by Handsome Matt
Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Fear, 1943
Norman Rockwell created a series of four paintings called “The Four Freedoms.” In each of them he highlighted a freedom worth fighting for during World War II.
Over the last month I’ve been dealing with my student loan company. These experiences have been juxtaposed with the story of the Birth of Christ; The savior of all sent to save us from oppression. I know this might be too “religious” for some but please bear with me.
Oppression is something that we as Americans should never, ever tolerate. It is one of the reasons America exists. To be freed from tyranny, our forefathers fought and bled and died. Martin Luther King, Jr marched side by side singing African Spirituals to fight oppression, Ghandi starved himself to fight oppression. It is the avenue through which all other human rights violations occur. Even something as benign as companies ignoring consumer outcries, or even passing laws that counter consumer safety laws, is oppression. It opens a door that as Americans we should never allow to be opened.
There has been lots of press given to credit card debt mortgage debt, the recession, and the economic world. But I feel we’re forgetting students and their student loans. A debt that is too costly for our country to let them bear.
There is nothing wrong with debt, nor with loan companies. But when those companies overstep their bounds and create a microcosm of fear and oppression among their customers, something must be done.
For many, their loans have become an albatross, a weight around their neck keeping them down. They live everyday with fear that a company could take away from them everything they have, everything that they have worked for. And what’s worse, there’s no real legal recourse available. It’s as though oppression has taken on the guise of help.
There are thousands of horror stories of spiraling debt, fees and interest rates. Fear and oppression have once again taken hold in America.
For Conservance it comes down to this: This is not social responsible. Loading debt onto a person and then charging them more if they can’t pay smacks of predatory practices. These practices were outlawed hundreds of years ago: This is why debtors prison no longer exists.
Furthermore, these students and recent graduates are going to be the fuel for environmental and economic innovation. They will be buying environmental homes, creating solutions for sustainable and clean economies and moving the world forward.
Unless their burdens of debt are so overwhelming that they can’t afford to play a role in the economy, or are forced to take readily available, low paying, low benefits jobs. This happened in Japan in the 90s.
I don’t use the term crisis often, but this is a crisis. One that seems to highlight the inability of corporations and even our government to understand what is going on.