300,000 Reasons to Vote for Bernie

hillary and moneyIt might be old news, but this weekend I came across the story of Hillary Clinton charging UCLA $300,000 for a speech in 2014. And that was the discount rate, or rather, according to Clinton’s representatives handling negotiations with the university, it was the “special university rate.”

It’s no wonder why students graduate under a mountain of debt.

By contrast, Bernie Sanders made a grand total of $1867.42 from three speeches in 2013 and 2014, $850 of which was donated to charity. Here are the numbers.

$638.94 – Avalon Publishing Group
$378.48 – Avalon Publishing Group
$850.00 – Mahar Live Inc.

It’s worth noting that the “special university rate” she gave UCLA appears to be greater than the the $200,000 she got from Goldman Sachs. I say appears because the Goldman Sachs total is listed as the hourly rate. I have no idea how long either of the speeches took.

It matters not though, because those numbers, my friends, are the disconnect. Hillary Clinton is all about money, and while we can’t blame her for trying to scrape by on the speaking circuit after her turn as secretary of state, we can certainly blame her for the fees she charged. We can blame her for hiding the content of the speeches. We can blame her for somehow thinking she identifies with the common person trying to make a living on the  minimum wage she has been so reluctant to raise.

We can blame her for being in bed with corporate money. And by all means, we can blame her and her $300,000 for adding to the mountains of student debt for those students at UCLA who were unfortunate enough to be borrowing their way into a degree.

And I know what that’s like. I graduated college in 1995 with over $25,000 in student loan debt and languished for years on the verge of defaulting on the payments. There were deferments for as long as I could and then years of paying the monthly minimums because a degree in English Literature doesn’t bring with it high paying corporate jobs right out of college.

But that’s the thing. I didn’t want a high paying corporate job right out of college. I wanted to study that which interested me and then make a living as best I could while trying to write. And I’ve done that. I’ve scraped by, and early next year, twenty-two years after I finished college, I will finally have that debt paid. Twenty-two years. Nothing should take that long to pay off except a house.

It’s true what Bernie says. College was more of a burden after the fact. But I needed a degree in the job market. I needed a degree to support myself while writing. Hell, I needed a degree just to be able to payoff the student loan.

It pisses me off, thus, that number, that $300,000 that was put forth as some kind of discount, and a discount that really wasn’t. It was, rather, 300,000 little straws on the backs of students. And we all know that to break the proverbial camel’s back all it takes is one last little straw, one wafer-thin mint, one measly single dollar, and just reading about it makes me want to vomit.



Dave O'Leary

Dave O'Leary is a writer, musician, and Bernie supporter living in Seattle. He also writes for Northwest Music Scene where his music articles grew into this second novel, The Music Book. http://www.daveoleary.net

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