FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Indentured Graduates in America

by

A bankruptcy court tells a gloomy story of student loans. Upon graduating from a school of dentistry in Wisconsin, Soler accumulated student loans in the amount of $200,000. Since then, repaying loans has been the primary predicament of Soler’s life. Soler has searched for higher paying jobs, worked with chronic back pain exasperated by her work as a dentist, and lived without many comforts cinematographed in the American dream of good life. After paying loan payments for eight years, a whopping $100,000 in total, Soler still owes $285,000. “With the accruing, compounding interest, in an effort reminiscent of Sisyphus, instead of gaining any ground with her mountain of loan debt, Soler has been going backwards.” A defeated Soler files for bankruptcy. See In re Soler, 261 BR 444 – Bankr. Court, Minnesota 2001.

Soler’s story is anything but unique or unusual. It’s writ large across America. It highlights the existential consequences of massive debt with which various professionals, physicians, engineers, accountants, journalists, lawyers, and many others, graduate from occupational schools. The rising debt serfdom in epistemic occupations is similar to raw indentured labor in American colonies. Money merchants, including the federal government acting as one, entice potential borrowers by lending first and demanding indentured services later. Lending thrives and money merchants flourish when tuitions are skyrocketing and professional schools, including law and medicine, are raising the cost of studies by the year. Upon graduation, students holding professional degrees must pay their huge debts. If a student fails to complete professional studies due to illness, family tragedy, or any other misfortune, loans must still be paid. Bankruptcy is no longer an option since money merchants have acquired federal legislation to shut tight the bankruptcy escape door.

The scale of professional indebtedness is mind-boggling. Take law schools. According to one survey, in 2014, the average indebtedness at more than 100 law schools was well over $100,000. At one law school, the average debt was more than $170,000 for 91% of students attending the school. At Columbia and Georgetown Law Schools, the average debt was above $150,000. At Berkeley, a state-supported law school, the average debt for 78% of law students was over $140,000. Add to this the debt law students take for four years of college studies, a prerequisite for entering law schools. According to the White House, average college debt is $23,000. So a law graduate, bearing a total debt of $150,000 at 5.25% interest rate will pay a total of $242, 584 over a period of 20 years in monthly installments of over $1,000. Many law graduates owe well over $200,000 in debt, the payment of which will require a life time. Most lawyers will be in their fifties before the entire loan is paid off.

In addition to student loans, most professionals gather debt in the form of home mortgage, car loans, and credit card loans — the four debts most professionals are likely to carry. This means that hundreds of thousands indebted professionals must work and continue to work just to pay off debt, as did Soler, and as did indentured servants when American colonies were established for the benefit of money merchants, venture capitalists, and slave traders.

Despite nauseating rhetoric that the opportunity of education is available to all hardworking Americans, debt numbers tell a heartrending story. Professional education is an invitation to a life of debt (stress and worries) that swells with compounded interest and additional debt obligations. When education was affordable, families could imagine a better future for their children. Money merchants have subverted the promised dreams of the twentieth century America. Now, only affluent families can afford to send their children to professional schools with the confidence that they would graduate as debt-free men and debt-free women. Everyone else must sign a contract of indentured service. Money merchants are equal opportunity lenders. The doors of debt-laced education are open to all future professionals without discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, and any other barrier that law has abolished. This is indeed an expansion of lending markets.

Notwithstanding a wide open market of student loans, a grand irony prowls in broad daylight. Poor households cannot even imagine running a debt of $200,000 for their children’s education. Consequently, high debts associated with professional studies compel sons and daughters of poor and even middle class families to think small and imagine cashing checks as tellers, processing words, scanning groceries, fixing leaks in houses, collecting refuse, and seeking other jobs that avoid debt-ridden education. According to census bureau statistics, more than 32 million families in America live below the poverty level. Nearly 15 million families below the poverty level have children under age 18. These families comprised of white, black, and other racial groups are doomed to lick the bottom of the pyramid. Under disabling poverty, their sons and daughters may not even graduate from high school.

Upon graduation, the joy is short-lived. Urgency of loan repayment limits choices. Getting a job becomes more pressing than getting a job of choice. Underemployment replaces full employment. Urgency justifies low wages –whatever you can get. Keeping a job, particularly if it is paying the loans, becomes more valuable than anything else in life. Spouse, young children, and aging parents are demoted to lower priorities. In some cases, even personal health may be compromised by working late hours and weekends. In some cases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression, the uninvited demons, occupy professional corpuses. Lingering loans scar the minds and bodies of indentured professionals.

In binding professionals to debt, the system also suffers. Because of fear of losing the job, the courage to call out the wrongs, the injustices, the excesses, and corruption in corporations, banks, hospitals, law firms, law schools, judiciary, legislature, and the executive, wherever the professionals serve, fades into caution, cowardice, and compromise. “Don’t rock the boat” becomes the secret mantra of survival and self-suppression. (The mantra actually means keep paying the loans.) Consequently, wrong policies, flawed decisions, and misdirection conceived in the politburos of organizations, corporations, and state and federal governments, lead to losses. The urge of quitting a disagreeable job, though authentic, seems irrational because of the debt hanging over the head. Indentured professionals, in T.S. Elliot’s divinatory words, are reduced to “dried voices” of hollow men (and women).

 

More articles by:

Liaquat Ali Khan is the founder of Legal Scholar Academy, a firm dedicated to the protection of civil rights and human liberties. Send your comments and question to legal. scholar. academy[at] gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail