To those entering College and University.

I wish you all the best and leave you with these wise words from Barbara Ehrenreich.

“Welcome to Fleece U., where our mission is to take feckless teenagers such as yourselves and turn them into full-fledged citizens of our economy, meaning, of course, debtors.

 

 

Many life-changing things will happen to you in the next four years. You will make lasting friends, including perhaps the love of your life. You will drink more than you ever thought possible and bitterly regret it in the morning. You will lose your virginity, if you happen to have brought it with you.

 

 

Our stellar faculty ardently hopes that along the way you will be amazed by calculus and charmed by the tipsy conversation between Alcibiades and that wily old radical, Socrates. There is also a general expectation that you that you will come out of here with some hazy notion of spelling and grammar.

 

 

But never forget that your real purpose here is to shake off the pointless freedom of youth and assume the burden of debt. To this end, we have just raised our tuition in an attempt to keep up with such top-of-the-line institutions as George Washington University (now weighing in at $39,210 a year, or $50,000 with room and board). You will find us also charging a plethora of additional fees — a “student activities fee,” a “technology fee,” and an “incidentals fee.” In addition, we will be experimenting this year with a “snow removal fee,” a “lecture hall seat-use fee,” and the installation of pay toilets in the dorms.

 

 

It would be short-sighted to resent these fees, since they provide valuable experience in bill-reading, and will come in handy when you confront your own personal monthly utility statements. At present we do not charge any additional tuition for this training in bill- reading, though we are considering adding a special “fee fee” in the future.

 

 

Another thing that will help ease you into the status of debtor is the price of your textbooks — about $120 to $180 for a new, graffiti- free copy. True, this seems high when you could buy a hardcover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for $20 or less, but the aim is to teach you that a book is something to treasure (and, again, we charge no extra fee for this lesson.)

 

 

On average, you will graduate with a respectable-sized debt of $20,000, which will enable you to establish your all-important “credit history.” If we have succeeded in our educational mission, you will be a first-rate debtor, capable of making minimum monthly payments much of the time. As fresh offers of credit cards and home equity loans pour in, you will beam with pride at your achievement.

 

 

Please note carefully that Fleece U degree cannot guarantee you a future income that will allow you to pay off your debts. Many of our most promising graduates are now, three or four years later, working for $8-12 an hour serving up lattés, counseling disturbed youth or creating business computer networks. They are set for a lifetime of debt, and we are proud that they first began to accrue it right here, on our lovely mock Oxfordian campus.

 

 

We don’t have to remind you not to stigmatize debt as a condition associated with poverty. In 2006, for the first time, the average household’s debt exceeded its income. By becoming a debtor, you will have entered the American mainstream! We have confidence that you will go on to mature effortlessly from college debt to car loan to mortgage to medical debts occasioned by the ever-growing gaps in coverage.

 

 

You will see the value of all this debt when the day comes, as it inevitably will, when you wake up and ask yourself, “Who am I and what am I doing here?” You will be tempted to take long walks, read the Upanishads, or try out for a new career as a trophy spouse.

 

 

In a crisis like this, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on life coaching and motivational DVDs. But you won’t have to, because you’ll have debt to keep you going. You will get up, shower, and toil faithfully in your cubicle year after year until, in the fullness of time, your family acquires the debt for your interment (at which point we trust you will have remembered Fleece U in your will.)

 

So think of debt as the great motivator. Think of it as our gift to you. Because for at least the next academic year, we are not even thinking of charging for it.”

The message is Universal, even if said Debt in my own country is not nearly as high as other places, but our charming political class will see that change in time, good luck Amigos.

Published without Permission from Atlernet. (Not sure i even need it.. so relax)

The day I met a granny bashing lunatic.

Note: For reasons of personal security (as I have received threats associated with this Blog)  the name of the offending girl has been Omitted.

So I was in the City center the other day, minding my own business, as you do, when out of nowhere this charming young lady whispered into my ear “Hey..You!…Yeah, you Old Man… C’mere!.. Wanna get high?” She made the question an invitation, startled but slightly curious, I nodded my head, being the innocent naive chap that I am, I presumed she meant something pure and wholesome and fun… So a merry dance around the city began…  I was taken to St. Stephens Green park, completely innocent of this girls intentions as we sat under the shade of a tree beside a path, watching the locals go by as I asked, rather nervously, what we were doing here “You’ll see soon enough” she said, with a hint of the sinister in her voice “Smoke some of this with me!”

Now, I freely admit to smoking Tobacco, a nasty habit I picked up in the past, I presumed that is what she meant when I was handed this rolled smoke, “Sure!” I replied, blissfully unaware of what she was handing me… I later found out that this so-called Smoke was laced with some sort of drug. After several of these false smokes  I entered a state of extreme Paranoia, “Someone is out to get me” I thought aloud… Very likely this young woman at my side… Her innocent smile had now become a deranged and menacing Grin “You know what’s fun?” She asked, the question loaded with evil intent “Beating the living shit out of old people!”

My Dear Jesus… My mind was reeling, this woman is the devil! Every strand of my being told me to Flee… Run from this maniac! But her devil drugs had worked their demented magic… I was frozen to the spot as she pointed out some poor old man, hunched from the weight of many years of existence… Walking as best as his weary legs allowed,  a knobbly old cane assisting him, inching past our view  “See that juicy old badger?” she cooed, clearly getting off just from the thought of harming this poor old pensioner ” If I wanted… I could run over there, beat him over the head with his cane and roundhouse kick him into that Bush.” She was almost orgasmic as she exclaimed her violent lust, I was sure of it.”That’s… Nice… I believe you!”  I managed to sputter as I struggled to my feet, deciding drugs or no drugs, it was now or never if I was to escape the clutches of what was clearly a mad person.

“Where are you going?… The night is so young” My wrist had been seized by a firm hand,  its vice-like grip unyielding as she began pulling me in the direction of Grafton Street, muttering madness as we walked “I know a great place! We can get drunk! I stole 100 Euro from some old woman I kicked to death on the bus!” At that moment the Paranoia, like a tidal wave… Consumed me utterly, all of my thoughts turned to escape as we descended into some dark basement, scruffy looking shady types dotted around its edges as I was thrown into a corner seat. “Stay..Right..There.” she commanded as she disappeared into the ladies toilets, to do whatever it is crazy women do in toilets, it was then that I looked around, every damn person in this place was looking at me… A dozen pair of eyes transfixed upon me for some evil purpose, an earlier thought managed to punch its way through the wall of fear, it’s now or never, you have to flee Keith! These people mean you harm, they couldn’t possibly be watching the Rage against the Machine video on the screen just above your head. No that would make too much sense… Too convenient… The door! Run!  The mind was willing, but the body… The body would not move, fear had crippled my otherwise healthy legs from responding, and she was back, with drinks.

It is often said, or at least I presume it is often said, or that someone said it at least once in our entire existence as a species, that the mind, when faced with extreme shock… Can force itself to forget, a defense mechanism to stop one from going mad as the horror outstrips the mind’s ability to deal with it… This must of been what happened to me, it’s the only explanation, only snapshots remain… There was this horrid basement… Then movement… Light, so very bright as an angry Turkish man looks at me as if I’d almost set his hair on fire… His many arms gesticulating and flailing around me like he were an angry Octopus. What is the meaning of this? Where am I? Is this hell? These questions, and the above few snapshots.. Are all that remain of that particular place, my memory only picking up again as I staggered down O’Connell Street with this lunatic woman wrapped around me, the two of us laughing maniacally now, my mind must have snapped, as I was clearly enjoying myself, no honest to goodness gent like me would enjoy such madness.

But this walk, though it appeared aimless and random, did indeed have a purpose, we somehow ended up at another pub. “Fibbers” is the name that flashes briefly in the mind as I try to recall what little detail that remains to me.  We entered this dark place like royalty, I remember shaking a mans hand, a man with red hair, for some unknown reason I felt he deserved one, I later found out it was the doorman, who charged us entry, the girl who now had me captive in her madness paying with her ill-gotten gains to have us descend further into this debacle. I… Being the broke hobo saint that I am, paid for nothing, this girl, however evil, was generous in her madness… This much I could not deny.  A few more drinks, some of which I can’t even pronounce let alone drink under normal circumstances, and I found myself sitting on a fire escape with this crazy woman… Clearly intoxicated beyond her capacity for reasoning, if she did indeed possess such reasoning in the first place.

I remember, in my drug induced alcohol saturated state.. Thinking that for a Devil, she was rather attractive, but I guess, looking back, that’s exactly how these evil imps appear to young men of sound mind and gentle heart, to distract us from the evil lurking just beneath that polished and supple exterior. Her lips were moist, clearly in some form of trance as her eyes remained closed. My Gods I thought… This is it, now comes the part where she devours my Soul… But strangely enough, at the time, I was almost wanting it to happen, clearly some sort of black magic I know… But the feeling of being consumed by this devils desire had a strange suicidal appeal. What follows is but a blackness in my memory, I remember little else, the only thing I know now… Looking back on this whole torrid affair, is that I am not the same person I was before meeting this harpy, clearly she left with a part of me, what part I don’t yet know, maybe I never will, only time and fortune shall reveal such an answer, but if a lesson is to be dragged out of this entire fiasco, it is this….

Beware what at first seems sweet and innocent, for it may turn out to be its polar opposite. Dark… Mysterious… Destructive… It might just consume you utterly…and worst of all, you may end up liking it.