Sunday, July 24, 2016

Indentured Servitude

I don't know about you, but I was told to work hard, go to college, and make something of yourself. That was the formula to obtaining the American Dream. Of course the American Dream meant taking out some student loans to cover your education, but it's ok, because it will be worth it.

But over the past decade, that dream has turned into a nightmare. The nightmare of low wages, part time or temporary work, and jobs that don't require any college education. On top of this, Americans owe $1.2 Trillion in student loans, which is more than the total amount of credit card debt. The average undergrad will graduate from a public college with over $25,000 in loans. How we got here is a topic for another entry.

So to recap:
Mike Rowe of the TV Show Dirty Jobs
Welcome to the new version of Indentured Servitude.

What is Indentured Servitude? Indentured servitude was a labor system in which people paid for their passage to the New World by working for an employer for a fixed term of years. (Wikipedia) I think the analogy is appropriate here, we are shackled to our debt for a very long time, affecting: what jobs we take, the purchase of a house, having kids, saving for retirement, and taking vacations among other things. Everything we do will revolve around paying it off. And due to some political maneuvering back in the 90s, even it still follows you even if you declare bankruptcy.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7

It's my thought process that it's not exactly the loans that are the problem, but the ability to pay it. The system is, in fact, rigged against us. Somehow we went from being able to work your way though college is long gone. Some older people don't understand this, some do. It can cause quite a conflict for parents of students who don't understand this.

See the problem?

I have personally discovered that even if you do all the right things, you can still end up, for lack of a better word, screwed. I graduated with my masters in 2012 (and a sizable student loan balance) and have yet to find a career position. Almost every job that I've had since then has been low pay and part time or temporary employment. On top of this, I really didn't need a college degree for any of these positions. It's very discouraging and it makes me wonder "am I being punished?" "could I have done X or Y differently?" a lot of doubt and depression come along with it as well. I spent 7 years in higher education. 7 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all I got was a lousy part time job that pays just above minimum wage.

My degrees collecting dust.
What does the Bible have to say about all of this? Two verses come to mind personally. The first being I Timothy 6:8 which says "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." This verse probably helped me personally the most. Since graduation, I was never hungry, I always had a roof over my head, I was warm, I had reliable transportation. On top of this, I had a support system of family and friends I could count on. That verse alone is enough to help me bear the weight of the reality of the situation.

The second verse is the Parable of the Lazarus and the rich man in Luke, which, to me, destroys the idea of being faithful means material gain and wealth, like that preached by the false Prosperity Gospel. We are not guaranteed anything, we are not owed anything, we deserve nothing. God decides who is rich and who is poor, and He as a reason for everything. Sometimes its hard to remember that when everything is going wrong. My hope lies in Christ and Christ alone.

If you wish to contact me and tell me your story about college debt or would like to offer comments/critiques about my post, please feel free to email me at

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