Mo’ Money, Less Problems

This song, “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars is the kind of song that becomes popular not because of itself–but because of the world right now. It’s not a product of talent (though it IS catchy). It’s a product of its environment. It’s a pop culture version of the protest song.

We’re (STILL) in one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression (despite what many politicians may have us believe) and with its first line “I wanna be a billionaire so ****ing bad” is it shocking that this song is getting so much radio play?

Every time I hear this song on the radio when I’m driving to work I can’t help but feel conflicted. This song is terrible. The lyrics are horrifying. It revels in its simplicity to sell itself–which is one thing I hate the most in music. HOWEVER, I ALWAYS, always, always find myself singing along because despite how horrible I think it is…this song is my life.

I just graduated from college. I’m about to go to a very good (albeit very expensive) graduate school and my summer job is not giving me the hours I need. I am poor and I probably will be for the better part of the next decade (or two) because even if I get a good job post-masters degree in the spring on 2011 I’m still going to have to pay off my student loans.

If you come from a working-middle class family like I do you’re caught in the middle. If you’re poor the government will pay for your college education. If you’re rich, your family will. If you’re middle class you need to shoulder student loans and then worry about paying them back at some ridiculously high interest rate. It’s not exactly fair. I worked so hard in high school for high SAT scores and a 97/100 GPA. Yes, I got some scholarships but not as many as if I was dirt poor which went to people with lower GPAs but more financial “need.” Then I killed myself in college to graduate in four years with two majors, a 3.8 GPA, Phi Beta Kappa and with honors and still…I got nothing for graduate school. Why? Because apparently four years of student loans still doesn’t constitute “financial need.”

How do they generate “financial need” anyway? If you ask me, I’m needy. My parents swing me some money when they can, but paying for college is all on me. My Dad works overtime and my mom works two jobs (both average over 60 hours a week at work) to make car and mortgage payments but I still get minimal state and federal funding. Why? because the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is so completely and utterly broken. The FAFSA sees that may parents make a lot of money (because of the overtime and extra jobs) and automatically assumes they’re going to use it to pay for my education. What the FAFSA neglects to look at is where their money goes…my dependent grandmother, car payments, bills, our house, groceries…at the end of the day we get by but there’s  not a lot left over.

Sometimes I wish my parents just worked one 40 hours a week job and, I don’t know, applied for Food Stamps or something so we could have the opportunity to milk the government for money. At least then I’d get something.

People call President Obama a “socialist” for all he’s doing to try to ease the economic situation on the American people. Am I the only one who thinks he’s not doing enough? He’s ignoring the middle class. Sen. Chuck Schumer seems to be the only person associated with Washington DC who cares about the middle class right now. Where’s FDR when we ned him?

I don’t mean to sound crass. I know that there are LOTS of people out there who get government aid who truly use it for the right reasons and do deserve it. I guess I’m just bitter because I work so hard yet I always end up falling short in the eyes of the government and financial aid officers. I’m grateful to get what little aid I do receive especially because it’s hard to come by these days. I just feel so helpless and frustrated.

I have all these dreams and goals but I feel like they’re too lofty. College students are the demographic hit the hardest by this economy. We have debt and we can’t find jobs because they’re aren’t any…and we can’t pay off our loans without jobs and the jobs that are out there need experience, but we can’t get experience unless we take an unpaid internship…which we can’t afford to do. It’s a catch-22. Right now, in this economy, you need experience to get experience. You need to have some kind of money to make any money.

What I wouldn’t give for ONE day in my life where I didn’t have to stress about money.

They say that money can’t buy happiness…maybe that’s true later in life when you’ve established yourself…but right now, money could buy me all the happiness in the world.

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