Tuesday, June 3, 2014

“Wall Street Got Bailed Out; The Students Got Sold Out”

[Prelude Begins]

Below lies the awkward, self-indulgent, pitiful little manifesto that I barely had time to write on account of all the other less-important, money-making endeavors forced upon me by virtue of my entrapment and non-negotiable role in the dead-end, malcontent financial world of planet EARTH. Brevity is not my friend but at least my characterizations are somewhat exact.

For all intents and purposes, I am a piece of shit junky with urgency of the mouth and a charming disposition, so smiley and wily in fact that people think I’m unassuming and soft spoken in nature and temperament. But they don’t see the capacity for utter and complete frenzy, raging only on brief occasions over unimportant, tiny little mostly manifested, trivial and ridiculously inane impediments to my success. I am a loser with an all-encompassing though admittedly only slight narcissistic personality disorder on account of the passing years, just bleed, bleed, bleeding all of the narcissism out of me, an unfortunate object of the times, like a pitiful adult goat or baby lamb hanging dead upside down, soaked and battered in fresh flies and their larvae too, just hanging capsized in some back alley agora off the beaten path of cobblestoned, downtown Athens.

I was there once; I ate only donuts the entire week out of the fear of ingesting some kind of questionable meat and bacterial disease. We never hear about such things but they occur and I rather loathe the idea of infestation. But it wasn’t an entirely bad experience, Athens that is, because I did get to see the Acropolis and imagine for a brief, fleeting second that I was standing in the place of an ancient Greek god, god of words and syntax alone, securing a future that could not be altogether terrible. It was nice to imagine myself as more than what I am.

That was one day and one day alone; the rest of the days I remember it rained, rained, rained down upon us, reigning terror, flash flooding like nothing in SoCal, forcing us to take cover, recover inside a hipster clothing store off Syntagma Square, a store that would later resemble in my mind some Anthropologie in Austin, Texas where I was made to stew for hours one time back in 2009, trapped in its confines, not by rain but by companions, still obsessing over the boredom I felt all these years later when I paced around and around in circles for want of something better to occupy my time, looking at picture books with ill-conceived ideas while my companions tried on clothing and jewelry and rambled on self-importantly about silly little disconcerting things that I no longer can recall. I just remember the fireworks later, it was the Fourth of July, but that was back then and really has nothing to do with the content that I mean to represent below.

I have no idea how I became so tolerant of tangents. It might have been the influence of a high school friend who used to entertain every tangent that came to mind, ninth grade English class, her indulgence of tangents imprinted on my mind, chasing, chasing, chasing adjacent stories so much so that the original story got left behind, forgotten in the tangled web of tangents the listener was forced to listen to and respond to accordingly. I could offer an apology now for my similar behavior but it would be largely disingenuous in nature. So here we are, me being a chaser and putting my audiences, should there be any, through a similar type of torture as my high school friend once did years ago, back when tangents meant more, or probably less, but existed nevertheless. I like to think my tangents are better somehow but that is probably just the dying narcissism still flickering inside me, struggling for last breaths and heavy regrets inside a suffocating, asphyxiating individual who still doesn’t know the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’. But it doesn’t bother me much. Let’s get on with this.

[Prelude Ends] 

We fell for the charming, well-spoken deceits of lesser men, hook, line and sinker. That is our burden and we should accept it as such. But how do we accept something that has fucked us over repeatedly, promising change and giving us nothing at all?

“40% of young adults are considered underemployed!” 

I would like to make excuses for my generation, for myself, for the ones of us who took the bait despite the bright red and boiling blood floating disgustingly in the tepid water. But there is not much to say. We didn’t see it coming; I didn’t see that incandescent bright red blood in the water but I damn well should have. It was plain. At twenty-two, I didn’t see anything coming. All I saw was the need to extend my debauchery into twenty-three and borrowing from the banks seemed like a fruitful endeavor because attorneys make money after passing the bar exam and I knew I could pass it on my first try. And I did.

But it meant nothing! It didn’t matter and will continue to not matter for all of those who stupidly follow in my footsteps, the soft little outline in the sand that I left behind, my tired tracks, so enticingly brilliant in shape and size and yet horrendously ugly at the same time. I might be the only one who can manage this oxymoronic feat. Things need to improve.

The only way for things to improve is if we CHANGE the very fabric of society, the system that relies on stupid little punk ass kids like me to make a difference while we are asphyxiating under worthless smart debt spent on the inflated tuition of American institutions, institutions that teach practically nothing, outsourcing the teaching part entirely to big business Wall Street boys with a camera in Harvard classrooms, transferring no transferrable or practical skills to those paying top dollar for the education, only transferring loads of nonsense all dressed up in intellectual garb, weird little paradigms that have no influence in business but sound really nice spoken into a microphone against a baby blue backdrop and filmed by the steady hand of an IT guy who by the way makes more money than any of the students in the classroom could ever hope to make in their dimly lit futures.

Knowing this, why should we incur black marks on our credit for the privilege of attending a hack-shop university, getting an education that still won’t qualify us to get jobs and make the money needed to survive and also pay off our loan debts, getting bigger and bigger thanks to fat cat greed and the American way. And now, after the banks have raped us to completion twice over, some of us even giving up the butt even though we swore we wouldn’t, why should we feel any sense of duty to support the old, the feeble, and the welfare degenerates? They caught us young and naïve; they forced us to pay $200,000 for four years of partying, drinking, getting stoned and having meaningless sex, our minds too virgin (haha get it?) to realize we could have had all that for almost free. So now that they have committed thoughtless crimes against us, how can they really expect us to support society? We are no longer the naïve idiots we once were. We know now that society will not be there for us after we achieve the worthless paper degree delivered under the veil of sincerity and pride in a little ceremony that belittles the name. We know the ones who told us to survive and thrive were secretly pulling against us, hoping we would fail miserably, try again, more money spent on fifth year semesters, onto six years, no big deal, us thinking this is our time, we’ll make it, and them thinking all along we will fail again, praying for it in fact, just so we can spend more money and be on the hook for more smart debt. The institutions and banks are like heroin dealers; they do not really care that we will forever be under a thumb, a dark, dank and forceful thumb, having the pathetic inability to flick the student loan bitches off our backs when it becomes time to collect. But the humorous thing in my opinion is the brutal fact that when they come calling, they will have nothing to collect. If we cannot obtain gainful employment, which many of us cannot, the student loan bitches will not receive their monthly payout, defaults will ensue and the whole system will come crashing down louder and faster than the mortgage bubble explosion of 2008. Maybe the institutions and the banks should have thought about that while they were seducing us with hackneyed and disingenuous platitudes. But I suppose it is somewhat hard to see through lenses of greed and voracity.

A new study from the Urban Institute found that 1 out of 5 American adults over 20 years of age have student loan debt and 72% of those have incomes under $25,000 and real concerns over whether they can repay that debt ("Student Loan Debt Widespread And Worrisome"). Their concern is well founded. There’s no way to suck money out of people who do not have any. We can’t pay what we can’t reap. And when we inevitably fall below the poverty line, as many of us will, due to the massive amount of student loan debt we incurred for the privilege of getting high and playing computer solitaire while some smug ass professor rambles on self-importantly about sticks and bundles and widgets, those statistics will rise dismally higher. Then the banks will care. When students stop hitting the vein of empty educational promises, then the institutions will care. Defaults are steadily becoming the norm and when it reaches the tipping point, I think everyone will care.

Outstanding student loan debt is at an all-time high; it is approaching $1.2 trillion (Grant). I’m not sure that any one of us can really fathom the full and complete definition of a “trillion.” I know I can’t. But I can extrapolate from this number, the tri meaning three, so three decimal points past one million. So it must be $1,000,000,000. That actually might be only a billion. In that case a trillion would be $1,000,000,000,000. Either number seems plainly insurmountable.

And now after all this talk of numbers, I think I will finally get around to my thesis, or at least a sub-thesis of sorts. I have never really been one to respect rules of writing because I always feel that they enclose the writer in a constraining box that limits imagination and prevents the free flowing of ideas and words. Nevertheless, the main point is that a number of factors have led to this student loan crisis, any one of which should be considered jointly and severally culpable in the mess that has already been created. The institutions charge too much for tuition, the banks charge too much interest and approve too many loans, and society in general, arguably the most culpable in this scenario, has made it a personal mission to encourage all students to get a higher education, regardless of intellectual aptitude, thus destroying the young generation coming up and tainting the ones to follow. Now everyone wants to go to college and are therefore forced to pay the outrageous privilege for doing so, all the while the jobs are disappearing -- outsourced to Bangalore or made obsolete by the tired and destructive hand of globalization -- and the cost of being naïve is rising exponentially. “The expanded student loan debt burden, compounded with the dismal job market, has had a detrimental effect on students’ ability to repay their loans” (Id.). This statistic has no need for verification. We all know it to be true. It is not an exception; it’s become the fucking rule.

Now let’s use a hypothetical for purposes of illustration because I was taught in law school to respect the hypothetical and although I harbor a series of resentments with regard to this general material, the hypothetical has never really done me wrong. So here we go. 

In Los Angeles, the starting annual salary for a prosecutor is $50,000. Let’s ruminate on that for a second. $50,000 a year is a little over $4,000 a month before taxes. That hardly matters because we never see it. After taxes, it’s closer to $2,780 a month. Rent in Los Angeles, even living in Koreatown with a craigslist roommate, will run at the very least $800 a month. This is fucking Los Angeles after all.

So now that young prosecutor -- a somewhat prestigious and sought after job for attorneys -- who was all stoked about landing that job is down to under $2,000 a month to live on after rent is paid. Car insurance plus utilities plus gasoline will knock her down another $600 a month and because Los Angeles is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad public transportation city, most people are forced to have cars and therefore car insurance just to get from point A to point B.

My fictional young prosecutor now has let’s say $1,400 a month left for food and other necessities. And this would honestly probably be livable if the young prosecutor had no student loans with which to wrangle. But very few law student graduates, especially from the nearby institutions of UCLA, USC, Loyola, Chapman, and Irvine, have no student loans. These are money-grubbing institutions that surround us in the fair City of Angels. In fact, many law students graduate with upwards of $100,000 in student loans because of their desire for mild and temperate weather. Is this what we are paying for?

At the bitter end of our hypothetical, the supposedly prominent prosecutor has loans that have come due and that due price is a righteous $2,500 a month (at the very fucking least!), but she being a lowly 26 year old law graduate who just passed the Cali bar exam and is looking to get her feet wet in the criminal law industry, has only $1,400 left over of her paycheck to spend on this particularly soulless extortion that the loan companies would like to regularize and legitimize as something worthy and standard. It’s not. And in this particular hypothetical that I have been exploring, I think even third graders could see the mathematical problem that has arisen.

As bad as this all might seem, this scenario is actually only for the lucky ones. In fact, many law graduates do not even find work for $50,000 and instead bounce around doing temporary contract projects or document reviews for slightly more than minimum wage. That’s less than $10 an hour in the land of the lotus-eaters. And that might even still be livable for some except that the student loan companies do not care that there are no jobs for attorneys, defiantly immature or otherwise; they still try to suck out all of their $2,500 a month through a straw or needle, they hardly care which. And when they cannot somehow get the bare minimum, they take drastic aforementioned measures like credit destruction and threats. I once sustained a black eye from a credit-wielding motherfucker. We don’t get any kind of break no matter what the cause. So how can it be any wonder that we turn into losers, users, and drug abusers? The clusterfuck of an economy and a society knocked us on our pretty little asses and now there is nothing left for us but our parent’s basements where we can smoke guitar and play weed everyday for the rest of our lives.

Our poor choices in entertaining higher education have consecrated our fates; we will forever be emblazoned as losers in the annals of time, an ugly asterisk next to our names and our meager accomplishments, future civilizations wondering what this mark [*] could possibly mean, analyzing it accordingly and coming up with simple theories of explanation that will forever be shrouded with uncertainty. That is the best we can hope for. We have become a whole generation indicted by student loan debt, wearing our respective badges of dishonor for nothing else but the unwanted mistake of being born in the middle to late ‘80s and coming of age in a time where the economy was on life-support, the product of greedy politicians, cronyism, and who cares what else. It hardly matters because it is what it is, as maddeningly infuriating as that little maxim happens to be. Our parents pushed us toward higher education thinking it was the right and noble thing to do; their complicit-ness is not nearly as abhorrent as the banks and institutions. At least our parents had our best interests in mind.

It should be noted that 75% of American households are deeply indebted, and 1 of 7 are being pursued aggressively and inhumanely by a debt collector of some sort (Ross 24). I know this is true; I live this. My education was not worth the daily harassments from loan flunkies and a damaged credit score, something that will coincidentally make it harder to find work in the long run. It’s a dangerous irony. It touches my work and causes my cynicism to intensify. We got fucked!

At this point, I sort of feel the need to mitigate for my fellow generational compatriots, the ones who are not quite as effusive as me, not having the right-brained capacities like me, not being the piece of shit junkies like me with all the opportunity to complain and rail off about unfairness and inequalities, the ones who maybe studied math or history or science instead, so unimportant now just like me but without the ability to say it in grammatically correct, eloquent little word sentences that contain only hints of pretentiousness because most of that has already been beaten out of me through society instilled funnels and graders. I’ve been worked over. Now, there are more than 7 million American students who are currently in default and that does not include the ones who are about to default. I pity the future. There is no chance for any of us.

The good-looking, well-spoken, charming candidate who talks in circles and says nothing at all but says it well, says it eloquently, sold us a pile of shit and we sniffed, we sniffed long and hard. Some of us are still sniffing. Worse than that, we fell behind him because we were young and naïve and idealistic and liked the way he spoke, the things he said, and the emphatic, passionate-looking hand gestures he made. They were impressive, encouraging and well-wishing at the time; now they seem hollowed-out and the stuff of utter nightmares, so loud and vivid that they wake us in the middle of the night, trembling, heart racing, skin sweating, so alive and so useless that we cannot negotiate the paradox enough to reclaim sleep. We spend hours awake just thinking and shaking and scheming. Is there a way to make things better? No.

“The debt relief pushed by the Obama Administration was a token gesture, aimed at getting some traction on the youth vote -- especially the more disillusioned or alienated student constituencies. Bills introduced in Congress -- Student Loan Forgiveness Act -- had zero chance of passing” (Ross 24). Well he got us. Congratulations! Tricked a bunch of kids with one-track minds and tunnel vision on social issues, caring not about the ventriloquism going on in the background. This is exactly why we followed a leader who was so clearly leading us to a terrible fall, a fall that would pierce our guts initially, leaving us writhing in agony and doomed to live our last few years in the utter and complete suffering that results from knowing we made all this from stupid, poor decisions inspired by youth and naivety. We liked his stance on social issues and we were damned to vote for the Mormon rich dude who also would have fucked us over, but in a different, more direct and honest way. At least I realized long before there was no choice and opted out of the whole scheme that made most of my generation suckers in the largest sense.

The boldest and brightest of our generation remain skewered at the bottom of a crevice, wondering how our ends came this sudden and this quick. I like to think of the crevice more as a moulin only because I feel like the death might be somehow sweeter. I think I might like to freeze in an atmosphere of baby blue. But that is just me and I have weird, unjustifiable goals that mostly circle around creative and certain dramatic deaths and yet the miniscule possibility of some kind of redemption, even if it is ethereal, ephemeral and characterized by darkness while the unwellwishers stand at the wayside and spit and strike at me and claim that I am undeserving and unappreciative, that miniscule possibility continues to propel me onward.

The truth of the matter is that we have been relegated to the underground, making money under the table, for deeds and misdeeds incalculable, because there is really no other way for us to survive. Any crimes I commit are on those who have made it a public career to harass me incessantly over money I could never dream to pay back. My crimes are the fault of the banks and the universities who made this nightmarish future a reality. Despite our mandated education, we will turn to drugs, prostitution and deplorable acts to squeak by, to beg off the banks, the big fat cats who continue to get rich off of our naivety. There is no other feasible way.

“The premise of a democracy to deliver an incrementally improved future begins to collapse” (Ross 24). Everything we were taught to adore, the staunch dedication to a system of governance, has been turned against us, turning us out, making our lives worthless in the worst possible way. There is nothing left of our naivety, nothing left of our parents’ strong-willed hopes and dreams for us, we are lost, devastated and disillusioned. This is what society has on its landscape, a generation devastated and fleeing to the arms of drugs, sex, meaninglessness and degradation. Society has us, people like me on the forefront, coming up now to take the helm. Society is relying on us to support the old, the broken, and the helpless, the ones who in their youth raped this very society, the economy and everything else that might lead to future prosperity with their lust and their greed, with their social programs and their labor union payouts, with their corruption and their cronyism, and we are the ones left to pay for these indulgences, we are the ones expected to step up and make things right even though we have nothing to give, no mechanism to change the circumstances put in motion a long time ago, no ability to make things quantifiably better for anyone involved, least of all ourselves. How does that make any sense?

The ones who came before us ruined the economy and left us to tend to the broken down, crying wretch of a system left behind and we fail because we are young and unconcerned, because we are pitiless and unattached, we are indifferent and anarchistic. Society dug its own grave and now they are laying the youth of a nation down in the crossfires, inside that finely sculpted, artisan crafted dirty little grave. And still we are what society made us, growing up with prosperous parents wanting to pass down the business acumen they learned through hard work to their progeny, to carry on the line of success in a world that can no longer support it, that no longer recognizes it, all the while not realizing that we are circumstantially incapable of saving the drowning goliath of an economy that has been broken by repeated rapes to its structure and spirit. They count on us but we are ill equipped to act as saviors. We don’t exist as they see us; we exist only as fringe members in an otherwise struggling and unfulfilled pool of despair.

They turned us into indentured servants without a will; the belief that education debt was smart debt was a farce. Nevertheless, a college degree is still considered a passport to a decent living and we must obtain one by going into massive debt just for the opportunity to work as indentured servants, as slaves, taking unpaid internships as a means of potentially, one day, maybe rising to a minimum wage position. Fuck that noise! I sold my soul to gain a worthless piece of paper; I will be forever indebted to the institution for the “privilege” it bestowed. I signed my life away for what has turned out to be nothing. “This kind of contract is the essence of indenture” (Ross 26). I’m indentured.

We cannot even discharge our debts in the warm, welcoming hands of the bankruptcy laws. They too have shunned us with dispassionate disregard. Unlike most debt, student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy and collection agencies have been granted inane, extraordinary powers to extract payments through basically any means necessary, like garnishing wages and authorizing beat-downs. They have all this power and despite our educations we have none. Before the mid-1970s, debtors were able to discharge their student loans in bankruptcy. Now, “student debtors must establish a certainty of hopelessness to achieve a discharge in bankruptcy, a very difficult legal hurdle to surmount” (Grant). Let’s look at what “certainty of hopelessness” might mean because the phrase, like many legal phrases I have come to learn, is subject to vagueness and overbreadth.

What entails a certainty of hopelessness and how do you establish it? I think it basically means that by circumstances largely out of our control, our breaths and lives have been crushed out of us and we have to show that we could never possibly even hope to get a job lucrative enough for us to pay off our staggering loans and also live. We have to show that we are doomed to a life of drudgery until we finally die penniless and despondent, without hope, quantifiably and certainly hopeless. It is easy to say and harder to prove. For those of us physically and mentally able to produce, there is no great evidence to proffer. But what about the likely effects of our slow and painful asphyxiation; do they not count at all towards establishing a certainty of hopelessness? It is likely that our generation will never recover. We are suffering the consequences of debt and default in private and it is harrowing; it leads to depression and suicide in ever-increasing numbers. Isn’t the fact that our debt causes us to see death as a good solution enough to establish hopelessness? I really think it should be.

“A generation or two of the most indebted are now facing down chronic underemployment and have every reason to feel that their futures have been foreclosed” (Ross 24). This is an interesting quote for a number of reasons, least of which is the irony that it plays in my personal life and public career. Foreclosed is a colorfully brilliant way of putting it and the metaphor rings true to the current climate and the future of this country. My generation’s future was certainly foreclosed and certain hopelessness has risen in its wake. We were all made to bend over and take it. And the banks and the government and the institutional bureaucrats that weaseled their way into the prose of popular culture, convincing an entire nation that higher education is for anyone and everyone, all of those play-callers who never gave a fuck about us, well they all just stuck it in, without lube, making us bleed, bleed, bleed for the crime of our childish innocence, for being stupid kids with trusting dispositions born of our middle class mediocrity. And still, even after the clusterfuck of defaults, the banks are at it, deplorably, indecently, disgustingly claiming business, trying to slither and slink into the trust of a new generation, just looking, searching, hunting for new victims to enthrall with the vein of empty promises. I think it’s deprecatingly funny in a pitiful sort of sense because there are so many of us out there with circumstantial “certainty of hopelessness” and yet the banks are still able to loan out money to prep a new generation for the surgical removal of their hearts, their souls (if one believes in such things) and the other essential organs and parts that make us human and interested in maintaining a terrestrial existence.

The banks and institutions are busy now rubbing their hands together and licking their lips, salivating over a new class, a new decade that they can suck dry, the mid- 1990s, just coming up now, another class and another generation to cheat, deceive and lie to, convince education is a worthy endeavor, while knowing very well that it makes no difference whatsoever because the work for educated Americans is drying up faster than a puddle of water under the warm California sun. Nepotism is all that matters now and that will mean precious little in the manufactured future. Getting an education is worthless if a job does not soon follow.

The devastating fall of 2008 and the clusterfuck that followed might have been foreseeable to the dastardly little fucks from Wharton who landed on Wall Street and hastened its inevitable explosion, but it was not foreseeable to the kids investing in their futures at the time. They say we were morons for taking out loans to better ourselves; well apparently those haters have never been an 18 year old kid with hopefulness and aspirations in front of them, years before it getting kicked and beaten out of them by wolves in sheep’s clothing. They apparently have no idea what it’s like to be young and want something, a something from which they can create a life out of, a something that does not leave them begging and pleading with an unforgiving needle, a something that will lead to some kind of enviable life.

Well I remember being 22 like it was five years ago and thinking about law school as a worthy endeavor. In fact, I remember being 18 as well, a young kid on the verge of graduating into nothing, nothing, nothing, and seeing all my rich friends and smart friends going off to college to make something of themselves in the still-bright world of 2005. I remember feeling likewise inclined, hoping and wanting to get an education and maybe something more, law school, whatever, put off the real world for a few more years. Yes I remember those times quite well. At 18 and even 22 for that matter, we only hear yes, yes, yes and we only want, want, want. We don't know about economics and statistics and foresight. I think it is pretty fucked up that we must “establish a certainty of hopelessness to achieve a discharge in bankruptcy, a very difficult legal hurdle to surmount” (Grant). Who gets to define certain hopelessness? I know I feel pretty fucking hopeless. I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time; I didn’t see the quicksand in the path that diverged in a yellow wood.

So what is the solution for kids like me and for all those who will soon follow the path I took, the path that calls out to all kids, losers and winners alike, the path to college, university, higher education? I’m not sure that there is a solution, or even a mitigation. But, off the top of my head, maybe we can use some of the wasted government money to help these kids out of debt. If we consider the fact that a rough estimate claims that it would take $70 billion of the federal budget to cover the tuition costs at every two- and four- year public college and this is the sum that the Pentagon wastes annually in “unaccountable spending” (Ross 26-27), I would say that the solution is to use these funds to wipe clean the debts of former students and continue to use these funds to fund current and prospective students so that they do not feel like it is a better deal to work at McDonald’s than get an education. Of course we are dealing with government officials and other bureaucrats who think intricate nuclear weapons are a better investment than education for the future. If America has any interest in maintaining its economic status, it should be encouraging its citizens to get an education and not punishing them for it. But that’s just me and I’m just logical.

Society only seems to care about the banks, the big wigs, the Richie Riches of the world. I’ve seen that on both the large and small scale. As someone who regularly walks into court on the side of the homeowner, fighting the banks, I see how society praises the banks despite the despicable stuff they do. On the large scale, Wall Street Investment firms can do no wrong. “Bankers treat their own debts as matters to be renegotiated or written off at will and the federal government has responded sympathetically. In the years since the financial crash, the disparity between the generosity shown to Wall Street (more than 3 trillion public dollars spent already with an additional $12.2 trillion committed by the United States government) and the conspicuous lack of relief for debtors has made it quite clear whose debts are expected to be honored and whose are written off” (Ross 27-28). How do I get my debt expunged in kind? It is pretty fucked up that corrupt fat cats get the bail out money when students on the brink of making something of themselves get fucked in the assholes WITHOUT LUBE. What kind of malignant fucking asshole does that? I suppose it’s the ones running America.

Those who grew up before us, in the fifties, sixties and seventies, the ones running the show today, the ones who made their way in an easier world, often vilify us Millennials as lazy stoners who do not have the drive and ambition to succeed. Well it is not for want of trying. We grew up in a world that wanted to subtly smother us, a world that was too dumb or indifferent to the notion they would kill us with their greed if they overextended the capabilities of the future without lending a helping hand. We were easy prey for the admissions counselors of the universities that act as a conduit for the lending industry (Ross 25). Somewhere along the way, we were convinced that the only way to matter was to get a higher education. This was terribly burdensome advice.

Generations before us had it easy and still they try to call us couch-sitting, well-wishing idealists, Aquarian miscreants, wanting for everything and achieving nothing, good for nothing, sickofant, depraved little pieces of shit, junkys without a cause, just trying to make it on looks and charm alone. Anyway, they put the needles in our respective arms long before we knew what heroin was; they worked the poison into our veins, little at a time, making us feel good, like we deserved things, things like jobs and success and brief contentedness. They made us into the entitled little drug users that we are today. They made us want for things we could not define. The given wisdom that “everyone now needs a master’s degree, not just a bachelor’s, to compete for decent employment in the knowledge economy” is a terrible burden that we in our twenties all must pay (Ross 23). They truly fucked us. All of them.

I have noticed, while sitting around and making money in dumb, little illegal ways, that the only true way to make it in this world is to live outside the law, below or above it, at least around it but certainly not abiding by it. There is very little way to make it and survive within the confines of the legal system because it is only set up for the ones who have money, the rich, the ones who have the capital to spend. We might be terrorized for our choices but our choices remain the only ones we are left to make. I’ve been thusly terrorized and as a result, I am not going to feel bad about fucking the very institutions that fucked me first. If illegalities and ethical ambiguities are the only way for me to make money, then so fucking be it. I’m not concerned. If the law wants to come after me, they will find precious little to extract. I’ve become dangerously good at being bad. This is not boastfulness but merely an acknowledgment of my forced role in society. They conspired to make us miscreants.

And here and now I might even like to take a world of credit for all of the conditions that have led me to my reduced opinions, hastily constructed like Neal Cassady’s protégé, but I must admit that even my anarchy and chaos-related swagger has mostly been manufactured by the times that have plucked me up and raped me thoroughly. I am what they made me and that alone has caused me to experience both resentment and gratitude, an oxymoronic condition of blended frenzy, something that leaves me ill at ease and wanting for an effective elixir that quiets the disquiet all around. I need something that inspires hope without taking it all away in the process. It’s a something that I have never been able to find.



Grant, Jennifer, and Anglin, Lindsay. "Student Loan Debt the Next Bubble?" American Bankruptcy Institute Journal 32.11 (2013): 44,45,88-89. ProQuest. Web. 25 May 2014.

Ross, Andrew. "Mortgaging The Future: Student Debt In The Age Of Austerity." New Labor Forum (Sage Publications Inc.) 22.1 (2013): 23-28. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 May 2014.

"Student Loan Debt." Inside The Vault 18.1 (2013): 5-7. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 May 2014. 

"Student Loan Debt Widespread And Worrisome." Journal Of Financial Planning 26.8 (2013): 10. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 May 2014.

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