Showing posts with label Greek financial crisis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek financial crisis. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2016

20-year Income-Based Repayment Plans for Student-Loan Debtors: A Return to Feudalism

Paul Craig Roberts wrote a chilling essay a couple of months ago in which he argued that Greece is being looted by its corporate creditors. According to Roberts, the banks don't want Greece to pay off its debts because the banks ultimately intend to strip Greece of its national assets, including its ports and nationally protected islands.

Here is the core of Roberts' argument:
The banks don't want Greece to be able to service its debt, because the banks intend to use Greece's inability to service the debt in order to loot Greece of its assets and resources and in order to roll back the social safety net put in place during the 20th century. Neoliberalism intends to reestablish feudalism . . . . The way Germany sees it, the [International Monetary Fund] is supposed to lend Greece the money with which to repay the private German banks. Then the IMF is to be repaid by forcing Greece to reduce or abolish old age pensions, reduce public services and employment, and use the revenues saved to repay the IMF. As these amounts will be insufficient, additional austerity measures are imposed that require Greece to sell its national assets, such as public water companies and ports and protected Greek islands to foreign investors, principally the banks themselves or their major clients. (emphasis supplied)

In essence, Roberts is predicting that Greece will eventually cease to be a sovereign nation; it will become a feudal serfdom controlled by private investors--principally German banks.

Something similar is occurring in American higher education. Private investors are operating for-profit colleges for the purpose of looting American taxpayers, who provide the federal student loan money that naive students use to pay the colleges' outlandish tuition prices. Almost half the students who take out student loans to attend for-profit colleges default within five years, but the for-profit colleges doesn't care. They got their money upfront.

How does this equate to feudalism? The Obama administration knows that student-loan default rates are shockingly high, but it is covering up this problem by forcing students into long-term income-based repayment plans--plans that require former students to pay a percentage of their income to the government for 20, 25, or even 30 years. In a very real sense, these long-term debtors have become feudal serfs, indebted for almost their entire working lives for the privilege of attending a shitty for-profit college. (Perhaps I should have used a different word than shitty--just can't think of one right now.)

And it's not just the for-profit college owners who benefit from this scam. The public colleges and the not-for-profit private colleges are collecting their share of the loot--jacking up tuition prices, knowing that students will simply borrow more and more money to pay their escalating tuition bills.

In fact, college presidents have become the 21st century equivalents of feudal lords--living in palatial presidential homes, flying around the world in private jets to hob nob with donors, and collecting unseemly salaries, while low-paid adjuncts teach the classes much like the serfs of the middle ages.

So, student-loan debtors, you aren't the only ones being raped by the transnational financial oligarchs. The Greek people are your companions in misery.


Adam Looney & Constantine Yannelis, A crisis in student loans? How changes in the characteristics of borrowers and in the institutions they attended contributed to rising default ratesWashington, DC: Brookings Institution (2015). Accessible at:

Paul Craig Robert. We Have Entered the Looting Stage of Capitalism. Infowars, May 27, 2016. Accessible at