|Lee Siegel – Author, Cultural Critic, and Student Loan Deadbeat|
Okay, just for the record, this is NOT me. I wear glasses, I probably have 20 pounds on this guy, and I work for a living. The only thing we most likely we have in common is that I once owned a shirt this color (was it called ‘French Blue’?) in 2001. Any other similarities between the two us pretty much begin and end there. .
I didn’t know who Lee Siegel was until around 6:35 this morning when he unexpectedly popped up on MSNBC as I punished the Elliptical machine with my undulating bulk at my neighborhood Planet Fitness. The crawler under his name said that he was a writer and he wrote this weekend in the New York Times that the youth of America should follow his lead and…
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. …..
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..
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..
Do you volunteer at a soup kitchen or something, donate clothing to the homeless, teach illiterate children Spanish, or something? Anything? If so, you really should mention THESE items as it doesn’t make you sound like such a weasel for sticking my kids, and my children’s kids with your misspent college / graduate school tuition debt by way of increased interest rates. .
Most people realizing that they will not be able to afford graduate school… Don’t GO to graduate school unless they can financially support their educational whims. .
You, however, you’re special, aren’t you? Yeah, special. Seriously special.
Dude, you sum it up very nicely when you say that, “someone with character would have paid off those loans and let the chips fall where they may.” Then a sentence later, predictably, you take the low-road with your comment 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.”
Lee, buddy, who do YOU hang out with on weekends? Do you KNOW these people, or did the folks at the local commune fill you in on how ‘the richest Americans live’ based upon one of those George Soros / DNC subsidized websites? If not paying your college / graduate school debts has enabled you to hang with people like this, I have to rethink my whole concept of being a ‘contributing member’ of society. Well, not really, I enjoy sleeping well at night knowing that I am providing for myself and my family to the best of my ability – perhaps this is why you don’t ‘get me’ and presumably, I’ll never ‘get you’.
I’ll continue to be a contributor for the betterment of my family, my Nation, and society in general.
You just go ahead and continue to be a ‘member’. When something works for you, you stick with it, right?