Sunday, January 17, 2010

fight it

As promised, I have reserved this space as an outlet, functioning forum, for the free trade of thought on how to fight the man. As an endentured slave of the State, through high tuition costs and student loans, I have been doing a little research on the topic. You must be forewarned that the following information is not for everyone, it is merely an introduction to the things I have come across in a butt-ton of reading. I still have a butt-ton more to read.

As I have already stated, the man is trying to keep me (and others) down by making them into cogs of a complex, hierarchical wheel. Even though most of us believe that we are a part of a middle class, I would beg to differ. We think we have medicare, welfare, and minimum wages when in reality all we have is complacency. We are taught from a very young age to work hard to get to university or college and then work hard to pay off our loans and then work hard to contribute as much as possible to consuming or accumulating. This is the lifeline which we tacitly subscribed to. Therefore, what I am about to write is for those who don't want to follow a formula, but to live without the shackles of the oppressor. It is completely your choice to do what is right or what is easy.

When a student has $40,000 of student loan debt, what is he or she supposed to do? I was told many times not to worry and that everyone has debt. This is false. People all over the world may not live in half-a-million dollar houses, they may not have brand-name clothing, but they get by, save their money, and buy the things they need. Some people I have met in Buenos Aires are absolutely shocked that people take out hundreds of thousands of dollars just to buy houses or cars or to pay off even more debt. I tried to explain to them that it's because everything is so expensive (comparatively) and that some everyday things just cost too much. What is interesting is that they were also shocked that North Americans work 40+ hours per week and that they don't really get to enjoy the things that they bought. I kept wondering how on Earth can people work only 25 hours a week, doing things they love like painting, interior design, drawing, teaching yoga, and still be able to afford multiple apartments and cars? I guess the answer is relativity.

Living in Argentina, in the 10th largest city in the world, has put some things into perspective. It's true it is hard for a foreigner to find work here, but if you can find a job that is portable - like art, writing, music, design - you could comfortably live here on the equivalent of minimum wage back home. So, why is Canada so expensive?

Well, like all governments, including the Argentine government, they have linked up with the Corporation to borrow money from the population without any intention of ever giving it back. Despite what it says, the government is stinking rich. The problem is that it has a hoarding problem. For generations, Canadians have paid taxes on everything in order for the State to pay off its own debt. It should be giving back to its people, right? Herein lies the problem: it doesn't give back, not proportionately anyways. It creates the population's debt, puts people into near poverty, to try and put itself back in the black. The thing is, it never will, and, as a result, Canadians have to endure some humbling experiences. This is not the way a government is supposed to work. Civil servants are supposed to do everything in their power to serve the people. It should not be a glamorous life with designer suits, 23-chamber mansions, and multiple estates, but one of altruistic selflessness.

Let's use the example of student debt to see the crumbling corruption. In 1967, Canada signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, entry into force as of January 3rd, 1976. In it, Article 13 specifically stipulates that primary education is a right and should be provided free of charge. That we have, although sometimes the ethical nature of the educational institution can be called into question. Thank whatever-it-is that there are some good teachers out there. Article 13 also stipulates that secondary education - in this case university, college and trade schools - should be subsidized, which we also have. However, it also says that the government will ensure that fees for secondary education will eventually be reduced to nothing. That, the State has not done. Instead, it has increased tuition by 1000%. It explains that the hike is to cover inflation. If inflation was this exponential, the cost of bread should be, approximately, $250.

As tuition increased, student loans increased, not only in monetary significance, but in dispension. Some people attest that the increase in loans was due to the growing middle class. In fact, it was the working class that was growing. People were ripped from convocation to be thrown into the immediate pit of the workforce, made to work their loans off as quickly as possible. I have felt the tension and apprehension when in the classroom. Students in their last year of school are terrified of graduation because they may not get a good enough job to pay back their loans. Usually, these people were the ones who were unable to volunteer at career-oriented placements to improve their resume or able to wholly focus on academics because they needed a part-time job just to survive. The fear ends up making us animals: we will grab any opportunity we can no matter what happens or who gets hurt. It's the fear of surviving.

So, the State increased tuition. What are we supposed to do about it? Well, we fight it. There is a process of writing letters to your MP, MPP, Minister of Finance, the head of the National Student Loans... the list is endless, to raise awareness of this issue. It's a lot of work. It's overwhelming at times. Again, it's your choice to continue. If you want more information, I suggest that you look some stuff up first. For example, an impertinent thing to read, although tedious and tiresome, is The Canada Student Financial Assistance Act. Article 16.1 explicitly states that there is a limitation period of 6 years to which, at the end of the 6 years, the State may not go after you for your student loans. There is an unknown catch: the 6 year limitation period 'resets' itself everytime you contact the student loan services, even if you call them to tell them you cannot make payments. That's why they call you all the time, to keep resetting the clock, hoping, in the end, that you will pay the loan back, plus years of accumulated interest. It's a pretty sound investment for them and absolutely debilitating for us.

So, now, you have to think about whether it is worth it. To flee, fight, or fall on your knees and beg for mercy. What they don't tell you is that the choice is yours. You may not end up living the 'normal' life, but I think that a life of working a thousand hours at a thankless job, the stress of even more debt, the shere misery of being considered a powerless subject is no life at all.

If the idea of living an abnormal life freaks anyone out, I understand. I had/have those moments all the time. But, if you truly think about the consequences to not doing something, not enacting some sort of change, then you not only relinquish your power as a human being with the right to live, you perpetuate the machine, you roll the wheel into the future where it ruins the lives of our children and grandchildren.

It most definitely will not be easy, but I wouldn't mind devoting myself to a life worth fighting for. The question is: would you?


  1. I hear you, & support you. The problem is that the "man" counts on people being not wanting to "fight". We're sold a way of life of conspicous consummation (the capitalist way). Life appears easy & full of stuff & in the end someone will pay, probably the next generation, so I guess its good if your not populating the world. Humans want the easy way out, they don't want to think, fight or protest because of those long work hours worked every week. So if a few really "make" it, but its sold as everyone can have this too. It's not happening to them now, we a live in the moment peoples. As long as we think we're doing better than the next guy, we're okay. We count on others to be our watch dogs, or to do the "fighting" & we'll reap the rewards. Such is life in the capitalist system. We're not good at banging our heads on a brick wall for too long, brain damage you know.Hang in there & keep fighting one person at a time.

  2. There is a choice of not buying into the "man" but again this takes thinking. Which is hard when the information is hidden in policies, rules (not made by us)and advertising lies. Doesn't help if society doesn't grow up either, we kept in perpetual babyhood, or childishness.

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