Saturday, September 27, 2014

Good News!

For those of you who feel I never have anything positive to say, I’m pleased to announce that I have GOOD NEWS! There is an organization – you may have already heard of it – called Debt Collective (DC). It was started by and for young Americans whose lives are colored straight out of the college gate by crippling levels of student loan debt.

Collectively (as it were), the amount of student debt in America is $1.2 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. An appalling figure. And as DC explains, “If you owe the bank thousands of dollars, then the bank owns you. But if you owe the bank millions, then you own the bank.” 

Which is to say, if you try to lessen the burden of your student loan as an individual, one person vs. a massive, uncaring, money-grubbing institution – a balance of power that suits the banks just fine – you’re not likely to get anywhere better than where you are right now: screwed. But if you get together with lots of other folks in the same situation, then you radically change the status quo and ergo the balance of power.

Not since the wholesome, effective, beginning of the American Labor Movement, which fought to get working people the 5-day week, the 8-hour day, improvements in workplace conditions, and the right to bargain collectively (through unions) for better wages and benefits, has such a bold, creative, non-violent yet we-ain’t-playin’ initiative been undertaken in the age-old war between The Little Guy and The System. Yes, this is a big step in the much-needed contemporary Class War I’ve written about previously – but if I had said so at the start, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this.

After its inception, DC broadened its fight against debt to include medical, housing, and credit card debt – debt that threatens millions of Americans in numerous, onerous ways, from losing their homes to having their wages garnished to not having enough money left for basic/essential living expenses (like food and utilities) once they’ve made their monthly debt payments. And as the photo above illustrates (getting back to the horrors of education debt), former students face special punishments even if they’ve been faithfully paying off their debt for years, because, thanks to usury-level interest rates, their debt never ends!

DC describes its mission this way: “What can a Debt Collective Do? – The goal of the Debt Collective is to create a platform by debtors and for debtors for organization, advocacy, and resistance. Organizing collectively offers many possibilities for building power against creditors: As we build membership, we can organize debtors into groups based on region, type of debt, or institution. These groups can bargain with creditors or even develop the power to threaten a debt strike. A debt collective can help create a positive vision for a sustainable economy in which credit would be used to benefit everyone and not to line the pockets of a few.” 

So, if you’re currently carrying more debt than you can handle, whether it be an underwater mortgage, a strangle-hold of credit cards, or a student loan that’s preventing you from creating your future, I strongly encourage you to click on this Debt Collective link and join Debt Collective. I did and I’m glad I did. I feel better and I’m looking forward to hearing from them about what the next steps will be.

To those who have little or no debt and sniff judgmentally at those who do, thinking (or outright saying), “Well, you knowingly incurred these debts, why are you crabbing about having to pay them back?,” let me say the following.

I started to write a detailed explanation about why so much of contemporary indebtedness can’t be dismissed as irresponsible and I had written a lot of it; it was running way too long. I also realized the main thought running through my head was “Fuck you, you don’t get it, go read another blog.” So I’m not going to “justify” anything I’ve written above to those who don’t understand this situation. Fuck you, you don’t get it, go read another blog.

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