Casualties of Debt – Selling America’s Students to the Banks

Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
Waking Times

In today’s America, debt is a regular part of life. It drives our economy and enables our culture. Due to the expense of higher education, rising cost of living, consumerism, and the ongoing dollar crisis, it is becoming evermore difficult to live in the United States without accruing considerable personal debt. Especially so for college students. 

For our young adults, the American dream of prosperity has regressed to a new tradition of being unemployed or overworked, and buried under a growing mound of debt.

Higher Education Trains Us for Financial Enslavement

America has always prided itself in the quality of its institutions of higher education. Today, however, the college experience is vastly different than it was just a short 50 years ago. Students come to college un-prepared for study and for life, and, are more often than not, unable to cover the cost of a college education without taking financial aid in the form of government, bank, and personal loans. All the while depending on credit cards for the necessities of college life.

Attending college leaves 2/3rds of college graduates in serious debt before they even enter the workforce. In 2011, this debt was to the tune of $26,600 on average, up 5% from 2010, with some of the increase said to have been caused by an increase in the accessibility of financial aid to students. Out of the approximately 37 million outstanding school loan borrowers in mid 2012 (that’s 12% of the US population), over 1/3 of these are under the age of 30 and, stunningly, about 18% are over the age of 50. (Sources: CNN and American Student Assistance)

The status quo for today’s young adult is to go straight into college after graduating from high school, spend huge sums of borrowed money, then graduate having to immediately find a job that pays enough to live and pay down this debt. As it is, a mere 56% of students enrolled in a 4-year program receive a degree within six years of enrollment. (Source: College@Home) The opportunity for self-exploration, travel, and personal growth is difficult to come by in this model, leaving many people unfulfilled before life even really gets going.

Institutions that offer school loans continue to offer more financial aid to a wider demographic of students, under the guise of non-discrimination and opportunity. In other words, there is push by lenders into new markets for selling the dream of professional success. As a result, 2/3 of graduates begin a life of debt service before they’ve even received their diploma.

This is a recipe for creating a social class of indentured wage slaves, not for developing a nation of capable, creative, and happy people. America’s youth has been sold into an insidious new form of economic slavery.

Life After College

Getting a job out of college has never been more difficult. Once working, many graduates, even the ones with good-paying jobs, aren’t necessarily successful because they are personally unhappy – even depressed – and as a result, some researchers say that Americans will change careers up to 7 times in their lifetime! (Source: Wall Street Journal) Others indicate that more than half of job openings in the US are filled by people starting a new occupation or entering a new industry. (Source: Huffington Post)

A tough job market often means that you go where the jobs are – the trendy and fun metropolitan areas where the money is. Meaning expensive, and as an independent adult, you are faced with the reality of the rising cost of living in most major US cities. In February 2011, the US Department of Labor reported that the cost of living for Americans hit an all-time high, with no sign of relief in sight. Heaven forbid you decide to marry, have a child and take on the expense of daycare.

High living costs, reinforced by a very slow increase in income gains, have resulted in America, once the land of opportunity, becoming the land of stagnant wages and unsustainable debt. By the end of 2011, many two-income American households were at a risk of not being able to afford their basic essentials, such as food, medical care and utilities. (Source: Huffington Post)

Consumer Culture In Search of Fulfillment

This picture of personal financial wreckage, overspending, and living beyond one’s means, is the prevailing under-current of the cultural dynamic in the US. We have totally submitted to our desire for luxury goods, new cars (fixing the old cars is so darn expensive; just lease a new one), the newest electronics (you already have an iPhone…but the new iPhone 5 will make you just SO much cooler around your friends), bigger houses (it is against building codes to build homes below a certain size, with new homes averaging around 2100 square feet), and on, and on.

Where do we get the money for all of these possessions? Credit cards and bank loans! In the name of stimulating the economy, and under the parody of financial freedom, our culture now creates consumers, not citizens. “For everything else, there’s mastercard!”

Citizens are even called consumers in nearly all media reporting… and thus we are further brainwashed to believe that our main purpose of existence on this earth is to consume. As a result, we’ve stimulated the American economy to the tune of:

  • $850.9 billion in credit card debt or $6,920 per household (January 2013)
  • A record $2.795 trillion in consumer debt (including school loans but excluding mortgages) or $22,720 per household (January 2013)
  • $14,517 average credit card debt per indebted household (in March 2012). We can try to mask this by saying that the average dropped about $20,000 since March 2010, but this only happened because in 2010, credit card companies wrote off 10.7% of debt – up 300% from 2006.
  • $16.7 trillion in US national debt and growing (March 2013)

(Sources: Forbes and Federal Reserve)

What is our response to this debt crisis? Lower interest rates and take out more loans – which rose 10% in January 2013!

Haven’t we learned anything from watching the corrupt banking system lie and steal, deflating the value of our currencies and jeopardizing any chance of financial stability? Debt and institutionalize financial thievery is such an integral part of the American tradition nowadays that we even parody ourselves in movies like Inside Job.

Debt is a form of slavery. Encouraging our youth to jump start their lives by piling on debt, and saddling them with an astronomical national debt is unfair to them and dangerous to all of our futures.

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for and an avid student of Yoga and life.


This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • With a usury system there is always more debt then money to pay it so the debt can never be paid off. The banks create money as debt but do not create money to pay the interest. Thus the debt constantly increases until people can no longer pay even the interest on the conterfit debt. This is where we are now.

    • Lee

      Spot on! R. Why Shills like Osbourne here in the U.K are obsessed with Austerity measures, it’s not about paying back a Debt that can never be repaid! it’s about keeping some Value to a currency that we all know is ultimately DOOMED to Fail! That’s what printing imaginary Money so far into the Future is now doing.
      They are clinging on by their finger nails to preserve their own lifestyles. Nothing more, nothing less!
      The Party’s nearly over for them and they thought it was too complex for the unwashed and Angry Proles to ever comprehend.

  • In ALL of these situations the blame for this lies with the borrower.

    How many of these students bothered to read the contract.

    Did you know many ‘student’s are getting welfare food cards?
    If you work and pay taxes, you are paying to feed people who choose to go to college instead of work.

    The same applies to the bank bailout trillions, tens of millions of borrowers LIED on their loan apps. This is never discussed by media but for the rare mention of ‘liar loans’, about once in every twenty articles written to pretend the banks will suffer any consequence for their derivative dealings.

    Nobody forced these people to take out college loans. They and Their irresponsible parents have ignored the big problems of the big picture, then made/make it worse with their own choices.

    The bankers should be cut from doing their usury fake money, AND every one who LIED on their house loan, or who took out a college loan better pay it back. Pay ME back, since their choices are killing MY dollar.

    Time to grow up people.

  • dimitri

    It’s a blatant shell game. You learn about it only after you’ve been a student, and only if ask yourself why you still don’t know anything after the education or brainwashing. And this game is so rigged that, like taxes, student loans, for the most part, are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. To big to fail banks can belly up all they want, but not the lowly student.

  • chip

    Why should it be legal to offer forged debt instruments that are de facto contracts to pay plus interest and or be jailed for defaulting on those bribes; play now pay later? Then due to intentionally switching, the bait becomes immunity for service “above and beyond”, and yes, thoroughly criminal. An example being the “contract” signed to enter “services” industries [army navy etc.] The various states which run these contracts are controlled by a handful of international financiers who profit from collusion among fiscal policy wankers and fronting for artificial person INCorpses.. Generations of voting civilians with unpayable debt support the forclosure of this generation to pay for their generations’ stolen prosperity. Eventually, they must have known, an end would be put to this system and a FAIL would bring the old system and the world to ruin. Here it is and here we are.

  • The word consumer brings up images of a docile farm animal out in the field grazing contentedly until it is brought in for slaughter. The money brokers have figured out how to harvest tangibles from the population by manipulating this faux currency. The only way to stop it is to just stop. What I am talking about is regaining citizenship. Maybe not all at once, but piece by piece, whenever you see a way to not be a consumer, take advantage and go the other direction.

    Need a car? If you rode a bike whenever possible you wouldn’t need a new one. A 10+ year old model would do just fine. There’s a 500.00 a month raise.

    Spending to much on groceries? Growing most of your own food may not be practical for all of us but we all have friends that are in a position to. A bit of cooperation and ingenuity can bring the cost of food down from several hundred dollars a week to that much every month with big health benefits as a bonus. Another healthy raise.

    There are a lot of decisions we can make to end consumer servitude. If there’s nobody to buy the crap then the flow of crap will dry up and everything will change. All it takes is not being afraid.

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