Sunday, February 23, 2014

You might be living in a plutocracy if...(part 4 of 10)

You might be living in a plutocracy if...

...your Congressmen & women made it harder to discharge student loan debt, through bankruptcy, than to discharge gambling debt and business debt....and Corporate America paid them to make it that way.

There have been efforts to make bankruptcy law more fair to low-income and unemployed college graduates, but as a commentator said of one such effort, "When considering the enormously powerful Wall Street banks — which combined to spend over $100 million lobbying Congress in just the first eight months of 2011 — this paints a portrait of a bill destined to die a quiet legislative death."

And it doesn't matter to Corporate America, or to our plutocratic Congress, if more people are killing themselves due to unemployment, debt, and other financial stress, they just want more money (i.e., corporate profits and political campaign contributions). And, if crushing people to the point of suicide is what it takes to get more money, that's what they're going to do (or, I should say, are doing). They could, of course, provide debt relief and public jobs for these people, but they don't see any profit or campaign contributions coming from that, so they don't.

Consider the following:

The Ones We've Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides (Huffington Post and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project)

American Association of Suicidology: "There is a clear and direct relationship between rates of unemployment and suicide...At the individual level, unemployed individuals have between two and four times the suicide rate of those employed. As well, economic strain and personal financial crises have been well documented as precipitating events in individual deaths by suicide."

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Factors that increase suicide risk include "A highly stressful life event such as...financial loss (and) Prolonged stress due to adversities such as unemployment..." 

"The suicide rate continues to soar; or, how our dysfunctional economy is literally killing us" (Washington Monthly)

Centers for Disease Control: "CDC Study Finds Suicide Rates Rise and Fall with Economy"

Above: New Deal policymakers created many free education opportunities for Americans. Today, because of plutocracy, many Americans who seek an education must (a) take on enormous debt, (b) look for jobs in a pathetic labor market, and (c) become saddled with that debt whether they find good middle-class jobs or not. Corporate America and Congress (which are essentially the same entities) have made sure that people burdened by student loan debt can no longer get a fresh start through bankruptcy, and have also made sure that they cannot get public jobs, e.g., a new WPA, should they fail to find employment in the private sector. In sum, Corporate America and Congress have sentenced millions of Americans to low wages (or complete unemployment) and inescapable debt (especially with respect to private student loans). And they've done this so that fewer and fewer people can have more and more money (see, e.g., "Wealth of Forbes 400 Billionaires Equals Wealth of All 41 Million African-Americans"). This is plutocracy.

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