People write me about student debt

And some of them are talking about wanting to end their lives. They are not speaking from “weakness” or “stupidity.” They’re just tired. They feel done. “I’ve never had serious issues with suicidal ideation, but damnit, this is causing that for me,” one woman wrote – she ended up having trouble with her loans due to mounting health problems. Debt collectors are harassing her 81-year-old grandmother. Every time she applied for a forebearance, her paperwork was conveniently “lost,” she says. She suspects they wanted her to go into default early. Are we honestly going to be OK with it when it happens to more and more people?

Since my piece on student debt was reprinted by AlterNet, I’ve had all sorts of trolls showing up here, in the meantime. Here they are, distilled to their essence:

Pay the money, bitch!
It’s gone, baby, gone. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be willing to negotiate with the loan company for a fair amount, considering all of the money I have already sunk into my loans. If I’m in a position to negotiate, I will do so. Neither am I above asking for help with my loans. But most of the people close to me are also having financial troubles.

You’re a thief! You planned this! Got a fancy education then decided you didn’t have to pay the money back!
Ha ha. Ha ha ha.

Coward! You ran away to Russia!
I’m in Russia on a work visa. As a former USSR citizen and wife of a Russian citizen, I am entitled to residency – but in Moscow, that’s a prohibitively expensive process for me at the moment. In my husband’s hometown, it doesn’t make economic sense. I didn’t “run away” – though working abroad was ultimately a smart decision for someone with my skills and background. Many people in similar situations cannot say the same.

That’s what you get for being uppity and a part of the “me generation”
What about the generations that came before? Our collective values as such that people are considered “uppity” for wanting to get a good education. And they’re such that a good education comes attached with ridiculous costs. And they’re such that when you are 18-year-old, you are told that student loans are “a good way to build credit.”

Now responsible people like me will have to pay for your sins!
Responsible people have ended up bailing out Wall Street. At this point, we need to re-think the entire system of lending in this country. Not to mention re-thinking higher education and its costs. I could be quiet about my debt problems, or I could go public with the issue – but not as a means of going, “Hey guys! Take responsibility for my problem!”

Well, you just suck. As opposed to me. I mean, look at me! *hold on, let me dust off the halo for a second* Where was I? Ah, yes. The only thing your example proves is that some people in our society are bad apples. I worked hard all of my life – and will never be in the situation you’re in. I’m not a freeloader or a thief – and neither am I an entitled jackass who thinks that everything ought to be handed to me on a silver platter. That’s the difference between you and me. That’s why I matter. That’s why you don’t matter – aside from being an example of how not to live one’s life.
I had a guy tell me once that the only reason I *needed* student loans in the first place is because I was not smart enough to get into university “on merit.” Smart people can always score a full ride to a school of their choice, you see. Everyone else should not go to school – or have the good grace to be born rich. Of course, he and his family would never end up in my shoes. Except that years later, they did. When their eldest daughter got a rare illness and the insurance company screwed her. That was when their financial free-fall started. The man who said those hurtful words to me now works as a sales clerk – way past retirement age. His family home has been repo’ed. I’m not saying this because I want to gloat – what happened to them is a goddamn tragedy. And it goes to show. Under the current system, none of us are safe from harm.

Its your parents’ fault! They should have saved up for college!
College costs too much in the United States. Most normal families can’t afford it. It doesn’t seem like a problem at first – because of course something great ought to cost a lot! Right? It made sense to me as a kid. If we don’t think that people ought to have adequate access to health care, when it comes to education, we’re even worse. And we’ve completely devalued vocational schools and made apprenticeships obsolete, which compounds the problem.

They ought to strip you of your citizenship! You ought to have your child taken away! I hope the lenders DO drive you to suicide!
I’m including this as an example of how vicious ordinary people are to other ordinary people. Pitting us against each other is clever. It’s something that has always been done, throughout the ages, by those in power. Throw a few bones to the rabble. Let them fight each other for scraps. Sell them a convenient fairy tale about how they have every chance to become the next Bill Gates in the meantime – even though an entire economic system’s existence depends on a bunch of them being in poverty, while the rest cling desperately to middle-class status. It’s a fool-proof plan. Or is it?

We’re all f*cked… But either Joe Sapien or Shia LaBeouf will save the day

OK, so Renee’s piece on the economic crisis pretty much spoke to me on the most fundamental level imaginable. I’m one of those supposedly middle class people – with enormous negative assets (student debt), a degree that doesn’t matter (English + Russian Lit), and not much of a safety net. So this piece? Had me shaking. At least I’m abroad for now, I thought. At least I can afford healthcare over here. Now what about everyone else? Jay-sus.

How do we solve this thing? Well, we either execute Joe Sapien’s’ New Deal (it utilizes a little something called a “thunderbutt!”). Or else we just get Shia LaBeouf to defeat the crisis with a combination of knife-flicks and boyish charm.

Either than that, I’m all out of ideas.