Last year, after sending in the tax forms that prove I do not earn subsistence, my lender Nelnet defaulted my loans anyway. It seems that in the pile of junk mailings I did not have time to open, they sent me a form I was supposed to fill out begging them, after I had dealt with them, to allow me to pay the income sensitive repayment amount, likely to be zero or five dollars. You see, I was working then, trying to pay my IRS debt on the subsistence level income I earned in previous years, while cat shepherding and caring for the hole household of a senior. I have not been out from under IRS debt in many years, and this precedes student loan debt. One must pay the tax on the money one earns with which one then repays debts.
Upon surreptitiously defaulting my loan, though I had done exactly as I had in previous years, and even have a whole ‘nother loan to deal with through the Department of Education, the loan was passed to a collection agency called MGA- which stands for Michigan Guarantee Agency, though it is a collection agency. They added 24% to the loan, which they apparently have given themselves the authority to do, and then proceeded to keep adding. What was originally about 30,000$ borrowed to achieve a PhD in politics, and had become 93,000$ with interest, was turned into 163,000 $, with them adding in four months more than double the cost of a phD, and I had no money going in. For all their hard work that they did to produce such value, I immediately complained to both my State Representative, Gretchen Driskell, and my state Senator, Rebekah Warren. MGA simply sent them a contract I had signed in “consolidating” the loan fifteen years age, which apparently gives them the power to charge me 70,000$ in four months, and they will not or cannot do a thing about it. Nor will they raise the question of who the “Michigan Guarantee Agency” even in, what their connection is to the Michigan Treasury Department, whether they do this to everyone or whether they just did this to me. If the latter, it is obviously a question for legislation, the former, a question for the Department of Justice. Nothing. That is the response of government.
I taught as an adjunct in American Government at a Community College, and after about ten years, an opening in the department arose. They hired a white female who did not even have a politics degree, she had a law degree. Everyone knows that the colleges worked this way for just the fifteen years that I was applying for full time, union jobs of the sort that might allow one to repay loans. White males could not be hired to teach either politics or philosophy because the departments were already white male dominated. All the adjuncts at these colleges were, and probably still are, white males, while all the full time positions go to white females. Black rarely study political science. But there are no Black or female PhD’s in politics that lack a full time job, none, in the entire nation. But, oh, you want to do something about this, who are you going to sue? The one college that would hire me when none others would? And have the taxpayers and students pick up the tuition increase?
I was also applying when the liberal arts were disregarded, and Catholic colleges went to the oath, meaning that those like me could not teach at Catholic colleges either. These pay the least, but are the most pleasant, with good students. I taught philosophy courses for four years at one. The rate of pay for a career adjunct is about minimum wage, like working at the 7-11 as a soda jerk, if four classes are a full time job or a full load. College teachers must do a lot to prepare a class, far more in hours than a grade school teacher per hour of class time. I also taught High and Middle school as a substitute, but here, despite a PhD with college teaching experience, we are “uncertified.” The unions made “certification” the only degree, and made a PhD worthless. I could teach American Government in place of the certified B.A. gym teacher in any High school, or even Shakespeare or “Social Studies,” if they would have me to repay my loans. The closest I ever came to a full time job was teaching eighth grade at a charter school, but then the principal got in trouble for hiring an “uncertified” relative. I did not want to take nicotine replacement drugs for them anyway! I got kicked out, ostensibly for third hand cigarette smoke, after obeying all the rules, and have not been back. It pays less than painting, is more slavish, and we do not get to teach in any case. I went then and finished my essay on Hamlet.
I worked also in the trades, not as a craftsman but as a laborer, and for a while even made some payments on my loans. My error was to pay some to the big one instead of paying off the small one, which I missed by 800$, now expanded to over 1100. I did painting and carpentry labor. In my life, I have ruined my body, first my knees in roofing, so that I could no longer roof, then my hands with digging and such, so that from carpel-tunnel syndrome-like wrist problems, I had to spin the blood back int my hands after three hours of sleep, then try again. I did painting and labor putting in windows, but eventually, at adjunct wages, I lost many teeth and have an eye that twitches, possibly from caffeine, and since my mind is alive, I say funny things, so that people do not want me around. Lately I do yard work for relatives and their friends, though yard work sends me into days of cramps, sciatic nerve agonies and such, but I can do a few days of it to get by. My true place in the economy, as I have said, is to be a cat shepherd for old people, which I have been doing in exchange for rent on the shed, since I have not been able to pay rent in some time. With this comes an infinite number of hours of daily chores and cleaning messes that are not mine, but having no financial existence, I have been reduced to the condition of a slave, with no way to limit what work is required of me, any more than I can limit how much the loan people charge me. The women own all the property. This way true in America in the forties, but has become especially true now that the law has established inequality.
The past three years, I have earned less than ten thousand dollars, been charged 15% Social Security tax, and taken no food stamps, though I am eligible for these. I fear the paperwork and loss of liberty, and am given some food in exchange for work. A charity brings food to the senior, and mostly what she does not like I get, sometimes bread and peanut butter even! But I eat a yogurt for breakfast, PBJ for lunch, and then eggs and cheese or sometimes a real dinner, if there is cooking going on, and sometimes I get a bowl of mashed potatoes or cream of wheat left over. Lately, since I’v been so poor from the end of the winter, they bought me some honey, which is a big deal, since I was out for months and making maple syrup. I still have frozen mulberries to have with peanut butter when there is no jelly, and the mulberries are almost in again!
I have written and printed two books intended to be marketable, since I could no longer justify unmarketable projects. I should easily make a living off these, but they just cannot be produced or marketed as e-books, with Amazon and WordPress set up as they are, and publishing requiring the investment of debtors, through layers of IRS and student loan debt. I am no longer able to work a regular job nor to have a bank account, as any money will be seized, and paypal just tried to crank an empty bank account which the bank treated like a bounced check. Now to even pay a bill is a half-day project of envelopes, stamps and money orders. Soon I will lose car insurance, and not be able to do that.
All this could have occurred even if I were not basically blacklisted from all writing grants and assistance from my former professors, and even if the Catholics did not require oaths. But if such blacklisting did occur, say, because one did not go to work for the government in assumed exchange for tuition grants, or because one questioned having women set on them once they had become suspicious by not going along with the program, or even for not being “conservative” for the conservative funders of education, if such blacklisting were to occur, no one would do a thing about it, so that anyone who likes may do these things and call it academic preference- I just can’t spell! I never did misspell a word on the blackboard, and very rarely if at all on any papers for class. To give preference for non-academic reasons, like one did not go to work for the government or raised the wrong questions, seems yet another great corruption of education.
For a nation to allow these financial powers to complete the destruction of the liberal arts is a national catastrophe, and the root of coming national catastrophe.