Never let it be said among diehard political supporters that the campaign season is dull, even when one candidate is 20 points down in the polls. There are always some licks to get in, and that's what happened Thursday night in Perry's Reeves Arena. A screaming hometown hoard clutching "Sonny" signs far outnumbered the visiting team, the tight-knit "Big Guy" club, as the passion level on both sides approached what one might find at a state championship high school basketball game.
The theme of the evening was corruption and education, or education and corruption, depending on how that old interchange of hope and cynicism grabbed you at any given moment of the roughly one hour that Gov. Sonny Perdue debated challenger Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.
Dignified to the point of aloofness, and terse in his answers -- and who wouldn't be, with that kind of lead -- Perdue faces the most serious corruption charge: that he obtained a specifically targeted $100,000 tax break for an out-of-state land deal he engineered last year, courtesy of the Republican Legislature.
Yet it was Taylor who took the hits on Thursday night, courtesy of the crowd.
See more photos here.
By Pamela Smithson
Today, more than ever, 18- to 35-year-olds are facing a scary financial future. Fifty percent of undergraduate students are facing an average of $20,000 debt at graduation and graduate students are facing an average of $100,000. To discuss the issue, Creative Loafing brought in Clayton English and Michael Philips, two students facing debt from student loans, and two experts on the issue, Holly Haynes, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College, and Todd Mark, director of consumer relations at the Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta.
While waiting for the debate to begin, conversations among the audience could be overheard, particularly one between two teenage girls and their mother. Their mother probably dragged them to Political Party for a wake-up call about what they could be facing in the future. ÒWhy are we here? I want a Red Bull. I want an iPod. Why do you bring us to crap like this?Ó the girls say to their mother in an entitled tone. These teenage girls were the epitome of the ÒI expectÓ attitude of Generation Lost.
The debate got off to a late start because two panelists were stuck in traffic that was bad because of heavy rain. About 20 minutes after the anticipated start time, the panelists were introduced and took their seats on stage. Host Alyssa Abkowitz squirts English with a toy water gun for being late as he clears up a misconception to the other panelists and audience members, ÒBlack people arenÕt always late, itÕs just me.Ó
English, a graduate of Florida A & M University, is facing $28,000 in student loans. He admits to the audience that he did not always make the best decisions with the money he received. Now living with his parents, English is struggling to pay his bills. ÒThereÕs not much left at the end of the month.Ó English says.
Phillips, an Emory Law student, is facing $220,000 worth of debt. Philips knew about the consequences going into the process, but it didnÕt bother him. ÒI wanted a top flight education,Ó Philips said. ÒI think about it a lot. IÕll need to take the job with the best salary as opposed to the job that is the most fulfilling.Ó PhilipsÕ attitude is surprisingly upbeat considering he owes the government and credit card companies more that 200 grand.
An audience member relates to English and Philips. ÒIÕm one of those people that had to take out loans to go to college,Ó she says. ÒWhen I graduated, I graduated with tons of debt. Six months later, I had to file a Chapter 7.Ó Students are facing a "Catch 22" situation. They want a great education to ensure a bright future, however, when they graduate, they are already thousands in debt before they even get a glimpse of that future, which is still not guaranteed.
Many young adults of this generation are using two-thirds of their income to pay back debt they incurred while in college. ÒStudents donÕt know how to make connections,Ó said Holly Haynes. ÒWe lost the sense of ÔI can follow my dream, but if I follow my dream, I might have to give up the $300,000 house.'Ó Generation Lost has an ÒI expectÓ attitude. This attitude among other factors is setting them up to fail financially.
Todd Marks often sees clients who, while in college, had no financial skills, couldnÕt manage bank accounts and damaged their credit. He also deals with others that had situational problems that damaged their credit, such as a sickness or crisis. Minimum payments on credit cards can have up to 45 percent interest rates, and if one payment is missed on one credit card, all the other credit card companies have the right to raise their interest rates as well.
As the discussion heats up, an intoxicated audience member interrupts the panelists between trips to the bathroom and bar.
The audience then found out that in the 1980s, 52 percent of financial aid came from grants and 45 percent came from loans, now 60 percent is from loans and 40 percent is from grants. ÒWhat is the government doing?Ó host Alyssa Abkowitz asks. ÒAre they abandoning the future?Ó
ÒIf you canÕt provide for yourself, your people donÕt expect anyone else to,Ó English responds. Many students have difficulty taking responsibility for their debt because they donÕt feel itÕs their fault, Haynes remarked. The government is pushing more toward personal responsibility, Mark tells the audience.
A sense of community has been lost, host Ken Edelstein said. ÒI gotta take care of myself,Ó is the mentality of Generation Lost, while at the same time they abandon larger values.
An audience member says to forget the forbearance of the loans and have a plan for paying them off. ÒItÕs all possible if you just keep that focus,Ó she yells, offering hope to Generation Lost. ÒI think our generation isnÕt very well informed,Ó says English. Alyssa Abkowitz shares with the audience a piece of advice that Mark shared with her, ÒIts not what you make, itÕs what you spend.Ó
You want to know about the sorry state of talk radio in America -- and Atlanta? Consider the fates of two homeboys, Neal Boortz and Mike Malloy.
They used to do the right-left gig when both aired on WSB radio and CNN. That was when broadcasting had balance, when Malloy and Boortz defined the limits of debate. And when there were 400 owners of stations. Now, there are a half-dozen mega-corporations.
"Malloy and I were a good example of how two people can disagree so harshly on matters, yet still get along in the real world," Boortz recalls.
Their fates since those halcyon days tell a lot about American media, as well as our disintegrating political culture. And two anecdotes illustrate how right-wing media have captured unparalleled access to power, in return for whoring themselves out as propagandists, while left radio is all but DOA.
On Sept. 15, five members of the Vast Right-Wing Radio Conspiracy were summoned for a private soiree with George Bush. The topic was hush-hush. Gee, I wonder if the quintet was being given its pre-election marching orders to ratchet up fear and defame Democrats. Or to create smoke screens to protect Republicans from criticism about the rich-win-poor-lose economy, their inattention to America's critical needs, their attacks on liberty, and that awful, bloody disaster deceitfully spun as Bush's "war on terror."
The secrecy was undone by Boortz, however. On Sept. 16, he breathlessly proclaimed on his website how he, Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved and Laura Ingraham -- a group that has amassed an incredible record of lies, distortion and bigotry -- had the day before been allowed to grovel at Fearless Leader's feet.
Keep that picture in mind.
Finish reading "The sorry state of talk radio in America" ...
Creative LoafingÕs Political Party will be returning to DadÕs Garage on Wednesday, October 11 at 8 p.m.!
The topic for the upcoming show: Generation Lost
Eighteen to 35-year-olds today are being set up for failure.
TheyÕve piled on unprecedented amounts of debt before they even reach the adult world. TheyÕve been spoon-fed self-esteem since birth. The combination has made them confident and ambitious, but also anxious and deeply in the red.
Hear experts and debtors on the issues facing "generation lost" and what you can do about it.
Co-hosted by Creative LoafingÕs Alyssa Abkowitz and Ken Edelstein
About the Guests:
Clayton English resides in Atlanta, GA. He attended Florida A&M
University where he studied business administration and communications. He
is currently a working comedian and can be seen on Robert Townsend's
"Partners in Crime" airing on the Black Family Channel.
Michael Phillips is a law student at Emory University School of Law. He
took two jobs, one of which was for a tarring company this summer, to pave
his way through law school. He earned his MA in international relations
from King's College, London and his BA in politics and philosophy at NYU. A
noted philanthropist, he gives generously to charity and wears polo shirts
Todd Mark works to build lasting relationships with reporters and journalists, promoting CCCSÕ image, mission, services and financial literacy to the public. He also handles Internet research and web development.As spokesman, he has appeared numerous times on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, WGN and NPR. Mr. Mark joined CCCS in March 2001, following five years at WSB-AM Radio in Atlanta, where he was a producer of the Clark Howard Show. Besides producing segments of the program, he handled consumer disputes, contributed Web site content, organized marketing tours and managed affiliate relations. He also served as master of ceremonies for pre-game shows for the Atlanta Braves (and continues to do so).
Mr. Mark holds a BachelorÕs degree in telecommunications from Indiana University. He lives in Woodstock with his wife, daughter and son.
Dr. Holly A. Haynes is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College. She recently completed her doctorate at Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology. Dr. Haynes has been involved in research with Boston's Children's Hospital, the California Endowment, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her primary research interests are in locus of control, academic achievement, women's mental health issues, and the psychology of immigration. Dr. Haynes most current research focuses on definitions of "generation me," "classroom engagement," and "innovation" in teaching.
And another special guest to be named later. Keep visiting the site for updates and new information as the show approaches!
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