Moses: “Let My Unpaid Interns Go”

Passovers Interns

The Passover story is old but not unique. Slavery in its many horrific forms has reared its ugly head all over the world for centuries. However, one type stands out as unique amongst them all, as it is the only one that is entered voluntarily.

Debt Bondage.

For thousands of years, debts followed everyone to their graves. Failure to pay their debts in full could lead to debt bondage, forced labor until the debt was repaid. The Bankruptcy Act of 1898 allowed people to choose to file for bankruptcy, giving the debtor a fresh start, a chance to begin anew, and, hopefully, pursue a better life by learning from one’s past financial mistakes. Debt bondage was outlawed in the United States, until congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). Congress essentially singled out and removed student loan debt from bankruptcy laws. Congress, pandering to special interests, has potentially put millions of students in debt bondage. (I have heard all the justifications, and none of them are legitimate. There is no real distinction between student loan debt and credit card debt. If you like BAPCPA then it should apply to everyone equally.)

If students had only racked up $60k in credit card debt, they could restructure the payments, blame predatory lending, and even discharge the debt in bankruptcy. But with $60k in non-dischargable student debt, and a market in which even entry level jobs demand prior experience, many interns find themselves in modern-day debt bondage, forced to work for free in the hopes that that will, someday, enable them to earn enough to dig their way out of debt.

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