with more reasons for American apathy in future v-casts.

Until then, it’s time to say toodles, peeps!

 

 

Meryl Streep’s Speech – An Honest, Heartfelt, Tear-Jerker or Self-Aggrandizing, Limousine-Liberal Rant?

Okay, so I’ll need to be careful of how I word this. Meryl Streep is a very talented actress indeed. She may very well be a nice person too. Who knows? I don’t know her and probably never will because I’m not wealthy. And these days, here in the USA, wealthy people stick with their own kind. Fact is, if Meryl Streep, et. al., saw me on the street, she’d shun me like the plague ’cause I’m not rich like she is. I guarantee she doesn’t frequent the same haunts that you or I do.

However, I don’t mean to offend so much as to provoke critical and rational thinking with this blog article, so I’m giving the following disclaimer: Meryl Streep = good. Donald Trump = bad. Is that simple enough for ya’?

Unfortunately, like most of today’s problems, it’s not that simple. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, mind you. But I wasn’t a fan of Obama, who didn’t create hope and change but did a wonderful job of talking about it. In fact, Obama has a nice personality. He sure looks good in front of the camera. He sure says a lot of nice things. Too bad he doesn’t do any of them…

Look,

Meryl Streep is a millionaire. It’s hard to say exactly what she earns in one year, but one site I came across said it was about $82 million:

http://en.mediamass.net/people/meryl-streep/highest-paid.html

Another site reported her earnings as “only” $45 million:

Meryl Streep Net Worth

 

People, let that sink in for a moment. For God’s sake, think about this; don’t just accept what the televised talking heads are telling you to think.

Meryl Streep is an actress. She stands in front of a camera and pretends to be another person for several hours at a time. This is what she does for a living. Does she deserve to earn $45 million per year? Does anyone, for that matter? What do you suppose she does with all that money? It simply can’t be spent by one person alone. Even if she ate out all day every day, hopped on a plane to travel around the world, bought herself a new outfit every day, bought a new car every six months, she wouldn’t spend $45 million. Well, I suppose she could buy herself another mansion or two… or three… or four…

Meryl Streep makes more–a whole lot more–than the surgeon who saved your life, that EMT who showed up and resuscitated your mom and brought her back to life, the teacher who taught your child to read. Heck, she probably earns more than a lot of CEOs and Wall Street tycoons.

Yet she stood before an audience (also wealthy, privileged and mostly white people. Do you think just anyone could get in to see the Golden Globes live?) and dared to suggest that she and other wealthy millionaires in Hollywood are being “vilified.”

In the words of a peasant in an old Monty Python movie:                            “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

You know, in a weird sort of way, Streep sounds a bit like billionaire Tom Perkins who compared the state of the rich in America as similar to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany. I say this is “weird” because this time it’s the liberals, not the conservatives, who are wielding around their privilege, holding it over our heads and expecting us to grovel under their greatness.

Billionaire says America treats the rich like Nazi Germany treated Jews

I mean, I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I lived in Hollywood–lived and worked there. It is one of the most undemocratic, closed society you’ll ever find in the United States. You just can’t get “in” the entertainment industry unless you were born into it (or are willing to use the people who were.) Everyone in the industry knows this. So why pretend that Hollywood is a diverse place filled with people who are from other places? I suppose Hollywood is as diverse as Harvard University or the Queen’s castle. One needs to keep a few poor people around when one needs to issue orders…

“Snap! Snap! Get to it!” Ugh! Good help is so hard to find these days!

Yes, it would seem that Meryl Streep, as talented as she is, is that out of touch with reality and that far-removed from the average American that she thinks of herself as a part of some sort of disenfranchised minority group. “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners…”she contends.

Okay…

Uh no, Ms. Streep. Anyone who’s ever been to Hollywood and interacted with its community knows that Hollywood is all about insiders, nepotism, people who were born with money and connections. Are you trying to convince the American people of anything different?

Really?

Seriously?

Because you know, any of us can read the credits of most TV shows and films and see who produces, directs, writes and stars in them. Rarely are they disabled people, minorities, or people who come from low-income backgrounds–the people you and your limousine-liberal Hollywood friends pretend to care so much about.

Yes, Meryl, “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence,” but then so does social injustice. It’s a good thing you are a millionaire, Meryl, because Americans listen to millionaires. Millions of people have spoken out against disrespect, violence and social injustice throughout our history, but no one  seems to listen or care until a celebrity stands up and talks about it.

And that’s where we’ve gone wrong as Americans. We talk about social injustice but we keep worshiping our favorite celebrities. We can’t hear the truth about anything unless someone rich and famous speaks it loudly from our TV set.

Meryl, there’s a lot of disrespect and violence in poor neighborhoods. Why do you think that is? Why do you suppose so many poor, minority kids join gangs and wreak havoc on their neighborhoods? Do you think it’s possibly because they know they have no future to look forward to anyway? Or because their public school education isn’t the same as the public school education the rich kids in the suburbs are getting? Or because only millionaires can afford to attend college anyway? Or maybe it’s because nepotism reigns supreme in our society, so if you don’t know the “right” people you don’t have a chance at success anyway?

Meryl, if you, as a wealthy, privileged millionaire, feel vilified, how do you think the rest of us feel?

Yes, we need journalists, real journalists with the courage and freedom to question authority and hold it accountable. But where have you been, Meryl? Where were you when Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, both who did so much to inform Americans of important information, fled the USA? Are you concerned about  Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou? Brave souls like these speak out because they care more about us than, apparently, many of our political leaders do. They’ve risked their own personal safety to inform the American people. They are the true, honest journalists we need to protect, not the mainstream media corporate protectors who won’t report the existence of their own shadow ’cause it scares them too much.

I’m attempting to include a video response made by a guy who calls himself An0maly because it really sums up quite well my response to Meryl. But just in case it doesn’t post, his web site is here > http://www.legendary.vision/environmentalism/

I’ll leave you with this interview with journalist Abby Martin, a courageous reporter who’s not afraid to speak her mind.