Debt Jubilee Now!
February 7, 2018 9:34 AM   Subscribe

“The idea of canceling student debt is not just some crazy idea out of left field, but is actually something that could be done, and done in a way that has a moderately positive economic impact,” Marshall Steinbaum, a fellow and research director at the Roosevelt Institute and a coauthor of the report said in an interview.

“The way this and similar polices are often discussed is in a mode of ‘well can we really afford this?’ and the answer is definitely yes.” Let’s Cancel Student Debt And Grow The Economy (Mic)
posted by The Whelk (60 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's even Biblical!
posted by thelonius at 9:41 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


I'm likely to pay off my student loans by the summer. I'd be a prime candidate to say, "ugh! That's not fair!"

But you know what? Fuck it. It's always gonna be inconvenient for someone. Someone's always gonna miss out. Just do it. Helping other people helps the economy, and that rising tide lifts all ships.

At the very least, I'll get a few drinks out of it: friends who'd be too poor to buy a round because of student loans will now be feeling more generous.
posted by explosion at 9:44 AM on February 7 [52 favorites]


We can start by honoring the public service loan forgiveness promises we've made. Then we can expand loan forgiveness to everyone after we see that the world did not end.
posted by crush at 9:46 AM on February 7 [22 favorites]


‘well can we really afford this?’ and the answer is definitely yes.”

Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt,

The Treasury Department forecast that it will need to borrow more than $1 trillion in each of the next two fiscal years, driven in part by the expectation of lower revenues from the new tax law Congress rushed to pass last year.

Anyone who tells you we can't afford it is misinformed.

Any Republican, conservative, or "libertarian" who tells you we can't afford it is lying to you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:51 AM on February 7 [29 favorites]


Seems fair to me. I am still paying my loans but would be happy for all debts to be absolved for everyone. There will always be people that put more or less into a system but student loan debt can be crippling for many people.

My question (maybe better suited to Ask): is there a way to do a massive crowdfunding for collective payoff? If so, how do I go about starting that? If not, why not? And can anything be done romaine that a possibility? I mean, 1.48 trillion is more than I have but surely if we pool our resources...
posted by stillmoving at 9:52 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


is there a way to do a massive crowdfunding for collective payoff

Occupy was still doing this last I heard
posted by runt at 9:55 AM on February 7


Maybe those were different days, but I was happy with how my student loans were retired, in one fell swoop.

My loans, only about $15K, had a 1% interest, and my savings account was 3%, so I figured I lose out if I pay anything (in theory). So I ignored each and every notice about student loan collection for five years.

I guess it went to collection, and some eager bill-collector tracked down my work number and called me. I had some spare cash at the time, so I just gave this a shot: "How about if I give you 30% right now in a single payment? And we call it even."

He went for it, and that was that. I gave him the CC#, he faxed me a loan payment completion report.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:59 AM on February 7 [16 favorites]


Hell yeah baby. Cancelling all extant student debts and massively restructuring how college is paid for going forward is a great way to get us back to the low cost, publicly supported higher education enjoyed by previous generations.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:59 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I'm thinking that all the features listed in the article, would be considered bugs by the Republicans.
posted by elizilla at 10:04 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Maybe those were different days, but I was happy with how my student loans were retired, in one fell swoop.

No maybe about it. These days, if you default on your student loans, you'll get your wages garnished until the end of time.
posted by Automocar at 10:17 AM on February 7 [23 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least - those who already have the benefit of a college education.

What makes more sense is to make all student debt interest free and allow repayment pauses for people involved in government services or the nonprofit field- thus ensuring that more people can access college and still providing loan relief for those willing to serve others.
posted by corb at 10:19 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


This new analysis comes at a time when more than 44 million American have a collective $1.3 trillion in student debt

If I'm doing my math right, the average amount of student debt (among people who have any student debt) is $29,545. That's huge. Not hard to imagine what it would do to the economy if we made that go away.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:21 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least - those who already have the benefit of a college education.

You have much, much, much too narrow a conception of the demographics currently burdened with student loan debt, and of the benefit many of those people received from their education, especially if they went to for-profit schools.
posted by praemunire at 10:23 AM on February 7 [33 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place

This assumes that everyone who took on a loan can afford it, which is certainly not the case. Students are told that the loans are necessary to get the credential to get the job they need to earn the salary that they want, and then if everything doesn't fall right into place, they are stuck paying forever or taking a permanent hit to their credit. The default rate is over 10%, but there are plenty of people whose loans are keeping them from buying a house, saving for retirement, or just saving at all. They might be making the payments, but they can't "afford it" by any reasonable definition.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:25 AM on February 7 [14 favorites]


I have something like 130K of student loan debt. If I was paying based on the original note I'd be putting out something like $1500 a month, which would be more than my rent. And I'm certainly not making anywhere near the kind of salary to justify that expense.

As it stands, my monthly payment doesn't even cover the interest--so my balance goes up every month.

Student loans are the modern-day debtors' prison.
posted by Automocar at 10:27 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


Student loans are the modern-day debtors' prison.

we actually literally have that and it tends to affect people to whom college is inaccessible. loans do suck but that's hyperbolic
posted by runt at 10:31 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]




One problem with crowdfunding debt relief is that... wait for it... debt consolidators won't sell you the debt if they believe you're going to just write it off. They support the whole industry of debt-as-commodity, and as far as they're concerned, debt relief is "stealing" from them; debt relief orgs generally have to negotiate through shadow agencies with different names.

Oh, and there's the issue that "debt relief" is considered "income" in most circumstances - if someone buys up $45k of your college loans and just writes them off, you have to pay taxes on an extra $45k this year. So a good organization would figure out how to stagger that over time: Write off 5-10k per year or so, or else contact people with very high debts and help them figure out how to cope with the weird tax things. (Oliver's debt relief didn't hit this because something about a nonprofit org and deductible medical expenses.)

I would love a debt-relief agency that got around this by either:

1) Charging only the original amount of the debt, with no interest at all - with no time limit; send an annual report saying "you owe $X; a payment of $25 toward that would be appreciated," or
2) Contacting the individuals and offering to sell them their own debt at the price they paid to acquire it.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:34 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


I was really fortunate and graduated with fairly small student debt that I was able to repay quickly. Even so, starting with even that small amount of debt has a real impact. Using a simple compound interest calculator and ignoring inflation, taxes, etc, that same small amount would be worth at least $100k today had I been able to invest it rather than send the money to the loan company. It makes me angry to think about, honestly, and again I am aware of how lucky my position is.

I know lots of people whose lives are severely constrained by their student debt. I don’t know what the solution is, but the status quo is terrible for individuals and terrible for society.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:36 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


This assumes that everyone who took on a loan can afford it, which is certainly not the case.

Oh ha, yeah, definitely not the case with me.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:47 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least - those who already have the benefit of a college education.

I think this is why the things go hand-in-hand, tuition reform and debt reform. But I think there's two sides here that can be distinguished. One, this is a genuine hardship to some people. And that's a big deal, and that's definitely the thing I want fixed more urgently. I am not having a problem paying my loans. I'm fine. I'll continue to be fine.

There's the "basic human decency" side of student loan hardship, but also the long-term economic planning side, which probably does need to be addressed in the relatively near future, because generations of people in six-figure debt is quite possibly not good for us as a society, and even in the immediate term, it looks like there's some real impact. That's what the "grow the economy" part of this is about, as I understand it. This is not just a matter of who's most deserving; it's not that I need loan forgiveness, but that loan forgiveness for everybody could give us more resources with which to help the people who do have genuine unmet needs. It may hurt society more for people like me to be in this kind of debt than it actually hurts me personally to have that debt.
posted by Sequence at 10:49 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least

My first thought was "this before reparations for slavery?"
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Great idea. Good luck.
posted by freakazoid at 11:01 AM on February 7


For what it's worth, black borrowers are among the people most adversely affected by the student loan crisis. Black students are more likely than other students to take out loans, and 12 years after graduation, the typical black borrower who started school in 2003 owed more on their loans than they initially took out. That's true of black students who earned a degree, as well as those who left without graduating.

I don't know if an across-the-board amnesty is the way to go, but this is a serious crisis, and it isn't just affecting relatively privileged people.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:03 AM on February 7 [31 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least - those who already have the benefit of a college education.

What makes more sense is to make all student debt interest free and allow repayment pauses for people involved in government services or the nonprofit field- thus ensuring that more people can access college and still providing loan relief for those willing to serve others.


By your logic, why would we make student debt interest free if the people who'll benefit from it are "those who need it least - those who already have the benefit of a college education." All you're suggesting is something that is less beneficial for the same group of people.
posted by notorious medium at 11:13 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


There's an argument that inequalities of outcome are okay if they make the worst off better off*. Which is, cf. ArbitraryAndCapricious, an argument for universal relief if the group I'm thinking of is "everyone in the US with student debt", but less obviously so if I'm thinking of "everyone in the US". (Although a), increased economic activity might make it so, and b), it stil might be a best option among the politically achievable ones.)

*Rawls' second principle of justice; summary.
posted by clew at 11:21 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we really should not assume this is something that only affects well-off white people, because that erases the people of color and low-income people who are disproportionately affected by it. These aren't all Sarah Lawrence grads we're talking about. The students most likely to be hit hard by student debt are the low-income students of color who attend private for-profit schools. And it's getting worse. We're seeing more low-income students going into debt for things like AA degrees from community college, which were always thought of as the "practical" route. It's worse if they're going for a BA.

The bottom line is that this is an ever-growing problem that disproportionately affects groups that were already marginalized. As black enrollment has risen in the past couple decades, so too has black student debt, to the point that 81% of black students graduate in debt, and have typically taken on more debt than other demographics. As black enrollment rises, this problem will likely get worse. If we want to improve opportunities for students of color, we need to recognize that they are deeply affected by this issue.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:24 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


We shouldn't worry about who deserves to have their loans forgiven anyway. That's a terrible heuristic if what you're trying to do is draft good policy or seek political buy-in. Forgiving all student loans makes sense from an economic point of view, and it gets you buy-in from every single person who has loans or feels any empathy for anyone they know who has loans.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:29 AM on February 7 [24 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least

Right ok good point thumbs up so we should never try to make the future better because we can't change the past my great-grandmother survived polio what a fucker that Jonas Salk was making sure her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids never got polio that was totally unfair
posted by tzikeh at 11:29 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


I literally just last week finished paying off the BA I earned 18 years ago, yet I'd be the first one to say that we should forgive all student loan debt. Man would that be a massive economic stimulus.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:34 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least

My first thought was "this before reparations for slavery?"


If we're ranking based on morality, scale of wrong done, and length of time it's gone unrepaired, where does a return of land and justice for aboriginal people factor in?

I don't have any opposition to the morality of this kind of thinking - noting that work done on estimating the cost of true reparations for slavery is $10 trillion or more and the work to right the wrong to Native Americans is a basic reset of the country as a whole. They're so astronomically huge and nebulous concepts that my fear is that a lot of good public policy ideas that might benefit African Americans and Native Americans will be squandered if it does not fit specifically into a complete, acceptable slave reparation or Native American justice framework.
posted by notorious medium at 11:40 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


At the very least it has always struck me as completely fucking bonkers that the interest rate on my mortgage (3%) is less thank half as much as the interest on my federal student loans (6.5%). Like what world does it make sense in where you get a better deal buying a house than getting an education.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:57 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


At the very least it has always struck me as completely fucking bonkers that the interest rate on my mortgage (3%) is less thank half as much as the interest on my federal student loans (6.5%). Like what world does it make sense in where you get a better deal buying a house than getting an education.

When you stop paying your mortgage payments the bank can kick you out of the house and then sell it to repay the loan.

It's a bit harder for them to rip your education out of your brain and try to sell it to someone else when you stiff them on the student loan payments.
posted by de void at 12:42 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


Obviously we "can afford it". It's just shuffling money around, not doing anything that requires resources or labor.

It seems to me that the government making student loans and then cancelling them later is just an expensive, hard-to-plan-around, high-variance version of the government paying for college, so this discussion might as well just be about whether the government should pay for college.
posted by value of information at 12:42 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I was fortunate enough to go to college debt-free. When I decided to go to medical school, I was on my own, and would never have allowed my parents to co-sign on my loans even if they would have offered.

With interest, I now owe about $428,000. My parents’ house is worth about half of that. I technically own two houses worth of debt, and I can’t live in it. My husband and I have an aggressive plan to pay it off once I finish my fellowship and hope to have it paid off in about 4 years - and we are fortunate to be able to consider the possibility of putting over $100K a year toward my loans. Sallie Mae/Navient would love to have me making payments, but even the IBR amount right now is too much considering that we are maintaining two households while I’m in training. The full amount would leave me with about $40 a month to live on.

My interest rate is over 7% right now. We could refinance, but I would almost certainly have to make my husband a co-signer. In DoE loans, if you die or become disabled, then your loans can be discharged. We lose those benefits if we refinance. The worst thing I could do to my husband would be to get hit by a bus and leave an enduring legacy of crippling student debt that he did not accrue for him to pay off.

I realize that we are inordinately lucky to be in a position to even consider paying that amount of student debt off. But even in spite of that, it has affected every major decision that I’ve made for the last 10 years. Instead of pursuing a career in primary care (desperately needed, and something that I loved), I chose to pursue a fellowship (better income, more demand and better job security, less competition with NPs - luckily, also in a field that I love). To pursue fellowship, I had to move 800 miles away from my then-fiancé, and we’ve been living apart now for three years. We won’t live together until we’ve been married for a year. We’re putting off buying a house until we can start making headway on my loans. We’re putting off having kids until we’re in the same place again, and I’ve established my practice. By the time we can consider having kids, I’ll be nearly 35 and getting pregnant becomes a much riskier venture.

Again - I realize that I’m the asshole who will be making a six-figure salary, who willingly took on those loans. And I’m lucky to be able to pay them off. But when it costs so much to go to medical school (and for the 99% of us who aren’t independently wealthy) and you don’t make enough money to even make progress on the interest while you’re taking on 3-7 years of post-graduate training... people are gonna stop going to med school.
posted by honeybee413 at 12:45 PM on February 7 [17 favorites]


But when it costs so much to go to medical school (and for the 99% of us who aren’t independently wealthy) and you don’t make enough money to even make progress on the interest while you’re taking on 3-7 years of post-graduate training... people are gonna stop going to med school.

yeah, y'all also get training and advice from financial counselors about managing wealth, buying homes, etc and, more importantly, there's public service forgiveness (which is what my partner is aiming for), something that's not available to a great, great, great many of the people facing insurmountable student loans. y'all also get friendly mortgage rates based entirely on the fact that your profession guarantees that you're going to make 6-figures in the near future

people are still going to become doctors so long as their parents are doctors and public service forgiveness exists that makes it so that their 150k initial loan never reaches that 440k figure you're quoting, and so long as society values doctors and rewards them accordingly
posted by runt at 12:58 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


When you stop paying your mortgage payments the bank can kick you out of the house and then sell it to repay the loan.

They don't need to rip anything out of you as they have the power of the federal government to compel you to pay and they have a long memory and long timeline. The interest rate should be 0% if it is not able to be terminated via bankruptcy, and should be paid back on every borrowers' own personal schedule.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:03 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Oh, and there's the issue that "debt relief" is considered "income" in most circumstances - if someone buys up $45k of your college loans and just writes them off, you have to pay taxes on an extra $45k this year.

There is an insolvency exclusion for the amount of debt forgiven to the extent the taxpayer is insolvent (immediately prior to the forgiveness). So if you have $45000 in student loans and they are forgiven, but you had only $1000 in assets at that time, the extent of your insolvency (assuming no other debt) is $44000, so you could exclude $44000 of the $45000 cancellation of indebtedness income. This also means that student loan borrowers who are not currently insolvent will pay tax on the forgiveness, thus ensuring that people who don't "need" the help are repaying some of that back to society via taxes.

But also, the IRS is actually a way better creditor to have than student loan companies -- they accept really low payment plans, they accept settlement offers under clear rules, they are actually nice and easy to work with and allow you to pay over a flexible time period with many chances to mess up without ruining your credit. I would convert my student loan debt to a federal tax debt in a heartbeat.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:05 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


I am interested in how this would effect people who paid their student loans, through either their own hardships and/or having their wages garnished. I’m not saying some people deserve this more than others, or that those currently struggling with debt don’t deserve relief, but many people, especially low-income folks, have that same lack of wealth due to loans repayments. They may have had to open up credit cards (or payday loans!) to make up the difference in spendable income; or they haven’t been able to save, having lived on the brink due to those payments. I do wonder if there’s a way to right those wrongs as well through a program like this or if it would raise the costs too much (“too much” being relative considering how much we spend each year on the military alone)
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:14 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


When student loan debt gets universally forgiven I want John Oliver to press a big red button and balloons to drop from the ceiling.

With interest, I now owe about $428,000.

Holy shit.
posted by bendy at 1:16 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


They don't need to rip anything out of you as they have the power of the federal government to compel you to pay and they have a long memory and long timeline. The interest rate should be 0% if it is not able to be terminated via bankruptcy, and should be paid back on every borrowers' own personal schedule.

They can't compel you to pay if you decide to make no money (say, like joining a commune), emigrate to another country, or if you earn your income through all cash/under-the-table/underground economy means.

The higher interest rate correctly reflects the lack of collateral.
posted by de void at 1:17 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Obviously we "can afford it". It's just shuffling money around, not doing anything that requires resources or labor.

This is not fully correct. Until the switch-over to 100% Direct Loans in 2010, most of the federal student lending in this country was done by private institutions, ultimately guaranteed by the federal government (FFEL). They hold the loans, not the government. It's still a portfolio in the billions of dollars. Forgiving those loans would require massive payments by the feds to the originating lenders or their assignees.

One of the advantages of forgiveness, though, vis a vis other transfer payments is that it would not create a large obvious group of people with "just received a lump sum likely to be significantly beyond what they normally manage" signs flashing over their heads. Any such group would immediately become the target of massive and sophisticated hustling schemes. It's one of the real problems that would have to be solved with any reparations scheme. (Two-second tangent: if you don't understand the distinction between "oh those people would just waste the money on 40s and fur coats" and "we have an endless supply of determined and sophisticated scammers who would be attracted by the money and, judging by prior results, would get their hands on a fair amount of it without recipients getting anything they actually wanted in exchange," please don't bother yelling at me about this.) This scheme would be a lot more diffuse in its benefits.
posted by praemunire at 1:24 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


...so this discussion might as well just be about whether the government should pay for college.

Well, yes, they do go together. Govt paying for college is a Northern European kinda thing, like Socialism.
posted by ovvl at 2:15 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


They can't compel you to pay if you decide to make no money (say, like joining a commune), emigrate to another country, or if you earn your income through all cash/under-the-table/underground economy means.

When large enough numbers of people actually do that (emigrating to another company without any money is hard) then we can worry about it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:40 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


The problem with canceling student loans is it can never apply to those people who were unable to afford those loans in the first place, so it’s essentially giving free college to those who need it least - those who already have the benefit of a college education.

Oh, I'm so glad to know that I actually didn't need these loans that I'm incurring right now for my undergraduate education! Thanks, internet stranger, for clearing that right up for me. I'll just... do what now, exactly? Surely a brilliant mind like yours can figure out how to pay off my loans and scrape up tuition for the next two years so I can finish this degree. I eagerly await your helpful and respectful MeMail!
posted by palomar at 6:51 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]




yeah, y'all also get training and advice from financial counselors about managing wealth, buying homes, etc and, more importantly, there's public service forgiveness (which is what my partner is aiming for), something that's not available to a great, great, great many of the people facing insurmountable student loans. y'all also get friendly mortgage rates based entirely on the fact that your profession guarantees that you're going to make 6-figures in the near future

people are still going to become doctors so long as their parents are doctors and public service forgiveness exists that makes it so that their 150k initial loan never reaches that 440k figure you're quoting, and so long as society values doctors and rewards them accordingly


I started residency fully intending to go into primary care and to work in a position which I thought would qualify for PSLF. But it is not as easy to find jobs that qualify for PSLF. For example, while many health care systems are not-for-profit, a good number of those systems don’t employ the physicians themselves, but rather contract with a physician practice (which itself may have “university” in the name, but which are for-profit entities). Some of those may still qualify for PSLF, but only a certain proportion of your time is considered not-for-profit time. Specialization and geographic limitations also limit PSLF opportunities (I, for example, am limited to one city). And, there is no guarantee that PSLF will continue to exist, or exist in its current form - there is at least one lawsuit that I know of about people who were told that their payments would count towards the 120 payment quota, and then later found out that they didn’t qualify (I don’t remember the full details right now). Also, I am uncertain that the program will continue to exist under the current administration, or that there won’t be income limits imposed.

In my field, people who expect to ultimately end up qualifying for PSLF jobs end up in VA positions, or are highly research-oriented. The VA in my area isn’t hiring for my field right now, and I vastly prefer patient care to research. Almost everyone I went to (private) medical school with financed with student loans - few had parents who paid for medical school. So we all have loans in the $300-400K range at this point if we did more than a 3-year residency. I know, because we pretty much all talk about it when we get together.

FWIW, the practice environment is so universally toxic right now in most fields that I don’t know of any colleagues, or attending for that matter, who are encouraging their children to go into medicine. I like my field and enjoy taking care of my patients, but I also work 80 hours a week (for the last 8 years if you count medical school), and will work 60-80 weeks for the foreseeable future. Burnout is rampant; rates of clinical depression are high. The monetary benefits are great, but I think you might be overestimating the value that society places on doctors.
posted by honeybee413 at 9:11 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


Student loans are a newish thing here in the UK, and I must say I find this scary reading. The student loan book here has reached £100 billion, which sounds like a lot of money to me. The general consensus seems to be that students shouldn't worry too much about taking out loans for tuition, because most of them will never pay it back again. Lending money to people who couldn't afford to pay it back was, as I recall, what caused the 2008 financial crisis.
posted by Major Tom at 12:38 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I think you might be overestimating the value that society places on doctors

It seems to me that society values the *idea* of doctors (and nurses, and teachers). The individual people, how they play the role and what it demands of them, not so much.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 3:02 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Placing the burden of education on the person being educated is, in most instances, society eating its seed corn.

It is a drag on the economy in the most orthodox mainstream models imaginable to have large amounts of outstanding debt that won't get paid. Bankruptcy laws exist for a reason
posted by PMdixon at 6:17 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Protesting someone else's student debt being forgiven after you've just paid yours off reminds me of conversations about immigration I've had with conservative-leaning older immigrants - "I had to BUST MY ASS to get here, and it PISSES ME OFF that these people are just POURING IN."

Like, why would you want someone to suffer, just because you did? I get the emotional response I guess, but it seems clearly irrational.

That said, student loan forgiveness without a massive restructuring of education funding--and, let's be real, the entire debt apparatus--would be a one-time generational jubilee. It would completely change my life, but there's nothing preventing the next generation of college students from having exactly the same problems.

Of course this is all fantasyland anyway - with the current crop of venal idiots in charge I think we'll be lucky not to be forced to borrow to pay for K-12, then thrown into a gulag if our debts exceed projected lifetime earnings, while any solvent relatives are billed for the price of the shanty, pickax, gruel, bullet, and burial.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:04 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


If the 1% were smart, they'd go for this student loan debt jubilee idea in a heartbeat. Normally this kind of predatory lending practice only affects the poor, but right now it's extending even into the upper-middle class. Student loans are a rare wedge between the bourgeoisie and the nobility in this country. When the bourgeoisie gets sufficiently pissed at the nobility, that's when revolutions tend to happen.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:18 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


As someone who has been paying off student loans like a motherfucker for a few years, I don't personally support forgiveness.

Yes, it is fiscally conceivable, but there are way better uses of $1+ trillion dollars to achieve economic justice, like expanded Medic{are,aid}, larger EITC, more SNAP, or subsidized childcare. All of those would do vastly more to ensure economic welfare than forgiving student loans.

I think corb's idea is better: make the loans interest free. This effectively converts federal loans into need-based payment plans. That is way better than the current system, in which the less money you make, the more you end up paying in interest.
posted by andrewpcone at 12:53 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Australia has income based repayment for everyone, that only starts once you make a certain amount and the loan amount is pegged to inflation. I think that's a better system than student loans but it would require strong regulatory bodies to prevent predatory for-profit schools that we have trouble managing even now with our current student loan system (though the Obama admin managed to make some progress on them.) And it would have to be a federal system, not state by state.
posted by foxfirefey at 3:48 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Why not both debt forgiveness and Medicare for all, increased SNAP, universal childcare, ell of it, all the time.

Raise a five year 2% tax on the top 2% to fund the creation of truly free, truly national university system
posted by The Whelk at 4:50 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


(I’ll compromise on a a Scheme to instantly forgive student dept for people who choose to join the new Total Tax Payment division of the IRS to make sure the multi billionaires are paying thier fair share, get a few hedge fund people marched out in handcuffs and see how quickly things turn around)
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Whelk, are you proposing to advance your socialist agenda with....




paramiltary debt squads??
posted by wenestvedt at 8:07 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


the Economic Justice Squadron won't effect anyone with an income under like, 10 million so I don;t see the problem- just let them sit in a little room for a while and ask themselves if this is really worse then actually paying their taxes
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


No maybe about it. These days, if you default on your student loans, you'll get your wages garnished until the end of time.

Depends on your income. If it's high enough, forever is "only" a few years. Still not fun to be involuntarily paying them a lease payment on a Bentley because they were arguing about returning to the previous payment schedule now that you have a job again and they started garnishing without notice while you were actively in negotiations. (Which is illegal, but good luck getting anybody to do anything about it when they incorrectly claim state law is inapplicable)
posted by wierdo at 10:08 AM on February 9


The time for a debt jubilee was eight or nine years ago, when deflation was a real risk. It's going to be a tough sell now, although I would be happy to see it any time.
posted by Coventry at 2:57 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


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