Students stuck with gargantuan loans for life are bound in a bank-dominated "improvement" of indentured servitude.
Yesterday (Risk is Necessary for Adaptation, Innovation and Success ) I discussed the inevitable failure of systems in which risk has been transferred from those who reap the gain to others. In the case of student loans, the risk has been transferred to students who enter decades of indentured servitude.
Indentured servitude has a long history in the U.S.; many immigrants accepted servitude of between two and seven years in exchange for passage to the New World. Orphans were indentured out of orphanages to the age of 21--potentially a much longer servitude. Indeed, the labor of anyone on the public dole could be auctioned off:
From Wilma A. Dunaway's Online Archive :
By the time of the Revolutionary War, indentured servitude had been a common practice in the United States for 150 years.
Following British laws established during the colonial period, post-Revolutionary public authorities indentured the labor of those who were likely to fall upon the public dole. Appalachian county governments bound out indigent adults and children whose families could no longer care for them. The age, gender, and racial trends are clearly documented in early records of Appalachian poor houses, for women and orphans represented more than two-thirds of the individuals whose labor was auctioned off by county governments.
Isaac Miller of Anderson County, Tennessee, advertised in 1819 for the return of Margaret Hutcheson who had been bound to him by the county poor house. Obviously, the seventeen-year-old girl had tried the patience of her master, for he offered only "a reward of 6 1/4 cents to the person who w[ould] deliver her to [him]," caustically adding, "but I will not thank any person for doing so."
When an orphan was bound out by the county poor house, the child was legally tied to the master until the age of eighteen or twenty-one.
Orphans were often bound to tradesmen or farmers until age 21, and indigent adults were typically bound for three to seven years. However, there is no way to document how many laborers were bound out by their own families. When parents indentured their own children, it was for "a usual term of seven years if a girl, or five if a boy."