19 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal”

  1. It’s amazing how all the scared System fellow travelers are prepared to compromise now.
    No chance, fellas.


    The Boomer-owned-and-operated media was complaining about them all week. They were “coddled trust-funders” (an odd accusation made by people whose college enrollment status got them a draft deferment, back when college cost $500 a year). Then there was the persistent nagging over the “lack of an agenda,” as if the US Department of Energy, or the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs was doing a whole lot better.
    This is the funniest part to me: that leaders of a nation incapable of constructing a coherent consensus about reality can accuse its youth of not having a clear program. If the OWS movement stands for anything, it’s a dire protest against the country’s leaders’ lack of a clear program.
    For instance, what is Attorney General Eric Holder’s program for prosecuting CDO swindles, the MERS racket, the bonus creamings of TBTF bank executives, the siphoning of money from the Federal Reserve to foreign banks, the misconduct at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the willful negligence of the SEC, and countless other villainies?

    “Praise has been coming in from all quarters for the peacefulness of the OWSers. Don’t expect that to last. In the natural course of things, revolutionary actions meet resistance, generate friction, and then heat. Anyway, history is playing one of its little tricks by simultaneously ramping up the OWS movement in the same moment that the banking system is actually imploding…”

  2. “For instance, what is Attorney General Eric Holder’s program for prosecuting CDO swindles, the MERS racket, the bonus creamings of TBTF bank executives, the siphoning of money from the Federal Reserve to foreign banks, the misconduct at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the willful negligence of the SEC, and countless other villainies?”

    That all sounds pretty good, too, actually.

    I wish OWS would focus on it.

    This: “the scared System fellow travelers …”

    As Travis Bickle said: Are you talking to me?

    I don’t like your tone.

    You don’t add much value to the conversation.

    Change the tone or I will delete any comment from you on my posts.

    Get some civility or go elsewhere.

    Only warning.

  3. how about fraud proceedings against the some of the nation’s universities for selling $100,000 “gender/ethnic/fake” degrees?

  4. Wouldn’t we be better off if student loans were dischargeable through bankruptcy and medical debt weren’t?

  5. It is a good idea Lex, but it needs to be pushed farther. As Andrew Mellon, Calvin Coolidge’s Secretary of the Treasury said of the great depression:

    liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate … it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people.

    We need to stop deferring market clearing, and start accelerating it. To that end, 1.) we need to make the bankruptcy process easier, cheaper, and faster; and 2.) we need to make the foreclosure process easier, cheaper, and faster.

    Bankruptcy was made more complicated, more expensive, and harder, by the 2005 Amendments to Title 11. They should be repealed. The whole process should be re-engineered so that a consumer chapter 7 can be done with one on-line session, and a single meeting between the debtor, the trustee, and any interested creditor.

    Similarly, state foreclosure laws need to be streamlined and fitted to the 21st century. The overt bias towards allowing defaulting mortgagors to keep the collateral needs to be changed. There is seldom any dispute about the important facts, i.e. the debt and its default status. The process needs to be re-engineered as an administrative and clerical process, rather than a judicial one.

  6. If people are mal educated with worthless degrees and are in debt from borrowing to obtain the degrees, then have the schools repay the debt to the banks.

  7. Add my voice to those calling for dischargeable student debt, but a better solution would include some form of financial penalty to the universities peddling junk degrees. Maybe the solution is to allow a student to sue universities for a refund of tuition, books and living expenses (paid to the school). i.e. let the student get back the tens of thousand spent on a diversity studies degree, with the proceeds used to pay down the student debt.

    Along the way, we also need to completely restructure the entire student loan industry. Banks might be willing to loan tuition money to a student pursuing a degree in engineering or physics, but not a degree in Womyns Studies. Great, let the university endowment cover the junk degree programs, and let the private market for student loans assess the risk and determine which degrees are junk.

    (Replacxe the previous post where I hit submit without filling in my name.)

  8. Let’s imagine what a actual free-market higher education system would look like, in which student loans are, like other debt, dischargeable in bankruptcy. Student loans would be hard to get; you’d have to demonstrate that the degree you’re seeking will enable you to repay the loan, that the university you wish to attend is reputable, and that you’re smart enough to earn the degree. Since a lot of folks won’t qualify, there will be a resurgence in vo-tech and other forms of occupational training, which the nation desperately needs. Without a pool of cheap money, university tuition prices will have to come down and universities will start looking less like resorts and more like – well, universities. With the decrease in prices universities will have to trim a lot of fat, and that means no more “Vice President of Diversity” or BA in Womyn’s Studies or million-dollar presidential salaries. Faculty salaries will have to come down as well (and oh the anguish that will create – but mostly among the humanities, as we STEM people have actual marketable skills and can command good salaries anywhere). It would be a lot more fun to teach students who are actually qualified to be there. And a university education would, again, have actual value.

    This would be a good thing. And it may actually happen, if the left’s stranglehold on government and the resulting command economy ever relaxes. But the idea that “college isn’t for everyone” is anathema for them; they wouldn’t be able to bear it and would forever brand the right as “evil” for daring to suggest such a thing. But what’s their solution?

    disclosure: I’m a professor in a STEM field at a mid-sized private university.

  9. Sometimes the cost/benefit tradeoffs change for reasons that no one can anticipate and then there is a shakeup in the market. For example, until recently it often made sense to borrow heavily to finance law school. Now that’s not likely to be a good bet, and the indebted students are starting to question why they bear all of the risk when the schools and banks, who should know the value of a degree better than anyone, won’t take any. There will be an adjustment, probably politically driven as Jim Bennett suggests.

  10. I’d suggest private banks make the loans, and decide if that music or psychology degree loan will ever get repaid. A college degree is neither a right, nor a need for most. Government seems to like them for training children up as progressive activists, and enriching the supposed academics.

    But there is a program that allows repayment based on income, capped at a percentage of discretionary income. That might be zero, and government workers can have the whole debt forgiven after a decade or so.


  11. I don’t believe the “college is for everyone” schtick is a left-right matter and when I read
    Southern man frame it this way I find much of his argument suspicious, although I agree with him about feminist courses, and those promoting multiculturalism in all aspects, being trashworthy.

    Protectionists of both the Buchanan Right and Nader left do not say college is for everyone.

    Lexington, I just figured that potential Cain-ites are “System fellow travelers” since he has been put out there by the Koch Brothers as an alternative to Perry and Romney, is a free trader, a Occupy despiser, a Wall Street re-deregulation defender, a stay the course in Afghanistan and Iraq if the generals say-so kinda guy. I found your bottom line reduction amusing since I just had come across a couple of manifestos of libertarian and Ron Paul erstwhile Tea Party supporters who issued a far broader sympathetic appeal to Occupy,inclusive of some of Kunstler’s issues, but I see now yours was more a playful initial gambit.

  12. “… a playful initial gambit.” More a matter of thinking out loud, or trying to figure out what this OWS thing is really all about, if anything. I am very interested to see how it plays out.

  13. Instead of loans, have the students repay expenses with claims on future income. 0.5% of future income for example. Then the universities would have some skin in the game. If they issue worthless degrees, they get nothing.

  14. I just figured that potential Cain-ites are “System fellow travelers” since he has been put out there by the Koch Brothers…

    Hoo, boy.

  15. I once suggested to a department head who was trying to recruit me into an MBA program that since he was selling the projected income as a sure thing (100% placement at graduation, no salaries under a certain reasonably appealing figure) that I would sign a contract trading him half of the first 5 years salary for all costs associated with the MBA. Doing the math, this should have roughly doubled their income but oddly he declined. Stranger still, he seemed to think I was somewhat insane to think they’d even consider such a risky deal.

    Since he wouldn’t take the risk, and I wouldn’t take the risk, he suggested that my employer take the risk. They too, declined.

  16. on other blogs we are reminded why the “discharge in bankruptcy” was changed in the first place – people were graduating, declaring bankruptcy before they had any assets and skipping out. The Evil banks were replaced by the beneficent government in giving loans.

    My two kids got through school working, living like peons and getting their tuition paid by Mom and Dad. Now you want my taxes to go to a bunch who lived it up for 5/6 years, pizza parties and beer, cars provided by parents, borrowing on credit cards for the great apartment and car? Their parents failed to provide either tuition or good advice, so now we taxpayers who paid for grades 1-12 education for this sorry group (bet you most of the parents are reasonably well off, just in debt up to their eyeballs)are supposed to purchase debt forgiveness for them?

  17. “Now you want my taxes to go to a bunch who lived it up for 5/6 years.”

    There is no reason this particular kind of debt should be special and survive bankruptcy.

    At minimum, that should be rule going forward.

    The incentives are way out of whack now.

Comments are closed.