Archives for posts with tag: financial crisis

Some highlights from a Student Loan “Exit Interview,” which as you surely guessed is a text-based online quiz. This post is dedicated to all my friends and peers who are unjustifiably buried in debt.

“A sure way to help pay for college and to avoid excess borrowing is to work part-time. Not only will you be covering expenses, but you will gain valuable work experience. Be careful, however, not to overload your study time with work; part-time employment should be part-time.”

  • Will reducing your debt levels now help you in the future?
    (Yes / No)
  • You do not need to include your personal expenses, clothing and entertainment when figuring out a budget.
    (True / False)

100 percent of the balance of your student loan will be canceled in the event of your death. [This one isn’t funny because it became effective August 14, 2008.]


As for the financial system, I figured out how to fix it. Tomorrow, I’m moving my meager savings out of J.P. Morgan “Chase” Bank and putting it into Patelco, my local Community Credit Union. I will have all the same services, but a much lighter conscience. I never even signed up for Chase in the first place, I was a Washington Mutual customer and one day they changed all the signs and started calling my branch by a new name…

My loan educational experience this evening is the reason why I will switch tomorrow. The reason I found Patelco in the first place was out of sheer desperation, and my friend Laura’s alleviating recommendation. What could make me so desperate? I stepped foot inside a Chase bank.

It’s not what you think either, I hate bureaucracy and corporate drudgery as much as the next person, but it wasn’t so bad this time. By the end of my journey I made it to a cubicle in the back of the floor with an associate (or representative? maybe a banker? I don’t know what they’re called). I just needed some checks. Turns out she wanted to chat, and I soon found out that she too was a Berkeley grad, in political science. How odd, I thought. Do Harvard and Yale graduates work jobs like this? Is it some entry-level process I don’t understand? But, I didn’t want to be judgemental, and hell… I needed a job too, and you gotta take what you can get.

But by the end of our little meeting, this associate was pulling out laminated graphical diagrams, dropping Chase lingo, and serving me all this rhetoric about how I could use a Chase credit card, and how I could start earning points (not only double, but triple for such a valued customer). It made me sick! So much baloney! And the twist in my stomach formed. The powers of persuasion and critical thinking my alma mater prides itself on creating were performed on me in a bewildering and cosmically sinister mess. What do they teach folks in Political Science, anyway? By the end I was anxious; I ran out of ways to say “No, thanks” without breaking the fragile politeness between us for swift ranting. I was lucky I could hold my smile in place long enough to bid this associate adieu and scramble outside, gasping for air.

I starting thinking about this sentence a lot today (something less than a mantra).

Back-to-the-landers (Californians and many others) retreated in the 60s and 70s from cities to rural spaces, some to places that had yet to be populated at all. There was a lot of hippie culture, pot growing, conflicts with locals, and also none (or the opposite) of each. Aaron Cometbus wrote some interviews with some of these folks and their grown-up kids in an old issue of his zine I picked up a couple weeks ago.

Talking to a few people lately, we all have the impression there is a sense of impending doom. The United States is in a bad way, not to mention the whole world, and there are some pretty poor things to come very soon. The consequences of environmental disaster, financial disaster, and more. Even things that were around before our recent financial crashes–the pains of capitalism, corporatism, and so forth.

Many of these back-to-the-landers were thinking the same thing. There was more focus on the collapse of civilization or what-have-you, due to tensions thought to be caused by the urban environs. But the rhetoric really isn’t so different. And how did the react? They retreated, they literally “headed for the hills.”

So what of today? What of our crises today? I say that conditions now are critical and we need to ask ourselves as individuals what we should do about it.

Personally, I don’t think we can escape or avert most of our present crises–there’s no hill tall enough to run to. But more than that, I don’t feel like running, I am interested in confronting these issues and not letting them drive me–or anyone–out of our heads. Funny, all this clarity came from a recent existential crisis, an unbearable lightness of being sort of thing. All I know is, I have things to learn and do, and my intentions are to address critical issues, not ignore or escape them. I invite you to join me.