Thursday, April 4, 2013

A recent congressional scandal involving student loans?

I've believed for a long time (since I was in college) that Politics can be a mutually excluding topic with money that -mostly for political reasons- is beyond the scope of Financial Literacy; in this regard, I'd focus this modest yet serious and respectful critique of mine on how tricky politicians can be when they "blame Republicans or Democrats for the current problems the Economy and Main Street are grappling with" but in the meantime can take "advantage" of their politically - financially privileged position to "benefit" themselves...

I'm aware that the term "advantage" can have other underlying implications such as corruption but, again, this one is a particular matter beyond the scope of Financial Literacy, however, you might have learned about concrete examples in other countries where politicians have, in fact, taken "advantage" (I'd say that Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and more recently Spain's ruling Popular Party have been an example) from their political roles.

By mere chance, last December a relative of mine was part of a "chain" post on Facebook inviting other users to share this posts via their own walls; even though I was initially unable to track the source of this particular post, for the sake of clarity and in order to suggest you a (hopefully) reasonable idea intended to create your own perspective as a voter about this particular subject, I'll present you this post as it appeared on Facebook:

"Children of a congress member do not have to pay back their college student loans. How nice! Monday on Fox News they learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. This will get national attention if other news networks will broadcast it. Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) states to convene a Constitutional Convention.

"This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

"This is an idea that we should address.

"For too long we have been to complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

"If each person that receives this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days, most people in the United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

"Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: 'Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States".

Even though I couldn't describe Facebook as an exactly reliable source of information coming from what I could define as serious "citizen sources", this post initially made sense for me because not only "informed" those who had the opportunity to read it about a possible legislative abuse but also proposed forwarding its content to other users.

So... What happened to this "citizen initiative"? A couple of days after reading its content, as a result of an on line research, I found out that the websites and "officially" reported that such chain letter was regarded as "false" after offering general explanations about House and Senate employees are required to comply with a "Student Loan Repayment Program for Senate Employees" by remaining on the job for "at least one year" to be qualified to participate in this program. 

Let's see... What could be my perspective about an issue where Main Street could have expressed its criticism about politicians taking "unfair advantages"? It's been clear for me that a growing number of citizens on Main Street, as a result of a crisis affecting most of them, have been raising an increasingly strong voice demanding the US Government urgent assistance for those who lost their jobs, their homes and declared bankruptcy because of a debt they weren't able to pay.

Despite I believe the US Government created informational tools to assist people grappling with financial problems (in this regard Mrs. Elizabeth Warren has been a strong critic of how the US Financial Industry has abused consumers in many cases), a serious problem still needs to be solved... many people including athletes and artists still are suffering serious financial setbacks; as the last example, some days ago, famed singer Dionne Warwick declared her bankruptcy.

My modest conclusion? After declaring myself respectful of your political preference, I strongly believe that we, the people, must pay closer attention to the way politicians not only in America but in the rest of the world as well are working to help the population; even though I believe that the Democratic Party has been doing a reasonably good job, each and everyone of us have the obligation to put pressure on our "representatives" and force them (among other many things) to provide employment and financial literacy even for the famous.

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