Patterico's Pontifications

3/24/2009

Forgiveness of Student Loans As a Stimulus Idea

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:34 pm



Allahpundit has a post about massive student loan forgiveness as a stimulus idea. He says:

My sense of personal responsibility says no but my debt-crushed monthly budget cries proceed:

I can’t tell for sure if he’s being tongue in cheek or not, but this proposal is definitely in line with the “To Hell With Everything” attitude of the Obama administration. Allah conceded a personal stake in his analysis so I’ll concede mine: I’m one of those yutzes who actually paid mine off early.

My Dad, who would have been 84 last week, always advised me to pay off all my student loans. Everyone around me said: “The interest rates are low!” and “You should invest it and make more!” but I took Dad’s advice.

When I started out work, I worked at a civil law firm where the hours were typical big New York firm hours; basically, if things weren’t busy, you had a few hours to yourself on Saturday and that was it. I got up, went to work, drove home and went straight to bed, and repeated. 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 p.m was a typical day if we weren’t busy; going home at 1:30 a.m. was typical if we were. Half day on Saturdays most easy weeks, and 8-9 hours on Sunday.

I’m not complaining; the money was good and I chose it.

One of my former partners still reads the site, and I want her to know that I mean no offense when I say my biggest joys in life were: a) seeing if I could get from the garage to a particular spot on the 90 Freeway in less than 15 minutes, and b) watching my checking account balance grow. Most of the people around me got fancy cars and such, but I had an idea I wanted to head into government work, which would be a huge pay cut, so I paid off the debts. And then my wife’s. And all our credit cards. And all our car loans.

If the government that wants to bail out irresponsible homeowners also decided to forgive all student loans, it would send a terrible message: you aren’t responsible for your own debts. (What am I saying? We’re already sending that message with home loans.) I think it’s a destructive message to send, and essentially punishes those of us who worked to pay off the debts.

Incentivizing irresponsibility is not a solution to economic problems.

108 Responses to “Forgiveness of Student Loans As a Stimulus Idea”

  1. A VERY good post. It underlines the “feelings over fact” issue driving discussion in this nation.

    Owning a home is apparently now a right. It doesn’t matter if you cannot afford one.

    And yes, the folks who do actually pay their debts will become angry, and this will drive the class warfare meme that is in play.

    Which is the point, I am beginning to suspect.

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  2. I can understand the 94% who pay their mortage on time looking behind themselves to see why they are being screwed for being responsible.

    Never envy the rich or pity the poor. Each is what they make themselves.

    Scrapiron (996c34)

  3. The bigger problem with not paying loans is it destroys the entire concept of money.

    We are creating a society of dead beats who think if things don’t go their way — just go BK.

    Jimminy'cricket (637168)

  4. You are right on this. It rewards irresponsibility. Basically anyone who kept their school debt undercontrol or (even more stupidly) paid their debt off is a sucker. It is a terrible message.

    Joe (17aeff)

  5. I maxed out on my student loans and wound up paying for the last semester of my second graduate degree by juggling credit card advances between cards. This was back in the day before all those balance transfer offers flooded your mailbox every week. Scary times.

    The Obamas. They bought a big ass condo before they repaid their student loans.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  6. Why not? We are going to pay off bad mortgages, and even 2nd mortgages. Why not student loans? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

    JD (45da85)

  7. How about, instead of a $1.75 trillion deficit, we just print everyone 50 $100 bills?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  8. Everybody has got it wrong. Obama cleary staed tonight that HUMONGUS government deficits will put us back on a firm financial footing for our childrens’ futures. What’s not to like about that? Meanwhile, he will be attacking those deficits by reducing defense spending and other wasyeful programs as he implements his dirty socialist programs.

    Seriously, what CAN go wrong?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  9. What will be next?

    JD (45da85)

  10. To believe Obama is to suspend the principles of reason and accountability.

    I get sick hearing his nonsense.

    Jimminy'cricket (637168)

  11. Why can’t we all be guaranteed the life of rock stars and let future generations pay it back plus owe the Red Chinese trillions which we should just default on or print massive amounts of greenbacks?

    Men At Work had the right idea- you get your money for nothing and your chicks for free. Capitalism has been good for the Obamas at least. Isn’t it time for another autobiography from him with a huge advance? Arugula and fresh fruit costs money. How many of our esteem public servants in government are not getting filthy rich? Algore lost in 2000 but makes out like a bandit on his global warming scam. The Breck Girl channels hearing dead kids into millions for his bank account.
    Let us emulate what transpired in New Orleans for the longest time- more citizens on the public dole and a real war on poverty. Hell, level all the infrastructure that is perceived as shabby and give people large new homes. That would also benefit the construction industry. Give people vouchers for new Chrysler and GM cars. People deserve the best. We can just pretend we are fighting terrorism and spend the dough on the “needy”. And why not “free” college and post-grad educations for everyone? Plus free medical care, prostitutes, vacations, fancy restaurant vouchers. Let those with the Protestant work ethic support the rest of us. And make the minimum a living wage whether it is $20 or $100 an
    hour. And don’t forget reparations for descendants of slaves too.

    /sarcasm intended

    aoibhneas (0c6cfc)

  12. Cars. Houses. Plasmas. Projectors. Golf clubs. Daycare, nevermind.

    JD (45da85)

  13. #11, um get your pop culture references right …. Dire Straights.

    Jimminy'cricket (637168)

  14. I foolishly worked long hours and saved my money prior to attending graduate school and managed to graduated with no debt. I should have borrowed the money and used my savings to buy a fancy car and vacation at topless Mediterranean beaches. Silly me.

    Perfect Sense (0922fa)

  15. From a financial perspective, wouldn’t it be bad for the lenders were these loans to be paid off in full en masse like that? I never had any student loans, so I am not familiar with their structure. Is there an early payment penalty? If not, the lenders would seem to lose out on a large chunk of interest income that they had counted on earning when they entered into the contract. Am I wrong?

    It really does not matter, as it is a painfully stupid idea on its face. But I bet the public opinion polls would favor it. Just like making the rich pay more taxes.

    JD (45da85)

  16. JD,

    Early payment of high interest loans hurts banks in the long run.

    Student loans are definitely high interest and very profitable so long as they get repaid.

    Jimminy'cricket (637168)

  17. Flying cars, floating houses, plasma rifles, holographic projectors, telekinetic golf clubs (my shots always look better in my head), robotic daycare. Think big JD. A unicorn in every garage.

    On topic, I never took out a student loan. My son is in his junior year of college and hasn’t taken out a student loan. When did owning a home and a college education become inalienable rights? Do they really want to make everyone who does what used to be considered responsible and honorable feel like suckers?

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  18. Comment by Jimminy’cricket — 3/24/2009 @ 9:12 pm

    Now we know why Hillary is in the Cabinet…
    She’s the coordinator for the suspension of disbelief!

    AD - RtR/OS (19c3d6)

  19. Subtract government subsidies from American universities — the world’s best, overall — and the sector would shrink dramatically.
    If you look at the red vs blue map of America, you’ll see that wherever there’s a university, it’s blue. Where there are none, it’s red. Easy to see why so many conservatives would welcome the decimation of our student population.
    I have to admit, it probably is too easy to worm your way into and out of a university these days. It might be good to make kids have to work a bit harder to pay for it on their own, especially if, along with that, you increased subsidies to junior colleges.

    Where I went to school, about 75 percent of students had financial aid of some sort, including loans. Of the paying 25 percent, about half were from outside the U.S.

    To compete with China, Japan and Korea, America needs a lot more, not less, college educated people. It make sense to me to extend the government’s mandate to pay for K-12 education to two years of community college.

    Hax Vobiscum (23258e)

  20. A young man who is all but a son to me will be receiving his PhD in Clinical Psychology this June. Between the two private institutions at which he matriculated, he owes, give or take, $200K.

    A couple of years ago, he was able to roll it all into a consolidated loan and lock the interest at 4.5%.

    He darn well better be made to pay it back. He will be making enough to do it, thankfully. Given his expected earnings in a few years, I have little doubt that, one way or another, the State will recoup its investment.

    Ed from SFV (7da696)

  21. I’ve been steadily socking away money on my student loan and extra principal payments on my house the last 3 years, damn fool that I am.

    Josh (e25cc0)

  22. Hacky Sack is slaughtering strawmen again. Dishonest little shit.

    JD (45da85)

  23. I am one of those people who swore he would never drive one of those nice, expensive cars. I made a deal with my wife where, if i paid off those student loans, we would buy a nice car with the same monthly payment. At the time, I joked it would be a really nice car! And, 10 years later, it is. Nicest car I’ve ever had by a factor of 3.

    I swear, it’s like personal responsibility is some sort of antiquated religion from the dark ages.

    carlitos (efdd90)

  24. “…Easy to see why so many conservatives would welcome the decimation of our student population….”

    The song remains the same. The goal here is to goad other people into responding to ignorant insults. It’s just a game.

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  25. Actually, the real students aren’t the problem.
    It is the perpetual students, and all of those middle layers between them and up to, and including, the tenured professors that need to be thinned out (Sorry, EB!).

    AD - RtR/OS (19c3d6)

  26. Eric: the record of your posts here shows you love the game, hence never refrain from playing in it. You just hate to lose.

    Hax Vobiscum (23258e)

  27. Not repaying a debt is a default and it’s deflationary. The effect is the opposite of a stimulus. The effect would be almost as bad as if everyone suddenly didn’t have to pay their mortgage any more, but got to spend the money elsewhere as an “stimulus.” All banks would fail immediately. The FDIC would fail. Credit would cease, or interest rates for new loans would be extremely high.

    Official Internet Data Office (cbf26d)

  28. No, Hax. I’m waiting for you to keep your word. You promised to leave if anything you posted has been proved a lie.

    You lied about Stash, you are caught.

    You should leave.

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  29. Dire Straights? No, Dire Straits.

    I have a kiddo who has been weighing out law school in the fall and assuming new students loans. Better call her up and tell her the good news!

    When did owning a home and a college education become inalienable rights?

    When enough people who had serious issues with working and self-reliance began screaming so loudly they could not be ignored. It’s much easier to give into a fit-throwing toddler rather than standing your ground. And it’s so unfortunate when one considers how many people throughout the world are desperate to come here and have that opportunity and privilege of home ownership and bettering themselves, unafraid of the hard work and sacrifice they know it will require. They just want the golden opportunity.

    Dana (137151)

  30. Actually, Dana, giving people things makes them more dependent on government handouts. Which is the point, I suspect.

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  31. “I swear, it’s like personal responsibility is some sort of antiquated religion from the dark ages.”

    Go ahead Carl, pat yourself on the back. Have a cookie.

    95 percent of student loan holders were current on their payments as of 2008, down from 96 percent the year before and the same the year before that.

    Hax Vobiscum (23258e)

  32. Mendacem oportet esse memorem. -Quintilian

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  33. Which is the point, I suspect.

    Of course.

    Dana (137151)

  34. Dear Generation Y/Millennials:

    Here is our offer to you: We will bequeath you a nation with out of control inflation, a budget gobbled up by entitlement programs, government intrusion into every facet of your life, job opportunities limited to a bureaucrat or a government flunkie, and confiscatory levels of taxation. In return, you don’t have to pay your student loans.

    Deal?

    Fondly yours,
    The Baby Boomers and Generation X

    JVW (bff0a4)

  35. I just dropped more than 10 Gs on an early unscheduled pre-payment.

    And I reduced the size of my loans last year.

    I must have “Chump” written right on my forehead.

    PS: Bravo @ JVW’s comment. Hilarious–at least, it would be if it wasn’t so accurate.

    Daryl Herbert (b65640)

  36. Don’t say plasmas, JD, that’s greenist.

    CA May Ban Plasmas

    Patricia (2183bb)

  37. “95 percent of student loan holders were current on their payments as of 2008″

    Wow, not that different the percentage of homeowners current on their mortgages. There must be a student loan crisis we need to address.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  38. “Incentivizing irresponsibility is not a solution to economic problems.”

    In addition, it is not solution to any problem.

    tyree (2f5c09)

  39. The danger with these kinds of programs is that they encourage “moral hazard” behavior. By the time I finish my graduate school work, I will owe $120k+ in student loans. My wife owes a similar amount (her current interest rate is below 2% — no kidding), and the payments are flexible and affordable. She consolidated her loans and it isn’t that difficult to keep up with the payments. And if you are in financial trouble, they allow deferrals that are based on economic hardship. These things are as friendly as can be. To remove any responsibility to pay them is ridiculous.

    But it is also something that the millenials seem to be pushing for. Check out the 80 million strong site (http://80millionstrong.org/). The millenials are actually complaining that they have to “compete with more experienced workers for even the most entry-level positions” in addition to having credit card and student loan debt.

    Debt forgiveness for the genuinely destitute might be considered charitable, but broad scope loan forgiveness creates a significant burden on society and — as I wrote earlier — encourages moral hazard behavior.

    Christian (6b8354)

  40. No student loan, no car loan, no mortgage. And I’ve actually been saving for retirement. I’ve been such a FOOL!!!

    Richard Blaine (6536a6)

  41. No student loan, no car loan, no mortgage. And I’ve actually been saving for retirement. I’ve been such a FOOL!!!

    Comment by Richard Blaine — 3/24/2009 @ 11:52 pm

    *Applauds*

    Really enjoying all the “I’ve been such a fool” stories above. In college worked 40 hours a week waitressing midnight shift, roomed at home (waterboarding woulda been less torture), did work-study programs also, went w/o sleep for four years of community college + cheap state college so I could graduate w/ $1,500 in student loans. Which I paid off early.

    Shoulda partied all night in dorms and done six years of some fun Hawaii school. Feel…so…stoopid…

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  42. Well, my daughter is getting her student loans paid off by Uncle Sam, but she had to join the Army to get that done. If people want their student loans forgiven, there’s a way to earn that forgiveness.

    The Dana who also paid off his student loans (3e4784)

  43. Worked my way to 2 degrees in night school.

    Man was I stupid!

    EricPWJohnson (c0d683)

  44. It would be a good first step to just take out the middlemen in subsidizing private lenders. Spend that money on something else.

    imdw (b1617d)

  45. Another good step would to end the public school state subsidies and enter true competition amoung colleges.

    EricPWJohnson (c0d683)

  46. I’d love to not have loan debt, but I knew what I was getting into and have worked hard to reduce my debt load. I think the educational system has huge systemic problems, but that’s another discussion.

    All I can say is that if the government is throwing out money, I might as well get something as an advance on years of inflation and stagnation, but I’d rather that it not happen at all. I’d rather be responsible and ask the same of others.

    Dr T (324d86)

  47. the people with the biggest student loan debt are the ones that should be most able to pay it off. This is just inarguable.

    That said, insert scathing and appalled comment here about the very idea. Appalled for real. That’s a twisted proposal for all kinds of reasons that I don’t think I can lay out in a civil way just now. Twisted and also it makes me sad. Who are we anymore?

    happyfeet (ba8a9d)

  48. To some extent, there are two discussions taking place.

    The first is how to get the economy moving, which is somewhat morally neutral. Helicopter Ben Bernanke may be right that dumping helicopter loads of money will jump start it. Even if we don’t use helicopters, money seems to be the answer, so providing more money, either in handouts or in debt removal, would do the same thing (assuming that more money is actually the answer. It may be, it may not be.) If debt removal is the trick, then the govt assumption of bad loans should help. Debt forgiveness to individuals would help. If they really want to pump money into the economy, cancel all credit card debt. After all, the taxpayers who are in debt are the same ones who owe on credit cards and student loans.

    The second discussion is a moral one: should people in debt be allowed to skip paying the debt. Unfortunately, the moral issue is undoubtedly the forerunner of the debt issue. It seems that the government is perfectly happy to subsidize the immorality of businesses and banks, as well as individuals unwilling to work and provide for themselves. It seems a smallish thing to ignore the moral failings of the people who supported the companies through commerce, paid the taxes that will bail them out, and supported the non-productive in our society for years.

    But perhaps not.

    Scott (c91a22)

  49. Student loan forgiveness as stimulus. Perhaps, forgiveness is the wrong word here. Student loan interes, maybe. I wouldn’t want, nor would I ask anyone, least of all the feds to pay my debt, but in terms of a stimulus plan this would put significant amounts of liquidity in the market, very quickly. Not only that, but college grads tend to be big spenders, otherwise they wouldn’t have racked up the insane debt to begin with.

    I really don’t see this as any different than eliminating income tax rates for a year as a stimulus. This to was proposed and quickly dispatched.

    Dan (6f8265)

  50. Repayment of student loans is so important that those loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. 11 USC 523(a)(8).

    Therefore, we should let student debtors off the hook for their loans.

    Or something.

    Attila (Pillage Idiot) (7e2b79)

  51. I really don’t see this as any different than eliminating income tax rates for a year as a stimulus. This to was proposed and quickly dispatched.
    Comment by Dan — 3/25/2009 @ 6:48 am

    Letting people keep money they have earned is quite different than letting people keep money they have borrowed. Just sayin’ :)

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  52. Stashiu – Nuance. Plus, it is apparent that the Leftists do not view earned income as anything other than future government revenue.

    JD (dfa7f5)

  53. JD,

    I don’t know Dan and took the comment in good faith. Maybe he’s a Lefty and maybe not, I honestly don’t know. He said he didn’t see the difference and I pointed it out, hopefully in a helpful manner.

    Racist. 😉

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  54. #34, Don’t blame Gen X for the bankrupt ideology of Baby Boomers.

    Frankly, we have been royally screwed by the Baby Boom and Echo Boom (Gen Y).

    Jimminy'cricket (637168)

  55. Murderer!

    JD (dfa7f5)

  56. Murderer!
    Comment by JD — 3/25/2009 @ 7:27 am

    Premeditated and predetermined you know.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  57. “95 percent of student loan holders were current on their payments as of 2008″

    Wow, not that different the percentage of homeowners current on their mortgages. There must be a student loan crisis we need to address.

    Comment by daleyrocks — 3/24/2009 @ 10:52 pm

    LOL

    Stashiu3, I do think that it was useful to point that out (earn vs. borrow), given the ongoing reframing of terms in these discussions — how are we going to ‘pay for‘ tax cuts, etc.

    Wasn’t Obama going to reinstate “pay as you go” budget rules? I guess he didn’t want to waste a good crisis.

    carlitos (efdd90)

  58. “Letting people keep money they have earned is quite different than letting people keep money they have borrowed.”

    Excellent line. Those people, they were tricked into signing for those student loans, they didn’t understand what they were doing, they couldn’t afford the loans, the lenders were unscrupulous, yada yada, yada……..

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  59. Back when I got out of HS, my family wasn’t eligible for the loan program (circa ’79), so I went to community college, then matriculated into a public university. I have no idea why this plan still seems so foreign to much of our populace – community college not only weeds out those who cannot handle college – level course work, but it also provides a valuable alternative education in the much – needed trades. It also allowed me to continue to work in my old job until I left for the state college – saved a ton of money for both myself and my family.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  60. 59- I have no clue about costs today for education. I do keep hearing that things would improve if we would only spend more. How is it that students apparently did perform so much better when I was in high school in the sixties? I wonder what role more liberal policies and teachers’ unions play in it all?

    I too went to a community college for two years in the early seventies and recall paying $15 a credit hour while working nights to support myself. I don’t recall what I paid for Villanova U. or Villanova Law but the small loan I did take out at the law school was paid off within one year.
    If we look at things like health and education costs there must be some reason that they far outpace inflation. I know various bureaucrats in education and in health care and I really don’t know what they do that is worth six figure salaries since they are mostly not people directly involved with either students or patients. My personal take is that the feds and all their bullspit requirements for mountains of nonsensical paperwork passed on through various lackey layers adds to costs immensely. Does anyone other than O’Dumbo apologists actually believe that costs won’t further soar with new federal agencies and personnel? Yeah, tax cheat Geither, Dodd, Frank, Pelosi and Reid are all looking out for OUR best interests.

    aoibhneas (0c6cfc)

  61. Patterico: I think it is likely that I will want to go into government service, which will we be a pay cut from what I’m making now … so I’m working full time and only going to law school part time, with the result that I can get away with minimal loans.

    But I think everyone would be better off if we could find a way to fund education without the result that the majority comes out with debt that they will find difficult to pay off, and whose career choices are restricted by the requirements of their loans.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  62. If you look at the red vs blue map of America, you’ll see that wherever there’s a university, it’s blue. Where there are none, it’s red.

    That’s not quite true. I can point to several areas around universities which are predominantly Republican. Irvine, CA, would be a good example.

    Easy to see why so many conservatives would welcome the decimation of our student population.

    What good would reducing the student population by 10% do? Students make up a fairly small percentage of the entire population, and 10% of students is almost insignificant.

    Steverino (69d941)

  63. Just my two cents:

    I’m one of the idiots who paid for college entirely out of his own pocket, with no loans.

    Yes, forgiving student loans sends a bad message. But it’s probably better than the list of goofy left-wing spending items in the stimulus bill.

    I just don’t think this is much of a stimulus. How many people will it affect? How much extra spending money in the hands of American consumers will it create?

    Steverino (69d941)

  64. Colleges and universities need to radically alter their organization and cost structure. College tuition has been rising at several times the rate of inflation for decades now, and there is no good reason for it.

    SPQR (72771e)

  65. SPQR, I don’t have the statistics handy.

    But you should plot the number of faculty versus students…and compare it to the number of administrators versus students.

    And by “administrators,” I mean administrators who make faculty level salaries.

    You’ll find your answer there.

    It’s part of the problem in K-12, as well.

    Jerry Pournelle calls this “The Iron Law of Bureaucracy.”

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  66. “College tuition has been rising at several times the rate of inflation for decades now, and there is no good reason for it.”

    SPQR – Availability of student loans might be one of the good reasons.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  67. I did not borrow any money to go to undergrad ( which was quite a long time ago … ). Back then, the California state university I attended was pretty reasonably priced via tax subsidy. When I went to law school, I was in my late ’30’s, and I got a full free ride offer from several law schools in California based on my LSAT score, previous grads and such. So I did not have any loans after graduating from law school.

    SPQR (72771e)

  68. Just a counterpoint. What is mostly being talked about is some further protections for the borrowers. Something along the lines of not being able to add 25-50% in fees/penalties to the loan balance if you go into default, even if it is temporary.

    We (as a society) don’t go after peoples income for years and years if they walk away from their homes.

    Otherwise, why don’t we bring back debtor’s prison and/or indentured workers?

    JW (24ccd7)

  69. JW, actually the BAPCA reform of bankruptcy law moved a bit that direction, thanks to Congress.

    SPQR (72771e)

  70. When I started out work, I worked at a civil law firm where the hours were typical big New York firm hours; basically, if things weren’t busy, you had a few hours to yourself on Saturday and that was it. I got up, went to work, drove home and went straight to bed, and repeated. 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 p.m was a typical day if we weren’t busy; going home at 1:30 a.m. was typical if we were. Half day on Saturdays most easy weeks, and 8-9 hours on Sunday.

    I’m inclined to agree with you about “incentivizing irresponsibility” but I think you must be aware of how very different your personal circumstances are from the vast majority of those who attended law school. In truth, there are quite a few attorneys out there right now who’d love to be in the position you were in coming out of law school. Me, for example. I did quite well in law school, and now find myself struggling to get a job at smaller law firms; a job working in Big Law is simply out of the question. I did my homework before starting law school, and was under the same impression most other law students are under, that if you commit to the work it takes to do well, you’ll be rewarded with a job that will allow you to pay off the massive debt you incur and live comfortably (or even in prosperity) for the rest of your life. Now, thanks to the massive economic downturn in general and the downturn in the legal market in particular, I find that that’s not the case. Was I irresponsible to attend to law school, work hard, get good grades, and incur massive student loan debt in the process? I don’t think so. And I work very hard to pay my loans on time, every month. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lay awake at night wondering how I’m going to keep paying them in the future, given the sorts of offers I’m getting right now.

    Now that doesn’t mean that I think everyone should get their loans wiped out so they can start with a clean slate. That’s absurd. But I think it’s reasonable to ask our lawmakers to consider or expand upon programs that would make it easier to pay that debt off.

    Xanthippas (ddef4c)

  71. Mr Vobiscum wrote:

    If you look at the red vs blue map of America, you’ll see that wherever there’s a university, it’s blue. Where there are none, it’s red.

    That’s true enough. You’re going from areas where people live off the money their parents send them to areas where people have to actually work for a living.

    Making people support themselves is a great way of turning liberals into conservatives.

    The Dana who supports himself (3e4784)

  72. Availability of student loans might be is one of the good reasons.

    When did medical costs begin rising?…on the expansion of employer paid healthcare insurance.

    When did house prices skyrocket?…on the expansion of no-doc mortgages and the Fed’s interest rate cuts.

    Just to name two. Generalities? Of course, but you get the picture.

    But I think it’s reasonable to ask our lawmakers to consider or expand upon programs that would make it easier to pay that debt off.

    Why is it reasonable? That was your choice to take the financial risk. I’m sorry for your plight, and I don’t mean this personally, but this sentiment that no one can fail or needs to pay for their mistakes is the premise that underlies this current debt drenched stimulus and bailout strategy. I made plenty of wrong choices along the way. I’ve paid for them all. That is reasonable to me. And I understand that living in the US means my taxes will be used unreasonably. So, I suppose one could say I’m paying for that choice. So be it.

    allan (fc38ac)

  73. I have a better idea for a stimulus, lets forgive all tax burdens for small business owners that are not making enough money to pay both their bills and taxes. And they should cut the tax rate for both personal and business to no more than 5% – 10%.

    If they want to stimulate the economy, people and businesses have to have money to spend.

    ML (14488c)

  74. We got the government we deserved. It’s a rule of nature and there’s no blame to anyone.

    nk (8b95c5)

  75. Why is it reasonable? That was your choice to take the financial risk. I’m sorry for your plight, and I don’t mean this personally, but this sentiment that no one can fail or needs to pay for their mistakes is the premise that underlies this current debt drenched stimulus and bailout strategy. I made plenty of wrong choices along the way. I’ve paid for them all. That is reasonable to me.

    Nothing I said indicates a belief that “no one can fail or needs to pay for their mistakes.” As I clearly stated, I believe that no one should be rewarded for making foolish choices. And I don’t believe that anyone should have their student loan slate wiped clean. So why is it unreasonable to create or expand programs that will help people do what they want to do anyway, which is responsibly pay off their loans? Let’s not fall prey to hyperbole here.

    Xanthippas (ddef4c)

  76. I feel sorry for all of those college graduates who are working to support Obamafication and pay off crushing college loans. But is this fair to those of us who scrimped, saved, and went to college on a “pay as you go basis” to avoid the post-graduation debt burden? Once again, those who behave prudently are punished (or just ignored) while those who incur debts they cannot afford to pay are let off the hook.

    Instead of forgiving the college loans, why not give credit towards them for volunteer work?

    Jaime (88d0da)

  77. To compete with China, Japan and Korea, America needs a lot more, not less, college educated people

    College educated people are not very well educated anymore except in sciences. Here is my daughter’s freshman American History textbook from U of Arizona.

    From a review: Johnson explains the concept of privilege, as it applies to race, gender and sexual orientation, in ways that allow my White students and other students with privilege to hear and understand without getting defensive. He desribes why change is difficult but not impossible, what we can all do to stop supporting “the system” and why we should. I recommend it highly for both college and high school students and the general adult population.

    This is the textbook for US History since 1877.

    Any wonder why these students are ignorant about anything but evil white men ?

    My niece in Chicago decided not to go to medical school because she did not want the student loans. She got a scholarship to nursing school and is now an OR nurse plus she has a rock band. She had a BS from U of I and a Masters from Loyola so the nursing school fell all over themselves to give her a scholarship. The rock band is doing well, too. They tour twice a year.

    As a nurse practitioner, she will make as much as most new primary care MDs. She’ll just have $250,000 less in debt.

    University education is grossly over rated now. Pretty soon, parents are going to figure that out.

    Mike K (8df289)

  78. Jaime: I could get behind that.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  79. Mike K: virtually every history or political science class I took as an undergradute had several textbooks. I suspect that is true for your daughter’s class, as well; and if this is one textbook among several, it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  80. Mike K – University of Illinois? I miss Chief Illiniwek.

    JD (e738c0)

  81. I remember listening to a long report on NPR a few years back about how we are running out of linemen for telephone / electrical companies. Lots of them are retiring and aren’t being replaced fast enough. Anecdotally at least, this seems to be true for many skilled trades. I suspect that a skilled trade might be more useful than a Women’s Studies or similar degree, at least in the medium-term. More and more, I’m thinking that the community college system can be leveraged to meet our needs.

    At the minimum, if we are going to turn out people educated in history, it would behoove us to teach them history. Mike K, that excerpt is ridiculous.

    carlitos (efdd90)

  82. University education is grossly over rated now. Pretty soon, parents are going to figure that out.
    Comment by Mike K — 3/25/2009 @ 2:12 pm

    This is a drum that Walter Williams and others have been beating for some time now –
    at least as it applies to the Humanities.

    AD - RtR/OS (10cf6d)

  83. Anecdotally at least, this seems to be true for many skilled trades

    I don’t know the state of community colleges these days, but back when I attended there was a plethora of schools contained within the campus, replete with accredited courses and extensive infrastructure as well. Auto and commercial diesel repair, arc welding – you name it, they had it all.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  84. Aphrael wrote:

    But I think everyone would be better off if we could find a way to fund education without the result that the majority comes out with debt that they will find difficult to pay off, and whose career choices are restricted by the requirements of their loans.

    I find this a strange sentiment; are you asking for the government to pay to educate people to produce non-productive things? What else am I to assume if you don’t think that the costs of being educated ought to have any relationship with being able to pay for it?

    The economist Dana (556f76)

  85. Dmac wrote:

    I don’t know the state of community colleges these days, but back when I attended there was a plethora of schools contained within the campus, replete with accredited courses and extensive infrastructure as well. Auto and commercial diesel repair, arc welding – you name it, they had it all.

    I can weld, and I learned it by having to do it. A co-worker who could weld gave me a few pointers, and then said, “Have at it.” That’s how I learned to run heavy equipment, drive a truck, use a torch, repair brakes, hang drywall, even install plumbing and wiring — and I’ve never flooded or burned down anything yet.

    The economist Dana (556f76)

  86. if this is one textbook among several, it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    Comment by aphrael

    Maybe you do but I don’t. There was no other textbook, the rest of the study material consisting of handouts. Among other material, they were taught that the frontier settlers survived because they learned to live like the Indians. She was not informed that Plains Indians had no agriculture, none of them had the wheel and they had had the horse only for 100 years. Many college students think that Indians have always had horses; ask one.

    The last day of class prior to finals, when I would expect a review period, the TA spent most of the hour on a rant about how Reagan was an actor and he was only playing the part of president. Anything good that happened during his presidency was an accident.

    At the end of the rant, she informed the kids that she had lost all their grades when her laptop was stolen and they would have to turn in all their completed work to be graded again.

    The handouts told the kids that the “Silent Majority,” Nixon’s term for those who supported the Vietnam War, were actually those who opposed the Civil Rights Act, the New Deal and longed for the days of laissez faire in the 1920s.

    Her final paper in that class was to discuss a white man who raped or abused a woman or minority. We worked on that and she turned in a paper on William Kennedy Smith. I wondered if the instructor would see the irony and apparently he didn’t as she got a 90 on the paper. That was US History since 1877.

    I’m sure you aphrael think that was a thorough treatment of the important stuff. I doubt the kids even heard of William Jennings Bryan or Woodrow Wilson. History is bunk; its all whiteness studies now.

    For that I pay $20,000.

    Mike K (8df289)

  87. There was no other textbook, the rest of the study material consisting of handouts

    That’s a bad sign.

    Among other material, they were taught that the frontier settlers survived because they learned to live like the Indians

    This is arguably true for some settlers at some points in time, but it’s pretty clearly not true for frontier settlers in late 19th century America. Also a bad sign.

    the “Silent Majority,” Nixon’s term for those who supported the Vietnam War

    I’m not sure I agree with that description; I’ve always imagined “the Silent Majority” as being those who were disliked the hippies and the counterculture, and who were opposed to the 1960s era revolution in criminal procedure, and who generally felt as if the traditional America they knew and love was under siege by rampant libertinism. The Vietnam War wasn’t nearly as big an issue as the tactics of those who opposed the Vietnam War.

    I’m sure you aphrael think that was a thorough treatment of the important stuff

    It takes a pretty big leap to go from what I said – that the textbook you mentioned could be a reasonable textbook as one of several books in a modern American history course – to this conclusion.

    I don’t think that what you have described was a thorough treatment of the important stuff.

    What I do think is that race relations are one of the fundamental issues in 20th century American history, and that it’s reasonable to use a textbook of this sort as part of the discussion of 20th century race relations. But in a survey course on all of 20th century American history, that’s only one of the topics which needs to be covered; a course which exclusively does that isn’t a survey course and shouldn’t masquerade as one.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  88. The last day of class prior to finals, when I would expect a review period, the TA spent most of the hour on a rant about how Reagan was an actor and he was only playing the part of president.

    That is some really half-baked shit.

    History is bunk; its all whiteness studies now.

    Why do I suspect that “whiteness” studies sounds a lot like Jewish studies during 1933-1945 Germany?

    Michael Ejercito (7c44bf)

  89. aphrael:

    I’ve always imagined “the Silent Majority” as being those who were disliked the hippies and the counterculture, and who were opposed to the 1960s era revolution in criminal procedure, and who generally felt as if the traditional America they knew and love was under siege by rampant libertinism. The Vietnam War wasn’t nearly as big an issue as the tactics of those who opposed the Vietnam War.

    I come of age during the ’60s and the Vietnam War was a big issue to people on both sides, not unlike the way people were divided over the Iraq War.

    Anon (eb4fed)

  90. I don’t take that much issue with your comment about the silent majority since the counterculture and the war were intertwined. Remember that ending the draft ended the opposition.

    By 1877, living like the Indians was not easy as almost all the Indians were on reservations.

    I don’t recall much in e material about the Civil Rights Act and that history. The whiteness studies stuff is very recent and has little to do with history. Sociology, maybe.

    Mike K (8df289)

  91. This Anon seems like a wise person.

    JD (e54d51)

  92. The Vietnam War wasn’t nearly as big an issue as the tactics of those who opposed the Vietnam War

    I think it was a little of both – at the beginning, the peaceful protests were geared towards persuading the majority of voters to side against our involvement; but after it became severely radicalized, the movement lost it’s momentum among the middle class. I was quite young during the “Days of Rage” in Chicago, but still remember watching the smoke rise from the rioting in the city, from my house in the near suburbs.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  93. Many college students think that Indians have always had horses; ask one.

    Even worse: my daughter majored in History at UCLA. During one of her classes as the current state of the American Indian was being discussed, she was incredulous when several students, West side locals, chimed in telling the professor how sad it was that there were no more Indians left. The prof was a bit taken aback, pointed out that UCLA had a very active Native American Center, and then proceeded to embarrass my daughter and two of her classmates by pointing them out as walking, talking evidence that Indians still exist.

    Dana (137151)

  94. The local community college here has a program for diesel mechanics where the students apprentice at the local CAT dealer and are guaranteed jobs on graduation. They can’t fill the program even today with the recession.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  95. Comment by Dana — 3/25/2009 @ 6:03 pm

    Wow. Several students? Am surprised even one thought that. Your poor daughter + friends – so embarrassing to be singled out in a big group like that.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  96. NOYK, my daughter was really embarrassed, but only because she doesn’t like to be the center of attention. She took no offense at their ignorance but certainly had a good chuckle at their expense. :)

    Dana (137151)

  97. As a college (Spanish) professor, I do have to stand up and defend the schools. Cost increases have a number of causes.
    1) Efficiency increases in other fields do not apply well to school
    2) Students are demanding better dorms, student centers etc., and they are expensive.
    3) Increased Admin. costs.
    4) More Bureaucracy
    5) Because we can (although this isn’t nearly as true as many believe, my school barely breaks even)
    6) Scholarships and the like hide the real cost.
    etc.

    As far as the ridiculous PC crap that you see, well, it’s certainly there, but it’s part of a long tradition of scholastic isolation and academic investigation that has brought both good and bad.

    The other thing to add is that way too many students go to college now. Many students would do better learning a trade, but our culture demands a degree now-day, even if they didn’t learn anything. As a result we see many more students that are poorly prepared and it traces back to the public schools and around and around it goes.

    Dr T (324d86)

  98. If you attack #’s 3 & 4, the problem will start to solve itself.
    Plus, the cost of remedial classes should be partially/significantly billed to the High School that graduated the “Dummy” – or, just stop accepting “remedials” into 4-year institutions.

    AD - RtR/OS (10cf6d)

  99. Patterico, I’m glad you had a six-figure job to pay of your loans really fast. Not many college grads are so lucky though (with due credit to the obvious hard work component you put in, you’re still lucky to have the brain you have).

    Student loans are problematic because (1) they are not backed by any collateral so there’s no foreclosure process, and (2) they are not dischargable in bankruptcy.

    Unfortunately, thanks to the fact that the government rains student loan money on students, education costs keep going up at three times inflation, and so does the borrowing. Education, like health care, is in a bubble very similar to real estate in 2006.

    In light of deflation going on now, and the fact that many people have half the wealth they had a year ago, student loans are going to start looking suspiciously like indentured servitude at a certain point.

    Some grad students are looking down the barrel of a lifetime of interest payments that make their net earnings lower than if they’d never gone to college at all.

    And there’s no escape — it’s not like a mortgage, where you can go bankrupt and get a fresh start.

    If you’re a rich banker who over-leveraged, or a homeowner who got greedy, or a consumer who got credit-card happy, you can always reach a point where bankruptcy is an option.

    But that six-figure loan they convinced you to take out when you were a dumb kid, and they told you that an education would make you better off? What if the degree hasn’t given you any better earning power after all? Well, you’re gonna work your ass off for the rest of your life to make some banker rich, now, buddy.

    Phil (63f79c)

  100. “Life Ain’t Fair!”

    AD - RtR/OS (10cf6d)

  101. I am with Allahpundit 100%. Say what you want, but I am currently trying to pay off plenty of debt in an uncertain job market. I haven’t had the chance to get a stable job and slowly pay off this loan, which got me a degree which approaches uselessness in getting a job. I may know a hell of a lot more about safety than I did before, but employers don’t give a damn. They want EXPERIENCE, and lots of it.

    OmegaPaladin (3468f5)

  102. What strikes me about this the true realization that a College education is not an absolute ticket to financial freedom.

    Just any old degree, from any old college is not really any better than a Junior College Degree in a technical trade.

    Our POTUS’s plans ignore this by repeating the false premise that somehow college is a panacea for the poor and our children.

    Wake up America. We are over spending on education and as pointed out it is creating Education inflation which further crowds out high quality poor candidates from high quality schools.

    Jimminy'cricket (637168)

  103. There is a reason why girls are over 50%, approaching 60% of undergraduates. Boys are figuring out that the degree, especially in general education like humanities, is not worth the cost. The BA is about the value of a high school diploma. Grad school is now the equivalent of a BS and the kids are figuring this out.

    None of this applies to science degrees but the fact remains that the humanities are now useless. I regret this as I was an English major for a while while I did my pre-med as electives. I would not last in the classes my daughter is now taking. Whiteness studies are a ticket to oblivion. Take a look at employment figures for the kids with these degrees.

    I have another daughter with an honors degree in anthropology. There are no jobs. She is now applying for the UCLA library science program. I tried to warn her that that program is very heavy in computer programming. I took a C programming class with a adult woman who had been accepted to that program.

    She would have done better to take computer science degree but she didn’t listen. She is a good kid and will be OK but the anthropology degree is useless. I hate to see these kids piling up debts to get these worthless degrees.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  104. If I had it to do over again, even if I was doing it today, I’d totally forget about trying to use college to prepare myself for a career. I’d use the time to learn how to learn and to give myself the broadest liberal arts background possible.

    I graduated in mid-1980s, smack dab in the middle of the Reagan employment meltdown. Everyone I knew outside of humanities professors themselves was saying that liberal arts degrees were useless. I believed them. Unemployment peaked at 11 percent in 1982 and didn’t fall much from that until the later 80s.
    I had been taught that you go to college to gain qualifications for employment and, sure enough, the only people getting jobs in 1984 were those getting in through family connections or accounting majors and a few engineers willing to work on military projects.

    It took me three or four years post-graduation to figure out what a crock that is.

    A college education should broaden your intellectual base so that when you graduate and start having to narrow down and focus on learning to actually do something, you’ll be able to do that in an enlightened way that is much more likely to allow you to integrate your personal values meaningfully.

    At uni, I focused on picking up what I thought were bankable job skills. These did, perhaps, get me looks in at some places, but, when it came to actually doing the job, they were virtually useless.
    My field, journalism, requires little or no formal education. Hard work and integrity are far more important than smarts and certainly, more important than most of the kind of journalism training you’d get at a university.

    I learned more in 6 months on the job than I did in four years at uni. One of the things I learned a bit later was how useful a solid liberal arts background could have been.

    In focusing on career skills at uni, I’d only made half hearted efforts at courses like Western Civilization, Philosophy and so on. None of that would have ever helped me GET a job, but it sure would have helped me accelerate the development of my career once it was launched.

    As it happens, I spent my latter 20s trying — and largely failing — to educate myself in the basics of Western history and philosophy. I just didn’t work hard enough at it and really couldn’t, since I had to invest so much mental energy and time just on my day job.

    As for the state of the American university: don’t forget that we’re still No. 1 in that category. Elites from every corner of the earth send their children to our top schools. I have a feeling they’re making a good choice.

    Hax Vobiscum (23258e)

  105. That’s right, Mike, about the humanities, and thank goodness enrollment is falling too. Kids and parents are smart enough to avoid the substandard professors and the indoctrination.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  106. Re: indoctrination.

    My university was unabashedly right-wing Christian. I shared some of their religious ideology when I started, but not when I finished, which is a whole other, boring, story.

    They did have a few token liberals in their employ, though. Like my favorite professor, a brilliant, widely published adjunct who taught the history of socialism. The vast majority of the kids in the class acted as if they had never had to actually defend their right wing views against anyone with more than two brain cells. He’d silence them, not by edict, but by cutting straight to the flaws in their arguments.

    He was also quite funny. He had a lot of acquaintances in the communist world, including a personal friendship with Czechoslovakian ambassador at the time. He recalls having a discussion with him about where the envoy would send his son to get an education.

    I want him to be a good communist, the ambassador said. That’s important.

    So you’ll send him to Moscow University, right. It’s the communist world’s premier university and as an elite, you’ll have easy entree there. It’s also free.

    No, the ambassador replied. I’m sending him to the Sorbonne.

    What, the professor protested. Why in the world would you do that.

    If I send him to Moscow, within a couple of years, he’ll come to hate communism and all communists, without fail, said the ambassador. If I send him to Paris, within the same time, he’ll become the most committed communist you could know. That’s just the way kids are…

    Hax Vobiscum (23258e)

  107. At it’s best, a humanities education helps your analytical, reasoning and writing skills.

    At it’s worst, it is a fluff major where idiots are indoctrinated.

    I think Humanities, especially language (I am biased), are a great prep for grad school if you know what you want to do with a grad degree. It isn’t the best choice for a generic major.

    Language has it’s own value as a skill, and we do very well in placement, especially in combination with education and business.

    I went to grad school knowing I wanted to be a professor, but I tell me students not to get an advanced language degree unless they plan to teach at the college level.

    You have to know where you want to go.

    Dr T (411873)

  108. I do feel a duty to pay off my student loans. I don’t expect a bailout. However, it would be much appreciated if private loan agencies were required to provide reasonable deferment or forbearance policies in lieu of default. So many people are unemployed at the moment and the situation just gets worse when your unemployment benefits barely cover the necessities and you can’t afford to make that student loan payment. Many of these private loan companies would rather have you go in default (and ruin your credit further) and then get the government to bailout the bad debt.

    DirtyLAWndry (fc4095)


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