Tag Archives | Debt

When The Government Compounds Crimes Rather Than Fights Them: The Case of Mortgage Fraud

The Crime of Our TimeWe were all victims of the financial crisis that began in 2007 (not 2008) but some of us suffered more than others. And, hundreds of millions of us are still living with the painful aftermath as its consequences began to be felt worldwide.

The first order of business in Washington back then was to bail out the victimizers, who have done quite well, thank you very much, in rebuilding their citadels of profit.

They were only marginally impacted  by some fines that were finally assessed in lieu of jail sentences.

That  money was paid by the financial institutions,  and their shareholders,  not by decision-makers who were never held accountable. It was written off as a “cost of doing business” just as fraud became a way of doing business.

We have all read about the outrageous compensation schemes that offending executives have been rewarded with, even as the media has finally discovered deepening income inequality.… Read the rest

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Duke University Freshman Porn Star In Her Own Words: Discrimination, Debt and Stigma

Duke Chapel, a frequent icon for the universit...

Duke Chapel, a frequent icon for the university, can seat nearly 1,600 people and contains a 5,200-pipe organ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

A female student tells her story and explains why. The liberation of her body, hedonism, and the ability to afford tuition without hobbling debt.

via XOJane

I am a porn star. I am a college freshman. You know nothing about me.

“But why would you do porn?”

People often ask me this question. They know I am a freshman at Duke University, and their shock and incredulity are apparent when the rumor they’ve heard whispered or read on a chat board turns out to be true.

However, the answer is actually quite simple. I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely love. Because to be clear: My experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.

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Encouraging Teachers To Go Into Debt To Buy Their Students’ School Supplies

Since we no longer adequately fund education, teachers’ love of their students is leveraged to emotionally pressure them into paying for essential classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Except, since we no longer pay teachers adequate salaries, they may need to go into debt to do so. Possibly at the forefront of a trend, the Silver State Schools Credit Union helpfully offers K-12 teachers personal loans to cover their students’ materials:

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Activists Accuse World Bank’s Lending Arm Of Funding Deadly Honduran Conflict

dinantActivist group Rights Action is accusing the World Bank of indirectly funding a series of attacks against farmers allegedly committed by the security forces of Honduran businessman Miguel Facusse, chief of Corporacion Dinant.

Via Raw Story:

The bank’s private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, is spearheading several multimillion-dollar projects in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas. However, some are questioning whether the money is doing more harm than good.

Human rights groups accuse the IFC of ignoring warnings that its funding for the Honduran palm oil industry is helping fuel a deadly land conflict that’s turning the fertile Aguan Valley near the country’s northern coast into a virtual military zone.

Farmworkers say they’ve been forced off land that’s mostly taken up by oil palm tree plantations. The controversy is casting doubts about whether the bank and its 182 member countries can respect their own code of ethics while doing business in politically unstable, corrupt societies.

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Occupy Wall Street Eliminates $15 million of Debt

Since the protest started in Zucotti Park in New York City near the financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement has done a lot to raise awareness of the iniquities and corruption in the American political and economic system, whilst receiving biased mass-media editorializing and suffering undue violence from the local police. Since November 15, 2012, the Occupy movement started a program of debt-relief called “Rolling Jubilee,” which seeks to bailout individuals who have accrued debt through credit cards as well as medical bills. To date they have relieved millions of dollars in debt for just pennies on the dollar.

VIA Guardian

A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans’ personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit.

Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012.

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ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

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Congressmen Say Their Own Personal Debt is OK, but not Government Debt

Flickr user: Images_of_Money (CC)

Ah, “elected” government, where hypocrites are paid to advocate for causes they may or may not even agree with, and legislate rules that they themselves don’t follow. And apropos of budget hysteria and economic terrorism being wrought against popular public programs, the trumped-up fears are not only false (the debt crisis is imaginary, and only 6% of the country is aware that the deficit is actually falling) but it’s no surprise to anyone that the ‘debt-fixing’ warriors don’t have the same view of their own debt as they do of the country’s, or yours.

As Josh Israel of ProPublica points out, fourteen of the most vitriolic enemies of vital programs themselves live with the personal irresponsibility of private debt (to the tune of millions).

These hypocrites include:

  • House Budget Committee Member Tom Rice (R-SC):Wrote: “At a time when hardworking American families are living off of a budget, the federal government should be no different.
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Malls for the ‘Sheeple’

Into Boksburg and ERMDurban, South Africa: Back in 2002, South Africa hosted a UN environmental Summit on sustainability. It drew a rag tag army of green activists from all over the world, many excited to visit the now free South Africa that they fought for through the apartheid years, and hoping to meet members of the liberation movement led by Nelson Mandela

The closest to Nelson Mandela they got was to gather in front of a giant statue, created by a Swedish artist, in a commercial Square named after the South African icon. When they pictured the new South Africa, they probably saw the townships where tens of thousands of people marched for justice.

Instead, they found themselves in Sandton, a “township” that only capitalists could imagine, an upscale enclave within the city of Johannesburg devoted to corporation, banks and giant malls even more opulent than similar temples of consumption in other countries.… Read the rest

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What If All the World’s Debt Just Went Away

Picture: Roman Oleinik (CC)

Joe Brewer writes at Common Dreams:

Just for fun, imagine if all debt were wiped away when the Mayan Calendar ends this Friday…

How would the world be different?  What would become possible for you personally in your life?  How would nations and corporations invest our newfound wealth differently if we all started from a clean slate?  Problems like global warming and extreme poverty would instantly become financial drops in the bucket—easily tackled with fair contracts and forward-looking investments.  The structural debts of entrenched subsidies, invested capital, tax havens, and trade agreements that keep them from being addressed would simply no longer exist.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Well just such a fantasy used to be standard practice in the Hebrew Tradition throughout the early days of their civilization.  They held a great Jubilee every seven years to erase all debt and end economic slavery.  Accounts kept on stone tablets were broken.  Those stored on papyrus were burned to ash.  Slaves were returned to their families.  Everyone was given a fresh start.  (This tradition is being revived today through the Occupy-inspired project, Rolling Jubilee, that has already abolished more than $9,000,000 in US debt for everyday citizens.)

The Invention of Debt

What you may not know is that debt arose recently on the human stage.  Throughout more than 99% of our history we have not even had a concept for debt.  (The interested reader can pick up David Graeber’s excellent book Debt: The First 5000 Years for full story.)

Anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies reveal that there were no barter systems, no currencies to use for money, and — in the absence of these cultural artifacts — there was no debt.  With all the great variation cross cultures one might expect from ethnographic research, the anthropologists found that some tribal communities engaged in “gift economies” where status arises from how generous a person is who has acquired wealth, while others have remained egalitarian and non-hierarchical for thousands of years by sharing their food and materials based on the principles of “from each as they are able, to each as they need.”

This belies the great misunderstanding about communism that treats it as a state-centric governing system, when in truth it is the foundational sentiment of any community that builds upon the trust and good will of social relations between people who know and depend upon one another — a condition that has held for all hunter-gatherer societies throughout our long 200,000 year history as a species.

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Are American College Students The Coal Miners Of Today?

Via Counterpunch, Darwin Bond-Graham argues that students are positioned at a “choke point” in the debt economy:

Now that we know the debt situation is untenable for an entire generation, what are we going to do about it? UC Santa Cruz professor Bob Meister is advocating the university and the plight of the student as a starting point for a wider movement against debt. Historically students have been galvanizers, taking direct action at seemingly impossible moments. Will they do it now?

Meister compared the students of today to the coal miners of early industrial capitalism. Under that regime of production, coal miners had the power to shut down the economy because they labored away at the site of a singular choke point of value extraction upon which all the spinning looms and colonial plantations depended. Students now occupy a choke point, according to Meister. Student loans are assets in the books of banks and the personal fortunes of the wealthy 1%, used to leverage up debts throughout all other sectors of the economy, debts that penetrate into the social collective and reinforce financial servitude for the masses.

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