One of the most direct and intense ways I interact with the assumptions of the dominant economy is the financing of my college education. The assumptions we brainstormed during last week’s call center around our final point about the logic of capitalism: if the end product is good, or at least successful in some dimension, then the process is good too, and any destructive aspects of the process are negated or shoved aside as irrelevant. This logic is painfully and personally applicable to my ongoing navigation through the ocean of student loans I depend on for my college education.
I left high school hopeful and excited-- fueled by the encouraging words of teachers, and the joy of feeling my own earthly and political awareness evolve, a liberal arts education was incredibly alluring. I didn’t get the best financial aid package from my college, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I could surely pay that off with a high-paying job after graduation, right? Plus, I had earned this. According to agenda of the American dream, I was doing everything right.
My disillusionment with the financing of American higher education developed hand in hand as I joined my college’s divestment campaign, started to think about reinvestment, and learned about the economics of climate justice. Over time, little realizations, small experiences, accumulated into a greater awareness, and honestly, a greater rage. Experiences like watching Shell’s massive oil rigs-- the metal fruits of billions of dollars extracted from the many for the sake of the few-- docked in Seattle Harbor with no permit, indifferent to the fines of illegal placement, while earlier that day I had been fervently trying to pay interest fees off my unsubsidized student loans. As the problematic distribution of wealth gradually struck me, I realized the essential incompatibility of my assumed capitalism-granted mobility and the fundamental ideologies of the dominant economy. The student debt crisis epitomizes the dangerous falseness of the assumption that because the end of a process is good, the process must be good as well. This process isn’t good. It is hurtful and unfair-- a case of a capitalist society generating cultural and economic processes which contradict its supposed basic freedoms.
I’m obviously frustrated, but I want to make my hope and gratitude clear. Like we said on the call, by understanding these aspects of the dominant economy as assumptions rather than rules, we reject them as rules. Significantly, by rejecting the notion that alternate economies cannot exist, we challenge and invalidate stagnant, oppressive social systems as inherently deserving to exist and build a platform of creative change. We reject inequity as an inherent, unavoidable truth. We build hope, and I am hopeful.
Here's an angsty poem! :)
student loans (this is not a joke)
borrowing, service, bought merit. Merit, really? No, I was told a long time ago how I had
none of that.
curls into rug, coughing up phlegm white as hookah smoke, liver and organs
are still a brown-red pack, healthy with potential,
condemns through my school-bones, school child, chilled from core to fingertips, hammer
June, forty nine dollars, fifty two cents. Unsubsidized interest
accumulates while the student is in school-- veins are throbbing, again I curl.
is there a tip where I do crush sobbing? numbers rack my splitten blood, spitted dead skin I see
waiting for a dollar, curdling the canopy. my very existence is unsustainable.
call it quits? how? and, why? could be making
2.13 an hour with bad tips as a waitress in a shitty restaurant in Georgia, credit card debt
just to fill the gas tank and buy antifreeze,
shut up, lucky this is very good and natural and
(not a joke)