The vexing question of student loans

A thoughtful investigation by Sarah A. Hoyt:

Before we start this, let us get a few things clear: when I find myself seemingly on the side of leftists, I backtrack and do my homework. And I make d*mn sure I’m not running on either emotion or knee jerk or propaganda.

That’s number one. Remember that. It’s important. Because there’s enough emotion on both sides of this issue to make it a complete mess.

Number two: I am not actually on the side of the left. The left talks about “forgiving student loans” but none of the things they’ve proposed does that. Everything they’ve proposed from “we’ll forgive 10k” to “we’ll forgive the loans of those who’ve made $15 an hour for 20 years without breaks” affect maybe 1% of people in any way, shape or form.

They are however dangerous politically, when combined with the right’s knee-jerk reaction of “no. Make them pay” because it makes the left seem like the good guys to a lot of very desperate people who would otherwise scoff at being offered a fake salvation.

Number three: the right is also running on emotion. I realized that when “doctors and lawyers” and “making the work class pay for it” (neither of which are operative or true.) I BEG you to suspend your visceral, emotional reaction and think through what I’m going to present. If nothing else, because a lot of what you’re saying often has little contact with reality. Listen, okay? Just listen. And then think about it. After it you can still be against any kind of forgiveness, but you shouldn’t do it from your gut, or from the images you gathered from the media, a lot of it on the right and running on emotion and misinformation.

So, to start: if you’d asked me 10 years ago if I believed student loans should be forgiven, I’d say absolutely not. Or even seven years ago. Thing is, I didn’t know much about it. And hadn’t seen the insanity up close and personal. (Also it’s gotten markedly worse in the last 5 years.)

I would be running on the fact that Dan and I either had no (me) or paid off (his) student loans (which were piddly because he had scholarships.) And that we’d paid/intended to pay half of each kid’s school costs, leaving them with only half that in a loan. And that we were very careful not taking parent-plus loans. And that our kids’ were responsible.

But I admit to getting a twinge of “uh” when we found out the loans weren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy, unlike every other loan, ever. And that they were guaranteed by the federal government.

This twinge got far worse as I watched younger son — yes, it got markedly worse between the two boys — navigate syllabuses that forced him to stay on another year, if he hoped to graduate, and then play fast and loose with the courses offered, etc. This on top of the costs doubling every year just about. Here I will add that there’s a personality difference. Younger son tends to do things on his own and not ask for help. Older son avoided a couple of traps because we/our friends knew how to get around them. However, for these purposes younger son is more like people who are first in family to get in college, and have no connections, which means the ones most likely to end up with their butts in a big trap.

And then other things added in, including the first thing I said I thought the entire thing was a scam and victims of a scam shouldn’t be punished, people starting to come out of the woodwork to tell me their stories.

The first one to talk about it, before I even reconsidered, was a lovely young woman of Indian ancestry, who came to a Huns get together at Pete’s and who told me things I wasn’t prepared to hear. Including that antifa is big because it pays. And it pays cash and under the table. Kids caught in the vice-grip of loans and lack of jobs don’t have anywhere else to go. I didn’t believe her, and I apologize for that.

Meanwhile, the last six years or so, I’ve seen the “kids” of 30and younger struggle with that trap. The trap is real. And yes, it is far worse than what we went through at their age.

For those my age and younger, it is like boomers telling us that we could make a mint in real estate, and why were we strapped. Roughly, because taxes were cheaper when they were young, and regulations were more lax. And there were more jobs hiring the young. And for politico-social reasons, they had an easier time climbing the ladder.

For kids now, metaphorically speaking, the ladder isn’t there and it’s on fire. Yes, some kids are still doing well. They are mostly those with contacts, connections, and — AT LEAST — family knowledge.

I took exception to the article linked in comments referring to “pampered rutabagas” and i will point out it’s appeal to emotion. The pampered kids either didn’t have loans (our better off friends paid their kids’ tuition entirely. Because they could. We couldn’t. It wasn’t a matter of “sacrifice to pay”. You can’t get blood from a stone) or have mommy and daddy helping with a job and paying those back. (We have a plan to pay the kids’ back, so this is not personal. Younger son has a plan to pay his back. Older does too. But we have a plan to pay them also, and one of us should succeed.)

By and large the people in serious trouble are those who were reaching “above’ where they could afford, and whose parents had limited resources. Which contributes to their being stuck.

I have had people send me stuff and mostly I’m going to excerpt one of those people throughout. Because this reader writes the best of the ones who sent me stuff. And this person’s experience is close to universal in getting all the worst stuff possible. (Some people are lucky.)


What was sold, either for the young going to college or people — a lot of them in IT — whose job had disappeared or been farmed to a cheap HB1 visa worker, (a lot of that in 01 to 03) was a better future. Or later, simply the ability to get A job.

You can bitch and you can wrangle, but the truth is this: until very recently, and many places even now, you couldn’t get a job in retail management without a Bachelor’s. Even if you came in as an employee, you’d not get promoted without that piece of paper.

This is of course the result of our public schools graduating people who can’t read, and our laws allowing companies to be sued for giving competence tests. But note that all this pile of utter stupid is not the fault of the people trying to find a job.

Who are pushed into college in order to maybe, one day, have a job that isn’t a dead end.


Well, you know or perhaps not, that my degree is in English, with a minor in German, and a half dozen languages rounding out the degree. It’s not the same as an English degree in the US, obviously. That would be a Portuguese degree in Portugal, and my colleagues and I used to make fun of those people, back then.

But once I was in the US in 1985, an English degree, even a bit more than a Masters, is an English degree. Mostly people glanced at it and went “Oh, one of those people.”

So by the 2010s I was well aware of what an English degree was worth. And wasn’t.

Which is why I found myself arguing with a lot of young people not to take it. “At least take business. It’s just as useless, but it sounds better to employers.” Or “Gosh, take journalism.” “Take history.” ANYTHING but English, because I know those are a dead end. In fact, I threatened to disown either boy if they took English.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME I saw, not just commercials, but articles in newspapers and magazines talking about how HUNGRY industry was for English graduates, who had proven their grit and excellent language skills.

If I didn’t know better by then, and have a job, I’d have sent my resume to fortune 500 companies, thinking they’d leap on them with glad cries.

Of course a lot of people didn’t know better.

WHAT THE LOANS WERE LIKE. And here I’m excerpting from my reader (Reader’s stuff in Blue so obviously not mine.) I note reader started when loans WERE dischargeable in bankruptcy. That changed.

Read the rest there, it is very informative. and thought provoking.

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