“Debt is the slavery of the free.”
~ Publilius Syrus
Did you know that more than three-quarters of American households are in debt?
At least we can take comfort in knowing that Congress is moving quickly to address this burr in our collective ass, isn’t it?
The sad reality is that although politicians have known for months that interest rates for student loans were set to rise yesterday, they left Washington last week without doing anything to halt the increase.
I guess keeping campaign promises – during last year’s presidential race, both parties pledged to extend the 3.4 percent interest rates – and emphasizing the importance of higher education aren’t as important as renaming post offices and marching in Fourth of July parades. (The 112th Congress has distinguished itself as the most unproductive since the 80th Congress in the 1940s.)
I wouldn't put it past 'em.
According to the Associated Press, “Subsidized Stafford loans, which account for roughly a quarter of all direct federal borrowing, went from 3.4 percent interest to 6.8 percent interest on Monday. Congress' Joint Economic Committee estimated the cost passed to students would be about $2,600.”
How many college students do you know who are going to be excited about adding $2,600 to their tab?
Patrick Arthur – an activist/writer friend who spent months covering the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, Louisiana, Georgia and Washington, D.C. – told me about “Strike Debt,” an offshoot of OWS that bills itself as a “nationwide movement of debt resisters fighting for economic justice and democratic freedom” (click here for Strike Debt’s website) and “Rolling Jubilee,” a nonprofit organization which solicits donations that it uses to purchase debt – banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar – and then cancels the debt rather than trying to collect it. (According to the Rolling Jubilee website, $10 liberates a person from $200 in debt, $20 obliterates $400 in debt and a Benjamin takes the weight of $2,000 in debt off someone’s shoulders.)
I know some cynical people who regularly ridicule the OWS movement and deny that it had any real impact. But 1,000 Kentuckians would beg to differ.
P.S. I’m reminded of the very entertaining video of Alan Grayson stomping P.J. “Yes, I’m a Drunkard and an Ass” O’Rourke into the ground for ridiculing the OWS movement on “Real Time with Bill Maher” back in October of 2011:
Historical loan sign photo courtesy George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images.
Sources: Patrick M. Arthur, Strikedebt.org, Associated Press, PoliticsUSA.com, CNN.com, Rollingjubilee.org, Foxnews.com, Huffington Post.