Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘debt relief

Monday Night

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‘Like Many Faculty, I See a Lot of Suffering and Humiliation among Students in Taking on This Debt’

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Via @jacremes: Protesters Plan a National ‘Student-Debt Refusal’ Campaign.

On Wednesday night, Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, said members of an Occupy Wall Street working group were finalizing drafts of three “pledges” related to student debt, including a debtors’ pledge, whose signers would refuse to make payments on their loans after one million signatures have been collected.

The other pledges are one for faculty members who support those who refuse to pay, and another for nondebtors, including parents and sympathizers, who also want to show their support.

The pledges, Mr. Ross said, are to be based on four beliefs: that student loans should be interest-free; that tuition at all public institutions should be federally funded; that private and for-profit colleges should open their financial records to the public; and that students’ “debt burden” should be written off.

What Day Is It, Tuesday?

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* Current Global Warming Is Unprecedented Compared to Climate of the Last 20,000 years, Study Finds. I wonder if this sort of thing has anything to do with it.

* Alternet preps today for tomorrow’s debtor revolt.

* Nice work if you can get it: GWU professor resigns, accused of not teaching.

* Adorno and Horkheimer, Towards a New Manifesto.

* Another day, another decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act: “Leading Conservative Federal Appeals Judge Says Case Against Health Reform Has No Basis In ‘The Text of the Constitution.’” A bit more on this subject here and here.

* And the headline reads: “Obama Re-election Poll Numbers Improve Slightly.” I guess that about wraps it up.

Waiting for the Green Light Links

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* Oakland Mayor backs down, says she supports 99% movement and will minimize police presence.

* Greetings from Zuccotti Park.

* One of the best things about Occupy Wall Street is the way it confuses and ignores the shrill pundit class.

* Business Week profiles David Graeber.

At the end of his book, Graeber does make one policy recommendation: a Biblical-style “jubilee,” a forgiveness of all international and consumer debt. Jubilees are rare in the modern world, but in ancient Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt under the Ptolemies they were a regular occurrence. The alternative, rulers learned, was rioting and chaos in years when poor crop yields left lots of peasants in debt. The very first use in a political document of the word freedom was in a Sumerian king’s debt-cancellation edict. “It would be salutary,” Graeber writes, “not just because it would relieve so much genuine human suffering, but also because it would be our way of reminding ourselves that money is not ineffable, that paying one’s debts is not the essence of morality, that all these things are human arrangements and that if democracy is to mean anything it is the ability to all agree to arrange things in a different way.”

* Žižek on Charlie Rose.

Super Monday Night Links

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* My good friend Shankar D has returned to the Internet with his beloved annual March Madness blog.

* Democrats win the Super Bowl!

* Debt forgiveness is coming to Haiti.

* Is the U.S. Senate more dysfunctional than 18th century Poland’s Sejm? Paul Krugman reports. (Via Steve Benen.) Meanwhile, Open Left argues that reliably beating the filibuster would require 72 Democrats but only 54 Republicans, due to disparate party loyalty.

* How Republicans will kill the filibuster.

* Read Ezra Klein.

As I’ve said before, it is very near to impossible to build out an ideological model explaining why Republicans who voted for the deficit-financed Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit would vote against the deficit-neutral health-care reform bill. But it’s very easy to build out a model explaining why Republicans would vote for a bill that would help them if it passed and against a bill that would hurt them if it failed. Same goes for Democrats. Good-faith disagreement is not the explanation that best fits the data.

This isn’t, importantly, an attack on either party. It’s good to have a competitive electoral system! But if we’re going to give the minority party a reason to want the majority party to fail at governing the country, we can’t also give them the power to make the majority party fail at governing the country. We need a legislative system that works alongside our political system, not one that pretends we have a different, more harmonious political system than we really do.

* While I’m wishing away the Senate, Neil Sinhababu is wishing away the 50 states.

* Terrorists who want to overthrow the United States government must now register with South Carolina’s Secretary of State and declare their intentions—or face a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. Keep it in mind. Via Boing Boing.

* Chris Christie getting positive press in New Jersey for gutting state employee benefits.

* Democrats think the kill-Medicare GOP budget is a political winner for them. That would certainly be a novelty. I’m still amazed Republicans are really going to get away with killing a jobs bill during a period of cataclysmic unemployment. It’s 2010; why can’t the DNC circulate talking points? Can’t wait to spend months and months begging the GOP to do the right thing on health care when we all already know they won’t.

* Parents, please don’t waterboard your children.

* Classic Books That Could Be Turned Into Video Games. Some of these are great: Don Quixote Kong, A Hundred Years of Solitaire, Pacman and the Sea, Super Karamazov Brothers, Pride and Extreme Prejudice…

* And deeply bad news for Gerries: delicious soda totally causes pancreatic cancer. I drank a lifetime’s worth in ten years, and then a second lifetime’s worth in the next ten years, so I have to say I feel a little screwed on this.

What I’m Looking At This Morning

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* While I’m certain that the neoliberal project will resume soon, I have to agree with Think Progress that what we’ve seen in Haiti thus far is not properly described as an “invasion.” Like it or not, the U.S. military is the (only) organization that has the resources to administer aid on this scale; we should be vigilant about mission creep and work hard for things like debt forgiveness, but (it seems to me) the U.S. military presence really is on the side of the angels, at least so far.

* Philip Kennicott on why the media doesn’t censor the images coming out of Haiti. Kennicott is right to raise the issue, but his explanation is pretty clearly incomplete; the article doesn’t manage to use either the word “race” or “racism” even once.

* What Bush did to Haiti. Of course, we should remember that U.S. imperialism in Haiti has a much longer history than just Bush, Clinton, and Bush.

* I’m not sure “brave” is quite the word I’d use to describe the Royal Caribbean cruiseships that are now resuming their trips to Haiti.

“I just can’t see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water,” one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum. 

“It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving,” said another. “I can’t imagine having to choke down a burger there now.”

Some booked on ships scheduled to stop at Labadee are afraid that desperate people might breach the resort’s 12ft high fences to get food and drink, but others seemed determined to enjoy their holiday.”I’ll be there on Tuesday and I plan on enjoying my zip line excursion as well as the time on the beach,” said one.

* Obama approval still closely tracking Reagan’s.

* Nate continues to model the MA-SEN race. As the link says, assumptions are everything right now, from the polling screen on down; nobody really knows anything about how this race will turn out. I still think Coakley’s party-ID and GOTV advantages will help her squeak out the win, but she’s been a pretty terrible candidate, and Brown an unusually strong one, in a moment that (sadly, wrongly, terribly) favors the GOP.

* Science proves blondes are less fun.

* And important reporting at Harper’s: An army sergeant blows the whistle on Guantánamo “suicides.” Via Spencer Ackerman.

Abolish the IMF

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Now, in its attempts to help Haiti, the IMF is pursuing the same kinds of policies that made Haiti a geography of precariousness even before the quake. To great fanfare, the IMF announced a new $100 million loan to Haiti on Thursday. In one crucial way, the loan is a good thing; Haiti is in dire straits and needs a massive cash infusion. But the new loan was made through the IMF’s extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms.

Of course I’m in favor of debt forgiveness generally, but even a person who isn’t, who strongly supports the IMF, should be able to recognize the necessity of debt forgiveness in this particular case. If it’s true that aid is currently being offered with strings attached—and I’m sure The Nation has its reporting right—that’s extortionary, and extraordinarily cruel, even by neoliberal capitalism’s usual low standards. Simply put, this is outrageous. Via Vu.