Student Loan Disgrace New Zealand Politics

One of my last political posts. If I can stop myself 🙂  I’m eventually re-incarnating as a happier sweeter blogger. All this fascination with politics is ruining my housewifely piece of mind.
I find myself getting angry and frustrated with the state of my home nation. I’d love to think I wasn’t powerless enough to change the political winds that disturb me, by being another voice in the ether.

But it’s insanity on my behalf:
I live in a piece of paradise. I’m lucky enough to live in a clement friendly neighborhood. Why bang on about matters in an insular society on the other side of the world?

Because I care. But for (maybe) the last time:

Student Loan Disgrace:

“Buddy, you’re a boy
Make a big noise
Playing in the street
Gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on your face
You big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place”

“We Will Rock you”: Queen

National’s budgets have always penalised those members of Generation X born in the 1970’s.  Student loan policy being a case in point.

National’s student loan policy isn’t a direct attack on those of my generation. In the 1990’s, Student Loans were being enacted in many countries around the world as a direct result of the “user pays” fiscal philosophy that was dominating political discussions worldwide.

The 1990 New Zealand National government went for the student loan scheme, booots and all. Consequently my generation has had to pay a huge price for being the guinea pigs of the student loan scheme.  It’s eroded our connection to our homeland. At least 10,000 student loan defaulters no longer remain connected to NZ in any meaningful way.

The majority of these will be from the classes of 1993 and 1994.

In 1992, legislation was passed by the National Government that meant that in every following year, you had to borrow to attend university.

Nationwide, we were sat in school auditoriums and told that we could go to university and we would borrow to do so. I didn’t even know what a debt was. As a fairly naive 17 year old, I’d only ever had an eftpos card at that stage.
Bright young thing that I was, I just smiled, nodded and thought, “just get me outta here’.

If you started studying in 1989 or 1990, you got a fees-free tertiary education. I find a certain amount of irony in the knowledge, that Bill English and Steven Joyce are only a decade older than me and my fellows. They got a free education then implemented the punitive scheme without any lead in period. They are now portraying my fellows as being the debt dodging scourge of society.

If like me, you were one of the first borrowers to draw down in 1993, you attracted a sizeable debt via voracious tertiary institutions. A debt that will still be hounding you, if, like me, you were unable to find permanent full time work in your area of expertise in the 90’s.

And if like me you are a women who stopped earning to re-train or to have kids, you’re even more likely to still be carrying the millstone of student debt.

And like me, as one of the class of 1993 or 1994, you found it hard to find employment in New Zealand in the economically bleak 1990’s, you may have decided to move overseas to more fertile pastures.

You may not have deliberately decided to dodge your debt. It may be that you’re employed but not so that you can pay off the loan in any meaningful fashion.

 You lose contact with the IRD. You breathe a sigh of relief.  And although you feel like a bit of a shit about it, you make the conscious decision to evade your loan so you can stop throwing money at an ever increasing mountain of debt.

You start to see an ever increasing amount of media reports about “debt dodgers”. You get angry:
From the NZ Herald:
“Minister of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment Steven Joyce said the crackdown was aimed at the worst offenders.
Those who fell behind on payments but were responsive to the IRD would not be cuffed at the border, which would be a last resort.

“This is for people who are deliberately not paying and don’t want to talk about it.”

Ahhhh. But you can get cuffed at the border. WHAT?

And this is any student loan borrower. For now it is only serious defaulters. But the government moves quickly and potentially could detain any borrower at the border.
I’m not a student loan defaulter.
But I’m horrified at how hostile and bellicose the New Zealand government is being to it’s own citizens. 
Good luck with the debt collection process, National. We’re a generation that is pretty good at not being found if we don’t want to be. We also know that you don’t actually want us to pay off our loans. If you did you’d make a deal worth taking up.
You just want us to dripfeed our minimum payments into a failed scheme to prop it up.
If you really want to find us, our lost generation will just be kicking our can all over the place:

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