So ever since this interview went up on Forbes, I’ve had a couple of people dropping in here to troll – of course.
I’m used to the trolling, but I’d just like to point something out:
Student loans reflect a double standard in our society. You, person who calls me “one of the worst examples of the selfish Me Generation” and you, guy who wrote in to say that I’m a “scumbag, worst of the worst, among the people who wants to take down the United States” – you are aware, right, that everything from gambling debts to child support payments can be discharged under bankruptcy, correct? The only reason why student loans cannot be discharged is due to tireless lobbying efforts – and in my view, lobbying is pretty much a form of legalized corruption.
Do you like Donald Trump? Think he’s a great guy? His companies have filed for bankruptcy four times, yet at no point was Trump cutting corners on health care or scrimping on glue for his toupee. The definition of “selfishness” in the United States is mightily skewed, if college grads with not a single asset to their name (like moi) face serfdom AND condemnation until the end of their days, while guys like Trump are lionized.
If I was irresponsible in borrowing money for my education – what about the people raking up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt? We, as a society, have long ago decided that these people should be allowed a chance to re-build their credit histories and otherwise move on with their lives. Not only is it in their best interests – but it is in the interests of our economy. Student borrowers, on the other hand, have somehow gotten stuck with the label of “lazy, worthless pieces of shit” (quoting another troll here) who are out to “bring down the economy” and must therefore “be made to suffer for the harm they’ve caused.” Investing in one’s degree? You’re worthless! Investing in gaudy designer handbags and other assorted forms of bling? You’re alright. Sure, you may have to do a lot of work to repair the damage – but at least we all understand where you’re coming from. We even have a term for it – shopping addiction. None of us think that said addiction ought to ruin anyone’s life.
Education is severely overpriced in America. But it is also practically the only means to be able to have an actual career. The generation gap has made sure that very few people who hold positions of power in our society – the lawyers, the judges, the senior politicians – are aware of the fact that times have changed. You went to college in the 80′s and found it affordable and managed to pay down your student loans in no time? Good for you! Guess what? It’s 2012 out there today – and your experience no longer applies. The price of education has risen dramatically – even as our opportunities in the workplace have been drastically reduced. Do the math. It’s no wonder why so many student borrowers are in trouble. As for the ones who aren’t – many of them receive help from parents and other relatives. I like what that Esquire piece by Stephen Marche says – we are becoming a patronage society, and that’s a depressing thought.