Pluralistic: 06 Mar 2022

A picture of a grinning skull in a mortarboard. From The Epistasix (1920)/Medical Society of the University of Toronto.

The Epistasix (1920)/Medical Society of the University of Toronto

Today's links

The Debt Collective's banner for its student debt strike. It reads: 'Can't Pay! Won't Pay! Join the Student Debt Strike!' It features a black-and-white photo of a smiling woman in grad's robes and a mortarboard.

Student debt strike called for May 1 (permalink)

One of Biden's most conspicuously broken campaign promises is student debt cancellation. This isn't a nightmare from the Machin Synematic Universe, either: Biden can cancel student debt on his own, at the stroke of a pen, in the form of an Executive Order.

Biden has the legal power to erase 100% of outstanding federal student debt. It's a wildly popular proposal that would end the nation's student debt crisis, lifting a crushing burden ($1,887,820,825,648 as of this writing!) from millions of Americans.

Though people from all walks of life and backgrounds are held back by these usurious loans, people of color are disproportionally harmed by student debt, which is a major factor in the racial wealth gap:

And yet, more than a year into his presidency, Biden has failed to take up his pen and act. Instead, he's signed extensions to the temporary debt moratorium, which is set to expire on May 1.

Cancelling student debt would benefit millions of everyday Americans, but it would hurt those members of the donor class who have "invested" in buying loans from the US government, whose "passive income" depends on gouging and terrorizing working people who make stuff and do stuff, rather than owning stuff.

These debt-landlords exert powerful political pressure in DC and statehouses. They're so powerful that they've so far prevented Biden from honoring his promise, even though breaking it would cost the Dems millions of votes in the midterms. For some Dems, losing power is preferable to losing the confidence of millionaire bloodsuckers.

If you want to know what fucking over students and grads can do to a party's political fortunes, just ask Nick Clegg, who reneged on the UK Liberal Democrats' election promises to students and destroyed his party for more than a decade. They couldn't even hold their annual conference because they knew they'd be mobbed by furious students:

Breaking faith with students and grads about this issue is political suicide, and at least some of Biden's inner circle know this. Hell, Chuck Schumer knows it!

White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain just floated a trial balloon, telling Pod Save America that Biden will likely extend the debt moratorium on May 1:

But a moratorium isn't the same as cancellation, as Schumer and millions of debt-burdened students and grads know very well. Biden should pick up his fucking pen and sign the executive order and make a huge improvement in the lives of millions of Americans who will then go out and vote for his party next fall.

There's an important American political parable to consider here: after FDR's election, he was supposedly visited by a group of Black labor organizers who told him that his New Deal promises should extend to Black workers.

FDR is said to have replied, "You’ve convinced me. I agree with what you’ve said. Now go out and make me do it." In other words, the president is not an autocrat; he must respond to political currents in his party and the public sphere. To get the president to buck party power-brokers, we have to make the consequences of failing to do so brutally clear.

That's where the Debt Collective comes in: they've called for a student debt payment strike effective May 1, 2022. They don't want you to default: they're calling for "politicizing nonpayment collectively."

They lay out an arsenal of tactics for getting your payment to $0 safely (and acknowledge that not everyone can use these tactics):

  • File a "borrower defense," asking to have your debts canceled on the grounds that your school defrauded you.

  • Apply for "Public Service Loan Forgiveness." Use this guide to get around the typical lies about ineligibility for this program.

  • Apply for "Income-Driven Repayment" with a monthly payment of $0:

  • Skip the first three months' payments after the moratorium ends, citing the Education Department's "safety net" promise:

  • If you're still in school, demand an "in-school deferment"

  • If you're already in default, notify your lender that you're now on strike.

If you can't get your payment to $0 safely, or even if you can, you can and should join the Debt Collective, a union of debtors:

This strike is over federal student debt. But what if you're part of America's private student debt emergency? It turns out that at least $150b worth of that debt can be discharged through bankruptcy, despite the oft-told lie that it cannot:

And it's the most predatory of all private student loans, subprime debt dominated by the no-office/no-employees/no-charter National Collegiate Student Loan Trust, which packages up human misery in an exotic financial instrument called a "student loan asset-backed security" (SLAB).

The NCSLT – a front for Massachusetts' First Marblehead, – is such a shadowy org that it can't issue loans out of its home state. So it rents the banking charters of the biggest banks in the country: PNC Bank, Jpmorganchase and Wells Fargo. The SLABs it creates are marketed by Goldman Sachs, Deutschebank, Citibank, and UBS.

But activist lawyers like Austin Smith are suing the banks – with mixed outcomes – to secure bankruptcy discharges for the poor and immiserated people that First Marblehead and its co-conspirators prey upon:

America and the Biden Administration are at a crossroads: will it take care of the vast majority of us to do things for a living? Or will it throw away power and pave the way to second Trump term by catering to people who own things for a living?

The Dems do not benefit when its base sits by as party grandees engineer a sellout. Social, collective movements like the Debt Collective aren't just the saviors of their members' economic futures – they are fighting to save the country from oligarchic looters.

Hey look at this (permalink)

This day in history (permalink)

#20yrsago The Homeless Hacker*/,1284,50811,00.html

#15yrsago China blocks Livejournal,72872-0.html?tw=wn_index_7

#15yrsago Charlie Brooker reviews the Samsung E900

#10yrsago TSA to nursing mother: breast-pump can’t go through security unless you pump your breasts first

#5yrsago TSA’s new “pat-downs” are so invasive, airports are pre-emptively warning cops to expect sexual assault claims

#5yrsago Chris Christie’s Port Authority boss blackmailed United into scheduling a flight to bring him to his weekend place

Colophon (permalink)

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