The Student Debt Crisis


This week’s email brings a reminder from Maggie Thompson at the organization Higher Ed Not Debt about an issue that remains under the radar for much of the population:

“This week we hit a milestone—but it’s not a good one. It’s been two years since the amount of student debt held in this country hit $1 trillion dollars. Americans hold more student debt than credit card debt and auto loans combined.”  — Maggie Thompson

Everyone knows about credit card debt and mortgage issues, but the significance of student debt is still emerging. Higher education student debt should be at the top of the list of issues addressed by Democratic candidates in this year’s elections. Recent graduates (and also students who studied for several years but didn’t graduate) are well aware of the problem, and they could use some help.

The burden of student debt might not be so bad, if more and better jobs were available for young adults. But the fact is, graduates face a stagnant job market and declining wages. How do you pay off student debt and start a family on Walmart wages?

Higher Ed Not Debt is organizing events across the country to put the spotlight on student debt. For more information see the Higher Ed Not Debt website.

— John Hayden


College Debt Discussion


See the “Dwindling Jobs, College Debt” post from yesterday for an extended discussion in the comments below the post. The discussion focuses mostly on debt, especially college debt. In blogging, he comments generated by posts can often be more interesting and informative than the post itself.

Dwindling Jobs, College Debt, Clueless Politicians (With Extended Discussion in Comments)

Economic and political difficulties — especially issues of justice — are on my mind, as always. Guess I’ve been reading too many scary books about economics and the jobs outlook.

What is the outlook? In developing countries, manufacturing that’s always on the move, stalking the cheapest labor. In Western countries, an abundance of jobs for machines, robots and computers; for human beings, not so much. Continue reading

Opportunities for Political Mischief

I personally believe that U.S. debt is not a “crisis,” particularly with the economy now expanding. It would be crazy to derail the expansion, which will do much to mitigate debt, by sharply cutting government spending.

But as you can see from the graphic at Fix The Debt., the debt is an issue that’s not going away. Plenty of opportunities (speed bumps) for mischief between now and 2014 elections.

Just my opinion.  — John Hayden

Forgiveness of Student Loans Should Be THE Democratic Issue For 2014

Protecting Social Security and Medicare — the strong and fundamental safety net for older Americans — is a core mission of the Democratic Party and Democratic voters.

Equally important — it’s a moral obligation — is making sure we don’t leave younger generations bereft of opportunity and buried in debt. We must preserve hope for everyone from today’s elementary school children to today’s forty- and fifty- somethings.

President Obama’s call for quality early childhood education for all children gets us thinking in that direction. But what about today’s working adults, from age 21 to age 62? Too many will find themselves caught in the middle between the costly (privileged?) senior generation and the expensive (and essential!) younger children.

I’ve long been troubled by the accusation that preserving Social Security for today’s elders will lead directly to the indebtedness and impoverishment of our children and grandchildren. Continue reading

What If Debt Is Not The Problem?

Wipe our Debt

(Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

“As we return once again to our regularly scheduled program of ‘Crisis And Impasse,’ let’s take a moment to consider the following heretical idea: We have no debt problem.”

That’s the take-your-breath-away lead to a commentary by Zachary Karabell on the business section front of today’s Washington Post. Karabell gives a concise overview of the American debt debate from the time of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson through William Jennings Bryan and the long-running confrontation over the gold standard, up to the present day. Continue reading

U.S. Congress Implodes; President Escapes To Hawaii

What a bizarre spectacle of irresponsible brinkmanship! The ultimate House and Senate votes may have narrowly averted immediate fiscal crisis and tax increases, but they do not restore one iota of confidence in the legislative branch of American government.

President Barack Obama, after failing to exert the leadership the American people hoped for, immediately boarded Air Force One to resume a Hawaiian vacation with his family. What can he be thinking?

To put the cherry on top of the whipped cream,   Continue reading

Austerity Is The New Name For Slavery


(Photo credit: 401K 2012)

Slavery is the oldest economic system in the world, and the most persistent. Just as surely as accounting and lawyering were not the first professions, capitalism and communism were not the first economic systems.

Slavery is also, I believe, one of the oldest forms of social structure. I imagine the tribe was the first social structure, closely followed by enslavement, but it might have been the other way around.

It is said that Satan goes by many names, and I believe that slavery also goes by many names.

The world has hardly ever been secretive about slavery. It’s been openly practiced from Biblical times to modern times.   Continue reading

AMERICAN VALUES — “That Used To Be Us”

From That Used To Be Us, by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum; Chapter 13, “Devaluation:”

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, Wikimedia Commons

“. . . something else that happened with the end of the Cold War and the passing of the baton from the Greatest Generation to the baby boom generation: an erosion of important, traditional American values that long underpinned our public and commercial life. . . .

“A well-functioning political system must be rooted in something deeper than itself:   Continue reading

News Flash — Jon Taplin Is Back!

New Anarchy vs. New Fascism? — Talk About “Living in interesting times!”

Jon Taplin has returned to his blog. Please read Jon Taplin’s insights into the deepening political and economic crisis. See his posts,  “Why Now?” and  “Brave New World Redux.”  Jon Taplin is the writer who explained the ongoing disconnection and unreality in America and the Western world with his series of essays on the “Interregnum.”

Now, in his two recent essays, prompted by the riots in London, Jon Taplin suggests that a “New Anarchy” may lie ahead for the Western World.  If for every action there is a reaction, I’ll up the ante by suggesting that the New Anarchy may be an attempted revolt against a New Corporate-Fascism.

We may live to see, in the near or medium future, a great struggle between the forces of Anarchy and Fascism.  Some may believe it will be the Apocalypse.  Whether or not you believe in Apocalypse, the struggle will likely feel like an upheaval of apocalyptic proportions.

The following words are Jon Taplin’s; I took the liberty of highlighting some words in bold:

“Whatever political will the country might have had for a WPA style program —putting millions of unemployed construction workers back on the job fixing America’s third world infrastructure—now seems to have evaporated. It was perhaps our last chance to avert the Coming Anarchy. With no government infrastructure programs to put people back to work, the private sector is left  trying to create jobs for the 28 million people who are either officially unemployed, working part time but wanting full time work or “discouraged workers” who have stopped looking for a job. This of course is not going to happen—and so we are all facing the problem of a “new normal”, in which a large portion of the high school only population may never find work. Liberal pundits mourn the loss of good jobs for this cohort, but as Bernard Avishai warned in “Strategy and Business” way back in 1997, “Any job that is still simple and repetitive enough to employ a semi- or non-skilled person is going to be even more pressured by new software or by contractor-suppliers in China and Brazil.”  — from Brave New World Redux

I would have some hope for America if President Barack Obama would appoint Jon Taplin to his inner circle of advisers at the White House. Also needed at the White House, Washington Post business and economy writer Steven Pearlstein. See “Who’s to blame for this mess? Let’s start with the corporate lobby.” on page G1 of the Post, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011.

— John Hayden