Debt: More Social Ill Than Free Will 💸
Sounds Like Impact: A newsletter for audio and action
Welcome to Sounds Like Impact!
Today’s newsletter is about some of the biggest debt-related matters our societies face to today. Is debt the personal failing it is almost always framed as, or is there something more going on?
Before we find out…
ICYMI: Last week we had a guest curation from Elizabeth Doerr from Cramming for the Apocalypse podcast.
Congratulations to the 2023 Anthem Award Winners!
I judged this year and had the opportunity to find out about social impact initiatives I was not aware of. Learn more about the winners here. Also, some great podcasts were included among this year’s winners, including Sold A Story, Dear Alana (we had a guest curation from the creator ICYMI!), Borrowed and Banned, Wrongful Conviction, After Broad & Market just to name a handful.
From the #SoundsLikeImpact Community:
Beatriz Nour recently released the podcast series ‘On Palestine’, which centers Palestinian voices, within the feed of the In-Betweenish podcast. Please listen.
Angela Hollowell has a podcast and newsletter for entrepreneurs and creators called. Given this current issue’s focus on money, I venture we could learn a thing or two from some entrepreneurs!
This newsletter is free to everyone, and it will stay that way. But if you can pay the voluntary subscription fee or make a one-time /recurring donation, that would be a huge help to cover costs and bank for future newsletter-related projects. Thank you for reading and subscribing.
Reminder: To guest curate, be interviewed, advertise and more, click here.
🎧 #AudioForAction Theme of the Week
Our Debt Crisis
Is everyone out here just making bad financial choices? We are often fed the narrative that those with debt are just irresponsible with money. And sure, there are choices we all make, but a few careless credit card purchases here and there is not why—at least in the U.S.—the average person is over $90K in debt. And by now I am sure folks have heard that Most Americans Save, but Many Can’t Cover a $1,000 Emergency.
But given that wages have been stagnant and not keeping up with inflation for decades, that the government refuses to adequately raise the federal minimum wage, and that we seem to be witnessing an almost endless stream of layoffs, is it a surprise that people are in debt? I know I’m just scratching the surface here, and not even adjusting for race, gender and ability.
Is it then really a surprise that people aren’t having children…millennials aren’t buying homes…Gen-Z doesn’t want to go to college…many baby boomers don’t actually have enough for retirement?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I believe that at the very least healthcare and education are essential for a healthy society, so let’s dig into why debt is such a big problem for the majority, and what we can do about it.
Indebted - Race and Debt in America, Forgive Us of Our Debts
This series looks at multiple forms of debt, but the series starts with the host’s experience with debt. Specifically, medical debt from having a child and student loans.
The Weeds, Understanding the Student Debt Crisis (2019)
While there has been newer coverage of the student debt crisis, including recent changes (like this January’s cancellation), I thought this episode was a pretty helpful primer. And while there may be updates to the numbers, a lot of what was said still remains.
If you would rather add some humor to a frustrating topic, opt for this newer The Daily Show: Ears Edition episode America’s Student Debt Crisis
Death, Sex & Money, I Did Surrogacy for Money and Now I’m Starting Over
Medical debt (childbirth related) and other financial issues were the impetus for this decision. There are plenty of Death, Sex & Money topics that could’ve been a fit for this curation, but I was particularly interested in this exploration of what we sometimes do when we are financially strained.
Last year I contributed to at least four medical-related GoFundMe’s. We are in crisis and so it is important to hear from people affected in order to rally for change.
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🚨 Calls to Action
Navigate: Check out these podcast episodes that might be able to help you sort through your emotions around money, as well as help you plan for our economic realities.
How to Ditch Your Money Baggage from The Dough
Don’t Tip the IRS from Diversifying
Life Kit has some great episodes on money-related topics, including but not limited to, “Tips for negotiating your medical bills,” and “How to talk to your parents about money”. For all money eps, click here.
From carceral debt to renter’s debt, this Debt Collective x Prism partnership series, “We Owe You Nothing,” examines and celebrates the growing debt abolition movement.
Donate: You can help eliminate medical debt for individuals around the country. And yes, the government should be helping more here but we aren’t all the way there yet, so if you can, please consider giving.
Participate: Debtors Demand Debt Cancellation: A National Call hosted by The Debt Collective on February 20th, 8-9pm EST.
Stay Informed: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been working on consumer debt protections, particularly around aggressive medical debt collection. They’ve recently announced Rulemaking to Remove Medical Bills from Credit Reports and shutting down Commonwealth Financial Systems for Illegal Debt Collection Practices. They have an email newsletter so you can stay up to date and find out about public hearings.
Support: Let your Senator (and this Senate Committee) know you would like them to support S. 2876: School Lunch Debt Cancellation Act of 2023.
Children are going hungry over school lunch “debt” (and those lacking empathy want to shame students and punish their parents as a result by threatening Child Protective Services). If you want to learn more about school lunch issues in the U.S., please check out my interview with Jessica Terrell, host and reporter of Left Over.
Nothing to promote but still want to support? You can donate here.