• Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

What To Do About Entitlements?

As my avatar AdroitWaterBear I posted two satirical comments on the Mark Dice channel, in response to his dissing of Senator Elizabeth Warren in "SHE'S THE GREATEST!"

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7MeBOUvf4k&t=116s

Social Security will not run out of money because senior health care is so bad we are dying off early, and politicians know this.

Democrats say social entitlements run out in 16 years, but they also say the world ends in 12 years so they got it covered.

Not withstanding the Democrats' proclamation of the imminent end of the world, and apparently oblivious to the pending insolvency of many social entitlement funds that they nonsensically project to follow said end of the world, Senator Warren has proposed a federal bailout for students who are unable to repay their student loans such that indebted student "can have up to fifty thousand dollars cancelled out...". Sounds too good to be true unless you are a mega bank.* Where does the bailout money come from? Another elicit dip into the Social Security Administration's pot of golden years entitlements that I contributed into all of my working life?

Other suggestions that I have heard for solving the problem of student loan defaults are to force educational institutions to match their subject matter to employment in the real world, and to allow students who cannot repay within a reasonable time period to bankrupt their student loans so that educational institutions are pressured by loss of those loan repayments to conform their curriculum to 21st century employment expectations. This ignores the fact that state student loan commissions, not the individual educational institutions themselves, are extending the student loans. Also ignored is the fact that delinquent student loans are soon bundled up and sold off to collection agencies that exert all the pressures to collect that they can get away with (I know this from personal and unpleasant experience.) Exorbitant interest rates and unreasonable penalties on late student loan repayments are problems that also need correction.

To expand universal education, the right for all human beings to have an education to the highest level one is capable of attaining, as an entitlement is enticing. But how is one to fund one's living expenses while pursing the free dream of knowledge to the full?

This discussion reminds me of the roughly $10K government sponsored student loan that I took out to finance my living expenses (old car, cheap rent, peasant-style food, iffy medical) while pursuing my master's degree education in 1983-85. My master's degree allowed employers to take advantage of me, saying, "Oh, you are really over-qualified for this job so we can't pay you much, but (if you will work for peanuts because you have no other way of surviving in this circus of few jobs and many applicants) we will hire you." The perennially depressed job market and the glut of Baby Boomer (the demographic cohort with birth years from mid-1940s to ≈1964) employment applicants left no jobs on the market to apply for and consequently no job to work. So although I managed to avoid any other significant debt, after about ten years of low or no wage I had managed to pay off only $10K on what become a $20K loan with late penalties and interest accruements. In 1994 I was working two jobs and not succeeding at even my poverty-level life. I taught as adjunct faculty in the Arizona Maricopa Community College District and I worked for a telephone survey research company several evenings a week but my income was still insufficient. I suffered a heart attack which put me in the hospital for three days, perhaps brought about by carrying a heavy briefcase from building to building in the 100º+ desert heat (adjunct faculty were provided offices), and when I recovered enough I made the lamentable financial decision to throw off the crippling balance that I owed in student loan interest and penalties. A kind-hearted attorney told me that it would be difficult but he managed to take my student loan through bankruptcy court.

It was one of the lowest points in my life, to stand there before the bankruptcy court judge with the other dregs of society, a motley, unseemly crowd to be sure. Discharging student loans through bankruptcy is almost impossible under the current law, allowed only if one can prove the burden of hardship, which that student loan certainly was upon me. I had paid $188 each month for years, forgoing buying a new car, postponing buying my first house, and I did not start my own business, much less vacation or buy nice things. Maybe there were even other more significant and less obvious losses. For example who wants to date a woman with a massive student loan debt when there were so many Baby Boomers from whom to choose, perhaps one who wisely pursued a career instead of an education and was well along with it ,while I was still mired in student loan debt? Even though I had no other debt, discharging my student loan through bankruptcy put it on my credit record, and most likely it was detrimental to my employment prospects for the next decade, at least until it was no longer noted on my credit reports. It is difficult to think about my bankruptcy, it is shaming even after over twenty-five years. But many others have been caught in the same student loan debt net. I am telling my story for all of us. The financing of my education had as much if not more negative impact on my life, as my education had a positive influence.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

* "The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, sometimes referred to as the "bank bailout of 2008," was proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, passed by the 110th United States Congress, and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The act became law as part of Public Law 110-343 on October 3, 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis of 2007–2008. The law created the Troubled Asset Relief Program to purchase distressed assets from financial institutions."

Well, after the doubling of my student loan through interest and penalties my ass-ets were troubled and distressed too. I did what I had to do, bankruptcy.

Curiously, during the ten years that I tried to pay off my entire student loan, I worked for one of the large collection agencies that buys up delinquent student loans, it was a subsidiary of a much larger bank as I recall. I recognized the irony of having an unpayable student loan over my head while working for a student loan collection agency, but I said nothing about it to anyone. The pay there was better than average, the work was alright maybe even interesting and I had been there a while, so I was just beginning to think that I had a chance of paying off my student loan. Then one day I happened to overhear the owner of the student loan collection agency talking to my supervisor, instructing her to fire me immediately. "But why? Her work is good." My supervisor queried with concern. The owner snarled, "We do not employ people who have defaulted on their student loans, and her credit report indicates she is way behind in her payments." My supervisor fired me within the hour. True story.

Caption: Mark Dice Disses US Senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats on 04-23-19

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