Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans

Grand Potentate

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This op-ed was in the NYT this Sunday. I thought this would be an interesting discussion not so much because of the premise, but because of the discussions that its spawned. The comments alone are heartbreaking. I'll highlight a few of them below:

Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans
By LEE SIEGEL JUNE 6, 2015

ONE late summer afternoon when I was 17, I went with my mother to the local bank, a long-defunct institution whose name I cannot remember, to apply for my first student loan. My mother co-signed. When we finished, the banker, a balding man in his late 50s, congratulated us, as if I had just won some kind of award rather than signed away my young life.

By the end of my sophomore year at a small private liberal arts college, my mother and I had taken out a second loan, my father had declared bankruptcy and my parents had divorced. My mother could no longer afford the tuition that the student loans weren’t covering. I transferred to a state college in New Jersey, closer to home.

Years later, I found myself confronted with a choice that too many people have had to and will have to face. I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.

I chose life. That is to say, I defaulted on my student loans.

As difficult as it has been, I’ve never looked back. The millions of young people today, who collectively owe over $1 trillion in loans, may want to consider my example.

It struck me as absurd that one could amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college. Having opened a new life to me beyond my modest origins, the education system was now going to call in its chits and prevent me from pursuing that new life, simply because I had the misfortune of coming from modest origins.

Am I a deadbeat? In the eyes of the law I am. Indifferent to the claim that repaying student loans is the road to character? Yes. Blind to the reality of countless numbers of people struggling to repay their debts, no matter their circumstances, many worse than mine? My heart goes out to them. To my mind, they have learned to live with a social arrangement that is legal, but not moral.

Maybe the problem was that I had reached beyond my lower-middle-class origins and taken out loans to attend a small private college to begin with. Maybe I should have stayed at a store called The Wild Pair, where I once had a nice stable job selling shoes after dropping out of the state college because I thought I deserved better, and naïvely tried to turn myself into a professional reader and writer on my own, without a college degree. I’d probably be district manager by now.

Or maybe, after going back to school, I should have gone into finance, or some other lucrative career. Self-disgust and lifelong unhappiness, destroying a precious young life — all this is a small price to pay for meeting your student loan obligations.

Some people will maintain that a bankrupt father, an impecunious background and impractical dreams are just the luck of the draw. Someone with character would have paid off those loans and let the chips fall where they may. But I have found, after some decades on this earth, that the road to character is often paved with family money and family connections, not to mention 14 percent effective tax rates on seven-figure incomes.

Moneyed stumbles never seem to have much consequence. Tax fraud, insider trading, almost criminal nepotism — these won’t knock you off the straight and narrow. But if you’re poor and miss a child-support payment, or if you’re middle class and default on your student loans, then God help you.

Forty years after I took out my first student loan, and 30 years after getting my last, the Department of Education is still pursuing the unpaid balance. My mother, who co-signed some of the loans, is dead. The banks that made them have all gone under. I doubt that anyone can even find the promissory notes. The accrued interest, combined with the collection agencies’ opulent fees, is now several times the principal.

Even the Internal Revenue Service understands the irrationality of pursuing someone with an unmanageable economic burden. It has a program called Offer in Compromise that allows struggling people who have fallen behind in their taxes to settle their tax debt.

The Department of Education makes it hard for you, and ugly. But it is possible to survive the life of default. You might want to follow these steps: Get as many credit cards as you can before your credit is ruined. Find a stable housing situation. Pay your rent on time so that you have a good record in that area when you do have to move. Live with or marry someone with good credit (preferably someone who shares your desperate nihilism).

When the fateful day comes, and your credit looks like a war zone, don’t be afraid. The reported consequences of having no credit are scare talk, to some extent. The reliably predatory nature of American life guarantees that there will always be somebody to help you, from credit card companies charging stratospheric interest rates to subprime loans for houses and cars. Our economic system ensures that so long as you are willing to sink deeper and deeper into debt, you will keep being enthusiastically invited to play the economic game.

I am sharply aware of the strongest objection to my lapse into default. If everyone acted as I did, chaos would result. The entire structure of American higher education would change.

The collection agencies retained by the Department of Education would be exposed as the greedy vultures that they are. The government would get out of the loan-making and the loan-enforcement business. Congress might even explore a special, universal education tax that would make higher education affordable.

There would be a national shaming of colleges and universities for charging soaring tuition rates that are reaching lunatic levels. The rapacity of American colleges and universities is turning social mobility, the keystone of American freedom, into a commodified farce.

If people groaning under the weight of student loans simply said, “Enough,” then all the pieties about debt that have become absorbed into all the pieties about higher education might be brought into alignment with reality. Instead of guaranteeing loans, the government would have to guarantee a college education. There are a lot of people who could learn to live with that, too.

Lee Siegel is the author of five books who is writing a memoir about money.
 
Some of the NYT staff picks:

Jennifer
hinterlands of North Carolina 1 day ago

I was a divorced mother of three in the late 1980's. I wanted to finish college in hope of bettering my family’s circumstances. I signed a note for $5000. Just $5000.

I quit school when I was laid off in the early 90's during a recession that shut down the government for a few weeks. I paid on the loan for a while, but defaulted when the only work I could find was as a temp secretary. My ex-husband decided that this merited a custody battle for my children (which I won) further depleting my financial and emotional resources.

It was the blackest time of my life.

With default, penalties and interest continue to accrue; collection agencies hounded me relentlessly. I have never fully recovered.

My debt is now over $25000 with penalties and interest. 12 years ago, I arranged loan for $8000 that I offered as settlement on the then $15000 debt. I felt a $3000 penalty on the default was reasonable and fair. The collection agency turned it down.

Unlike other debt, student loans never “age out.”. My credit is permanently ruined. With a monthly payment plan, penalties and interest continue to accrue making paying off the debt impossible. I'm over 60, and have no hope of ever restoring my credit or my life. All for $5000.

The student loan program puts other predatory lenders to shame. The author is right - it’s legal but immoral, and I no longer feel any obligation to submit to such a system. My life is worth more than $5000, whatever the government thinks

jbamommy
Massachusetts 1 day ago

I defaulted on my student loans due to my husband's illness. The collection agency did not care, and threatened to garnish my wages. So, I enrolled in a payment plan I could not afford, and they took my money each month even while I was not paying my mortgage or other bills. Then, after going through the "rehabilitation period" without missing a payment, the collection agency (General Revenue) invalidated the agreement and defaulted me again because I had written something on the form, when they said could not be altered. (What I had written was that they should not contact me at my workplace, since they were harassing me there) I complained to the BBB and Salliemae and ultimately got my agreement reinstated. The collection methods they use are brutal. My husband ultimately died, leaving me to raise 3 kids alone. I am currently able to pay on my own loans which are current. As for his loans, he had gone back to school later in life, and had not planned on getting a fatal lung disease. I sent paperwork many times while he was still alive to try and get him qualified for total and permanent disability. They kept refusing until he was finally dead.

People should repay their debts, but the system is rigged to often make that impossible. Why should someone pay for years and barely make a dent in the principal? Why should an education be limited to people who come from means? I think the author is correct to stand up to a system that is morally wrong.

Dirk Wierenga
Grand Haven, Michigan 1 day ago

Mr. Siegel could be my son. I co-signed on four years of private student loans for my son who has since similarly decided not to repay his loans. Now those loans are in default, resulting in my own once perfect credit score being trashed. My son lives under the radar, similarly with a woman who allows him to live without the threat of collection. As a result of his behavior, now the state of Michigan is now going after my retirement income in spite of my own inability to earn my way out of this dilemma. My son has long since broken off our relationship and divorce has exposed my assets. And like Mr. Siegel, it all started in a private college admissions department with the promise that upon graduation my son would have no problems repaying the loans and the streets for everyone involved would be paved with the gold earned from the job he would never get. Yes, the system is a total failure and our so-called political leaders could not care less. And this in a country that once was the envy of the world. Shame on us all.

Nancy
NY 1 day ago

I am a registered nurse that returned to college at the age of fifty to obtain my BSN and Master's degree. My employer paid very little of the college tuition costs. I took out college loans for thousands of dollars with the expectation that I would pay the money back. I am now approaching sixty, still paying my monthly college loan payments which amount to half of one paycheck. I still have four years of payments before the loans are paid in entirety. My hope is that I stay employed long enough to pay the loans off. My fear is that I become sick or incapacitated and am force to stop working. In which case my husband will be saddled with the paying off my college debt. If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, there's no way I would have returned to school. The college loan companies make if very easy to obtain the money. Most young people have no idea of how a $600 (or more) month college loan payment can impact their life.

tew
is a trusted commenter Los Angeles 2 days ago

The selfishness would be jaw dropping were it not so increasingly common. Lee informs us that a job that would pay enough to fulfill one's obligations (including paying back money owed) has "nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society". Somehow Lee is convinced that by not paying back money owed in order to pursue a career that society does not much value, Lee is being more useful to society. Delusional.

Susan Shapiro
New York 2 days ago

Since your bio says you are the author of five books - and if it's the right Lee Siegel - your work appears in major publications - why don't you start paying back the debt now? You could pay it in small increments with your writing fees, advances or royalties. You're doing what you want to do, so you no longer have the excuse that you'd have to take a horrible soul-crushing job. You could have protested the laws and college fees instead of signing legal documents that make you a liar and deadbeat. Instead of being proud of this, you have a chance to correct it. It's never too late to do the right thing.
 
Beth
Toledo, OH 2 days ago

Mr. Siegel says that "someone with character would have paid off those loans and let the chips fall where they may. But...the road to character is often paved with family money and family connections, not to mention 14 percent effective tax rates on seven-figure incomes." This is where I beg to differ. A person with character is a person of character with or without copious money or influence. As someone who came from a lower middle class family, I had no family help in paying for college and have had no help in paying off loans. I took out massive loans to go to college, and now I am paying massive loans back - it's called being responsible for individual choices, and yes, it is part of being a person of character. You cannot make the decision to purposefully default on a debt you incurred - particularly a debt that was of your own choosing, and then try to pass yourself off as a person of character. I'm tired of these people trying to pass off their defaulting as a kind of protest against the high cost of college. Buck up, take responsibility for your actions, and find another way to protest the high cost of higher education.

YS
New York 2 days ago

I speak as someone who did pay off all their student loans. I don't think it is jaw droppingly selfish at all. The fact is that I was fortunate enough to have a passion for a profession that also pays well. I'm able to live a comfortable life and pay the debts I was forced to take on. But, one only need look at the percentage of graduates going into finance or other financially lucrative but otherwise empty professions to see that there is something terribly wrong with our current system. We need artists. We need writers. We need teachers and scientists who research just for the thirst of knowledge. If we force everyone to either drop out of school for lack of money or go into finance or other high paying profession, where will we find people to fill all these other roles our society needs? How will we grow if we can't produce new literature? How will we advance if there is no one willing to just explore for the sake of exploration? I paid my student loans but I completely understand why this person took the stand he did. Enough is enough.

Trishia Jacobs-Carney
Washington 2 days ago

Bravo!!! Thank you for writing this.
I, also, have defaulted on my student loans.
You say "they have learned to live with a social arrangement that is legal, but not moral." I disagree. The way college loans are peddled rank right up there with all those dishonest mortgage loans that were made.
Nothing is clearly defined and explained. They say we've nothing to worry about until after we get our degree and get a job. Then, if necessary, we can even ask for a forebearance period PLUS if you're still having financial woes, there's deferment. ALL this makes it easy for you to get the loan NOW and pay it later. THAT'S the sales pitch.
They don't explain what deferred and accrued interest are. They don't explain what happens when the interest is then tacked on to the principal. They don't tell you that you'll never be able to get the loan refinanced at a lower rate. And each time that loan is passed on to a different agency for collection, they don't tell you that they'll add on their own $3-4,000 in fees.

My original loan was around $9,000. Thirty years later, the balance owing is almost $30K. That's legal? All this debt for a 'career' in journalism making $15 an hour (the new minimum wage)?

From what I understand, when I retire, up to 15% of my Social Security check can be taken out to pay toward the student loan. I decided I could live with that. I owe them money. I don't owe them my soul.

ejaneczko
DC 2 days ago

This article came at just the most perfect moment for me. I sat at my laptop just moments ago in an effort to staunch my tears, flowing because, though I'm nearly 9 years into my career, I find myself struggling more to pay for my modest lifestyle , which includes a dedication to pay off my loans. I appreciate this author's vulnerability with money issues and I am increasingly frustrated, not only by the hawkish nature of the banks to whom I have obligations, but also to those around me who refuse to open up about the struggle that student loans bring, and also the judgement of people my parents' and grandparents' age who offer no help, but plenty of lectures on my responsibility to society.
 
I feel bad about being duped into wasting my youth on college with the outdated promises of a past generation, but at least I wasn't footing the bill. The rubes that dug themselves into debt, and then went out of their way to choose non-lucrative majors, get little sympathy from me. I've always been of the opinion that if there is need and aptitude, a a scholarship can be found.

Anyway, college costs so much because of student loans. The college industry jacks up prices to meet what the federal student aid caps. And then the next year, the feds look at the jacked up tuitions and jack up the loan limits and it spirals upward forever.
 
There are people who should default. The author was not one of them. She had a choice to take a job she didn't like to pay off what she owes and she didn't. Part of being an adult is doing things you don't want to do to fulfill obligations that you create for yourself (responsibility). And to try and frame this as "the college system is against the poor" is also misleading, though that may still be true. In this case, going to an expensive liberal arts school instead of a state school is what screwed her (her choice).

God forbid she take the opportunities provided for people in her situation (two years of community college then transferring to a state school).
 
There are people who should default. The author was not one of them. She had a choice to take a job she didn't like to pay off what she owes and she didn't. Part of being an adult is doing things you don't want to do to fulfill obligations that you create for yourself (responsibility). And to try and frame this as "the college system is against the poor" is also misleading, though that may still be true. In this case, going to an expensive liberal arts school instead of a state school is what screwed her (her choice).

God forbid she take the opportunities provided for people in her situation (two years of community college then transferring to a state school).

I'd love to agree with you, but what do you think bankruptcy is? In 2014, there were almost a million of them. Where is the outrage about fulfilling obligations there? And student loans are exempt from bankruptcy laws.

Anyone that looks at the cost benefit analysis would go to a community college for 2 years and then transfer to an in-state school. Just like basically everything else in society, this university system is badly broken so you have to maneuver around it.

Universities are interested in international and out of state students. In-state students are a cost center.
 
It is badly broken. And banks are making a fortune on nativity and the memory of the American Dream.

There are people who should arguably default. Or if they do, it is at least understandable. People who, for a reason outside their control, are unable to pay back their loans. This lady was unable to pay back her loans due to a choice she made (to not take the job that would have enabled her to pay off her loans). Big difference. And to lump herself in with the current crop of saps who have been spoon fed pipe dreams of college being an automatic entry to the world of stability is a little shitty of her; she graduated, what, 30 years ago? She was in the workforce in the 90's!?!

And then she tries to play off the current (understandable) distaste for finance. "I could have gotten a job in finance to pay off my loans but didn't."

Like her, I went to an expensive liberal arts school (130k total, half paid by scholarship, graduated 62k in debt). Like her, I had made a mistake. Unlike her, I graduated into a shitty job market (2008). Like her, I had an opportunity to take a job I knew I wouldn't like. Unlike her, I took it because my mistakes were my mistakes. And unlike her, I paid off my debt before trying to do what I really wanted to).

So the people all about occupystudentdebt...yeah they got screwed and they have a right to be angry. But this lady is just associating herself with all that because she wanted to get her opinion out there and published. So fuck her.


There is no outrage on my part about other loans/defaults because there is a lot less whining about.
 
But you can say the same thing about bankruptcy. Of the million or so in 2014, plenty of them were by choice, and included assholes running up their credit card debts leading up to it. They could have taken a part time job, or restructured the debt, or other such choices, but they didn't. They chose to file and wipe it away.

I surely understand your point, this woman was acting like an entitled shit. She chose not to believe in what is usually considered a moral obligation to pay your debts.

Underneath it all is, indeed, the banks. We have become slaves to debt, which is so systematic that you basically spend your entire life under it. From student loans, to car loans, to mortgages, your wealth is sapped away for most of your life by banks.
 
The two Lee's I know are women. This Lee isn't an LB, right?

Banks capitalize on human stupidity and myopia. I don't know why people expect otherwise.

For the last thirty or so years, they've become increasingly able to do that. But that's not the topic of this thread.
 
There are people who should default. The author was not one of them. She had a choice to take a job she didn't like to pay off what she owes and she didn't. Part of being an adult is doing things you don't want to do to fulfill obligations that you create for yourself (responsibility).


/thread.
 
There oversupply of education is funded by the oversupply of federal-backed credit.
So anyway, if there were a massive defaulting.. would the guilty schools feel any pain or would it all go on taxpayer shoulders?
InstaHate InstaHate the author is a man.
I wouldn't go that far. Biologically male, maybe.
 
The reason oversupply exists is that there is an inflated demand driven by extreme information asymmetry, consumer myopia, optimism bias, and denial.

I can't blame the businesses (colleges and banks) for supplying what consumers demand at a quantity demanded. I can blame the people for being stupid, I can blame the government for allowing such a relationship to exist, and I can blame society as a whole for holding onto outdated and unrealistic expectations that hurt everyone but the banks and schools.

But I'm not one to tell a snake to stop being a snake. That's all it can be. We can chain it, cage it, kill it. But it will always be a snake.
 
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There oversupply of education is funded by the oversupply of federal-backed credit.
So anyway, if there were a massive defaulting.. would the guilty schools feel any pain or would it all go on taxpayer shoulders?

Of course it would fall to the public. Schools have been paid.

Banks are even less accountable than the author of that article. It's quaint to defend the notion that you fulfill obligations that you create for yourself, but what happens when the system privatizes bank profits but socializes their losses? I have trouble differentiating her choices with those of banks that came crawling to the government for bailouts.

It's a reasonable question to ask why banks get a free ride and the public cant.
 
Why does everyone and everything need to involve banks or the asinine concept of 'socially valuable jobs' these days? Anyways, this article misses the point completely.

Student debts are at an all time high because everybody is able get a loan due to the government's involvement. Students can borrow an unlimited amount of money, which causes colleges to raise their tuitions by the same amount. I believe tuition fees have risen over a 1000% over the past 20 years, and US student loans delinquency rates are over 30% at the moment.

The US government should learn its lesson and stop trying to interfere with the free market in this way, or adopt the Western European practice of keeping tuition fees fixed and subsidising colleges directly, which of course would require marginally higher taxes (or less tax loopholes).

Either your government is really so stupid that they couldn't see this coming, or they intended to create an indebted generation. Either way, you guys are responsible for putting them in a position of power.
 
That suggests we have an alternative in who we put in power. Dems and Reps alike have been contributing to this current state of affairs. But yeah, I look at some European countries and the fact that they have 4-5 electable parties and am envious.

It isn't that our government is stupid (though it certainly can be), but the way in which our government is set up really has forced politicians to cater to lobbyists/PACs instead of the interests of their constituents. The worst thing that could have happened was the opening of Congress. Yes, Average Joe Voter can look and see what his senator voted for in the past, but he likely won't. Who will, however, are PACs, and they have a lot more sway than even 10,000 Average Joes. Congressmen in the United States can no longer vote their conscience. In theory, opening up Congress was supposed to make our lawmakers answerable to the people. In practice, it has made them answerable to big business and special interest.

----

As far as education in America:

- People need to accept that college isn't for everyone
- We need more trade schools, including white collar trades
 
Why does everyone and everything need to involve banks

Are you really asking this? Banks and corporations run the world. That's why. The higher education system is indistinguishable from a corporation in most ways, in most extreme senses Apollo Corp, the for profit university who is about to go under because of their systematic abuse of the student loan marketplace. Unless you're rich, you won't get a college degree without a bank.

And please, spare us that free market bullshit. There are no free markets. Everything is rigged, especially the education system.
 
That suggests we have an alternative in who we put in power. Dems and Reps alike have been contributing to this current state of affairs. But yeah, I look at some European countries and the fact that they have 4-5 electable parties and am envious.

It isn't that our government is stupid (though it certainly can be), but the way in which our government is set up really has forced politicians to cater to lobbyists/PACs instead of the interests of their constituents. The worst thing that could have happened was the opening of Congress. Yes, Average Joe Voter can look and see what his senator voted for in the past, but he likely won't. Who will, however, are PACs, and they have a lot more sway than even 10,000 Average Joes. Congressmen in the United States can no longer vote their conscience. In theory, opening up Congress was supposed to make our lawmakers answerable to the people. In practice, it has made them answerable to big business and special interest.

----

As far as education in America:

- People need to accept that college isn't for everyone
- We need more trade schools, including white collar trades

Yes, corporate money should largely by kept out of politics. It creates a very harmful conflict of interests. It's about time the American people stand up for themselves. Now I don't mean a violent revolution, although this has worked for other countries in the past, but nothing prevents one from founding a third party, right?
 
Yes, but many, many, many things prevent that third party from being successful. We have many third parties.

 
Are you really asking this? Banks and corporations run the world. That's why. The higher education system is indistinguishable from a corporation in most ways, in most extreme senses Apollo Corp, the for profit university who is about to go under because of their systematic abuse of the student loan marketplace. Unless you're rich, you won't get a college degree without a bank.

And please, spare us that free market bullshit. There are no free markets. Everything is rigged, especially the education system.

What I mean is that not every single issue or article should involve banks or blame them for all of their troubles. It detracts from the strength of a point. Wanna talk about student loans? Focus on the student loans.
 
That suggests we have an alternative in who we put in power. Dems and Reps alike have been contributing to this current state of affairs. But yeah, I look at some European countries and the fact that they have 4-5 electable parties and am envious.

It isn't that our government is stupid (though it certainly can be), but the way in which our government is set up really has forced politicians to cater to lobbyists/PACs instead of the interests of their constituents. The worst thing that could have happened was the opening of Congress. Yes, Average Joe Voter can look and see what his senator voted for in the past, but he likely won't. Who will, however, are PACs, and they have a lot more sway than even 10,000 Average Joes. Congressmen in the United States can no longer vote their conscience. In theory, opening up Congress was supposed to make our lawmakers answerable to the people. In practice, it has made them answerable to big business and special interest.

There aren't 2 parties since they are indistinguishable from each other. We elect corporate representatives, an no amount of average joe votes change anything because you are only ever given the illusion of choice.

The government isn't stupid, it's organized exactly the way those that pay for it want it to be. And the education system is an example. The banks want government backed student loans, so that's what we have. If they didn't want it, it would be changed immediately. Fuck the public, they're just a nuisance.

Universities, healthcare, professional sports, and the military all seem to have this magic wand they can wave over the public and gleen whatever the fuck they want. It's not magic, it's designed to operate this way.
 
Yes, but many, many, many things prevent that third party from being successful. We have many third parties.



In many European countries parties that were small have become the biggest ones in the matter of several years. Spain, for example, was ruled by PP ever since the dictatorship ended. In the span of only a couple of years Podemos has become one of the biggest parties, with Ciudad following as well. It's not unlikely that Podemos will win the general elections later this year.

Things that might seem impossible can actually be achieved quite quickly if nearly the whole country supports it. I don't know terribly much about US politics, but why/how would a third party be prevented from being in charge if they get over 50% of the votes in all houses?
 
Yes, corporate money should largely by kept out of politics. It creates a very harmful conflict of interests. It's about time the American people stand up for themselves. Now I don't mean a violent revolution, although this has worked for other countries in the past, but nothing prevents one from founding a third party, right?

Actually, there is. Whenever anything threatens the 2 party monopoly they gang up on it and destroy it. You're trying to battle an organism that has it's reach everywhere and basically unlimited funds thru super-pacs. Look what they did to Perot's reform party. Green party. Any hope a Libertarian can win an election? Independent anyone? Steve Forbes? It's virtually impossible, especially when the corporate media won't cover it, or worse treats it like a side show.
 
Actually, there is. Whenever anything threatens the 2 party monopoly they gang up on it and destroy it. You're trying to battle an organism that has it's reach everywhere and basically unlimited funds thru super-pacs. Look what they did to Perot's reform party. Green party. Any hope a Libertarian can win an election? Independent anyone? Steve Forbes? It's virtually impossible, especially when the corporate media won't cover it, or worse treats it like a side show.

So? Corporate media is quickly becoming irrelevant. You don't need debates, or glitzy campaigns. If enough people really want reforms it's possible. However, I believe your problem is that not many Americans actually want those reforms. You all complain and whine, but you don't actually change your vote when the time comes.
 
What I mean is that not every single issue or article should involve banks or blame them for all of their troubles. It detracts from the strength of a point. Wanna talk about student loans? Focus on the student loans.

Student loans originate with banks. How can you differentiate them? It's like talking about a fetus and ignoring the womb.

In many European countries parties that were small have become the biggest ones in the matter of several years. Spain, for example, was ruled by PP ever since the dictatorship ended. In the span of only a couple of years Podemos has become one of the biggest parties, with Ciudad following as well. It's not unlikely that Podemos will win the general elections later this year.

Things that might seem impossible can actually be achieved quite quickly if nearly the whole country supports it. I don't know terribly much about US politics, but why/how would a third party be prevented from being in charge if they get over 50% of the votes in all houses?

Exactly. European countries. They aren't entrenched in a 2 party system. Sure, things can change quite quickly given the right conditions, which right now in American politics we are faaaar from.
 
So? Corporate media is quickly becoming irrelevant. You don't need debates, or glitzy campaigns. If enough people really want reforms it's possible. However, I believe your problem is that not many Americans actually want those reforms. You all complain and whine, but you don't actually change your vote when the time comes.

Americans want simple answers to complicated problems, so you get idiots like Bush and hope change posers like Obama. There is no vote to change when it comes time, because you are given an illusion of choice. The one point we can find unequivocal agreement on is removing corporate money from political campaigns and lobbying.
 
So? Corporate media is quickly becoming irrelevant. You don't need debates, or glitzy campaigns. If enough people really want reforms it's possible. However, I believe your problem is that not many Americans actually want those reforms. You all complain and whine, but you don't actually change your vote when the time comes.

We have nobody to change our vote to. Americans are too polarized--getting angry at similar things but refusing to compromise on the solution--to ever successfully get behind a single non-party candidate.
 
Student loans originate with banks. How can you differentiate them? It's like talking about a fetus and ignoring the womb.



Exactly. European countries. They aren't entrenched in a 2 party system. Sure, things can change quite quickly given the right conditions, which right now in American politics we are faaaar from.

Because the government underwrites the loans. Banks would never give out massive loans to just anyone without some form of collateral. For example, if I want to study in the US and borrow between 100k-200k, a European bank would never give me that loan. They might give me 10k depending on major and whatnot, but that's it. Hence, just another way of government interference.

Of course, there's also such a thing as individual responsibility and caveat emptor. If you want to take out 200k to get a degree in English from a for profit university, you can't complain when you're unable to pay back your loans. I've got about 10k in student loans, at a 1% interest rate, and can repay it over 30 years. I've been working for about a 1.5 years now, and I've got enough in savings to easily repay that loan and then some, if I wanted to. I worked hard and chose one of those 'soul crushing' jobs, so that I'll be able to provide for my family later on.

As to the American political system, the only ones who can change that are Americans. What are you doing about it? Are you starting up local movements that aim to change the political system, educating people about financial responsibility, etc.? If you want change, you'll have to do it yourself. The Spanish Podemos mainly consists of local activists, for example. It won't be easy, but it's not impossible.

Again, you take a position of powerlessness. If enough people want something, you can achieve it.
 
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As to the American political system, the only ones who can change that are Americans. What are you doing about it? Are you starting up local movements that aim to change the political system, educating people about financial responsibility, etc.? If you want change, you'll have to do it yourself. The Spanish Podemos mainly consists of local activists, for example. It won't be easy, but it's not impossible.

Again, you take a position of powerlessness. If enough people want something, you can achieve it.

You still have idealistic viewpoints. Over time you'll realize that you are in fact powerless unless you manage to cross over into the elite. Do you really think a few new political parties popping up in Spain are really going to change anything? It just shifts the corruption into new areas, generally ones in which people don't mind as much. When the dole was for, I don't know, offshore drilling, people get angry, but fund a new school (paying 3x what it really cost thru corruption) and nobody bats an eye. I am glad to see you have some gumption, but it's misguided.

Russia is a classic example: the people there were fine with the Olympics, they paid 50 billion for it, and most estimate it should have cost 15b. All went to corruption. Anyone care? Up in arms? No. Brazil... a few protests about the World Cup, but anything change? No. You're wasting your time.

The more fundamental realization you and others should make is that this is the nature of the nation state: a self interested, elite and power hungry entity run by people that crave status. There are precious few examples of a nation state that actually functions, and they are disappearing. The nation state is just not the mechanism for the type of social structure you're interested in, you should stop fooling yourself that it can be.
 
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If she was anything like my peer group, a significant chunk of her student loans was spent on booze and electronics.

The relief programs already available are insanely generous. I owe $160,000. I make low six figures and pay $640 a month. And you only have to make payments (if you're poors or work for the government, charity, school, etc...) for ten years. And the forgiveness you get at the end of those ten years. Not taxable!

So, in my case, I will have paid a little over $75,000 over ten years to "repay" $160,000 I borrowed ten years ago. Thinking back, I should've invested it all in the stock market.

TL/DR - this woman's an idiot and fails to realize that the policies and politicians she supports are directly responsible for the mess she's in. Well, in addition to her own actions. But God forbid a young liberal ever face any consequences for their own actions.
 
College and University in America is ridiculous. When I came here as an International Student I had to pay 6k every 4 months only for English courses then it went up to 10K per month. Now that I'm a resident I still have to pay 15K A year.
 
So I googled Lee Seigel.
Lee Siegel (cultural critic) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Born in 1957!!!!!!
So this loan was probably the equivalent of a modern car loan. And he couldn't pay it off in a decade or three or four?
Master's degree in philosophy??
And the part that really boiled my blood...
Siegel lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.
That's a pretty tony area for a debtor.

Yes, he's a deadbeat and should be ashamed of himself. He has enjoyed one of the most booming economic times ever while tuition fees were still low, and he still has't been able to repay his loans. He could've taken any job, blue or white collar, and would have easily been able to repay it.

It's disgusting.
 
Yes, he's a deadbeat and should be ashamed of himself. He has enjoyed one of the most booming economic times ever while tuition fees were still low, and he still has't been able to repay his loans. He could've taken any job, blue or white collar, and would have easily been able to repay it.

It's disgusting.

I don't hearing anyone railing on banks the same way. Not that I don't believe he should have been more responsible, it's just interesting how an individual triggers so much ire, but multinational corporations that crushed the economy don't.
 
I don't hearing anyone railing on banks the same way. Not that I don't believe he should have been more responsible, it's just interesting how an individual triggers so much ire, but multinational corporations that crushed the economy don't.

It's not just multinational companies that crushed the economy. We all did. We all made it possible. Every. single. one. of. us. Take some responsibility.

Companies exist out of people. Companies make and sell stuff to other companies (who exist out of people too), or to consumers (who are people too!). We all (everyone who was over 18 at the time), caused the crisis. Some people might be more responsible than others, but everyone is responsible, especially so if you're an American from the baby boomer generation.
 
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until corporations start writing op Ed pieces on why we fucked over people and please forgive us, it is dumbasses like Siegel with their woe is me but listen to my story that should be shit on accordingly for having the lack of reflection to think for a moment that they should keep their foolish stories to themselves
 
It's not just multinational companies that crushed the economy. We all did. We all made it possible. Every. single. one. of. us. Take some responsibility.

Companies exist out of people. Companies make and sell stuff to other companies (who exist out of people too), or to consumers (who are people too!). We all (everyone who was over 18 at the time), caused the crisis. Some people might be more responsible than others, but everyone is responsible.

I didn't get involved in the process of suckering people into mortgages they couldn't afford. There were a lot of people that probably knew better than to take that no-doc mortgages, but I wasn't one of those either. This whole mess was completely outside of my sphere of influence. If you want to play for the fallacy of responsibility, fine, but compared to a wall street banker, I hold exactly .000001% of the responsibility he does, so it's basically 0.


until corporations start writing op Ed pieces on why we fucked over people and please forgive us, it is dumbasses like Siegel with their woe is me but listen to my story that should be shit on accordingly for having the lack of reflection to think for a moment that they should keep their foolish stories to themselves

Publishing was definitely a non-elite move.
 

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