Sunday, July 14, 2013

Student Debt Relief Act (2016)

About the Law

The Student Debt Relief Act puts all consumers, not just students, back in charge of their outstanding debt. Under the law, a new "Debtor's Bill of Rights" gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed fiscal choices.

Coverage

Ends Collateral Requirements for Young Borrowers: banks can no longer limit or deny loans to students due to prior defaults.

Guarantees Inter-Generational Cross-Collateralization: If you earn less than $26,000 a year, you may name your spouse, children, or parents as guarantors without their consent.

Ends Eviction and Homelessness: If you or someone close to you can't make your payments, you will be provided with federal housing and guaranteed employment, at no additional cost to you.

Guarantees Your Right to Appeal: You now have the right to ask that your bank provide you with an additional two weeks to repay.

Costs

Ends Lifetime Limits on Coverage: For all new loan plans, your debts will be transferable to your spouse, children, or other family members.

Reviews Rate Increases: Banks must now publicly justify any rate hikes which they designate as unreasonable.

Helps You Get the Most from Your Minimum Payments: Your minimum payments must be spent primarily on customer service – not administrative costs.

Guarantees Your Right to Refinance: Lenders may no longer prevent you from refinancing your outstanding balance with a different institution.

Care

Covers Future Loans at No Cost to You: You may be eligible for visiting with recommended loan providers. No fee.

Protects Your Choice of Lenders: Choose the employee you want from your bank's directory.

Removes Banking Barriers to Payday Loans: You can seek timely loans from 24-hour providers unaffiliated with your bank.

For More Information, read the Full Law (sic) here.

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Comparisons

The comparison is apt--more chillingly so than this one at first thought when contemplating the analogy. If you read the propagandistic, patronizing bullet-point list on HHS' site, linked above, it's easy to notice how nothing positive is really being "offered" by the Affordable Care Act. To employ the vernacular, we could say that any "grown up" would be able to easily tell that a health insurance company could (1) justify as reasonable any potential rate increase; (2) dismiss appeals as easily as they did before; (3) designate administrative costs "health care costs" by changing the job title of any given administrative employee, department or division. If we're similarly grown up, we know that health insurance companies, decades ago, muscled almost all physicians (particularly in "primary care") into choking down whatever policies the insurance company was willing to shove in their faces, at risk of losing all of their patients (who had no choice about which of the tiny number of megacorps to buy insurance from, anyway, assuming they could afford to buy it in the first place).

So, yeah. Apt comparison. What the "student debt" crap might likely get us is something similar to the ACA: stunted, infantile public awareness of an issue crystallizing into an opportunity for fake reform. Like the health care reform, we'll probably see a number of the same steps taken. Let's review them, and extrapolate how the debt issue might take shape:

There Is No Problem. Spend years/decades not acknowledging that anything is wrong--we've already done this, and trillions of dollars were "made."

There May Be A Problem. As even Americans become unable to avoid noticing that an awful lot of gol-durned people seem to have a problem, and that the problems were caused by "accidentally-unfair" policies supported at the local, state, and federal level, spend a few years batting around the old rag dolls.

As far as health care, this was the "stupid poor people deserve to die" stock-conservative argument, battling it out with the stock-liberal's "health insurance companies are more interested in making money than in providing funds for care, and their power needs to be limited." The moral, right thing to do would be to invade and shut down all the major insurance companies, restructure the health care industry, return trillions of dollars in stolen money, and put a few thousand executives and corrupt government officials to hard labor. Even a watered-down approach would be to institute a single-payer system, letting the insurance barons keep their money but making things run better in the future (although the insurance barons, still wealthy and powerful, would soon destroy such a system).

As to student loan debt, the conservative line is "stupid people borrowing what they can't pay get stuck with it," against the liberal "it's unfair that student debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy like all other types of debt." As before, the moral, right thing to do would be to invade and shut down all the banks, restructure the financial industry, return trillions of dollars in stolen money, and put a few thousand executives and corrupt government officials to hard labor.

Not gonna happen, as they say--the hazy, pragmatic, penultimate American soulless compromise, then, is what the docile will ultimately enact and accept. That very "compromise" will prove to be the next phase of the same exploitation. Like all compromises with evil, it crushes the soul (that's why powerful politicians, who have compromised and sold out to get where they are, are so commonly empty and vile), and like all compromises with evil, it is itself evil: it is a perpetuation of evil; it is the creation of more evil, sold as lesser.

We're Fixing The Problem! Launch major media campaigns bringing the issue to the center of public debate. Hear from "both" "sides"--conservative and liberal--about the incomplete, inherently self-contradictory nature of the other side's viewpoint. Exchange cute pictures and derisive internet blurbs re: same. Listen to warm human-interest stories about real people with bad experiences, who have suffered due to insurance/debt. Listen to hard-headed analyses of the numbers, and how the long-term effects of being warm-hearted will ultimately hurt the subjects of the earlier human-interest stories. Critique the rational, moral solution as either (1) pure evil or (2) nice, but too idealistic to work in the real world. Bring most subjects into line through their cutesy allegiance with this or that side.

Takes One To...

We saw all of the above (false dichotomy -> show compromise) with health insurance, ergo the Affordable Care Act. The real brilliance of the ACA, though, was not merely in ameliorating the short-term situational awareness of the public in a way that preserved the ability of elites to continue fiscally raping the underclass. That would be bad enough, but it would be merely "reacting" to the situation; merely saving the day; merely surviving.

The elites we're discussing, though, do not merely survive. Even as foul, produce-less parasites, they do not "merely" harmonize themselves with their hosts in a sustainable way. Their control is so thorough that, when they faced the health care crisis, it was not unplanned--it was a crisis that they created. Not the crisis that they created by exploiting, lying, stealing, killing, et cetera--rather, the real crisis that we might initially expect had mattered to them, e.g., the crisis of public awareness that something might, possibly, be systematically wrong with health care.

That crisis--the important crisis--was what might have formed a one percentile component of actual change; the change of actually changing things, rather than fretting and debating and hoping that someone important changes them on your behalf. And that crisis was inevitable. Constant "fooling" of even Americans is unsustainable, ergo the staged rebellions that define western civilization. Like the changing of the seasons, or the repressed longing for a social expression of the birth/death cycle, staged rebellions offer a powerful, important outlet to the masses. The health care crisis was allowed into the news after decades of the exact same interests--the same corporations, talking heads, and policymakers--utterly marginalizing health care reform. A crisis was fostered in order that an acceptable debate could be had (similar to Sunday boxing in Cool Hand Luke keeping actual prison violence rates down).

These moments of crisis, fear, climax and rebirth are created not only to circumvent rebellion, but to improve the system that created them. This is what the Affordable Care Act did so brilliantly. In a time when many people were dropping off health insurance roles entirely, they threatened not only the insurance industry, but the medical industry that depended on the prepaid purchases of insurance (and which was owned by the same people). Dropping insurance means fewer pre-emptive vaccinations, radiation exposure, antidepressants, child pacification pills, antibiotics, hospital and clinical germ exchange, and the other things that keep money flowing through the system. People would return to dying of "old age," rather than lengthy battles against troublesome microscopic cell clusters, and in a generation or two, the deeper component of the "insurance" system would have been questioned.

Which brings us to ACA: ACA mandated the purchase of insurance, and made "preventative" checkups free, with no co-pay. As a result, more people will get "free" consultations with time-share salesmen, free brunch buffets from annuity specialists, and free HVAC checkups by the local HVAC concern, and be more likely to have problems identified, get worried, and buy the product in question. Even if we accept current medical science as sacrosanct, the ACA is a greater travesty in the financial realm, where the country of free and open markets requires purchase from a monopoly's optional service line.

So, the "crisis" worked out pretty nicely. By allowing proles to be upset about health care, the proles got so motivated to do something that they cheered an explicit expansion of the system they had been, five relative minutes ago, so upset about.

The Student Debt Relief Act

A similar debt improvement would be great for elites. By allowing national media glimpses of "student debt," the traditional stupid conversations have erupted, between "let them starve" and "unfair dealing." Neither argument, however partially accurate in their own little ways, addresses the real problem: the control of government, banks, universities, and means of public communication by organized crime families, one of whose ventures is screwing students based on false promises of valuable degrees and careers. As neither one addresses the real problem, both are tools of the system, and to follow either one, or compromise between them, would both perpetuate and exacerbate criminal control.

It is illegal to discuss extracting the said criminal organizations from their perch, and understandably so. What we can do is discuss how they might use the debt "issue" to, as they did vis-à-vis health care, make that division of their business turn an even higher profit. And that's what the Student Debt Relief Act of 2016 does: it makes a bad situation even worse, using the misguided enthusiasm and unfortunately placed naivete of those who, at some level, feel they are trying to help.

How? Look at the satirical clip at the beginning of this essay, again. Like the ACA, or a vendor of value packages on a new car, the SDRA conflates "expanded choice" with "freedom." Offers of additional purchases are extended, as though they are positives, rather than simply an offer to purchase more product from the seller. For example, the ACA says, "You have to buy this car, whether it's the model you wanted or not, or if you wanted a new car or not. However, you have the option of choosing manual or automatic transmission. In fact, it's your right to choose between manual or automatic transmission--my supervisor could fire me if I didn't give you that option." In grown-up world (to again use the vernacular), the choice the ACA offered is not really a choice. You have to buy the insurance. The ACA didn't expand your options; it minimized them. Before you walked into Obama's car dealership, your options were (1) ride a bicycle, choosing from among ten thousand varieties, another few hundred colors, et cetera, (2) build your own car (infinite), (3) (3) build your own bicycle (infinite), (4) move closer to work, (5) get a new job in a new city, (6) take the bus. Limitless options, in a sense. Now, your options are reduced to what color of car to buy from the United Democratic Health Sachs car dealership. The situation became worse, but because someone got you interested in the "metallic mango-teal" color scheme, you forgot that you could have bought that car before, and also done a million other different things, too.

The SDRA could work in the same way: by selling positives, such as free housing and guaranteed employment, without having to eliminate negatives. Debtor's prisons are the "extreme" example used above, but, contrary to popular opinion, imprisonment for debt is actually quite common in the U.S. (here are a few links: debt prison 1, debt prison 2, debt prison 3, debt prison 4...). Making it more acceptable would free owners from a lot of legal entanglements, and substantially lower the costs of housing and monitoring workers.

We don't call debtor's prisons "debtor's prisons," of course--we don't call them that now. But how about supervised job training and housing programs for unemployed students in exchange for a release of their debt? That's exactly what the SDRA would provide for. Students would receive free food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, as well as the elimination of their debt, and valuable on-the-job experience at the same time. What's to lose? When they got "out" of an SDRA Employment Opportunity Center, they would be debt-free, experienced, and ready to succeed at life. At the same time, they would learn valuable lessons about responsibility and the real world.

Conservatives would, naturally, be pacified. What about liberals? Well, as we saw above, the SDRA absolutely, positively reinforces the right of student debtors to petition their lender for longer payment times. It guarantees the right to refinance with another major lender. It provides free counseling with lenders to obtain additional loans. These are all valuable products and services, right? Just like getting a free consultation from a reconstructive dentist, there is absolutely no obligation to you.

Even worse, all the students who default make the interest rates go higher for those who don't default. So, slapping them all in Employment Opportunity Centers, and teaching them how to work it off, will help millions of students who are paying higher interest rates than they need to. Would you be so inhumane as to deny those rate decreases to people who so desperately need them? Then you wouldn't dare disapprove of this plan.

Welcome to Camp Opportunity :-)

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