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Christ driving out the money-changers, by Caravaggio.

Bashing students with the bible

The scripture for today in the USA, apparently, is from the book of Mark: “For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

The American Christian Taliban thinks it’s outrageous that some US students might have a sliver of their tuition debts set aside. Oh dear. Apparently they’ve been able to find some verses in the bible that condemn people who don’t repay their debts.

I suppose they must have been furious during the Global Financial Crisis when the world’s governments bailed out the banks when those fine upstanding organisations declared they’d blown up the world economy with crazy speculation and couldn’t meet their obligations?

Or maybe it’s different when the recipients of monetary forgiveness are powerful and well-connected? By rights those thieves and money-changers should have gone broke and maybe to jail, but instead their debts were transferred to governments and broader society, and look where we are now: asset price inflation means everybody else is up to their armpits in debt and the bankers are laughing.

I imagine the alleged Christians who are so distressed by students getting a little break must detest the corporate bankruptcy laws that let irresponsible and fraudulent business operators walk away from their debts and leave their creditors suffering? I suppose they campaign against tax evasion within their own churches? Doesn’t seem like it.

This type of hypocrisy is why so many people are turned against Christianity. The Christian Taliban use their bible verses to justify being mean to the poor and the powerless but stand silently aside or raise their voices in praise when the rich and powerful abuse their positions to the detriment of all.

Not all the objections to the modest little piece of charity to students are biblical, of course. Many Americans are bluntly honest about the reason for their opposition. Some of those who managed to repay their own debts think it’s unfair that anybody else might get a break.

Great. They remind me of some old women from a country where female “circumcision” was practised (it’s a euphemism for removal of the clitoris, in case you wondered). Told the practice was to be banned forthwith they complained bitterly, saying the young girls of the future should not be allowed to escape the pain and misery that they themselves were forced to endure.

What happened to wanting better things for others?

The worst thing is that this crappy pseudo-debate diverts attention from the real issues, one of which is the massive rip-off that these student loans represent in the first place. The financialization of education is a total joke. Some saviour with a metaphorical whip needs to storm through the corridors of the temples of education and upend the tables of the moneychangers who have taken over there.

Australia hasn’t quite got the student loan problem of America, but you can bet the banks would like to make it so. Our students go into debt to the government, and the government adjusts the debt for inflation every year, sometimes so much that the mandated repayments don’t keep pace and the debt actually rises.

And having turned universities into factories for the oversupplied production of low-quality job credentials, our leaders have created a couple of generations of graduates who can’t get jobs in their preferred fields or, even if they can, don’t get paid enough to get the student debts off their backs.

It’s a terrible scam, designed to help moneychangers and burden the little folk, once again.

Good luck to the students who are getting a sliver of debt forgiveness in the USA. But let’s be honest: it’s a poor substitute for fixing a bad system.

There’s a project for Christians to tackle . . .

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