Sallie may rip you off

Student loan giant Sallie Mae has announced it's moving its headquarters to Delaware.

This is very good news for all those Delawareans who, ever since they were kids, dreamed of one day working in collections. Sometimes dreams do come true.

I can't begrudge anyone any job these days, so I suppose an expected 1,500 jobs over the next five years is good news for the area — even if those jobs don't appear sustainable or fulfilling or otherwise socially beneficial. A soul-crushing paycheck is still a paycheck, after all.

But I don't trust Sallie Mae as an institution and I'm not terribly confident in their business model (I've never heard any financial advisers tell their clients, "You should invest more in inefficient middlemen") or their future prospects now that President Obama has forcibly weaned them from the taxpayers' teat.

Mainly, though, I dislike them. I've been collecting Sallie Mae stories ever since my class of '90 graduated. These aren't my story — I was fortunate to get my degrees without having to be indentured to Sallie Mae — but they are the stories of friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances. Many of these stories are similar and they suggest a pattern — a sordid and sleazy pattern.

That pattern goes like this:

Student graduates and does not immediately find a high-paying job.

Student contacts Sallie Mae and arranges a six-month deferral of payments.

"No problem," Sallie Mae says. "Your next payment won't be due for another six months. Here is your confirmation number."

Student writes down confirmation number.

Two months later student gets a phone call. "This is Sallie Mae. Your account is now two months past due. You must send a payment today or we will [dire threat]."

Student explains about the deferral and recites the confirmation number.

Sallie Mae explains that the confirmation number is meaningless and that the deferral was not properly arranged due to [vaguely complex reason]. Sallie Mae offers to arrange the deferral properly, but payment of [the initial two months/interest/late-fee/surcharge/processing fee] will be required that day.

Student makes payment and arranges proper deferral. Student receives confirmation number.

"Thank you," Sallie Mae says. "Your next payment will be due in six months."

Two months later, student's phone rings. "This is Sallie Mae. Your account is now two months past due. …"

Student explains again about the deferral and recites the second confirmation number.

Sallie Mae explains that the second confirmation number is meaningless and that the second deferral was not properly arranged due to [vaguely complex reason]. "And our records show a history of late and missing payments," Sallie Mae says, "and between that and your terrible credit score, we're not able to offer any further leniency."

Student says, "But I have excellent credit."

"Not any more, you don't," Sallie Mae says, and penalties ensue.

I have heard this story many times from many people. Too many times not to suspect that this is a deliberate tactic — something Sallie Mae representatives are trained and instructed to do.

If you have a similar story, I would like to hear about it.

  • MercuryBlue

    *smacks head* I forgot one of the obvious places that increasing people’s utility results in no revenue stream. Public libraries. If it was profitable to run one, it’d be a bookstore.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/hawkerhurricane Hawker Hurricane

    “‘Freedom is more important than life’ is a noble sentiment when you’re talking about your life and someone else’s freedom. ‘My freedom is more important than your life’ is not.”
    “Do you know why the Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as it really needs? Virginia building code laws *demanded* that there be separate bathrooms for white people and black people. Laws requiring segregation were the problem.”
    And such laws were put in place over the objections of the people and businesses in Virginia… no, wait, they weren’t. In fact, such laws were in place until a bigger government (Federal) overrulled them. The majority of the people in Virginia* wanted segregation, and enforced it either by law or threat of murder.
    *At the time, the majority of people who were allowed to vote that is…

  • Lori

    Do you know why the Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as it really needs? Virginia building code laws *demanded* that there be separate bathrooms for white people and black people. Laws requiring segregation were the problem.

    This is yet another example of FF’s grasp of history. IOW it’s not true. The Pentagon is a Federal building and Virginia’s building codes had fuck all to do with it. It was originally designed & built to be segregated, against Presidential orders, because the guy in charge was a racist asshat who thought he could do whatever he wanted. He basically presented the President with a fete accompli and figured that would allow him to keep the place segregated. It didn’t work and the Building simply ended up with a ridiculous number of bathrooms and water fountains available for everyone to use.
    @FF: You should try to remember where you learned this—and avoid information from that source in the future.

  • Dav

    Three words: melamine infant formula
    That one’s raw for me for personal reasons, which is one reason I stuck with older stuff.

  • Amaryllis

    Do you know why the Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as it really needs? Virginia building code laws *demanded* that there be separate bathrooms for white people and black people.
    I’ve never been in the Pentagon and have no idea how many bathrooms it has. But my first thought on reading this is, “I’ll bet there are a lot more women working there now then the place was designed for. Maybe there’s actually a building with enough ladies’ rooms!”

  • Thrifty

    I went through a Libertarian phase when I was 15. My home town does this annual thing in the Fall, called Community Days. Basically your standard town gathering; folks set up booths to represent varying businesses and non-profits. There are food trucks there too. It’s been a while since I went, so my memory is hazy.
    Anyway, I saw the Libertarian tent, took the “The World’s Smallest Political Quiz”, then became entranced by this shiny new philosophy.
    I took a bunch of literature, including a copy of “Libertarianism in One Lesson*” I read over it and, because I was a white middle class kid whose family had no trouble making ends meet and didn’t really have any grasp of the real world, was quickly agreeing with some of the points about social spending (welfare and Medicare/Medicaid should be serviced by private charities! Yeah! Why is the government running a charity?) and drug policy (why ARE marijuana and cocaine illegal?) then felt swept up in the momentum that I started mentally forcing myself to agree to some of the crazier points on medical qualifications (why DO we force doctors to be licensed? They could… uh… just… uh… anyone who wants to practic medicine can; an organization like Consumer Reports or Underwriters Laboratories will sort out the bad ones and drive them out of business) and the FDA (uh… um… yeah… uh… okay… so… unsafe drugs would be uh…. they’d disappear from the market and uh… nobody would buy them because they’re not safe).
    I dunno. I remember doing a lot of Libertarian proseletyzing in those days because, well, you know how teenagers can be. Smarmy and think they know more than they do. I think what ended up shutting me up was three things:
    1) The weight of the absurdity of the REALLY nutty ideas short circuited my brain and my logic centers took over.
    2) The luster of the shiny new thing wore off and I lost interest.
    3) My grandmother told me I was being a selfish jerk. Not in those exact words, but that was the gist of it.
    *That title doesn’t make any sense. How is it “one lesson” when the book is like 80 pages long and covers over a dozen separate topics?

  • CaryB

    So I will give FF this: S/he has been much more polite than some of their compatriots.
    So, then, Freedom Fighter, a question.
    Why are you so completely incapable of giving in on any point? I know that myself and a few others have conceded the occasional point, but you refuse to give any ground. I mean, are you literally convinced that your philosophy is correct, 100% in every single tiny facet? That you have discovered the one true philosophy of government, that has eluded everyone from Socrates to William F. Buckley?
    Because I gotta tell ya, mate. When you’re convinced that you’ve found the truth, pure and untarnished, without flaw, without fail…you haven’t found a philosophy. You’ve found a religion.

  • Thrifty

    Because I gotta tell ya, mate. When you’re convinced that you’ve found the truth, pure and untarnished, without flaw, without fail…you haven’t found a philosophy. You’ve found a religion.

    Which certainly resonates well with the repeated assertions that “God The Free Market will find a way”.

  • CaryB

    Also, a point on the black market…at least in the Mafia, lending policies aren’t all that bad. Standard vig is usually 2 points a week: 2% of the total. So in a month, that’s about 8% interest total. It’s worth pointing out that basically ANY private loan makes the Mafia look like a charity. Of course, their collections policies leave something to be desired…

  • Rebecca

    Do you know why the Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as it really needs? Virginia building code laws *demanded* that there be separate bathrooms for white people and black people. Laws requiring segregation were the problem.
    Because if there were half as many bathrooms, white people and black people would pee together in peace and harmony!
    Instead of, you know, what actually happened in things that weren’t de jure segregated, which is that de facto segregation was enforced with horrific violence.
    Seriously, the “No one is racist in Libertopia” meme is already old.

  • Dav

    Who doesn’t love the story of John Brinkley? How much more awesome would it be if we had more doctors like him? I mean, I can’t find anyone to implant me with goat testicles these days. They just stare at me wide-eyed and mumble about licensing and regulation and being imprisoned.

  • burgundy

    @Dav – I’m sorry if my bringing it up was painful for you.
    On the one hand, I think it’s important to remember that these things are still happening, and if all we ever talk about is stuff that happened 100 years ago, it’s easy for people to get complacent and say, “well, maybe we used to need regulations, but we don’t now.” But on the other hand, the very fact that there are recent and ongoing tragedies means that they continue to affect people and cause suffering, which makes bringing them up in arguments much more emotionally fraught.

  • Dav

    Burgundy – nah, it’s fine. I just didn’t want to put it out there so I’d feel responsible to defending it against the inevitable responses. Now I can ignore it or not, as I want to.
    I’ve done some research into the fun and creepy world of food adulteration. And yeah, it happens now. More than it should. On the other hand, regulation has really changed things. Market trips, especially for the poor, used to be a complete gamble. Now, there’s structure in place to figure out when people are getting sick and why. It’s not perfect. But it’s a far sight better than what it used to be, which meant living in a way where pretty much all your basic foodstuffs and all your luxury foodstuffs were potentially compromised.
    It’s worth comparing those experiences, and savoring the sense of betrayal (or whatever) we feel when there are food scandals now. Because without regulation, that’s going to become a common event.
    (Of course “we” here is limited – there isn’t worldwide safe food and water.)

  • Will Wildman

    Coase’s theorem aside, trying to put a price on things like air is more than a little asinine. Even clean water isn’t rationed by price; we pay for it instead through taxes, which means it’s publicly provided and there’s some political accountability if the water goes bad.

    In defence of Coase – he wasn’t a libertarian. I know, it was a shock for me too, because he goes on and on about contracts for the first two-thirds of his most famous paper, but you know what the last part says? For several pages? In short, it says “Also, sometimes individual contracts and class-action suits and such are totally inadequate to address a problem, due to interactions of individual and social marginal cost. That’s why we really really need the government to protect the population from that sort of rubbish.” Coase believed in a vital need for government interference, he just wanted to make sure they always thought about what they were doing before they meddled, rather than always assuming that meddling was the right answer.
    If libertarians were like Coase, they’d be a lot more tolerable.

  • Thrifty

    On the one hand, I think it’s important to remember that these things are still happening, and if all we ever talk about is stuff that happened 100 years ago, it’s easy for people to get complacent and say, “well, maybe we used to need regulations, but we don’t now.” But on the other hand, the very fact that there are recent and ongoing tragedies means that they continue to affect people and cause suffering, which makes bringing them up in arguments much more emotionally fraught.

    I heard a fascinating story on This American Life (OMG LIBERAL MEDIA!!!!!11111) about a guy who opened up a sweatshop in the United States. IIRC, the story was that he was running some sort of industrial business and he was getting clobbered by his competitors who were outsourcing their work to sweatshops overseas. So he decided to in-source, basically. He flew a bunch of Indians over to the U.S. and set up some kind of sweatshop. Eventually the government got involved and prosecuted and shut the operation down. I don’t recall what happened to the workers.
    The strange thing is that the plant owner didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He thought that because he was providing jobs to what he perceived as destitute Indians, he was doing a good deed. Even though the result was grueling labor conditions under sadistic management for miniscule pay. But hey, at least they had jobs!

  • Lori

    If libertarians were like Coase, they’d be a lot more tolerable.

    In the interest of fairness I’ll point out that some of them are like this. One of my dearest friends is one of them. He was more doctrinaire when he was younger. Fortunately Libertarianism wasn’t a religion for him so he was able to process and adapt as he show how the world works. He’s now at the place where he wants us to always try other things first, but thinks government has a strong role to play when that fails. (We vary mostly in how many things we think should be tried before regulation and how long they should be given to work.)
    I still remember the day we were talking about credit cards and what a massive rip off they are. After we bitched about it for a while he finally said, “I really think we’re going to have to have more legislation on this.” I about fell out of my chair from the shock. Then I realized two things. First, E had mellowed quite a bit and I just hadn’t noticed. Second, the credit card industry really had crossed the line into hardcore evil. Because mellowing aside, if E thinks you need more regulation you should be too ashamed to even look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.

  • CaryB

    The thing about Libertopia, is that libertarians assume that everyone is super competative. In it’s defense, there will be people in libertopia who are fantastically wealthy. Even if everyone started off with the exact same level of EVERYTHING (wealth, land, intelligence, education, etc) someone would get rich. But a lot more people would end up in grinding poverty.
    And the assuption that we’ll all be super competative is true, for that situation. Historically, when life sucks all over, people are incredibly competative, because if you don’t get ahead, you’ll die.
    But in our modern world, there are plenty of people content with their medium life. They aren’t wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, they aren’t destitue…they’re comfortable. They put a little aside for retirement, live their lives, raise their children, and do this in safety and security because there is a government there to ensure that they DON’T have to shop around constantly for safety. That they DON’T have to fantatically research every single new drug before they take it, every new brand of milk before they drink it. That instead of living their lives based on who and what they can trust, with any poor decision meaning agonizing death, or at least a debilitating case of food posioning (and when they’re out for two days, whats to stop their bosses from firing them and hiring someone else, because there is no workers rights or sick days or 40 hour work week, or all those other things that SOCIALISTS forced the GOVERNMENT to implement?) they can simply go on about their day.
    Sure, everyone would like to be rich. But you know what? Not everyone wants to be rich that badly. They aren’t willing to strike out on their own and open a restaurant, or sell that widget, or whatever. Not because they’re lazy, but because those things eat your life up. Anthony Bourdain points this out when he talks about opening a restaurant. You work 17 hours a day, you sleep in your office if you’re smart. True, restaurants are labor intensive, but so are all businesses. Some people would rather just feckin’ work 9-5, come home, and play catch in the backyard. Or drink a few glasses of wine and watch the sunset. Not everyone wants to be Donald Trump.

  • Will Wildman

    CaryB: Although all of that is true, it ties in with the insistence that all good things represent income – obviously, the reverse must also hold true, so someone who prefers spending a couple of hours reading with their child instead of putting in more time at the factory/office/shop/construction site is just wallowing in their laziness and feeding off the efforts of those who create jobs. There can be no room for personal preference; it’s not acceptable to leave the organising and managing and employing to those who want to work 17-hour days, we must all aspire to that standard.
    Lori: I won’t tell your friend what to call himself, but when he’s that far removed from the anti-government dogma, ‘libertarian’ doesn’t strike me as the most accurate tag. Sort of like the non-racist non-lunatic people who still say they’re members of the Tea Party: man, why would you want that label? Still, I also approve of people trying to redeem labels rather than abandon them, so if he wants to espouse rational thoughts and insist that they are proper libertarian ideals, good luck to him.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jpc101280 Jason

    There can be no room for personal preference; it’s not acceptable to leave the organising and managing and employing to those who want to work 17-hour days, we must all aspire to that standard.
    I *hate* this attitude. Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly both go on and on about how if you want to succeed you have to work 12 hours a day and that all hard-working Americans never leave the office at 5pm. Sorry, but my life is not about my job. My job is one of a number of things that comprise my life. I’m an introvert I have to some alone time and time to relax. If I’m at the office 12 hours a day, that means I pretty much have to give up a large portion of my social life, because I won’t have time for it. The idea of working 60 and 70 hour weeks seems miserably depressing to me. I don’t want to do it. Some people love it. Good for them. Go do it, but quit calling me lazy because I value other things besides my career.

  • Will Wildman

    Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly both go on and on about how if you want to succeed you have to work 12 hours a day and that all hard-working Americans never leave the office at 5pm.

    It occurs to me that a large portion of their viewers are probably salaried, in such a way that putting in extra long hours means more revenue at lower average cost for their employers now in exchange for maybe a bonus or promotion for them personally later. Jam tomorrow, as Sir Terry puts it. I wonder if anyone’s tracked the average working hours of a Fox personality?

  • Lori

    I won’t tell your friend what to call himself, but when he’s that far removed from the anti-government dogma, ‘libertarian’ doesn’t strike me as the most accurate tag.

    I’m just not explaining his views very well. He’s pretty serious about not legislating anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be and he’s pretty hardcore about the definition of “have to”. He’s just neither nuts nor stupid so he knows that there are some things the market can’t do. He thinks some of them could be done if the market were truly free, but he knows that’s not what we have and not something we’re likely to get, and being reality-based he works with that.

  • Thrifty

    Once, in a bout of insomnia, I woke up at 2 AM. There was a TON of work to do at the office that I knew would never get done within the standard 40 hour week. So I went to the office and worked a 15 hour day. That was one of my happiest moments of 2008.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Hearts Club Band

    So I will give FF this: S/he has been much more polite than some of their compatriots.

    Just wanted to back CaryB up on this. I’m enjoying the discussion, refusal to acknowledge the world outside the US aside, and while I and my comrades here obviously feel very strongly about this stuff, I really hope we can continue to have a discussion without anyone telling anyone else where they can stick things.
    Also wanted to back up CaryB’s point about religion. I was thinking the same thing. If you believe absolutely in something regardless of evidence, you have yourself a faith. I’m pro-faith, btw, but since most of us agree that we’re not into having a theocracy, you can’t expect the government to be ruled by your faith as opposed to actual evidence.

  • Freedom Fighter

    Gotta do these one person at a time…
    MercuryBlue:
    What would be the purely-free-market solution to the elderly starving in the streets due to lack of income and insufficient private charity?
    Private charity *is* the answer. There were benevolent societies and charities before the social planners decided to “solve” poverty. I don’t know about you, but I think the free market has helped the poor much more than the social planners ever have. Wal-mart has helped put a lot of food on a lot of tables.
    And you’ve dodged the question about the Preamble twice now.
    No, I told exactly what the general welfare clause meant, in the words of the founders themselves.
    Which nobody’s actually proposing [banning payday lending] far’s I know. Just proposing to keep interest rates on payday loans at sane levels.
    I know this will break your heart, but payday lending is a risky business, because they lend to people who are more likely to default. The high cost is to cover that risk and make it possible to lend to these people at all. The price level you consider “sane” the people who actually run these businesses would find “unprofitable”. Besides that, who are you to tell two free people the terms of a contract that you aren’t a party to?
    According to Keith Olbermann
    An unbiased source, that.
    a Canadian company has found a way to use peat moss to absorb crude oil, and BP isn’t using it, because they wouldn’t be able to retrieve any of that oil.
    There’s a million schemes to clean up oil. Not all will work, and I would think that if that plan worked, BP would have embraced it. However, the guy who does figure out how to do it is a position to make a lot of money, which is probably why he’ll do it.
    Wait, what’s this about denying insurance coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions?
    Part of the reason that health care is expensive is because the AMA, with the help of government licensing, holds down medical school enrollment to keep the supply of doctors artificially low, and the prices of doctor’s services artificially high.
    Besides, there were several non-profit insurance companies before the government started meddling in the market for health.
    I forgot one of the obvious places that increasing people’s utility results in no revenue stream. Public libraries. If it was profitable to run one, it’d be a bookstore.
    Make them subscription based, or run them from charitable donations. Done.

  • MercuryBlue

    ‘Private charity’ is not the answer to a question I made a point of framing to exclude ‘private charity’ as a potential answer. I’m done.
    Though you do have a point about the AMA.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    Make them subscription based, or run them from charitable donations. Done.

    I volunteered for several year with the fund-raising arm of my local libraries, and the idea that libraries could survive on donations alone is a useless fantasy. The amount of money that came in each year wouldn’t even pay the salary of a part-time librarian, and this included corporate donations and grants. In our home, we’re very fortunate to be able to provide our children with their own modest book collections, and I know of families who have less than five books each in their entire homes. Libraries aren’t just a place to get books for free. They are important tools in encouraging literacy among children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to books outside of school. And with Web access, they are job-hunting resources for people who can’t afford their own computers. I find incomprehensible the argument that the government should have no role or interest in whether its citizens are literate and employed.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    Uh, that should be “several years.”

  • hapax


    Public libraries. If it was profitable to run one, it’d be a bookstore.

    Make them subscription based, or run them from charitable donations. Done.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAAAAAAAAHAAaaaaaggglee… *is ded*
    (wait, I got better)
    I swore I wasn’t gonna feed the troll anymore, but for giving me the best laugh I’ve had all week — here, have a fluffy iguana cookie.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/hawkerhurricane Hawker Hurricane

    “I don’t understand this, Captain. Everything the creature has suggested has already been tried and failed, often horribly. It’s as if it doesn’t care about past results in reality, only about it’s ideology.”[/Spock]

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Hearts Club Band

    Bugger me, I really am writing in a different language, aren’t I?
    Sits and the corner and sulks

  • MercuryBlue

    I think FF['s brain] has you on killfile, actually, Sgt. Pepper. Sorry.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Hearts Club Band

    *All by myse-elf*

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    Also, the idea of switching public libraries to a subscription service makes no sense. It would make the funding mechanism for the libraries more regressive, shifting much of the burden to the people on the lower and middle parts of the income scale. (Assuming the people at the lower end even had the money to pay the subscription.) Libraries don’t make up a huge portion of a local government’s budget anyway, as compared to education or public safety. The only way the subscription idea makes sense is if one adopts the mindset that opt-in payments are always preferable to taxes, or that taxes are so evil that we should always try to use use alternate funding mechanisms. But those go against the purpose of libraries, which is for a community to share a specific educational resource to make it more readily available to everyone in the community.

  • LE

    I forgot one of the obvious places that increasing people’s utility results in no revenue stream. Public libraries. If it was profitable to run one, it’d be a bookstore.
    Make them subscription based, or run them from charitable donations. Done.

    I think this is a idiotic idea, but let’s take it seriously for a second. No matter how you slice it either of these solutions would end up undermining the free public library’s primary mission. It’s in everybody’s interest that we have an educated workforce and that people have access to the information and resources they need to find and apply for jobs, and to keep themselves informed (since every adult citizen can potentially vote, regardless of whether they take advantage of that right). For the same reason it’s also in everybody’s interest that children have free and easy access to reading and educational materials so that they have the opportunity to grow up literate and well informed regardless of their parents’ economic resources.
    What kind of subscription structure would you use? It would be difficult to maintain any kind of decent reference collection if you’re charging per item lent. It’s hard to see how you could do that without making the lending fee as much as the cost of buying the book out right, and still have enough left over to pay the cost of buying the collection, paying librarian salaries, maintaining the physical space, and for other research resources – which is to say nothing of the other services libraries provide. And why would anyone pay to borrow a book if they could buy it for the same price (since it’s the best sellers and whatever is popular at the moment that drives most of the lending at libraries, not the much more expensive, but critical, reference books and IT resources)? Or you could make it some sort of membership, but again, that would raise the bar to the point that it would exclude a large segment of the public based on income, which would undermine the mission of a public library. Those kind of libraries already exist (there are hundreds if not thousands of privately run libraries around the country) but they tend to be prohibitively expensive for everyday use. For example, the Historical Society library that I want to use charges $8 per visit or $75 for an annual membership – and that’s after they’ve minimized the costs by building up an endowment and signing up for every grant, fellowship and charitable partner that they can find. Imagine if your average unskilled worker who is trying to put in on-line applications to McDonalds and search for other job opportunities had to pay those rates? Or a kid whose only access to books is at the library, but hir parents can’t afford the better quality Mac’n’cheese for dinner, much less library fees.
    Running libraries off of donations would be better than from subscriptions – it would at least not bar children and those who can’t afford the fees, but there’s no guarantees that there would be sufficient charitable resources to fund even a fraction of the needed libraries. Those communities with the greatest need would also be the ones least able to contribute donations – this is already a problem in that the quality of the local library tends to vary depending on the size of the local tax base, but at least they usually maintain some minimal standards and almost every community has one. And since libraries serve a critical function in educating the public, why would we be better off leaving its very existence to chance? Not just why you, FF, thinks that it’s consistent with your political philosophy – why would the community be better served?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    The fundamental attitude I don’t like about charitable donations is that it puts poor people in a position of being forced to be grateful for whatever largesse (or small-esse*) wealthy people deem fit to dole out utterly at their own whims.
    Now you might argue that the psychological effects of being forced into that position would quickly eradicate poverty, but that never happens. It certainly didn’t when England abolished the Speenhamland system, for example.
    All it does is entrench hostility beyond all rational measure of such for the poor; we’re seeing elements of that returning today, where it is possible that being poor might be an actual health hazard by reason of being physically attacked.
    It also exacerbates resentment of the rich by the poor, because nobody likes being forced to display gratitude when the party bestowing the favor fully expects grovelling and bowing low for it.
    I suspect quite a few Libertarians (as well as political conservatives) actively wish for that day to return so they can gleefully hug their puerile little egos at the thought of dropping a few cents in a beggar’s hands and getting an excessive outpouring of gratitude, however false it may be to those with a tin ear for the real thing.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    * small-esse may not be a word, but it surely conveys the sense of utter cheap-bastardry well enough, I think. :)

  • LE

    @ Pius
    Exactly so. One of my favorite essays on the subject is John Scalzi on Shaming the Poor
    (To clarify – my post above was simply trying to figure out how such a thing would even work economically, not suggesting we should do it. It’s a bad idea for both the reasons Pius wrote about, as well as the fact that it just wouldn’t work without undermining the very thing that Libraries are there for, and would probably result in them becoming much more scarce, which would be a tragedy.)

  • Mark Z.

    Make them subscription based, or run them from charitable donations. Done.
    I don’t think you get to declare this “Done.” until you, yourself, have set up a charitable foundation to run at least one public library. Until then you don’t even know if it’s possible.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    I suspect quite a few Libertarians (as well as political conservatives) actively wish for that day to return so they can gleefully hug their puerile little egos at the thought of dropping a few cents in a beggar’s hands and getting an excessive outpouring of gratitude, however false it may be to those with a tin ear for the real thing.

    There may be fear involved as well. I sometimes vacation in a town where the only retailer for some items is a dollar store, and when I go in there, I find myself imagining the possibility that I may end up living on a steady diet of government cheese and living in a van down by the river. It’s not that I fear poverty being contagious or something, it’s that such stores are uncomfortable reminders that all the good things in my life could all disappear. I suspect that the poor-bashers have the same fear, and saddling the poor with all the blame is their massive exercise in denial.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jpc101280 Jason

    If I had to pay a subscription service to use the library, it would make more sense to just buy the books. If I’m paying for books, I’d rather pay to read non-musty smelling ones that don’t have a due date which I get to keep if I want to. I thought the point of the library was to provide a way for people who couldn’t pay for their own books or internet or whatever to have access to information.
    Good job rendering the concept of libraries completely pointless.

  • Amaryllis

    Just a quick reminder that “subscription library” is another idea that’s already been tried, and found wanting. The first general-purpose circulating libraries were subscription libraries. For all the reasons that people have been discussing, the tax-funded public library was found to be much more effective in actually providing access to books, and to all the other resources of a library, to the general population.

  • quanticle

    Freedom Figher:

    In a free market, these companies could evaluate risk and lend to the people who can pay it back.

    Yeah, like those mortgage companies that did such a good job of evaluating risk and giving $500,000 loans to only people who were upper middle class and could pay back the loans. Oh wait…

  • Kenyon

    Collecting stories like this since 1990?
    And here I am in 2010, graduated in 2005, and I am still having eerily similar conversations with them on a fairly regular basis.
    The most recent involved my being unemployed Nov. 2009-May 2010 (and still underemployed). I was late on all of those payments, thought I had caught up in May. Then mid-July I get a letter and phone call telling me I am being sent to collections…
    For something I thought I had settled in May…and that is where I currently am. No idea where this will end.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    This is why I’ve been hearing people seriously saying they will find a way to move to a country that doesn’t have reciprocal debt-collection arrangements with Canada or the US.
    It’s the only way they can see themselves making a living without being completely hosed away from being able to access that lifestyle.

  • Lori

    This is why I’ve been hearing people seriously saying they will find a way to move to a country that doesn’t have reciprocal debt-collection arrangements with Canada or the US.

    Do you have a list of those countries? Because I may have to look into that.
    Now watch as some Conservative who never met a tax exile he didn’t applaud descends to tell me that even thinking such a thing is proof of what a horrible person I am.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    ISTR that most of Europe does not usually bother collecting debts incurred in other countries.

  • http://www.airjordans.cc/ air jordans

    It is not true suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive. Do you understand?

  • C Podhajsky

    Sallie Mae sucks stay away from them… Rip you off. Compound interst on intersts. You will never get it paid off. Horrible company !!!!

  • D C

    These people are the scum of the earth, American made terrorist of the financial sort. They are right up with the American banks that have squandered the bail out money. My horror story is very similar to the one at the top of this page but the ending might be something different. I have stop paying on two of my high interest private loans since the payments are more than my rent and the 75K associates degree that I received from the joke college Art Institute of Pittsburgh has not really gotten me far professionally. Especially because when I was attending the school wasn’t even accredited. Thus my degree is useless and phony.
    How Sallie Mae can issue so much loan money to a student that attending an unaccredited art school I’ll never have any idea. How can they issue so much loan money to a student? Thus I stopped paying them, four years ago. They haven’t really taken any action against me, but then again what can they do? Its a private loan, the equivalent of a car loan or credit card.
    Now its coming together as I review my payments on the other loans, they just take money out of payments and apply it to the semi defaulted loans. Is this legal? Probably not, I doubt breaking the law is much of a delema for the people. This company was founded by satan himself- One of the Bush clan I am sure. Thus my other loans are starting to become past due, and I can’t keep up. I call and try to get things straightened out but the people who work their never have idea of what your talking about, the on;y department thats organized and properly staffed is the collections office. Who is on you 24!
    If I make a payment you move the money, if I don’t make a payment you harass me none stop. Hey I got an idea, why not just call it quits and close the doors? Or get a hand full of cash from the government like all the other corporate scum bags in this country? You have obviously failed as a company and moral statue for people approach for help.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/elizakeepsbeeswordpresscom Elizakeepsbees.wordpress.com

    I am in precisely this situation with Sallie Mae at this moment. It happens over and over again, every month, and I have not been able to get them to stop calling. They first try my cell phone, and when I don’t pick up, move on to my land line within seconds. They send me certified male via Fed Ex threatening default and other dire consequences.
    I am in this situation because I was in a shit-paying PhD program that I ultimately had to leave due to illness. My fellowship was not nearly lucrative enough to pay for the massive medical co-pays that kept piling up. I tried to keep going for two years after my diagnosis, racking up a lot of private loans in the meantime so that I could pay the medical bills.
    They are so aggressive on the phone that I am sometimes curious whether or not I’m dealing with actual Sallie Mae employees or scammers. I once answered my phone, explained nicely that I wasn’t available at the moment, and the caller said, “Really? Because she told me this is her cell phone. Listen, I know who you are.”
    If anyone has come up with a magic formula for dealing with them, I would love to hear about it.


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