Student debt is a tool whereby establishment institutions realize two fundamental goals of business capitalism -- profit & captive market. Young students, fresh from nearly 20 years of intense, nonstop propaganda about the market economy, the American dream and materialism go freely and enthusiastically into agreements that will control their lives for decades, believing the upside is worth it. More often than not, these students become disillusioned as they realize the commodification of education has degraded their investment to mere training, training so narrowly defined their jobs are vulnerable to the smallest shifts in the global economy and technology. But their debt, held inviolate by those establishment institutions, goes on regardless and forever.
Student debt should be examined in its historical context. From 1620 until the revolution indentured servitude was the primary mechanism whereby colonial businesses and agricultural concerns obtained necessary cheap labor. The people leaving Europe, plagued by unemployment and high prices, had few options on the continent and therefore considered the term of servitude (up to seven years) worth the price to gain access to the nascent market economy that was to become the so-called American free market system. Student debt often encumbers a young worker for twenty years or more. Large amounts of debt incurred for undergraduate school will often preclude graduate or professional school locking the young worker into a seemingly endless cycle of searching for employment and paying the banks.
Globalization however has eroded the value of education in the market economy. Education per se is not, after all, marketable. The fall back position is training, training for a particular niche in the market economy; thus, the proliferation of private "educational" institutions that specialize in training. Unlike comprehensive education, specialized training is not able to adapt to changes in the market manipulated by the transnational corporate oligarchy which forces the young worker to seek out new, additional training, running up even more debt. This scenario is particularly bad for the American economy because these young workers, rather than taking risks in creative and innovative pursuits, are forced by the exigencies of debt to be conservative, less free, for probably most of their working lives.
In the USA today the only way to avoid monumental debt for the average college bound student is to make some sort of deal with the military. It is a sad commentary on America that we allow our youth to be coerced into "serving" in the most violent and destructive force the world has ever known -- violent and destructive defined by its own history, not altogether well understood by most Americans inundated as they are by historical revisionism. This is an example of the extremes to which untempered capitalism will be driven by insatiable quests for profit which in America necessitates the military being used as an instrument of foreign and economic policy. Thus, youths, in order to secure a "good job" will allow themselves to be used, to be put into situations that, if they survive, can profoundly change their lives -- disability, regret, grief and dysfunction -- only to discover the "good job" is not secure after all.
FTA! Up the 99%!