Episode

8/16 The Checkered History Behind The Student Loan Debt Crisis w/ Elizabeth Tandy Shermer

August 16, 2021

Sam and Emma host Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, Associate Professor of History at Loyola Chicago University, to discuss her new book Indentured Students: How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning In College Debt, which tackles the exploitative nature of US student loan programs dating back to their origin, setting up the generational wealth and debt divides we see today. After situating the crisis within the contexts of tuitions in the 60s, 80s, and today, Sam, Emma, and Elizabeth jump off of the first work-study programs introduced in the 60s, and how their nature was tied deeply to the Civil Rights Act. They dive into higher education as a battleground for a desegregated society, particularly following the success of Soviet science, with the Higher Education Act following the CRA in an effort to promote the enrollment of women and people of color, especially after the addition of Title IX in ’72. Next, they look at how the US student loan program found its structure in New Deal housing programs, which, while appearing progressive, ultimately put a product that cannot be repossessed, with the only guarantee going to bankers, into a “social welfare” program, bolstering the preexisting generational wealth and debt stratification. They conclude the interview by looking at the role of college, both in terms of their exploitation of students and how the US State has slowly shifted more and more responsibility their way, even as they become central in the progression of US medical technology, before they move onto what Biden could do in the latter stage of his presidency, including looking into both the preexisting policy initiatives in the Infrastructure package, and the potential of a College for All bill presenting a public competitor. Sam and Emma round out the free half by reflecting on the US failure that was the Afghanistan war, and the attempt of the US media and politicians to present this as anything but another “Saigon Moment.”

And in the Fun Half: The MR crew discusses the behind the scenes stupidity and exploitation of Venture Capitalism, the fear-based relationship between the Biden Administration and the concept of immigration – even when it comes to Afghani refugees – and reflect on the roles of Trump and Pompeo in the Afghanistan pull out. John from AZ calls in to explore the relationship between inflation and wages, and Bill from MI jumps delves into the effect of wage stagnation on teachers, especially as the Republican war on Critical Race Theory picks up, before the staff admires the beauty of Timba.On.Toast’s dive into the deep end of Tim Pool’s inner functioning. They also touch on Dennis Prager’s takes on child abuse, Dave from Jamaica talks imperialism and Afghanistan, and Ian from FL calls in from Matt Gaetz’s district to chat about the impossibility of changing Pensacola politics, plus, your calls and IMs!

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Past Episodes

It’s Casual Friday! Sam and Emma speak with Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation, to round up the week in news. First, they run through updates on the ICJ’s order to halt Israel’s invasion of Rafah (and Israel’s subsequent escalation), South Carolina’s congressional maps, ...
It’s an EmMajority Report Thursday! She speaks with Daniel J. Galvin, professor of political science at Northwestern University, to discuss his recent book Alt-Labor and the New Politics of Workers’ Rights. Then, she's joined by Richard Beck, senior writer at n+1 Magazine, to discuss his recent ...
It's Hump Day! Sam speaks with Sarah Jaffe, fellow at the Type Media Center  based in New Orleans, to discuss her recent piece for In These Times entitled “In Tough Loss, the High-Profile UAW Campaign at Mercedes-Benz in Alabama Falls Short.” Then, Sam checks in on some news stories he’s been ...