Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Republicans and Democrats squabble over the peanuts they want to throw at student debt relief.

Previous blogs have commented on the massive student debt in US society.  We question that there should be such a thing as a student loan market at all.  Student debt at $1 trillion is getting out of control and  $67 billion of that debt is in default. This is a good deal for some sections of the capitalist class though as we reported in a previous blog, "There are 23 private debt collection companies contracted to the US Dept. of Education that go after this debt, threatening and basically terrorizing the borrower. These private firms earned $1 billion in commissions last year according to Bloomberg Business Week."

In election years, US politics gets even more repulsive as the candidates of the 1% vie for votes. Democrats, and Republicans, for fear of losing a vote at the ballot box, have agreed to approve new subsidies for college students and freeze interest rates for certain student loans at 3.4% as of July 1st.   Without Congressional action, the interest rate of these loans was due to double to 6.8%. Loans taken out before the July 1st deadline will not be affected.

The cost of this measure is $6 billion and while there is a general agreement on the measure, although Romney shifted sides after praising the Republican budget that would have allowed the doubling of rates earlier in the year, the 1%'s political representatives are all squabbling over how to pay for it so it doesn't increase the federal deficit.

According to reports, the House Republicans want to shift money from Obama's health care plan that was supposed to fund "illness detection procedures." (Wall Street Journal 4-27-12) House Democrats on the other hand want to raise $6 billion by removing tax breaks for the oil and natural gas companies, while Senate Democrats want to end some tax breaks that small business get.

Obama and Romney have both been championing the youth and the need for a strong "middle class" in opposing the interest rate hike.  These politicians, especially the Democrats who have their allies atop organized Labor with them, are wearing the "middle class" mantra pretty thin.  Where is the working class in this country? That's what I want to know. We build the "middle class" from the ranks of....what?  The lower class, the poor?  yes that's it I guess. 

But why is there a student loan market?  Why do we have to borrow money to go to school?  The reserve capital in society is our product, our creation.  We pay taxes, we contribute to our social welfare, so why do we have to pay moneylenders to receive an education?  It certainly isn't an efficient use of funds.  As we pointed out in that earlier blog, there's all sorts of extra costs, not simply the blood money to the usurer but the fees that the bounty hunter, the collection agencies get for retrieving the money.  In the case of federal loans we are talking about public money in the first place.  There are all these contractors, just like the leeches in the defense industry, who receive fees and other monies through this misuse of our collective wealth.

In a civilized society, education and health care would simply be a public expenditure necessary for the well being of society as a whole and an investment for our youth.  But education is not controlled and designed by those who use it. Go look at the regents that head the California University system. Most of them are hedge fund managers, big capitalists or other coupon clippers.  What are they doing determining the education of our youth? They are running a business, that's what they are doing.

And think of $6 billion.  It's a piddling amount in the wider sphere of things.  Individuals earn that in a year.  We continue to stress this point repeatedly because there is a massive propaganda campaign especially in the US, aimed at convincing the masses that an an individual on Wall Street who buys currencies one day and sells them the next earning a few million dollars in the process actually earned this money and has a "natural"  right to it.  Imagine if we were lost in the desert and one individual had a barrel of water, enough for everyone to live but claimed it was his personal property and refused to share it. I know what we'd do.  We'd take it off him.  He has a right to live a secure existence just like the rest of us.  But not an extravagant existence at our expense. Rights are determined by the social power between the classes.

The reason millions starve in this world and even in the advanced capitalist countries we are losing all the rights and gains we won over years of struggle is that the 1% live in excessive abundance, buy $40 million homes, private jets and $400 million yachts and by their control over the economy own all the wealth that those who work create.  The economic slavery people are drawn in to for education, food, health care or housing is us borrowing back our own product at an exorbitant fee. It's what the capitalist class call freedom.

Here's what we need when it comes to education as a start:

Free education at all levels
Max. class size of 15 for K through 12
Massive infusion of capital to train teachers at Union scale and benefits to be paid for by ending  the 1%'s predatory wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
Free child care before and after school
Control of curriculum by students, teachers and those who use education
No corporate influence in education
Cancel all student debt

We cannot defend education never mind expand it by supporting the other Wall Street Party, the Democrats.  By fighting for such things and linking these issues with other issues such as the movement against foreclosures, the environmental struggles, anti-incarceration struggles, immigrant rights and Union struggles as well as the rights of the two million imprisoned in the American gulag, we can build a movement that can.  Out of such a movement and struggles an independent political voice for the workers of America can arise.

We are all denied certain rights in society.  But the laws in society are for the most part written by the class that rules.  When they work in our favor it is because we have forced this concession from them and only our extreme vigilance and relying on our own social and political power can ensure these rights---we cannot rely on their courts.

Some rights that place the individual above the rights of society as a whole are rights we have to collectively deny them.

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