Are Banksters responsible for autism?

America’s student loan debt crisis is deforming an entire generation. Right now, America’s outstanding student loan debt stands at over $1.18 trillion. More than 40 million Americans hold student loan debt; that’s more people than the populations of Canada, Australia, Poland and 200 other countries. And of those 40 million borrowers, around 7 million have defaulted on their debt.

The average debt for a 25-year-old American student has risen a staggering 91 percent over the past decade, and most of that is student loan debt. Student loan debt exceeds both credit card and auto loan debt in America, and the average debt per person is over $23,000. And, according to a study by Hamilton Place Strategies, by 2023, the average amount of debt that college students graduate with will equal what the median college graduate will earn every year.

That same study found that "average student debt at graduation has skyrocketed by 200 percent since 1993..." These mountains of student loan debt that are burdening millions of Americans are killing our economy, society, and even our health.

Last year, the New York Federal Reserve showed that there’s been an actual drag on our economy, just because of growing levels of student loan debt. Americans with piles of student loan debt have less money to spend on anything from consumer products to homes. And as The Washington Post points out, first-time home buyers, usually college graduates, are, or at least used to be, “the bedrock of the housing market.” But, since millions of college graduates are drowning in debt, they can't afford to buy a home, which is killing America’s housing recovery.

Meanwhile, according to a report from the One Wisconsin Institute, the devastating effects of student loan debt also translate into more than $6 billion in lost car sales each year. And, the chief economist for General Motors has even said that student loan debt is one of, if not THE major reason why millennials aren’t buying cars.

Student loan debt also keeps Americans out of good jobs. When a person defaults on their student loan debt, their credit rating plummets. And, unfortunately, many employers today run credit-score checks on potential hires, which means that the millions of Americans who have defaulted on their debt, and who therefore have rock-bottom credit scores, won't get hired.

But student loan debt isn’t just having devastating effects on our economy. It’s also contributing to a variety of social and health problems too. Student loan debt is causing Americans to start families later in life. A report from the economic forecasting firm IHS Global Insight found that between 2007 and 2011, while other forms of debt were falling, student loan debt was steadily increasing.

As IHS points out, during the same time period, the median age of a first marriage for men went from 27.5 years old to 28.7 years old, while for women it went from 25.6 years old to 26.5 years old. Similarly, the IHS report found that fertility rates, which are defined as the number of birth per 1,000 women aged 15-44, decreased substantially from 69.3% in 2007 to under 65% in in 2011.

And, as multiple studies have shown, when women have children later in life, there is a much greater risk of the child being born with a things like autism or Down’s syndrome. A 2010 study found that mothers over 40 had a 51% higher risk of having a child with autism compared to mothers aged 25 to 29, and had a 77% higher risk than moms under 25.

Meanwhile, suicide rates and mental health illnesses are higher for people struggling with debt. After the banking crisis struck Europe, suicide rates skyrocketed across the continent, because people couldn’t handle living with their debt and the austerity policies that the banksters running the EU and the IMF forced on them.

From hurting our economic recovery to influencing the numbers of children born with autism and Down’s syndrome in America, it’s clear that the student loan debt crisis is having some pretty devastating effects on our society and way of life, and that something needs to be done about it.

That’s where Senator Elizabeth Warren comes in. On Tuesday, Warren, along with many of her fellow Democratic senators, introduced the "Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act." The act would allow Americans with outstanding student loan debt to refinance their debt at the lower interest rates we have right now.

Today, many Americans are struggling with student loan debt at interest rates of 7% or higher on their loans. But, new students taking out loans are paying rates as low as 3.86%, thanks to the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act which was passed by Congress last summer. Warren’s "Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act" would let Americans with outstanding student loan debts at higher interest rates to roll over their loans at the newer, lower rates.

In a press release on the new legislation, Warren said that, “Exploding student loan debt is crushing young people and dragging down our economy. Allowing students to refinance their loans would put money back in the pockets of people who invested in their education. These students didn't go to the mall and run up charges on a credit card. They worked hard and learned new skills that will benefit this country and help us build a stronger middle class and a stronger America.”

America’s student loan debt crisis is like nothing our country has ever seen before. Over a trillion dollars in debt is deforming an entire generation, crippling an economy, and contributing to a wide variety of social ills and health problems.

Fortunately, people like Elizabeth Warren are taking the bold actions necessary to lift millions of Americans out of debt, so that they can be active and contributing members of our society and economy. And it's a great start. But if we could spend several trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, why not - now that we're winding those down - use that kind of money to pay off all the student loan debt out there altogether, with a debt Jubilee?

Students shouldn't have had to go into debt to go to school in the first place! Before Reagan, college was free or super-affordable in almost all of America. Let's wipe the student loan debt off the books, and end future student loan debt by investing in our intellectual infrastructure like we did in the middle years of the 20th century, when the number of college graduates in America more than doubled and there was virtually no student debt.

Instead of exploiting the newest generation of Americans, lets invest in them, by making all public universities and community colleges free. It worked like a charm after World War II and built America. We can do it again!


Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 6 weeks ago

Why not also tackle it from the other end. Why has the cost of education gone up so much? I don't think the education is better. I would like to see how much the cost to educate a child from K to 12 has increased after Reagon. Get that cost down as well.

Stop the milatary spending as well of course. But I think you will need that savings to pay to service the massive debt you have taken on and you still have three more years of Obama. So count on three trillion more. The US pays about 220 billion a year to service the National debt. That is if interest stays below 2.5%. If you didn't have any debt you would pay off all the students loans in less then five years with the interest savings. Just saying. Of course my ways of paying for education would take some kind of sacrifice. So it will never happen it is way easier just to take on more debt as Liz Warren suggested.

DrRichard 10 years 6 weeks ago

The risiing costs of higher education certainly aren't going to teaching, where most new faculty are now non-tenured adjuncts. So, besides having to work longer to support themselves, students in general are paying more to get less. Adjuncts can be very motivated--I've been one for years--but you don't get the depth or stability of permanent faculty members.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 6 weeks ago

So why are they going to adjuncts? Is it because they save long term liabilities, pensions etc. and why Dr are costs going up if it's not going to the teachers.

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 10 years 6 weeks ago

Lifetime enslavement by student debt will never be eliminated in the U.S. precisely because the One Percent views it as a primary method of suppressing student activism -- which is exactly the motive behind the policies that created the indebtedness.

Indeed, the rationale for targeting students and academics -- academe damned as "the single most dynamic source" of anti-capitalist resistance -- is the primary topic of the infamous Powell Memo of 1971, which is widely considered the original operations plan for the imposition of zero-tolerance Ayn Rand fascism on the USian homeland. (The memo is reprinted in full at )

Meanwhile Sen. Elizabeth Warren's interest-reduction measure, like Mr. Hartmann's notion of a jubilee of student-debt abolition, is nothing more than a pie-in-the-sky manifestation of the imbecility of hope. Neither Sen. Warren's mildly ameliorative bill nor any other genuinely humanitarian measure will ever again be enacted by the U.S. Congress simply because the Republican majority in the House has been gerrymandered into permanence.

This means de facto Republican control of the U.S. government is literally forever. It will not end -- it cannot be ended -- until the entire system is overthrown or the nation itself is toppled, most likely by the looming environmental apocalypse, at which point the entire student debt issue becomes moot.

Until then -- precisely as the diabolically clever, inconceivably powerful One Percent intend -- impossible-to-enact initiatives by Ms. Warren and her ilk will perpetuate the Big Lie of USian representative democracy even as we of the peasantry and proletariat, students and professors included, are driven ever deeper into slavery.

ChicagoMatt 10 years 6 weeks ago

Not going to college was never presented as an option for us, as early as the 90s when I was in high school. The expectation was that everyone had to go to college. Which is why a lot of college students don't even declare a major until their junior or senior years, because they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. They were just told they had to go to college. I was in that boat. I graduated with a B.A. in "Communications", which is like majoring in "I have no idea what I want to do with my life." After six years in retail management, I finally went back to a M.A. in teaching. Between my wife and I, both in our early 30s, we have about $150,000 in student loan debt. Just shy of $1,000 a month in payments. You can't bankrupt your way out of it either.

Which is why I tell my students and my biological children to know what they are going to college for, before they go to that college. And get as much done at a local college as you can, then transfer into one of the big-name schools. Preferably major in something with practical employment opportunities, like healthcare. Don't go to college just because "that's what comes after high school".

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 6 weeks ago

It's such a travesty of justice what students have to put up with today as opposed to when we were kids. Back then choosing what to do was the hardest thing to do. Today that is complicated with the huge burden of tremendous debt.

Loren Bliss ~ Thank you so much for once again laying out the ugly truth. Another thanks to Thom Hartmann for those painful statistics.

We need to stop this madness. We need to go back to free education for all. After all, we are competing with other nations that actually invest in themselves. Isn't that the greatest investment you can make--in yourself? We need to encourage education not make it unreachable. We need to help our future citizens be all that they can be not make them drop out to avoid going into massive debt.

We are mammals and mammals by nature train their young. If we cannot help our children stand on their own two feet and be the best they can be then we have no business expecting our own survival as a species. When we let our children down we let ourselves down.

I don't know about the rest of you but after 50 years I still am not sure what I really want to do with my life. I managed to find a niche when I was 32; but I always felt I could do more. Expecting a child to know what they want to do at the age of 18 with no real world experience whatsoever is ridiculous. Our entire approach to education is a joke and unless we figure out a better way we are all doomed.

On a side not--as Mr. Bliss so eloquently pointed out--we might just all be doomed anyway.

JJB's picture
JJB 10 years 5 weeks ago

I can only address the system I know, but one of the drivers in my state is the declining support from state government. Year by year as the tally goes down, the cost borne by the student goes up.

Beyond that: Increased building costs. Increasing maintence costs for aging buildings. Fuel costs. Health care. Room and board. Text books. Increased government-funded research which gets spun out into private sector companies when it looks profitable. It all results in higher costs. None results in better take-home pay for the faculty.

That's not to say that universities shouldn't be doing a better job of cost-cutting. Brick and mortar projects in an electronic world. Non-teaching staff. Student fees. Bloated administrative costs. Vanity positions. Byzantine requirements which keep far too many students well past four years. Salaries should be starting to actually come down a little with boomer retirements. Could they cut into the pension plans some? I suppose so, but faculty hiring is pretty competitive. Saving money there definitely puts a university at a disadvantage in recruiting.

To wrap iot up, I agree that students need to be smarter about this process too as was mentioned by another poster here.

bobcox's picture
bobcox 10 years 5 weeks ago

Interest is made up of at least three factors of cost, Administrative expenses, Profit for the lender (also called rent), and allowance for risk that the borrower will default on the loan. The last item was eliminated as a cost factor when Congress passed the "NO Bankruptcy" for student loans law. this means that the profit for lendors went up, skyrocketed! Social Security has an adminiostrative cost of aboit 1.5% of the benefit (loan principle). Lenders probably meet or exceed this small administrative cost. therefore the8+ percentage presently being charged on student loans is about 6.,5% or over four times the administrative costs and about the same ratio over the present inflation rate and several more times the current Federal Bond rate.

ChicagoMatt 10 years 5 weeks ago
We need to go back to free education for all. After all, we are competing with other nations that actually invest in themselves. Isn't that the greatest investment you can make--in yourself?

This reminds me of an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune two years ago, during the CPS teacher strikes. The writer (I am sorry I do not remember their name) pointed out, correctly, that the mayor (Rahm Emmanuel) didn't need to care about Chicago's students, because Chicago's universities will always attract the smart and ambitious people from around the country. And those people will, most likely, stay in Chicago post-graduation. So, why invest hundreds of thousands in a single student's 13 years of formal education, if you can just recruit well-trained workers from other places. Let someone else pay for the training.

BTW - I am NOT saying I support this idea.

The end result is a lot of well-paid white-collar types in Chicago, who moved here from somewhere else with better grammar schools. Since, like most cities, Chicago has a majority-minority population, the minorities don't get the investment in education, and the best jobs in the city get filled by out-of-towners, who (I am guessing on this one) are mostly white.

If you take that out to the global scale, I can see why the powers that be might think to themselves, "America's universities will always attract talented students from around the world. America itself will attract the best people from around the world. So why bother investing in the natives?"

Speaking of which, I literally can't remember the last time I had an American-born doctor.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 5 weeks ago
Quote ChicagoMatt:This reminds me of an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune two years ago, during the CPS teacher strikes. The writer (I am sorry I do not remember their name) pointed out, correctly, that the mayor (Rahm Emmanuel) didn't need to care about Chicago's students, because Chicago's universities will always attract the smart and ambitious people from around the country.

ChicagoMatt ~ I'm happy to hear that you don't support that idea. It is reprehensible and Rahm Emanuel should be ashamed of himself. No leader should ever put anything above the good of his subjects. What a tool!

Quote ChicagoMatt:Speaking of which, I literally can't remember the last time I had an American-born doctor.

ChicagoMatt ~ That is a good point. I've had a few Doctors in my old age and have found that the vast majority of them to be foreign too. Good thing too! By far the worst Doctors I and my friends have had have been Americans. A friend of mine was so misdiagnosed by one in the emergency room once that I, he, and his family and friends--including an off duty EMT--were convinced the head Doctor--an American--was intentionally trying to kill my friend to spare the hospital a fortune in convalescence care. If it wasn't for the EMT friend of his, and all the on-duty nurses ganging up on the head Doctor, my friend would have died right there in the emergency room. He was bleeding to death and the head Doctor put him on liquid restrictions.

Personally, when I landed in the emergency for a hernia an American doctor widened my hernia by forcefully shoving his hand into it. Apparently if you can force the intestine back into the wall you can be put on a waiting list. Unfortunately, the action turned a minor hernia into a debilitating emergency hernia. However, because he successfully pushed the intestine back in the hospital refused to acknowledge that it was anymore of an emergency. I turned to a Chinese Doctor in another out of town hospital who did the job right and saved me. Again, when I suffered from Carpal Tunnel syndrome, the first Doctor I saw was Chinese, but American educated. He performed the surgery that completely cured my right hand. Our insurance changed when I needed the same treatment on my left hand and we got an American Doctor. His results left a lot to be desired. After almost two years my thumb is still numb and now I suffer from trigger finger. When I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis I was referred to another Chinese Doctor. This one graduated from the University of BeiJing, China. She was wonderful and now I am in full remission.

Though I hate to admit it I have to confess that you make a very good point. Also, I have to advise, you just might not want an American Doctor. That could be due in a large part to that "profit motive" we so ingrain in our people in this country. It totally flies in the face of the Hippocratic Oath.

Of course our healthcare system in this country is so dysfunctional it is hard to say where the blame for anything really belongs.

ChicagoMatt 10 years 5 weeks ago

My insurace company's website lists all of the doctors' ages and where they got their medical degree. Almost all of the younger ones (under 40) around here got their medical degrees overseas - particularly in India and Poland.

A common Republican anti-socialist talking point is the "brain drain" the comes along with socialism. That is, the people who have rare skills and can charge more for them (like doctors) tend to migrate out of socialist countries and into capitalist ones. That probably has a little to do with arrogance and a lack of national identity as well.

For the same reason, big cities tend to attract more doctors as well. You can make more money here. I've also been told that Hawaii has a disproportionate number of doctors. I can't blame them. If I had that kind of job - the kind you can do anywhere and get paid well for - Hawaii would be high on my list as well.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 5 weeks ago

All about money. Money money money. Um-hum.... - AIW

nradonic's picture
nradonic 10 years 2 weeks ago

I saw an article discussing ADHD and parent ages. There is not much sensitivity to the woman's age. There is more sensitivity to the man's age because of accumulated changes to the stem cells that create sperm. The number of mutations in 'some' of the sperm starts to jump after about age 18, and the doubling period is somewhere in the range of a year. So waiting even another year is going to increase the frequency of abnormal sperm, and the rate of conditions like ADHD.


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