Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue, the monograph went on. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
So last week my dashboard was lit up with posts and reposts of the same claim: that economic inequality at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed was much less severe than it is today. “Aha!,” the posters seemed to scream: “we’re not living up to the Framers’ legacy!”
At which point my “bad history alarm” started to go off.
Folks, it’s possible that the income differential between highest and lowest earning persons in 1776 was much less profound than it is in 2012. Actually, given the comparative wealth of the two economies (we’re much, much wealthier now), I’d be staggered if 2012 wasn’t more unequal: we have CEOs of global corporations and an information economy that moves at literal light speed. They had, you know, mules. Wider ranges of activity afford opportunities for wider ranges of compensation. Our income differential is a sign of our wealth, not our poverty.
But that isn’t what really bothered me about this “we’re worse off now” thread. No, what bothered me was the casual way the posters and reposters seemed to ignore the obvious: ALMOST NO ONE IN 1776 EARNED AN INCOME. The United States enslaved a third of its population. It disenfranchised and economically dominated half its remaining population (non-slave females). It practiced indentured servitude. And, particularly among the Southern elite, it was a society based on land wealth, not income. For example, George Washington owned a huge portion of what today is West Virginia. What, exactly, was his wealth in 1776? Compared to some dude working in a textile mill? Or a slave working on Washington’s farm? Care to offer a calculated guess, adjusted for 236 years of inflation … and the fact that we now know West Virginia has lots of coal?
At most, 15% of the US population in 1776 was earning an income. It was probably less. So, is it possible that of that tiny fraction of persons earning an income, the income differential between best and worst paid persons was lower than it is today? Absolutely. But given that 85% (or more) of their population was enslaved, disenfranchised or otherwise outside the “income” economy, do you really want to claim things were more economically equal then than they are today?
I didn’t think so.
Nächste Woche Viertelfinale gegen Griechenland. Mutti is slightly amused?
I can’t WAIT for the awful political football chants that Germany’s going to roll out.
Greece ruined their own economy with a culture of corruption and they can’t play for shit. They get ahead with one goal and then play the most defensive pansy football ever. Their victory in 2004 was entirely undeserved. I hope Germany blast the shit out of them. Ich vergeb’ ihnen den Sieg über Dänemark, but if you lose to Greece, then fuck you, you didn’t deserve any of it.
On the other hand, the Greek people just voted for a party that wants to keep the Euro. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what concessions they’ll now make for having debt written off.
Reynoso’s son, Freddy, had been the pride of his family and the first to go to college. In 2005, after Freddy was accepted to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, his father co-signed on his hefty private student loans, making him fully liable should Freddy be unwilling or unable to repay them. It was no small decision for a man who made just over $21,000 in 2011, according to his tax returns.
“As a father, you’ll do anything for your child,” Reynoso, an American citizen originally from Mexico, said through a translator.
Now, he’s suffering a Kafkaesque ordeal in which he’s hounded to repay loans that funded an education his son will never get to use — loans that he has little hope of ever paying off. While Reynoso’s wife, Sylvia, is studying to be a beautician, his gardening is currently the sole source of income for the family, which includes his 18-year-old daughter, Evelyn.
And the loans are maddeningly opaque. Despite the help of a lawyer, Reynoso has not been able to determine exactly how much he owes, or even what company holds his loans. Just as happened with home mortgages in the boom years before the 2008 financial crash, his son’s student loans have been sold and resold, and at least one was likely bundled into a complex Wall Street security. But the trail of those transactions ends at a wall of corporate silence from companies that include two household names: banking giant UBS and Xerox, which owns the loan servicer handling the bulk of his loans. Left without answers is a bereaved father.
The risk of cosigning on Freddy’s loans seemed to have been worth it when he graduated in May 2008 and began looking for a job in the music industry. He was on the way back from a job interview on the evening of Sept. 4 when he lost control of his car and it rolled over. Freddy’s family learned of his death the next morning.
The grief was relentless; the debt collectors, ruthless. By law, debt collectors must go through a debtor’s attorney if one has been hired, but even after Reynoso hired an attorney, he said they continued to call him every day, several times a day, for about a year and a half: “I would tell them to call the lawyer. And they would still say, ‘The lawyer doesn’t owe us. You’re the one who owes us. You’re the one who has to pay us.’”
Meanwhile, Reynoso was still reeling: “I was crying for him every day,” he said.
The question of to whom Reynoso’s debts are actually owed — and who has the authority to forgive them — is a mystery that thus far neither Reynoso nor his lawyer has been able to solve.
But the bulk of Freddy’s loans were private student loans, which typically offer less favorable interest rates and fewer consumer protections. Only a few private student lenders offer debt discharges in the event of the borrower’s death, though public outcry over specific cases has swayed lenders to grant occasional death discharges.
But for the Reynosos, just figuring out whom to appeal to has been an exercise in futility. Working with a law firm, Francisco Reynoso sent copies of Freddy’s death certificate to any company that sent paperwork about the loans. He remembers being told by at least one company that they’d call him to work out a solution. But no one ever did, he said, and the bills kept coming — each time larger than the last with more interest, more late fees.
This is insane. And it needs to stop. I can’t believe that these banks and financial institutions are doing this AGAIN!! Students need to be able to declare bankruptcy on these loans and there needs to be regulations in place to keep this from occuring again. I’m just disgusted. Go read the rest of the article at the link. This is going to start happening across the country as students can’t find jobs and can’t pay the loans - It’s going to cause complete economic collapse and this time I think it is the banks and financial institutions that should pay - not the rest of us!!!!
This is truly one of my biggest fears. While most of my loans have been federal. I do have two private loans my parents co-signed…those loans also happen to make up the majority of my debt. It is my biggest fear to die and leave my parents with all of that debt to pay off.
Romney: The country doesn’t need more firefighters, police or teachers
The New York Times | By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
“Could Mitt Romney be any more disconnected from the concerns of middle-class Americans?” said R.T. Rybak, the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “To suggest that police, firefighters and teachers aren’t helping the American people and aren’t vital to our communities shows that he has no clue what’s going on in the real world.”
Mr. Rybak added: “Mitt Romney’s assertion that the American people don’t benefit from firemen, policemen and teachers is so detached from reality I did a double take – I had to check twice to be sure he had actually said it.”
“We knew Mitt Romney liked firing people, but we didn’t know that included firefighters and cops,” Mr. Schumer said. “Middle-class voters already distrust Mitt Romney for being out-of-touch and uncaring about regular folks. Bragging about wanting to give pink slips to first responders only cements that perception.”
Say What Now of the Day: President Obama is backpedaling furiously after his poorly chosen words at a news conference this morning caused a massive backlash:
We’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months; over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine.
Mitt Romney’s camp quickly seized on the slipup, calling it the “gift that keeps on giving”:
People know what the president said is terribly out of touch. But they also know that his actions have been terribly out of touch. So what he is saying is shocking but it’s not anything that people haven’t felt.
Ours is a reality-based campaign, and this is reality.
Obama attempted to clarify his remarks this afternoon: ”It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s why I had a press conference.”