918 Comments

It appears, at this point, that anyone who trusts our government for anything is making a serious mistake.

Expand full comment

Who owns the government is a big indicator as to why you can't trust it.

Expand full comment

I still don't understand how our government is making a profit by blowing up Syrians and Talibans, but I'm a financial retard.

Expand full comment

George Orwell - "The WAR is not meant to be WON, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can never have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation."

Expand full comment

It's worked like a charm for centuries now. Why do you think they hated Marx so much ? Telling the peasants to rise up against the capital class was the worse from of blasphemy anyone could utter.

Expand full comment

The folks that own the government own the energy and mineral industries. You also have to have a military presence everywhere in order to enforce your rackets.

Expand full comment

I get that, but what energy and mineral resources is the US government successfully extracting from Syria or Afghanistan at present? I realize that might be the planned endgame, but right now the people running this shit do not seem competent or bright to me.

Expand full comment

The Golan heights has oil. There is also a pipeline that Russia wants to run through Syria. There is poppy and minerals in Afghanistan and of course we have to rubble other countries in order to ensure no competition for our oligarchs.

https://governamerica.com/documents/genie-energy/

See if you recognize any of these players.

The MIC/covert agency globalist fake state of Israel is also very interested in stealing all that land.

Expand full comment

I have to go to the supermarket to buy a super big box of tissues for their tears. The whining over not getting free stuff is really more than people should have to bear.

Matt makes the point clearly that they aren’t a really sympathetic case and they aren’t.

What’s left is that the system for getting free stuff is broken. Boo hoo. The system shouldn’t even exist. You take on an obligation, you meet that obligation. Period. The terms and conditions aren’t hidden from the borrower. The interest rate is, as the article points out, subsidized. Meaning it’s already a bit of a handout.

Loan balances are designed to amortize in most cases. That means they go down if you pay according to the loan terms. They go up in the student loan context when the borrower is already not meeting the agreed upon terms and takes forbearance or otherwise misses payments. Try getting that deal in any other context - you won’t find it.

So let’s be clear about this....people borrow money with clear disclosure. The loan is at a discounted rate. They still don’t make their payments. And then they whine that they aren’t getting some of what they owe being written off and put on the backs of other people?

Wah wah wah. Go cry me a river.

Expand full comment

Jeez., two dick comments right at the top. People don't borrow money with clear disclosure. Student debt cannot be cleared with bankruptcy. Education should be free, but it is not asshat, that is the problem. The US has a system where you have to have a college degree to have a decent chance to get ahead, but also where one misstep or mistake and you're fucked for life. If you're a racial minority and/or poor, you might just get fucked even if you do everything right.

Expand full comment

Why stop at free education? How can good people live the care-free happy lives they deserve without free food, housing, picnics, childcare, fair-trade coffee, and pottery classes?

Expand full comment

Free education is an investment. An educated populace is what helped the US become a world power. We used to get that, but late-stage capitalism runs out of wealth to extract from the populace, so we stopped advancing while our economic competitors around the globe did not. It is one of the reasons we're losing our big lead over the rest of the world, and have to resort ever more to extortion to stay ahead.

Expand full comment

Late stage capitalism becomes late stage when it gets drenched in socialism

Expand full comment

Socialism exists in the system regardless. The question is not whether it is drenched or not; the question is whether it is socialism for the wealthy or the average worker. There are about 15 different policy examples one could look at it if the loudest voices of anti-socialist policies were to really be serious. But, people like you Rick do not want that -- tax cuts to Big Business, top 1% or bank bailouts leading to the greatest transfer of wealth in our nations history seem not to fall in that category for you. Cares act, TARP, ZIRP, and Recovery acts were socialistic solutions; but the group of people it benefitted are seen as capitalists. No clue. Absolutely none, you have.

Expand full comment

Countries where college tuition is free:

1. Norway

2. Finland

3. Sweden

4. Germany

5. France

6. Denmark

(https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/080616/6-countries-virtually-free-college-tuition.asp)

Geez, it would totally suck to live in any one of those failing commie socialist countries, now wouldn't it? <packing my bags to declare refugee status from the failing US in Finland>

Expand full comment

...BUT not anybody gets to go to these schools in Europe, you have to qualify and it's much tougher than in the USA. They also don't major in useless degrees in Gender Studies, Feminism, etc. otherwise they wouldn't be employable. These countries don't waste resources. Australia is even stricter still; Only certain majors are approved to get financial assistance and entry. The USA has way to many schools of higher learning with very lax standards. Why should citizens pay for such crap?

Expand full comment

German college is very cheap (not free, still fees and living expenses, but we tend to roll those into our discussion of the cost of college here too), they also don't hand it out to anyone like a pulse like we do here.

Norway is awash in oil money, and generally Scandinavia is full of tiny homogenous countries with strong social cohesion. If Minnesota was its own country, you can bet college would be "free" there. But there are costs to having a large pluralistic society. And of of them is less feeling of connection with people you are....actually less connected d with in real fact.

Expand full comment

hmmm what else do these countries have in common? (also: Germany is not free).

The nordic countries are smaller than Ohio and are homogeneous.

Isn't it great what you can do in a nation that is united (one peoples) and doesn't have demographic instability and competing tribes??? We used to be like that. See Medicare/Medicaid and the Great Society.

Expand full comment

Enjoy the flight...

Expand full comment

All of these countries are wonderful places with remarkably high standards of living and I don't mean to suggest otherwise, but about 2MM Western Europeans and Scandinavians still immigrate to the U.S. every year, most of them for better economic opportunities. America continues to have a more dynamic economy and continues to grow at a faster pace than the EU. I think people make too much of the differences between America and the EU, when in reality the differences are smaller than they imagine, but any neutral observer would have to admit that there does appear to be a trade off between government share of GDP and economic growth.

Expand full comment

Trying to learn Finnish would suck.

Fortunately, pretty much all Finns speak English since it's taught there from grade school. The Finns are smart enough to realize their language is impossible to learn.

Expand full comment

It's not free in those countries. Shit, it even says so in the title of the article you linked to. I work for a German company and therefore with a lot of Germans, and it's funny how often they look at me cross eyed when I speak of the "free" things they're granted as citizens (e.g. healthcare, education) because it's most certainly not free. What I love about the German system though is they have a STRONG apprentice program for vocational students. The company I work for will take on students working as, well, interns I suppose at I think grade 9. Most of those students end up staying on with the company, many for their entire career. They wear overalls and get grease on their hands, but they earn a strong wage and are respected by society. I think that last bit is the most important. Those sort of jobs aren't a focus because they're seen as something "lesser". It's ironic that someone with a worthless degree serving a plumber a coffee will turn his nose up at the guy with the tool belt around his waist. Doesn't seem to matter that white van man is making 3x the barista's salary. Funny old world, this.

Expand full comment

Late stage capitalism becomes late stage when corporatist rent seekers manage to lobby the government to stack the odds in their favour and/or accept massive government largesse rather than cop the consequences of their poor decision making.

So if it is good enough for the big banks why can’t student loans be forgiven? Think of it as TARP and QE for the plebs.

Expand full comment

Other than the car companies, where the Feds took a loss to suck up to the unions that heavily influence the left, they made a profit on Tarp.

Expand full comment

You should put that on a bumper sticker.

Expand full comment

> An educated populace is what helped the US become a world power.

Now we have the worst of both worlds. The grievance studies degrees a lot of these idiot children are graduating with in no way qualify them as educated. They're not the kinds of societal investment you have in mind either. How many know-nothings with an inflated ego do we really need? We should discourage most of what currently passes higher education. We sure as shit shouldn't be looking for ways to pay for more of it.

Expand full comment

"How many know-nothings with an inflated ego do we really need?"

Apparently the NYT and The Atlantic need 'em.

Expand full comment

How does Operation Paperclip fit into your view?

Expand full comment

It's just a matter of time before all those things are indeed free. As jobs are eliminated through automation and off-shoring jobs, we'll all be joining the welfare system. And even then a "virtuous cycle" exists, Fed Gov welfare ending up in the hands of corporations which sends all their profits to wallstreet and to the banks which after exhausting things which provide a yield put their currency hoard into the yield of last resort - Fed Gov debt. Which gets rolled right back into welfare. Embrace your future.

Expand full comment

Yes! It should all be free!

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

This.

The US is just a casino now. If you perform productive work, you're a fool for performing productive work.

Where does it end up?

Expand full comment

Jim gets rich on his crypto because the house of cards that is the dollar comes tumbling down.

Expand full comment

Luck, like most things in life.

Expand full comment

Why should education be free? Free? Where does the money come to pay for free?

Expand full comment

Pretty simple. We are the world's reserve currency. This means we that we can decide repayment of our federal debt (at 28T presently). And if you are telling me we cannot afford it (then the 5 tax cuts to the wealthy, 10 wars of choice, and 3 financial crisis that went unpunished to the top 1% undercut your belief).

If we can create policy that kills people overseas, provides tax relief to billionaires, and fails to police the criminogenic fraud on Wall Street, then we can afford FREE FUCKING college.

Expand full comment
founding

It's fascinating that you bring up our violent foreign policy, and our privileged position having the global reserve currency, in the same post.

Most people don't explicitly make that connection, but it's absolutely correct: If you want domestic policies that rely on "free" money, you had better support whatever aggressive policies are needed to maintain reserve currency status.

Am I understanding your position correctly?

Anyway, we'll see how much longer it holds. China is not messing around.

Expand full comment

No Jonathan "I had not better support" aggressive policies. This is a false assumption on your part.

What I am saying. What I have said on 4 straight Matt Taibbi threads now (probably to the point of boredom for some) is that Tony Benn gets this right.

If we can initiate policies that fund the war machine, or give tax breaks to the wealthy who do not need it, or fail to prosecute financial criminals during periods of economic crisis, then we can also create policies which can nurture people (healthcare, education), which can redistribute billionaire gains into wages for working people, and hold the financial criminals to account for their crimes (see BCCI, Wells Fargo, Bid rigging Indexes, Money Laundering for Drug Cartels, Data Mining, Off Shoring Assets, Creating Tax Havens, Flash Trading, New Investment Vehicle scams, Ponzi Schemes, Changing accounting practices like a pair of pants, and taking money from client accounts directly).

You see, the violence is not just our foreign policy --- but is the new domestic policy too.

Expand full comment
founding

But if we stop funding the war machine, we'll lose our reserve currency status. No more "free" money. Oops.

Expand full comment

Exactly right.

The correct posture to have when you are tenuously holding onto something and have competition from renewed adversaries is to not abuse it and rub adversaries nose in it.

Only do what is absolutely necessary with it.

Expand full comment

Spoken like someone who forgot that we bugged the German consulate to spy on Merkel. Spoken like someone who forgets that our defense budget accounts for 37% of all defense spending around the world. Let us not forget that we lead the world in the # of Billionaires (614), and we rank 33 out of 36 countries in the world in infant mortality. Rubbing noses in it has been our policy for the last 75 years --- coups, assassinations, strong-arming large international institutions? What planet do you live on?

Expand full comment

Yeah just devalue the currency, so we ALL pay for free college instead!

BRILLIANT!

Expand full comment

So, its okay to devalue the currency for tax cuts for the wealthy? Or foreign wars? Or large program bailouts to corporations who paid almost no tax in the culture? Are you serious?

We have 25 Trillion dollars of expense in the last 30 years (that have devalued the dollar --- and have not made the economy any stronger - except to entrench oligopolies as siphons for profits at the expense of Americans -- who have not followed this theft.

And you have the balls to suggest that Free education is what would devalue the dollar? Trying to have your cake and eat it too I see.

Expand full comment

No it's not okay.

Any other questions?

Expand full comment

We've been doing it for 250 + years now. That's how macro economics works.

Expand full comment

Paying for free or low cost college education won’t devalue the currency. Education is one of the best investments in the workforce. The improved productivity of the college-educated citizen way more than pays for the expenditure, so the money spent will be earned back by the economy as a whole. Hence, no devaluation.

If one were to pay people to destroy the infrastructure or to assassinate productive people, that would decrease productivity. That would really devalue the currency, among other bad effects.

Expand full comment

Yes it will. Productive effort goes into paying that college tab. If it's no longer spent on that, that's called inflation. Same amount of goods with just more money chasing it.

Expand full comment

There's one key difference between private sector college loans vs Federally-issued college loans. The latter doesn't increase the monetary base. All increases in the monetary base (devaluing the currency) comes form private loan creation.

There is no Federal Gov spending that increases the monetary base. It is all sterilized spending.

Expand full comment

I’m not sure why you believe such a thing. When the Federal government issues a loan, it causes deposits to exist within the banking system, the same as when a private bank makes a loan. All loans cause money creation. What’s so special about federal spending in this regard?

Expand full comment

Why? Because college graduates pay more in increased (marginal) taxes over their working lifetimes than do non-college graduates - more than the cost of that college education, to list one of several good reasons. Ergo: It is a proven good investment.

It comes (sort of) from our taxes. Not really, but it easier to conceptualize.

Expand full comment

If everyone goes to college, it no longer means anything.

Expand full comment

So nobody learns job skills in college? I certainly wouldn't have taught myself electrical engineering. Not a lot of computer chips being made by people who don't think college means anything.

Expand full comment

Me looking for where I commented on your electrical engineering degree.

If all the sub 1000 SAT students had been forced through the EE program, others would (correctly) value your EE degree substantially less.

Just as I stated.

Expand full comment

And you are surely paid more than a barrista with an xyz studies degree. Is that just?

Expand full comment

I’ll bet “Banned” loves his/her smartphone. Just doesn’t think anyone needed to get an education to produce one.

Expand full comment

That sophistic logic would also apply to high school and kindergarten. Should we get rid of high school and kindergarten, too?

Expand full comment

If you are actually asking me if we should update the more than 100 year old education system to a system that is more customer focused and less employee focused then I say yes.

Turns out your question and it’s underlying assumptions was the actual sophistry.

Expand full comment

Wrong. College education, or improved vocational skills, improve the productivity of the worker. Everyone improving themselves doesn’t cancel itself out.

This assumption is based on the idea that college education is merely credentialing. But that’s false. Students actually learn and improve themselves, so value is created to match or exceed the cost.

Expand full comment

I was no better at my job with a credential than without. I just stopped being a journeyman on federal contracts.

Expand full comment

Are you suggesting that a person above the age of 18 is unable to learn or improve themselves unless they attend post high school classes?

Expand full comment

You and your assumptions.

Expand full comment

"It is a proven good investment"

I'd like to see that proof and I'd like to see it broken out between selective and non-selective schools. Average income of students 10 years after graduating from a non-selective college is around $50,000. That is less than what a typical skilled worker, like a carpenter, plumber, electrician, makes. We need to stop telling students with sub 1,000 SAT scores that college is the ticket to a better life. It's mostly a waste of money.

Expand full comment

"We need to stop telling students with sub 1,000 SAT scores that college is the ticket to a better life."

We need to stop telling students with 2,000 SAT scores that college is the ticket to a better life.

Higher ed is one of the biggest scams running in this country, along with health insurance. I actively dislike the MIC but at least it makes actual missiles.

Expand full comment

If you break down any average far enough of course you can find a demo that doesn't fit the average, but that is not an honest argument. ON AVERAGE, college-educated people pay more in taxes over their lifetime than non-college grads, therefore making college free to all is a good investment for the country.

Your example is cherry picking and thus invalid.

Expand full comment

Far enough? You make it sound like the cohort that is "students matriculating at non-selective schools" is some tiny niche. That's not remotely true. It's like closer to half. In fairness, if you measured by dollars spent/cost incurred, it's probably less dire as many schools that are effectively open access are at least quite reasonably priced, but for every CUNY (which is primarily attended by in-state residents at a reasonable $6,000 tuition), there is a Florida Memorial that charges an absurd $16,000 a year for a degree that is unlikely to result in higher earnings than a high school diploma.

This isn't cherry picking, it's just a common sense plea to introduce some rational underwriting of student debt, if not for the benefit of taxpayers, at least for the benefit of the students making these costly mistakes.

Expand full comment

Well then the college people should earn enough to pay back their loans, right?

Expand full comment

It is cheaper and easier to do it the other way and provide free public education. The rich can (and will) always send their kids to private schools.

Expand full comment

That's why our K-12 public schools are a cheap, smashing success, right?

Expand full comment

You didn’t answer the question, though. If they earn more and pay more taxes, have better paying jobs...why are they unable to pay off their debt?

Expand full comment

Why should roads, police, social security, or the USDA be free? Where does the money come from I'm so confused? /s Taxes dummy.

Expand full comment

Why should people be price out of education ? Did you go to private school or something ? If not you got free education that your community paid for.

Expand full comment

"Why should education be free?"

So the profit motive doesn't fuck it up like it fucks up everything else.

"Where does the money come to pay for free?"

From the current ponzi scheme you call capitalism. Perhaps if you don't know you should educate yourself about macro economics ??

Can you stop your bawling now ?

Expand full comment

Education is free to employers who don't have to pay for it yet benefit from it by hiring educated employees.

Expand full comment

"The US has a system where you have to have a college degree to have a decent chance to get ahead, but also where one misstep or mistake and you're fucked for life. If you're a racial minority and/or poor, you might just get fucked even if you do everything right."

The US now has a system where having a college degree is no decent chance of getting ahead and may in fact be a mistake, as it represents a great amount of time, effort, and money (or = debt) squandered.

If you want to get a good job, know the right people -- or better yet, be related to the right people. Credentialism is collapsing -- if it hasn't collapsed already. That's my advice to the childrens.

Expand full comment

Grisha, this was not always the case though. The people in charge of neoliberal institutions are often the beneficiaries of the investment in education --- not the commodification of it. And while I take your position into account (credentialism, meritocracy arguments especially), I taught a public institution for 10 years in the Midwest and found a way to connect with students -- so as they could navigate the falling value of their degree with the rising interest and anger at having been exploited. My time there was not for nothing. There are serious people in all walks of life and one need not be in college to find them, and even in areas where we might not think we have influence, that is where it is the strongest, my friend.

Expand full comment

Any 18 year old today that isn't smart enough to skip college isn't smart enough to go to college anyway.

Expand full comment

OK, Lord and Master, skip college and do what instead?

Expand full comment

if only it were that simple.

Expand full comment

This is what happens when the early part of your Substack career consists of woke bashing. The cockroaches crawl out from under the baseboard.

Expand full comment

What do you mean that there is not clear disclosure? When I got a student loan, it was clear as day what I was doing. If you mean to say that borrowers should be better educated as to what loan terms mean, I'd agree with you. That speaks to the problem of financial illiteracy.

Expand full comment

Yeah the system of free stuff is getting ridiculous! I'm sick of people getting asking for free roads and public education too! Like when will the handouts stop!?!? Life isn't free, if you need a road, you should work until you can afford the paving equipment and build it yourself! /s

Expand full comment

Sorry to break this to you, but you already pay for roads and public education.

Just because you don't get a bill doesn't mean you aren't paying.

Expand full comment

Yeah I know. "/s" means sarcasm. I was mocking Rick for suggesting that people who want education paid by taxes just want "free stuff".

Expand full comment
founding

Well it is free for a lot of people. The Productive Class pays; everyone benefits.

Expand full comment

That is called a progressive tax structure. You don't like it?

Class structure doesn't usually have a "productive" category. Usually people align class with wealth. Many lower class people are very productive. They build things.

Expand full comment

Yes!

Pull yourselves up by your own bulldozers!

Expand full comment

I am waiting for the government to issue me a bulldozer.

Expand full comment

First of all, you’re a dickhead. Secondly, it says right in the article that the terms and conditions you reference were changed on the fly, basically. So, yeah, maybe they weren’t “hidden” but they were changed without notice to the borrowers.

Expand full comment

As someone who paid off his own student debt years ago, I hope you die of covid in extreme pain.

Expand full comment

You’re a sick person

Expand full comment

I’m fine. Thanks.

Expand full comment

Clearly you can't self-diagnose.

Expand full comment

Congratulations, you'll die a cunt.

Expand full comment

What a total Rick, sorry I mean Dick. Making payments is not getting something for free. Dick, Sr. paying for your college is getting something for free...he should have sent you to a different school. And these "write offs" don't go on the "backs of other people"...obviously you don't know how finance works. Cry me your taxes..wah, wah, wah.

Expand full comment

What you are demanding is a system for reallocating YOUR costs. You’re not my child, nor are you even my relative or friend. Where do you get the nerve to feel so entitled that you believe that you can get something without laying the stated cost of it? Why are you so special that you think you have a right to it? Making discounted payments - including interest - is indeed getting something for free measured by the discount.

I know how finance works. And I know how demands from the central government works. You get something that other people bear the burden for.

Expand full comment

Those "clear" disclosures when students sign up for the loans include information about income based repayment plans, forbearance and forgiveness. That is all part of the agreement they signed. According to everything Matt wrote, they have met all their obligations. Federal student loan balances are not "designed to amortize". You are misinformed and need to google "income based repayment".

Expand full comment

ohhh so you're like one of those cartoon people who believes that the misfortune of others is due to them not being as smart as you? I wonder how different this comment would be if you were $126k underwater. nevermind, I'm sure the reason you aren't is because you Make Good Decisions

Expand full comment

Did you read the article?

These people signed up for debt forgiveness programs in exchange for taking employment in undeserved sectors. Others made payments for years, but the Department of Education found excuses and technicalities to not accept the payments.

It's the government that is not keeping their end of the bargain, to the tune of 98%.

Perhaps the solution is to tell the Department of Education that Bill Ackman over at Pershing Capital just lost a currency bet to the tune of 1 trillion dollars and we need 1.5 trillion to bail him out whole and still ensure everyone at his company gets their 100 million dollar year end bonuses as well.

That way you get the money no questions asked and can give it to those in the middle class the DOE is gouging before anyone realizes that the money was wasted on those in actual need.

Expand full comment

the student debt ripoff mirrors, Country Wide predatory home loan ripoff. just another vehicle for wall st scumbags, to pimp, then collateralize 100x. that our gov, both d and r, were complicit, speaks volumes.

The Mont Pelerin Society's (Austria 1940's) favorite "economist" F. v Hayek proposed path of "liberty" and "freedom", 4 "planks": [only for the 1% (Neoliberalism)] (Buchanan, Friedman, the "Chicago School", were later disciples and advocates)

1) Deregulate global financial markets - DONE

2) Deregulate global trade - DONE

3) Create the illusion and urgency of national bankruptcy with fake (fiat) debt (thereby neuter a nation's capability to enforce laws - eliminate the people's ability to defend against being overwhelmed and consumed by the 1%) - DONE

this manufactured illusion of bankruptcy is critical path for the 1%'s agenda. the "debt" is used to justify austerity measures for the people, and to tee up, the privatization plan, which is about transforming the public debt, into private debt, where the 1% can extract usury, ad infinitum.

#AusterityIsCode4Looting - austerity measures are plain evidence, the system has already been looted by generational globalist wealth.

then lastly, the kill shot:

4) Privatize Everything. recreate us ALL as permanent rent payers of even the most basic necessities of life (Air, water, food, shelter, health care). the public debt of a nation has been effectively eliminated, transmuted into private debt (bonds); the service of which (usury) is FOREVER- Almost COMPLETE

#PrivatizationIsTheft - privatization today is STRICTLY about prioritizing national productivity (work) away from the commons and general welfare, extracting and transferring it to the 1% rent-seeking parasites (Extreme Redistribution of wealth from the people TO the Billionaires, NOTHING for the people)

Expand full comment

Found the commie.

Federal Government been in charge of student lending for over a decade, still wall street's fault.

You're dumber than Maxine Waters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3QSHVNDlaM

#PrivatizationIsTheft - You don't deserve the freedom and excess you enjoy.

Expand full comment

Well said, XBarbarian, as always.

Expand full comment
founding

Really well said. I completely agree. And in the same vein of the powerful using the government to rob the people, how is it that austerity is NEVER applied to the military industrial complex? When the next John McCain is pushing for the destruction of Ghana or Denmark, in order to Build Back Better, how is it they never have to mention the cost of the demolition? I’m going to sharpen my pitchfork in case the people wake up to the true global threat.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

and just what do you imagine government is, sir? government is no different than a corporation, an LLC, etc.. it's aa Legal fiction, a prop, a straw man, operated by the money that pays to play. government is trivial today: it's a facade of the oligarchy

Expand full comment

«as of March 2019, 73,554 unique borrowers had submitted 86,006 applications for PSLF, and only 864 applications had been approved for forgiveness. Only 518 borrowers—fewer than 1% of unique borrowers submitting applications—have had their loans forgiven.»

So it is essentially a scam to keep lower the federal and local taxes on affluent people, as such low approval rates can only be the result of carefully designed rules.

The key element of the scam is that the application for the PSLF can only done at the end of the qualifying period, not at the beginning; if it were done at the beginning, most people who don't get approved would not do the required public service that the PSLF is meant to help fund.

I would suspect that the equivalent "GI Bill" for veterans has much, much higher approval rates, and that they are usually approved upfront. Teachers are usually on the left, veterans on the right.

Expand full comment
author

Not only that, but the borrowers are often affirmatively told in the early years of the PSLF that they are qualifying, but those letters are non-binding.

Expand full comment

Matt- do you think there is any chance that the BK code will be amended to allow these debts to be dischargeable? Couldn’t a Senator simply add an Amendment to a bill to get that done? Doesn’t seem like it would be that tough to do.

Expand full comment

Matt - do you not see the irony of teachers who are expected to shape the minds of our young - are frequently the actors in these loan forgiveness stories? So what are they teaching kids? Dependency is part of life so it’s okay to expect subsidy and write offs that transfer the burden to others? That you are smart enough to teach others to prepare for,life, but not smart enough to prepare for your own?

Expand full comment

Rick, those who followed your system here would never qualify as hedge fund managers. The entire idea of paying your own debts is anathema to our entire financial system on Wall Street. Where is your outrage over the bail outs given under TARP, to Long Term Capital, to the Savings and Loans? Why do I only hear this level of outrage from the bootstraps crowd when the net worth of those we help financially is less than a billion dollars?

You can look at people who struggle in two ways. You can see them as inferior humans who failed to meet your standards either through genetic or character inferiority, or failed to plan to be born on 3rd base. Or, you can realize they could be you under different circumstances.

It's our shared suffering that binds us. If a person has been unfortunate enough to have never suffered, or is emotionally incapable of remembering the experience then what I am saying here makes no sense. Those are the people who need help the most.

Expand full comment

Maybe you heard of the Tea Party?

It was formed as a direct reason to the bailouts.

Expand full comment

Hell, I have better assurance from my damn medical insurer that they'll pay up - and that isn't saying much.

Expand full comment

The GI Bill is not a loan program and is not an "equivalent" to the student loan programs, it's a Federal benefit and ALL veterans who serve the required amount of time in uniform are eligible for it, period. There is no comparison. By the way, my wife put herself through college by WORKING because she wasn't eligible for student loan programs because her mother had inherited a farm. She thought she was going to get the loans but was told she wasn't qualified and that her mother should sell the farm (which is now worth over a million dollars) so she was forced to drop out of college, go to work to pay off the bill at the school where she had been enrolled, then go to a state college where she worked two jobs and lived in a dilapidated trailer to pay her tuition to get a degree in education. I used my GI bill to get my commercial pilot ratings and spent forty years in aviation - and owe nobody!

Expand full comment

Your statement about the GI Bill is incorrect; as related specifically to tuition assistance. The benefit that vets are eligible depends entirely on exactly when you served, so you were lucky to have had such a great benefit. I served in the early 80s, was honorably discharged after 6 years, and was not eligible for anything remotely like what you were eligible. What was in place at the time was a savings program that match one dollar for every two you put in thru a payroll deduction- and that benefit had a lifetime cap. All in all, it wasn't worth the time of day.

Expand full comment

My experience was the same and I was in during the 90's. The benefit had to be paid for this a monthly deduction and was only good for 10 years. It had so many strings attached to how I could and could not use it that I got my degree without it and let the 10 expiration run out.

Expand full comment

Bachelors degree paid for with the Montgomery GI Bill. It wasn’t hard.

Expand full comment

It's funny how timing is everything. I'm sure the GI Bill was GREAT in the 1950s.

Expand full comment

«I'm sure the GI Bill was GREAT in the 1950s.»

Likely, for 3 reasons:

* The ruling classes realized that 80% of their workforce were trained soldiers.

* The ruling class military planners were worried about the appeal of the soviet model on the internal front.

* The ruling class realized that is the nukes came, they came for everybody, they could not just skip town.

* The ruling classes had shared the war experience with their servants and realized that workers were not all exploitative parasites, but were human too.

Expand full comment

Charles Portis (who served as a Marine in Korea) wryly observed that knowing how to use a machinegun was not a skill that served one well in civilian life.

Expand full comment

And there is no difference between back then and today either ! Holy shit, people are hopeless.

Expand full comment

Your posts remind me of a character named Spaceman from the comic series Preacher. Ever read it?

This is an excellent thing, for the record.

Expand full comment

«The GI Bill is not a loan program and is not an "equivalent" to the student loan programs [...] There is no comparison.»

Perhaps you haven't figured out yet that this article is not about student loans, but student loan *forgiveness*, which is equivalent to a grant.

«ALL veterans who serve the required amount of time in uniform are eligible for it, period»

So is the loan forgiveness "grant": all qualifying veteran teachers who for the required amount of time are eligible for it, period.

But the difference is that the loan forgiveness "grant" comes with a lot more conditions and a much lower approval rate than the veteran grant, because it is for "socialist" teachers, rather than "conservative" veterans.

Expand full comment

Do you really think the uniparty cares about conservative vs liberal? Unless you can back up your statement I think "because they can" is the more likely explanation. Veterans have a lot more political capital than teachers unions.

Expand full comment

1) Prior to the post 9/11 GI Bill you paid in $1200 to qualify for 36 months of benefit. Not a loan, also not debt forgiveness. College plus living expenses typically exceed the benefit so you either took out regular student loans, worked, or both. 2) May veterans use their GI Bill benefit to become teachers. 3) Not all veterans are conservative, not by a long shot.

Expand full comment

I would be interested in what percentage of the denials are for fairly normal and good reasons. For things like this you can get a lot of "frivolous applications". It is all well and good to focus on sob stories. But if of the 98% of people rejected, 95% of them were people who simply didn't make all their payments, or failed some other straightforward hurdle, well it is a very different picture than if that is only 40% of the rejections. Some data on that would make this a lot more worthwhile than the sob story. It mostly sounds like these people made pretty poor choices, and that is why they owe $126,000. Not that the system screwed them.

It is totally possible the system is really messed up, I don't think this story really demonstrated that, nor does the high rejection rate.

Expand full comment

Funny how people can't accept that the system screws people for profit when most all of the systems in the US currently screw people for profit.

Expand full comment

Taibbi knows enough to present these facts, but chooses not to. This is how we know he lacks journalistic integrity.

Expand full comment

You are free to say whatever you want Rad, have at it sport. However, if there was anyone here who had less credibility to discuss journalistic integrity, it would be yourself.

Expand full comment

That's funny. Attack me instead of the facts of the comment. Go fuck yourself, tool.

Expand full comment

"Taibbi knows enough to present these facts, but chooses not to. This is how we know he lacks journalistic integrity."

Hypocrite much ? Holy cow someone is totally triggered by this piece.

Better get back to your safe space now radrave.

Expand full comment

Your comment is not a fact, but rather an opinion. Get your "facts" straight, handyman.

Expand full comment

A handyman is actually useful to have on call. You know; handy.

Expand full comment

What are the facts then Sparky ? Funny how you don't need any but everyone else does don't you think ?

Expand full comment

What are facts? This is a good question. Fortunately I have the answer.

Facts are simple and facts are straight

Facts are lazy and facts are late

Facts all come with points of view

Facts don't do what I want them to

Facts just twist the truth around

Facts are living turned inside out

Facts are getting the best of them

Facts are nothing on the face of things

Facts don't stain the furniture

Facts go out and slam the door

Facts are written all over your face

Facts continue to change their shape

I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

This data is interesting and seems to confirm the rough numbers in MT's article. 1.66% of people who applied to the program have received it as of nov 2020. 91% of the applications have been processed. Most are rejected for not enough qualifying payments made yet(59%), "missing information"(26%), or no eligible loans(11%). Presumably people thought they qualified or they wouldn't have gone through the trouble to submit the application. This data to me says that the terms of this program are so confusing that the vast majority of people thought they qualified, but did not. Imagine if a private company led people on like that for ten years and then pulled the rug from under them!!

Expand full comment

You honestly thing private companies don't lead people on ? Where are from ?

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Nothing worse than being frowned upon by corporate puppets and fielding some mean tweets on twitter while counting your billions.

If recent events are any indication that is.

Expand full comment

I just found out another aspect of the FED's loan scam: One cannot refinance a Federally backed student loan. Wow, that's freaking awful. 2021 rate is only 2.75%

Expand full comment

Yup, I've been locked in at 4.75% on my federal student loans since 2005. I've never missed a payment, but the balance has barely dropped. The principal has gone down by about 15% over 15 years.

Expand full comment

I'm not getting why the interest rate isn't simply indexed to the Federal prime lending rate, rather than setting up a Bureaucracy of Loan Forgiveness.

That way, college students can "take responsibility for funding their own education" without being caught in a usury trap.

Expand full comment

Because there are multiple lenders in the market place (federal and private) - often times private lenders have significantly higher costs. By drawing attention to them, by indexing with Prime (it creates more traffic away from the more expensive loans). This is one reason. There may be more.

Expand full comment

There's also the fact that we don't have a public national banking institution; instead, we have the Federal Reserve system which is an entity run by private individuals- regional "governors", appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate- that works as an intermediary between the US Treasury and the privately owned banks. I don't pretend to be up on the pros and cons of that situation.

I do find it worthy of note that the Federal Reserve is routinely cast by old-school American political conservatives as instrumental to a conspiratorial plot by "finance capital socialists"*, five of the seven Federal Reserve Bank Governors are Republicans (currently, there's one vacancy.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_Board_of_Governors

[*I could use a lot more explanatory clarification on that particular narrative.]

Expand full comment

«the Federal Reserve is routinely cast by old-school American political conservatives as instrumental to a conspiratorial plot by "finance capital socialists"*, five of the seven Federal Reserve Bank Governors are Republicans»

There are several different factions of the "right", at least the "libertarians" (Ron Paul etc.), the "populists" (Buchanan, Perot, Trump, ...), the "corporatists" (McConnell etc.), the "financialists" (Romney etc.); geographically someone proposed a three-way split between yankee bankers, texas oilmen and west coast tech moguls.

Expand full comment

The left seems to be morphing into Hollywoodists,tech moguls, and global corporatists for the most part. Of course all of this hides behind a facade of woke equality that pretends to care about the poor despite not being able to stand the smell of them.

Expand full comment

Except that if Fannie or Freddie is holding your home loan you can refinance that.

Expand full comment

To the same crowd of private bankster thugs.

Expand full comment

So...borrow at the low rate and pay off the higher rate loan? Thing is, who are you going to borrow from at 2.75%? Maybe a mortgage lender but they have you locked in for 15-30 years with a hefty down payment. Then again, I haven't bothered to look into too many of the various lines of credit these days, maybe a home equity loan would be be available and low enough to make sense, but I suspect if it were that easy we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Expand full comment

As for the G.I. Bill I cannot say but the Student Loan Repayment Program ran through the Army Reserve system is very convoluted, bureaucratic, and misleading by design. It took me years to figure it out. Most soldiers I know gave up trying to get their benefits at some point. There are people of all political stripes in the Reserves. The GI Bill may be easier to get because of the bad publicity that would arise if there were too many barriers preventing payouts.

Expand full comment

«the Student Loan Repayment Program ran through the Army Reserve system is very convoluted, bureaucratic, and misleading by design. [...] There are people of all political stripes in the Reserves.»

So the veterans of the reserves are scammed like those the veterans of teaching in difficult situations. It looks politically motivated too. Another and far more important example:

* I can agree that often teacher unions are stupid and greedy.

* I can agree that many states and counties have huge pension deficits because of political reasons.

* However it is not because the teacher unions have won excessive pensions, by a large margin it is because of the police (and firefighters) having been gifted fabulous pensions (and state and county managers too, while other state and county workers get a lot less).

* It is mainly both because the police (and firefighters and management) usually vote for the right (Republicans or Clinton Democrat) and teachers (and other state and county workers) don't.

* In part it is also because wealthy donors want to make sure that "their" enforcers are rewarded for their loyalty.

Expand full comment

You're correct about the PSLF, but my experience with the GI Bill was different than you suggest. If you sign up, they deduct a portion of your pay for a year or more in exchange for the defined benefit, but using it is not always easy. For my part, the requirements for use had so many strings about what did and did not qualify that like many I ended up forgoing the benefit all together.

Still, it sounds like the PSLF is far worse. It's not a matter of paying into a system then learning it's unusable. They are actually told in advance it will work and then at the end it did not. If you or I tried to pull that with a company we would go to jail because there would be no such thing as a non-binding agreement to begin with.

Expand full comment

I'm just gonna leave this here:

Matt and the majority here want our govt to fully control healthcare.

Expand full comment
author

Uh, no. I just think people should be able to enter relatively low-paying, but valuable professions without ending up in retirement with a lot of debt. These two erred in going to the one Hawaii school in the district that was not Title 1, but even if they had gone to a Title 1 school, they wouldn't have gotten the benefit, like 99% of the people who apply for these benefits. It makes no sense to build a school system that almost guarantees that anyone who has a detour in life will end up paying debts in their Social Security years.

Expand full comment

The value of a college degree is the selectivity of the degree-granting institution. Community college, Sacramento, Cal State Chico. All completely non-selective schools. There was never any reason to believe that degrees from these institutions had any value at all. And they don't. Of course they became public school teachers. Joel Klein made this point repeatedly. Raising teacher pay to attract better candidates only works if you can change the hiring and promotion practices that pretend these qualifications are real in the first place.

Expand full comment
founding

Do have value. Probably can't get a job at the New Yorker, or WaPo or NYT, but these schools are fine schools.

Expand full comment

First, it isn't really about the school, the quality of teachers at the school or the quality of education theoretically available at the school. It's about the students that attend the school. Which is why college costs are so galling. You are paying the institution as a way of announcing - in a socially acceptable way - that you have the attributes that you had the day before you attended the college.

Second, that is demonstrably wrong. Columbia Community College is little more than an extension of an undemanding public high school. Sacramento and Chico both accept virtually every student that applies and the average SAT scores of the students that attend is about the national average of high school students and below average for students matriculating at colleges nationally. Neither Sacramento nor Chico are in the top 500 schools nationally by median SAT score. At the 75th percentile, students at Chico and Sacramento have SAT scores considerably lower than students at places such as Montana Bible School, Ouchita Baptist University and the University of Findlay (none of which I knew existed until right now).

Third, I find it...odd...that your idea of an elite job available only to people with sterling credentials is working for the NYT, WaPo or New Yorker. I don't actually know, but I would not have guessed that these publishers are really competing for the cream of our youth. They certainly don't seem to employ many of them as reporters anymore. The curtain has just about come down on the day when people like Holman Jenkins and Tom Wolfe were drawn to the business.

Expand full comment

It doesn't make much sense to expect people to go to an elite college to become school teachers--hell, we'd be fine if we only required an associate's degree, as long as we made the teachers also pass a subject matter test for whatever they were teaching. I think education degrees used to be two-year degrees, and I doubt very much that most of what you learn getting an education degree makes much difference for how well you teach.

School teachers aren't an elite occupation. They're in the same basic category as nurses and policemen--you want reasonably bright and competent people in those jobs, but you don't need to try to recruit from the right tail of the bell curve or anything.

Expand full comment

I agree with this entirely. My point is a pretty simple one. The payoff from attending non selective schools just is not there. The jobs you can get by attending non selective schools, by and large, do not pay more than jobs tha you can do without attending college.

Expand full comment
founding

You are right about the older type of teacher education. The normal school model of ed courses on a h.s. degree prevailed a long time. Many of them (like UCLA. Indiana State University,Sam Houston State University) became full universities as the Normal school model phased out Some of communities where they existed are called "Normal" today--Illinois, Alabama. The evolution of teacher education is complex and some earn the MAT on top of a BA in a subject. But today public school teaching has more credentials.

Expand full comment

"Third, I find it...odd...that your idea of an elite job available only to people with sterling credentials is working for the NYT, WaPo or New Yorker."

Can't speak for Kathleen but I don't think that's what she was saying.

"I don't actually know, but I would not have guessed that these publishers are really competing for the cream of our youth.... The curtain has just about come down on the day when people like Holman Jenkins and Tom Wolfe were drawn to the business."

I think you got that right. I think the "cream of our youth" -- to whatever extent one defines "cream" -- is venting on Twitter and speculating in Bitcoin. Most millennials can't afford a house. I doubt Gen Z even thinks about owning a house; a foreign concept.

The USA has become a deeply sad place. I think very few Americans under 40 have much hope for the future.

Expand full comment
founding

O, for me this--calling any school bad or valueless is a signifier of a certain attitude. I'm a librarian who teaches in a grad. school and have students with degrees from expensive places as well as no-name places and their academic performance is not very different. The students from the no-name places may not have had junior year abroad or the lifestyles of those from the expensive places, but they can do the work regardless of academic pedigree of their undergrad. It's about the person, not their capacity to pay for an expensive education. Thx for seeing it.

Expand full comment

You'd be surprised, bud.

Quite a few of us are pissed the hell off. And you know what? We don't give a shit about owning a house. There's bigger wrongs to right than that.

Expand full comment

I had to read this a few times to make sure I had not authored it. In the words of Nino Brown, I better stop suckin' on that glass dick.

Expand full comment
founding

Just assumed from your comment is what you do.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Every school publishes the average SAT/ACT scores at the 25 and 75th percentiles. You can find this information on tons of sites:

https://www.stateuniversity.com/rank/sat_75pctl_rank.html

https://www.collegesimply.com/guides/colleges-by-test-score/

https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/hardest-to-get-in/?page=25

For Cal State Chico, their SAT scores range from 880 - 1100 at the 25th/75th percentile. For frame of reference, the average SAT score of all test takers (which includes plenty of people who will choose not to attend college) for 2019 was 1059, so quite a large number of Chico students underperform the average high school student in the U.S.

Expand full comment

I can prove nothing, but I suspect not even a Harvard or Yale degree has much to do with getting a job at the New Yorker, WaPo or NYT at this point.

The whole point of a Harvard or Yale degree has always been to know the right people, but they used to be (and maybe still are?) serious schools that actually educated children who wanted to learn along with the feckless shitbag children of the elite who would graduate regardless of attending class or not. There's a 2-tier system. Anybody think George W. Bush actually went to class? "Gentleman's C" -- "Gentleman's F" more like. I would love to read his senior thesis.

Credentialism pulled weight in the immediate post-WWII decades in the US, I think. Somewhere around 2000 it just turned into obvious feudalism. I can't draw a bright line.

Expand full comment

Die-off of the Depression generation.

Expand full comment

Depression era generation has died off for the most part - Depression was almost 100 years ago.

Expand full comment

George got his suits at J. Press. That's all you need to know lol.

Expand full comment

University degrees are just proof that you can manage your homework load. They aren't about what you've learned or even about learning at all. If you just want to learn, all of this information is available for free online.

Expand full comment

These schools have welding, chemistry, engineering, nursing, etc. The idea that you need to go to some exclusive school to learn how to do a specialized job is ridiculous. The academic standards are much more important than admission selectivity. Let anyone in who wants to try, but you can't fake your way through engineering or many other subjects, you learn it or you fail out.

Expand full comment

Thanks for supporting the formation of the permanent under class.

Expand full comment

If you are incurring $100,000 of debt to go to college for welding, I think you are doing it wrong. I don't think you are right about either engineering or chemistry. If I go to WSP or Fluor and ask them how they recruit college graduates, I feel pretty confident that they will tell me that they value a degree from Carnegie Mellon or Olin a lot higher than they value one from Chico. They are not going to say "well, you can either build a bridge that won't fall down or you can't, and all the people that can are the same."

Expand full comment

You said "Community college, Sacramento, Cal State Chico. All completely non-selective schools. There was never any reason to believe that degrees from these institutions had any value at all."

The welding programs I was referring to community college. These programs are usually quite affordable. I'm an engineer and I went to a middle of the road state school. My school wasn't hard to get into, but many students failed out before they got through the 6th quarter of calculus. You are right that top schools get the brightest students and faculty and have the best programs. I certainly would have had more opportunities and probably higher pay with a degree from a top school, but I still got a great education and a great job. Your statement that degrees from those schools have no value at is is false and insulting.

Expand full comment

"Your statement that degrees from those schools have no value at is is false and insulting."

I said it above, but I will repeat. My point is not about the quality of education available at the institution. It's the quality of students attending the institution. Are there a small handful of students at these institutions who will be motivated, get a quality education and perform? Of course. But the numbers indicate that, on average, there is no payoff to attending non-selective schools. No insult is intended and if it worked out for you, great, you beat the odds. It's something you should be proud of. But the reality is that Matt could do one of these stories every day for the next 100 years and not run out of people for whom it did not work out. People have been consistently misinterpreting the college graduate income data by failing to distinguish the very real differences in outcome by students attending selective versus non-selective schools. They have been selling this flawed interpretation for 50 years now and the consequences have been severe.

Expand full comment

"he value of a college degree is the selectivity of the degree-granting institution. Community college, Sacramento, Cal State Chico. All completely non-selective schools. There was never any reason to believe that degrees from these institutions had any value at all. And they don't. Of course they became public school teachers."

i.e, you think that the occupation of public school teacher is worthless, because the pay is So Median Income. In your Brave New World, it must be one of those Gamma jobs. Unlike, say, the Empyrean Skill of commodities trading.

In my lifetime, I've witnessed the Inferior Surplus People designation be expanded from Welfare Cheats, to Welfare Bums, to Burger-Flippers and Janitors, and now to Public School Teachers.

It's rather ironic that at the outset of the financialization of the economy in the early 1980s, trading firms were hiring people with BAs in liberal arts subjects from non-elite schools. It was understood that the skill set had little to do with a vast amount of erudition or superior intelligence.

Expand full comment

You created the designation, you can expand it whenever you want. The average commodities trader earns 35% more than the average teacher, with a FAR less generous benefits package and no summers off. Seems fair enough to me.

Most people tend to take jobs that maximize their earnings potential, which is based on the value/potential for profit their skills and knowledge offer to others. So yes, technically those below the median are more likely to be inferior, in aggregate offering. This isn't Lake Wobegon, we can't all be above average.

Expand full comment

Reducing the value of a person's contribution to their society and the planet to their personal net monetary worth is about as dehumanizing a value system as it gets. It's non-thinking bot reaction. Actually thinking about that vast set of circumstances requires examining the implications that are so easily disguised by the numbers on a spreadsheet.

We have entire occupational classes that pay well above "the median income" that fulfill societal functions that fall somewhere between superfluous, ephemeral, parasitic, and criminal. I'm not opposed to people making money off of the first two categories, but I'm not deluded with notions about the "superiority" of the "value/potential for profit their skills and knowledge offer to others", compared to, say, a competent and compassionate home health caregiver, or the maintenance staff in my apartment building. Or a public school teacher.

I just read The Bling Ring, by Nancy Jo Sales. I'm in no mood to hear that nonsense.

(The Bling Ring is a very good work of investigative journalism. I'd like to have Matt Taibbi review it. In fact, maybe it ought to be assigned reading in high schools.)

Expand full comment

Not "their" society, just society. There are 7 billion people, I will never meet the overwhelming majority of them, they will never meet me. To me, they're all just cogs in the machine, as I am to them. On average, those who are contributing more to the standard of living that both of us enjoy are paid more than those who don't. Yes, there are always exceptions. I'm sure your maintenance man is a lovely person, but a particle physicist could do everything that he does. The reverse is probably not true. Only one can substitute for the other, those with more substitutions available *generally* choose to maximize earnings, which involves taking a position where they provide benefit to more people.

Those commodity traders you seem to scoff at are the only reason your venerated public teachers can collect the pensions they do, as in many, if not all, states the unions negotiated based on potential market returns (and rely on taxpayers to pick up the difference if projections aren't met).

Expand full comment

"In my lifetime, I've witnessed the Inferior Surplus People designation be expanded from Welfare Cheats, to Welfare Bums, to Burger-Flippers and Janitors, and now to Public School Teachers."

Heh, don't forget "paper pushers", which Hilary used to spit out referring to people who work in Insurance, with as much venom as if she were saying "profit". (this occasion, back in the 90s, was when I noticed the widespread failure of analytical ability, with people agreeing sagely that such workers were an unnecessary overhead imposed on health care...as if A) SOMEBODY was going to have to process claims and payments and B) it was going to be the GOVERNMENT so any pretense that there was a saving to be found was insane or stupid or both.

Anyway Hilary proposed to turn those "paper pushers" into doctors, nurses and other worthwhile people. This made me wonder if she might actually BE a witch, though I've never had her in the proximity of a proper Dunking Chair.

Sadly.

Expand full comment

Ugh. Could use an 'edit' button.

Expand full comment

"i.e, you think that the occupation of public school teacher is worthless, because the pay is So Median Income."

That is absolutely not what I am saying. What I am saying is that potential employers don't value their degrees. Teacher pay varies significantly from district to district. Teachers with better qualifications work in better districts. A high school science teacher with a medium amount of seniority in my school district makes over $115,000/year.

I will add that people should seriously consider how much personal financial sense there is in incurring $100,000 of debt and foregoing 4 years of earnings to make less than what a typical skilled tradesperson makes; and in plenty of cases to make less than what a top tier waiter makes.

"It's rather ironic that at the outset of the financialization of the economy in the early 1980s, trading firms were hiring people with BAs in liberal arts subjects from non-elite schools."

I don't think that has changed. There are plenty of Fordham history majors on trading floors. It's just that there are fewer human traders on those floors.

Expand full comment

"Teacher pay varies significantly from district to district. Teachers with better qualifications work in better districts."

i.e., in districts where the homes are worth more, and the property taxes (that typically do so much to fund schools) are higher. The explicit linkage of high quality public education to affluence. Public education is ostensibly about remediating that disparity, not contributing to it.

On the wider question of student loans for teachers, we're presently in a situation where someone who enters military service gets a substantial educational benefits package in return for four years of government service because it involves carrying a deadly weapon and incurs the possibility of overseas deployment in a war zone, even if the person was simply doing the logistical support jobs performed by the majority of armed service personnel that never involved any personal risk; but someone with a sincere interest in a lifelong career in teaching schoolchildren is expected to rely on loans that typically run to the tens of thousands of dollars. And there's nothing like forgiveness, even if they've paid off double the principal.

As a streamlined proposition, that's what's known as Military Socialism. I say that as someone raised in that system. My father made that observation to me explicitly on more than one occasion, although he never got too far into examining the implications. But at least he admitted it. I've always found it hugely ironic that so many in the occupational cohort reaping those benefits identify themselves so proudly as conservative champions of the capitalist private enterprise system. My late father was a Republican, but he wasn't a wingnut. He knew better than to bluster hypocritically about right-wing nonsense.

Expand full comment

If you're stating the Army is full of shitbags too, true enough. The theft problem in deployments is real, just as an example.

If you're trying to equate military benefits with this sorry couple, most military types would respond that they _earned_ their benefits, same as SS recipients would say. When you sign up, you have no idea what might happen to you. You could end up in a cozy garrison location. Or, you could end up at a nuke plant somewhere in Iraq getting rocketed and shelled constantly. You never know. Anyway, I have a hard time equating moving to Maui to military service.

Expand full comment

" My late father was a Republican" fwiw, he voted for Democrats in the JFK and LBJ eras. Politics is rarely as simply as implied by a party label. Especially politics American style.

Expand full comment

"Teacher pay varies significantly from district to district. Teachers with better qualifications work in better districts."

I don't think any discussion of gentrification can avoid the desire of young parents not affluent enough to pay for private school for "better schools." Huge driver of suburbanization in the '50s-'70s.

Expand full comment

Agreed. And I'm not sure it's a "problem" that needs to be solved. It's tempting to try to shift school funding from localities to states to ensure a more even distribution of resources, but you have to take a step back and ask just what it is you are upset about - parents with the financial means spending money to improve their children's futures? The result of equalizing spending won't be to dramatically increase spending in the average district, it will be to dramatically reduce spending in the wealthiest, which is how government efforts to engineer equality always work out. It will just accelerate the professional class' departure from public schools entirely.

Expand full comment

The value of a college degree is indeed based on selectivity, especially for non STEM degrees that don't provide hard skills, but the selectivity is based on the market as a whole not which institution you graduated from. So unless you are graduating from elite institutions it doesn't really mean much. We've dumped so many people into colleges of all types, mostly shitty, that pretty much all undergrad degrees are worthless.

I went to a somewhat selective state school with an acceptance rate of 45%. My SAT was 1320 out of 1600. Now granted I was an idiot and switched from studying electrical engineering to political science, but at the time and even still today the only message that is ever given to our youth is go to college get any degree and you'll get a good job.

My first job after I graduated was bagging groceries and cleaning mop sinks. My second job was flipping burgers. My third job was on a packaging manufacturing line where I put things in boxes at a rate of 1 per second. I don't feel I am necessarily owed anything. I've done all of those jobs well and got promoted to the point where I was mass producing chickenpox vaccine in pharma.

(See the writeup in Vanity Fair where I worked in a place that didn't provide adequate shift coverage so I shat my pants twice because I couldn't make it through all the air locks in time https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/12/fda-covid-vaccine-plant-inspectors)

That was STILL the best job I have ever had in terms of pay and sense of purpose. I went to college to AVOID working shitty service and manufacturing jobs and my decade's worth of working at plasma donation centers and manufacturing floors still leaves me with a pretty lousy resume. I am on the precipice of applying to grad school to earn an accounting graduate degree, but even the good ROI of those degrees has me worried about debt.

Expand full comment

So why didn't you spotlight one of the "99% of the people who apply for these loans"? Surely if that's an accurate figure and that's your main point you could have found someone other than this feckless couple?

Expand full comment

What?

Expand full comment

They HI school they taught at was Title 1, but didn’t have enough students signed up for the lunch program

Expand full comment

Are you saying you're not in favor of the USHS (US Healthcare Service)?

Also; They literally went out of their way to have debt relieved instead of just honoring their loans, which aren't crazy large to begin with. How many years would it take to pay off $127k with two teaching gigs?

Maybe they have other issues as well.

Expand full comment

How 'bout you whip out yer ol' calculator and answer your own question?

Expand full comment

Perhaps only captain Ahab would add this comment 8 months later, but I read this today and think it demonstrates what I was saying back in February. While the WSJ would never write this story the way you would, all the salient facts are there. There is (on average) no return on these non-selective degrees. But kudos to USC for discovering the lucrative, non-selective Masters degree in a field with no particular claim to expertise in the first place. Life advice from a carpenter is as likely to be sound as from these people.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/usc-online-social-work-masters-11636435900?mod=hp_lead_pos4

https://www.wsj.com/articles/usc-online-social-work-masters-11636435900?mod=hp_lead_pos4

Expand full comment

What does "build a school system" mean? The schools promise ZERO with these degrees. Today they compete for kids with amenities. If a kid wants to take classes on understanding the greater meaning of Star Trek, they are happy to serve it up. Many couldn't be more disconnected from the economic outcomes. Matt, if the "school system" has this obligation, wouldn't it make sense for them to limit teaching to degrees with a reasonable chance of paying off? Additionally, wouldn't we cap capacity in fields (as medicine does)? But that's not what the consumer (kids) want to hear, especially if they can borrow money and not think about it, again. They got to their senior year at HSU, had a kid and said "oh, wait, what now?". Way too many people have been entering colleges as though it is an exploratory vacation. You can get the numbers on what careers pay, and the general value of degrees from different universities and then put in a margin of safety for "surprises" like becoming pregnant. And if you did so, you probably wouldnt borrow that much for a BA from HSU.

Expand full comment

I just want them to pay for it with taxes like all the other countries with high wealth. Why are we the only ones who dont get that?

Expand full comment

Taxes pay for nothing, any sovereign country that still issues it's own currency spends money into existence. Banks loan money into existence. The whole line of bs regarding taxes was debunked a decade ago.

Expand full comment

I found the MMT crazy person!

Expand full comment

Ad hominen all you want but show me the checks or balance transfers from the IRS to congress or any other dept in the government.

Expand full comment