OK....let's talk about this notion that offering debt forgiveness for student loans is merely privilege for the wealthy.

Underneath that lies the truth about capitalism and exploitation.

Hear me out here, folks.

The basic objective of capitalism is to have other people work real hard, especially to the point of stress, wear, disease, and even death, in order to generate profits for as few as humanly possible.
The incentive that is offered for people to accept this system is basically that if you work real hard and sacrifice your body, those who own the profits may allow you to get a tiny share of what they take for granted.
But, in order to get there, you have to prove "worthy" of them giving you that "opportunity" to rise above your "state of being".

This means doing "extra things" well beyond the limits of the actual job or task you are required to do in exchange for your "reward".
Those who already have the wealth really don't face the need to beg, borrow, steal, of play "kiss ass" games to get their share, since they already have more than enough.
The rest of us, OTOH, don't have the advantage of inherited wealth or ownership of land or some rich uncle that we can tap for basic essentials or even consumer fluff. So, we have to grind and hustle just to survive.
Here is where capitalism comes in with the notion of forcing debt on working folk as a condition for "bettering themselves".

And by "debt" I mean more than just a loan or an advance.
One of the essential axioms of capitalism is the "Puritan work ethic", which states that "If you don't work, you don't eat"; and that the harder you work and sacrifice in real life is proportional to the rewards you will ultimately get.
The "liberal" side of the Puritan work ethic coin, though, offers the option of providing minor forms of "assistance" to those not wealthy enough to buy their way out of the system of exploitation, if not profit directly from it themselves.
Credit -- the ability to get money in advance from others in the form of deferred loans to pay for essentials for moving up -- is basically the life blood of modern capitalism.
Since most folk outside of the top 20% barely earn enough in wages to keep their heads above water, they are forced to rely on credit to fill in the gaps.
And also, let's not underestimate the constant pressure from advertising for people to "BUY MOAR STUFF because USA ALL THE WAY!!!" or just to keep up with the "trends" imposed on us by Big Capital.
An actual compassionate society and a genuine egalitarian system would have the basics -- food, clothing, shelter, social communication -- provided outside of profit, accessible to everyone equally on request, and as inexpensive as possible; charging only for the labor required.
But, that doesn't work in capitalism, since the entire point is to force the majority of folk to work the hardest for the least reward so that the 1% and their 19% minions can generate their profits and live like royalty.
But, some form of "upward mobility" needs to be at least pretended to in capitalism in order to sell the system to the majority most exploited in it.

Hence, the idea of using credit 4 uplifting essential needs via mortgage loans, educational loans, and/or subprime payday loans.
During the New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society days, the concept of having the government provide direct assistance to the working and middle classes to maintain the system led to the GI Bill, the Interstate Highway System, and Pell Grants for funding public education.
Such assistance was still mostly restricted to White men, of course. It took actual bloody battles and fierce political wrangling before the system very belatedly and minisculely opened their pocketbooks to women, Black and Brown folk.
And even at that, in order to protect their profits, and continue the grift of exploitation, the 1% of that time placed numerous and onerous conditions on those they bequeated to be "worthy" of such aid.

Means testing and morals testing were a part of that.
"Means testing" was the way to assure that only those precious few who were considered "worthy" of direct government relief got it...because what's worse than people spending student loans on new cars or "welfare moms" in Caddilacs??
And also...there was the dominant belief that direct government aid should only be the barest minimum enough to get a person through a temporary crisis, so that they can get back into the private exploitation system ASAP.
And this was the "liberal" position; the basic belief of those on the Right was that there should be NO means of direct government aid available without the maximum conditions for entry....as in compelled and committed service to "conservative" doctrines....
....of "Family" (read, make more White babies for Jesus and cheap production of more stuff); "Freedom" (read, work harder for less and fight wars against the Communist/Socialist/Moooslim/Feminist enemy to Make/Keep America GREAT (Again))....
....and "Faith" (read, impose our Puritanism on others while we work hard to get enough profit that we can ignore the same restrictions on our "liberty" we impose on others).
And one of the most basic of the Puritan work ethic beliefs is that one must "PAY THEIR DEBTS TO SOCIETY"....that is, if you borrow from someone to get ahead, you damn well better pay them back when you can, preferably with interest for the privilege of lending that scratch.
It's on par with that other fundamentalist capitalist belief that rich folk always have worked their damndest to get where they are, and never, ever had the advantages of gaming the system or using inherited wealth to start on 2nd or 3rd base.
The basic idea of pushing loans rather than direct unconditional aid or simply offering it as a public service or public utility for all is that it allows the lender the sense of absolute power over the lendee that they can impose arbitrary conditions on the payback of that loan.
For middle- and upper-middle class folks, the system of private loans work out well, because they can easily find the resources to pay back the principal and interest before it gets out of hand....and they can be rewarded with even bigger and better loans to game the system.
But for the majority of the working class and the poor, however, loans can quickly become their worst nightmare as the combination of not having enough to pay back even the interest and being forced to work that much harder to do so bears down heavily on them.
For the lenders, most of whom are now part of the 1%, this is a mightily cool feature that gives them a virtual hammer to smash working poor folk while squeezing more blood money from them.

This is how debt prisons and forced free labor comes about.
Although officially people cannot be inprisoned for inability to pay debt (at least, not yet, though I suppose Trumpster and the Right have plans to change that), they can be intimidated by debt collectors and other means to force some form of tribute.
They can be induced to take on even more debt in order to pay off the original debt, and to stave off being drowned. Or, they can work longer hours to earn more to keep afloat....if wages allow them to.
The lenders who profit off of usurious debt practices can justify their theft and grift by saying that it is still the best and only means for working folk to gain "quick access" to money for basic needs.
What they don't tell you, though, is that in times of economic slowdowns, they can become as dependent on the willingness of debtors to do almost anything to pay off these debts, because their profits depend on such.
This is why lenders get so anal about using the full force of government to ensure that their debts are both insured and enforced, and that, in the maximum pinch, they can be bailed out when the debts go horribly wrong or even default.
Debt forgiveness, therefore, is the essential enemy of the system of capitalism and the enforcement of debt slavery, because if you can't collect what you lent, you can't profit from charging interest on it either.
Neoliberals who claim to "understand" the plight of working folk crushed by debt but still insist on some form of payback for government aid/public service (such as "national service" or a universal military draft) still don't get the concept of "public service".
The scam is especially revealed in the student loan scheme, because most of such are already guaranteed by the government....for the lending banks. They get both their principal back, and the use of law enforcement to squeeze the interest out of lendees permanently.
And, thanks to the magic of accrued compound interest and the diversion of deferment (similar to the "rollover" of payday loans), student loan debt can very quickly reach to point of drowning even the most willing middle-class person making decent wages.
It's no wonder why Bernie Sanders (and to a lesser extent Liz Warren) are getting huge support for their ideas of breaking out of this debt crucible through debt forgiveness.

Though, Warren's proposals would more be considered debt relief and deferment than forgiveness.
Naturally, defenders of the existing system of profiteering off working poor folk have devised new and different ways of casting off criticism of their illicit deeds.
The most common one is this nonsense, from wealthy wingnuts like Newtie Gingrich about "What about those who worked hard and sacrificed and paid their loans on time?"
Of course, what Newtie doesn't want you to know is that wealthy folk already know how to game the system to lower and pay off their debts; he's more interested in using those who willingly squeezed themselves to pay off the loans to push even more grift.
Or, in the case of his boss Trumpster and the former fixer Michael Cohen, how to game their own debts into tax shelters so that they can continue to play in the Capitalist Casino with the working poor's money.
Also, note how Newtie's statement about those "sacrificing" to pay off student loans matches very well with the typical Right notions of "deserving" poor vs the "frauds" who take their loan money and don't finish so they deserve to get hosed with 11% interest.
Now, let's deal with the neoliberal side of the defense of the system.....basically the ThirdWay/DLC notion of "Student Loan forgiveness is a privilige of the RICH!!!!" bullshit.
This is based on the idea that the current system is perfect in that it forces the wealthiest to pay back their way, while providing "access" to the poorest wanting the "opportunity" for a decent college education and the "good job" it supposedly guarantees to pay back that loan.
Essentially, this is the educational financing version of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"), in that private interests are subsidized to offer loans to working folk in the same way Big Insura is subsidized to offer supposedly decent health insurance.
The issue they attempt to raise is that forgiving student loan debt for everyone would favor those wealthy folk who can pay them off, while not affecting those working poor who get in debt through other means.
The thinly veiled implication, of course, is just about the same as Newtie's proclamation on the Right: that student loan lendees are mostly cheaters and grifters who simply want everything for "free" and don't want to pay back the debts they allegedly owe society.
The difference is that it's packaged in pseudo-"populist" rhetoric about "wealthy people", as a means of propagandizing the Democratic Party's mostly working class base.
Never mind that with the obliteration of Pell Grants and other "free" means of education funding, loans (second only to military service) have become the only means for working folk to even access college (aside from athletic scholarships).
Of course, one can simply tap into the financial base of Third Way's board to see that they get their funds directly from those who profit from the current system. That explains quite a lot.
If anyone doubts the intensity and strength of the combined offering of student loan debt forgiveness and free public college education offered by Sanders, allow me a personal example.
For 10 years until the end of 2016, I was paying out nearly $200 a month on my own student loans that had defaulted, through wage garnishment. The loans were federal Stafford Loans guaranteed by Sallie Mae.
For a period of about a year, I was even garnished double to pay for two separate loans. Yet, at the beginning of 2017, my garnishment suddenly ended, and I haven't been docked since.

Needless to say, that has been a godsend to my income to have $200/month extra.
And my loans weren't that steep at all, but ballooned through interest and deferrences. I can't imagine those who paid nearly $10K in principal for loans now drowning in the interest alone.

You see the potency here, do you?
Say what you will about Bernie Sanders & whether he's really a "democratic socialist" or a social democrat...but he has energized a Frankenstein monster of a movement that is finally exposing the scam of capitalism and the grift of "free markets". Small wonder he's so villified.
And with his proposals for using the full power of government to actually serve the working masses and address fundamental issues of inequality, Sanders is cutting right through the heart of the myth of neoliberalism as an alternative to the corrosiveness of the Right.
I reserve my right to be critical of him from the Left, but I can also root for him and his movement to at least move the lever of power closer to the masses so that they can seize it for themselves.
Debt forgiveness is but one of many program changes that are needed to challenge and ultimately eliminate wealth, exploitation, and privilege, and bring a more egalitarian society. But, big revolutions often roll in small steps.



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