Jubilee would help

Call it debt forgiveness, principle reduction, or restructuring, a hair-cut or a cram-down — call it whatever you like, but it increasingly seems as though some measure of Jubilee would be an immensely practical step for borrowers and for lenders and for the economy as a whole.

At this point the idea of such a Jubilee still probably only rates as practical and prudent. Soon it will likely shift into the categories of — in order — “necessary,” “urgently needed” and “too little, too late.”

Andrew Martin and Ron Lieber: “Fed Study of Student Debt Outlines a Growing Burden

A report released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York … suggests that as many as 27 percent of the 37 million borrowers have past-due balances of 30 days or more.

The report, which was created by an analysis of Equifax credit reports, said the total balance of student loans was $870 billion. Of the 241 million with Equifax credit reports (there are 311 million people in the United States), 15 percent had student debt.

Forty percent of the people under 30 had outstanding student loans, and the average outstanding debt is $23,300. About 10 percent of borrowers owe more than $54,000 and 3 percent owe more than $100,000.

Bob Willis: “Student Debt Is Stifling Home Sales

Last year outstanding education debt passed credit-card debt for the first time, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, a student loan website. Totaling close to $1 trillion, America’s mounting pile of outstanding student debt is a growing drag on the housing recovery, keeping first-time home buyers on the sidelines and limiting the effectiveness of record-low interest rates.

Daniel Luzer: “Bankruptcy Bill Time

One of the more troublesome things about student loan debt in the United States is that, unlike normal consumer debt, it can’t be charged in bankruptcy.

If you’re broke and you can’t pay off your debts, you file for bankruptcy and the debts get restructured. If you’re broke and you can’t pay off your education debt, you just stay broke. The federal government can garner wages, Social Security, and even life insurance to service student loans.

… Markets need rules. Too many rules and the industry is stifled and can’t operate. Too few rules and the system becomes one of theft. Bankruptcy protection isn’t some special, sweetheart deal; it’s just the same thing that applies in commercial markets.

Shaila Dewan: “Pressure Grows on Fannie and Freddie to Cut Principal on Loans

Edward J. DeMarco, the regulator who controls Fannie and Freddie … has come under increasing pressure to allow debt forgiveness, also called principal reduction, since the announcement of a multibillion-dollar foreclosure abuse settlement that requires banks to write down mortgage debt for some eligible homeowners. Loans backed by Fannie and Freddie — more than half of all outstanding mortgage loans — are not eligible for relief under the settlement.

Atif Mian and Amir Sufi: “How Debt-Ridden Housing Holds Back Recovery

In a world without mortgages, falling house prices would have negligible aggregate effects. Some households would be richer and some would be poorer. But there is no reason to believe that there would be a large aggregate “housing-wealth effect.”

So why is housing holding back the economy? It is because most homeowners use substantial amounts of debt to purchase houses. Once we acknowledge that housing is a highly leveraged sector, the conclusions of the theory are totally different. In this case, there are a number of reasons why house-price declines will affect household spending.

Omar R. Valdimarsson: “Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Forgiveness in Best Recovery Story

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger.

Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association.

… The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.

… Iceland’s approach to dealing with the meltdown has put the needs of its population ahead of the markets at every turn.

Once it became clear back in October 2008 that the island’s banks were beyond saving, the government stepped in, ring-fenced the domestic accounts, and left international creditors in the lurch. The central bank imposed capital controls to halt the ensuing sell-off of the krona and new state-controlled banks were created from the remnants of the lenders that failed.

Isabelle Roughol: “A 375-Year-Old French Bank Forgives Debts of Paris’ Poorest

Thousands of lucky French people had their financial obligations forgiven after the country’s oldest bank decided to simply wipe their slate clean.

Granted, it’s a small slate. The 3,500 clients who benefitted from the bank’s largesse had debts of 150 euros or less (about $190) with the Crédit Municipal de Paris, also known as the “Mont-de-piété,” the bank of the poor, which has for centuries allowed the needy to get loans against their valuables — a kind of ethical pawnshop, or the original microlender. The small kindness was welcome for many.

Malcolm P. Harris: “The Dangers of Pricing the Infinite

The more love you convert [into debt], the more guns you’re going to need.

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  • Anonymous

    Sigh, Jesus paid the price for our sins at the cross.
    So when we have to answer to God for the debts we own Him and our fellow men Jesus would be the one to redeem us.

    So why can’t we do what Jesus does and forgive our debtors.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Jubilee never helped. All she did was shoot pretty lights out of her fingertips. At best, she took down one Sentinel to every other X-Man’s five.

    … Oh. Never mind.

  • purpleshoes

    My parents were determined to put the three of us through college. They took out student loans for me in their name, not mine, reasoning that as middle-income professionals they’d have a better chance of always being able to pay it than I would.

    Then the recession triple-whammy of a serious health crisis and resulting medical bills, a painful layoff in a previously protected sector, and a collapsing housing market caught them. I’m now making more than they are put together in my entry-level clerical job, and giving over a third of my income every month to them so that they can pay the student loan. It was a generous and kind thing they did, and the fact that it’s an albatross around their neck that not even bankruptcy can remove kills me. And no, I’m not going to buy a house in the next ten years; I’m not going to do anything risky for the chance of a better job, I’m not going to start a business, I’m not going to go to graduate school in a public health field like I wanted. When faced with the prospect of moving to stay with my significant other I’m terrified, because if I can’t make my student loan payment . And I’ve got nine years left before it’s over.

    Worse things have happened to people; hell, worse things have happened to people in my family this year. But it’s worth considering how many student loans are held by parents who are also holding underwater mortgages and are also at the age where bad health starts to catch up with them. And tuition keeps rising.

  • purpleshoes

    *if I can’t make my student loan payment, what happens to my parents?

  • “jubilee” was the wordsmith.org word of the day on the second, I thought of Fred when I saw that.

  • Anonymous

    It was a generous and kind thing they did, and the fact that it’s an albatross around their neck that not even bankruptcy can remove kills me.

    That’s absolutely heartbreaking.

    One of the cruelest things that our economic policies have done over the past few generations is make a college degree nearly mandatory for a decent lifestyle, [1] particularly if one plans to have children. That alone screws over those who can’t attend college for whatever reason (disability, other commitments, etc.), but when combined with the fact that the government has actively made the choice to reduce its financial support for colleges, it forces most families to make financial sacrifices to allow their children to achieve a level of economic security that used to be available just from a high-school education.

    [1] I don’t believe in the term “middle-class” anymore. When people who are one minor catastrophe short of financial disaster consider themselves middle-class, the term is meaningless.

  • I gather Jubilee is now a vampire. Which, amazingly, is not even in the top five most ludicrous things Marvel comics has done in the past five years.

  • Anonymous

    Which, amazingly, is not even in the top five most ludicrous things Marvel comics has done in the past five years.

    And yet, I suspect, most comic-book lovers would make fun of people who watch soap operas.

  • friendly reader

    Can someone point me to a primer on how debt forgiveness would work? And why banks would want to do it? I mean, I know these a-holes have made out like bandits, so I’m not exactly crying if they lose a little money, but there has to be a carrot involved if we’re going to get it pass; and back when we were doing bailouts it would have made *much* more sense to pay the money to debtors rather than giving the money to directly to banks, but how would that work now?

  • Brien Ashdown

    Great post.  If I didn’t have to make my $750 a month student loan payment, I’d buy a house tomorrow.  But I’ll be making that payment (and more…my repayment plan is a graduated extended plan.  My payments go up every two years, but it’s the only way I can afford to make current payments) for at least 23 more years.

    I grew up in a blue-collar home where neither of my parents graduated from college.  When I went to college (I attended a state school and lived at home to save money), my three younger siblings were still at home. There was no way my folks could help out more than giving me a place to stay (for which I’m incredibly grateful). So I had to rely on scholarships (thank god I got some) and loans and worked full time. Then came graduate school.  Now, 10 years after starting college I’m about $100,000 in debt to the government.  They currently get more than 25% of my take-home pay because that’s what they’ve decided I can afford.  I can – because I rent, I’m single, and don’t have kids.  If any of those things change, I’m screwed.  So no home ownership for me. 

    I’ve had cousins argue that it’s my own fault (partially true) for going into debt for an education that I didn’t “need” – no one forced to me get an Ph.D and become a (underpaid) college professor.  But I like to think that my students and the people I help with my research are glad I did it.

    Finally, even the programs set up to “help” those of us with debt don’t really help.  Obama’s much heralded plan that would forgive loans after 120 payments as long as the one in debt worked for a non-profit organization won’t help me.  I work for a non-profit…but to qualify I have to pay a certain amount per month for 120 months.  The amount they require I pay is an amount I cannot afford.

    I’m stuck.

  • Friendly reader:

    I can’t speak to every situation, but the ‘mortgage cramdown’ argument goes something like this:

    I bought a house in 2008 for $225,000. I paid a 25% down payment with around $180,000 in a mortgage.

    Today, the market value of my house is estimated at around $157,000.

    If my ex-wife wasn’t on the loan, the smartest thing I could do, financially speaking, would be to walk away from the house. If I were a large business, it would be described as “tactically defaulting”; if I were a CEO, it would be called “cutting my losses”.

    One set of incentives the bank can offer me is to modify the terms of loan, extending the lifespan and/or lowering the interest rate to get me a lower monthly payment. But those incentives only work if I’m having a cashflow problem. (the payments are too high) The problem I have isn’t that my payments are too much, it’s that I need to pay $23,000 directly to the loan principle for my home to be a worthwhile investment.

    The cramdown concept is that if I walk away from the house, the bank will take a loss that’s more than $23k; the house will probably continue to drop in value, the bank will incur all the costs of foreclosure, eviction, paying seller’s comissions, closing costs, etc. It’s actually cheaper to write down the loan for $23k than it would be to go through the whole process if I walked away.

    The big problem with this is that if I walked away, it would take probably a year (maybe closer to two years) before the bank actually had to write the loss on their books. They actually could continue to charge interest on the defaulted loan, and recognize it as ‘income’ on their financial statements right up until the foreclosure went through, and the house would sit on their books at the mortgage value until it sold. If they did the cramdown, they would have to recognize that loss immediately.

  • friendly reader

     o_O Okay, I only understood about 2/3 of that, because I’ve never owned a house before. What’s a “loan principle”?

  • I believe he is referring to the principal owed on the loan.  Or he just has a particularly ethical one.

  • Sorry, that should have been “principal”; my fault for hurring and not double-checking my spelling.

    “Principal” refers to the actual original amount borrowed; it’s different from the interest charged on a loan.

    When you repay a loan, part of your payment goes to repay the balance, but part of it goes to simply pay the interest on the loan.

    If you borrow $1,000 at 12% APR, each month, $100 in interest is added to your loan, and your payment, if any, is then subtracted. If your first month’s payment was $150 dollars, then the next month, your loan balance would be $9,950, and $99.50 interest would accrue. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s even more frustrating when you can’t even pay on the principle. I started this game with 18,810 dollars and some cents of debt. I’ve been paying over the last year and a half now and I’m down to about 18,710. My average monthly payments are in the 100 dollar range, usually 130 dollars a month. Now you figure how that works. I paid almost 1,500 dollars in interest alone this past year to those leeches, according to my tax forms.

    The low interest is a con. What they have going on is highway robbery; they took my loans and broke them up into several different “groups,” and charge a variable interest rate on each of those groups. There’s a total of about 12 groups that it’s broken into, and the money isn’t even evenly distributed among them. One group might contain 8.20, while another might contain 1,000 dollars. The one with 1,000 has a 2.5% interest rate, while the one with 8.20 has an 8% interest rate. And they add all this together and roll it over into the principle as capitalized interest. And you can’t pay off one group at a time – they decide where the money goes. So they might take my 119 dollars a month and spread it out over all the groups. This way, it takes longer to pay them off – if you ever get them paid off, because they ultimately decide how much goes towards interest and how much towards the principle.

    Jubilee would be nice. Taking to the streets and burning down those fucking banks would be even better.

  • Lori

    Thanks to my student loans* there are basically only 3 ways that I will ever be out of debt—a miracle, outright jubilee/debt forgiveness, or a change in the law to again make it possible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. Unless one of those things happens I’ll be poor for the rest of my life and die in debt and that’s true whether I die tomorrow or 30 years from now.

    *The best part of my situation is that I receive no benefit from these loans because they were taken out in pursuit of a degree that I can’t complete because of finances and 3/4 of a Masters in IR and $5 will get you a gallon of gas.

  • pharoute

    Regarding usury, I wonder if Father Marcel denies communion to bankers along with lesbians.

    /guessing no

  • I’m another with those grisly student loan debts.  Grad school in theology in my 50s.  I knew I’d end up poor.  However, unlike younger people, my life is winding down.  So I’m not trying to maintain some semblance of a “normal” life.  I live in a small room without partner, kids, pets, new clothes, or savings. 

    You’d think those shrilly verbal champions of family values would pay some attention to the future of the average family given the realities discussed here.  But no.  Because, despite the veneer of godtalk, their actual alliance is to money, power, and fame.  In biblical language, Mammon. Valuables. 

    Compassion has no meaning for the econopaths of Wall Street. Nor, it seems, for their minions, the ultracons and the holy-headed.  Not even the slightest awareness among them regarding the ancient tradition of Jubilee.  They are blind to a Jesus who favored the least among us, who shared the table with those disdained by their would-be betters.  A Jesus who warned repeatedly about the trap of attachment to the riches of this world. 

    The Matthew 6 version of the Lord’s Prayer has: “…forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.”   Let’s not forget Acts 4:34-5 “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as had land or houses sold them, bringing the proceeds and placing them at the feet of the apostles.  Who then distributed to each as any had need.”  Had we Christians been doing that for the last millenium or last century or even last decade, there would be no poor.  And no reason to talk about government or regulation or justice.               

  • animus

    The first commandment is this: thou shalt hate the gays with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And the second is like it, namely this: thou shalt keep on oppressing everyone different from thyself, especially women.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Great, so I’m in the top 10% of student debt. Kill me now.

    I’m also in that 27%, becuase the paperwork to convince everyone that I’m taking 6 units gets fucked up.

    I’ve also been on a revolving door of hardship deferment and forbearance for that past 8 years.

    Like Lori, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m never going to pay down, let alone pay off, these student loans.

  • friendly reader

    Okay, plain “principle” I know. But thank you for explaining how that relates to current interest rates.

    I read the godawful crap that friends and acquaintances* go through with large students loans and realize how ridiculously lucky I was to have gotten the scholarship I did, plus have parents who could save enough to cover (most) of the remainder. And unlike many people in my situation, I know that it was a lot of luck. The idea that you can choose to go through college without debt is absurd, at least in the system we have now.

    *Is it okay if I consider you guys acquaintances? I know this is all anonymous and stuff, but it’s the same set of people on every thread…

  • Anonymous

    @J_Enigma:disqus And you can’t pay off one group at a time – they decide where the money
    goes. So they might take my 119 dollars a month and spread it out over
    all the groups. This way, it takes longer to pay them off – if you ever
    get them paid off, because they ultimately decide how much goes towards
    interest and how much towards the principle.

    Almost certainly, your money is paying off the lowest balances first.  Since the idea of traditional debt consolidation is to replace a number of high-interest loans with a single, low-to-moderate loan so that you can pay it off faster, student loan organizations will do precisely the opposite.  That way you pay the higher-interest money (profit!) for the longest possible time.

    @e85bede4f90669b787be42b2913e35ce:disqus Can someone point me to a primer on how debt forgiveness would work? And
    why banks would want to do it? I mean, I know these a-holes have made
    out like bandits, so I’m not exactly crying if they lose a little money,
    but there has to be a carrot involved if we’re going to get it pass;
    and back when we were doing bailouts it would have made *much* more
    sense to pay the money to debtors rather than giving the money to
    directly to banks, but how would that work now?

    The most convincing proposal I’ve seen has been “Property Appreciation Rights.”  Basically, every underwater mortgage gets written down to the current value of the house.  In lieu of the underwater part, the bank gets a Property Appreciation Right — basically an ownership stake in the house.  If and when the house is sold for more than its rewritten value, the bank gets the difference (up to the value of the original mortgate).

    Example: Suppose a $250,000 mortgage is written on a house now worth only $200,000.   Under this plan, the mortgage is (by law) changed to a value of $200,000 with corresponding payment reduction; the bank gets a $50k Property Appreciation Right.  Suppose a few years from now the owners sell the house for $260,000; then they receive $210k and the bank gets paid off.  If the owners sell for $210,000, then they still receive $200k, the bank gets $10k, and a $40k Appreciation Right on the house remains.  The homeowner never has an underwater mortgage, the bank still in theory eventually gets paid off, and nobody gets screwed.

    The other neat aspect I’ve glossed over is that these rights would be sold collectively — pooled together over every home in the region, state, or whatever.  So instead of having a particular interest in your home, the bank would get its money back from the collective property value of everybody.  Even if you never sell, or if your home is destroyed in a natural disaster, or whatever.

    Of course, implementing anything of the sort would require passing laws that are to the advantage of people and to the disadvantage of large, wealthy, and powerful financial institutions.  So, this is never ever going to happen in the States.  Too bad.

  • Hope aunursa doesn’t deliberately misinterpret this like last time.

  • truth is life

    Can someone point me to a primer on how debt forgiveness would work? And why banks would want to do it? I mean, I know these a-holes have made out like bandits, so I’m not exactly crying if they lose a little money, but there has to be a carrot involved if we’re going to get it pass; and back when we were doing bailouts it would have made *much* more sense to pay the money to debtors rather than giving the money to directly to banks, but how would that work now?

    The carrot would be, essentially, that they would be getting *something* back on their loan rather than *nothing*. The idea would be that if the loan terms aren’t modified the person in question will either go bankrupt (for debts dischargeable by bankruptcy) or simply not be able to pay off the debt in total (for debts not so dischargeable). By taking a haircut and writing off, say, 50% of the loan’s value, however, the bank (creditor) is able to still make back 50% of what it lent out and the debtor is placed in a much more forgiving economic situation, making it far more likely that the creditor will actually get that 50%. Creditors today seem remarkably resistant to the idea of getting something instead of nothing, though; I recall the GM bailout, where GM’s creditors were against the structured bankruptcy because they’d have to take a significant writedown, even though had the structured bankruptcy not occurred GM would have been liquidated and they would have essentially lost everything! That kind of behavior is completely irrational!

    I can’t speak to the student loans, since I had a complete package full-ride scholarship as an undergraduate and now, in graduate school, I’m in a field where actually *paying tuition* is highly unusual (although the school is tightening that up somewhat), in fact in general the school pays *you*. So graduating with a significant amount of student loan debt…I can’t fathom it unless you went to medical school or dental school or similar areas.

  • Anonymous

    Fathom it.  It’s the norm, and it’s endemic.  The average student loan debt of a graduating senior (undergraduate) is almost 25,000.  

    Edit: for me it’s 40-50,000, but that includes graduate school. Fortunately I’m in a field where I qualify for some loan forgiveness.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s actually twenty-five years.  Student loan debt is forgiven after twenty-five years if you have government loans.  You have to pay taxes on the forgiven portion, but it is forgiven.

  • You’re incredibly lucky. I’m a history major who got a significant amount of scholarships and grants and help from my parents. I still have loans I can’t pay off, though I can foresee being able to pay them off in the future, IF things start working out instead of continuing the 2011 trend of going pear-shaped. But pay off the loans *and* buy a house? Amusing idea, and so not happening.

  • truth is life

    I didn’t say I didn’t know that. I know the statistics, the numbers. It just doesn’t actually mean anything to me; I didn’t suffer that myself, my sister isn’t suffering that despite being essentially my complete opposite (I went to a cheap public school in a high-demand major with, as mentioned, a very good scholarship; she’s going to a very expensive private school in a low-demand major without really good scholarships), at least so far as I can tell; none of the people I’ve met seem (seem probably being the operative word here; we didn’t go into finances much) to have had excessive levels of student loan debt.

    Basically, it’s just that people with that much in the way of students loans might as well live in a completely different universe to my own personal experience and what I’ve gathered of the personal experiences of people I personally know. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist; hell, I’m sure at least some of the people in the labs I TA for have way more student debt than they could possibly pay off, and certainly some of the people I see walking around campus every day. But I don’t personally know them.

  • Anonymous

    I am just so tired of all this bullshit.  Seriously.  Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum are fucking monsters.  If Mitt Romney could bring back the “good old days” of the 1870’s he would, we’re deporting everyone with a shred of talent or ambition, we’re destroying the planet, and fleets of robotic assassin prowl the skies looking to murder anyone who says anything untoward.

    And nothing matters.  Basic human decency isn’t a consideration, FACTS aren’t a consideration – even naked self-interest isn’t a consideration as we see with this whole Jubilee thing.  It’s like the only thing that matters is hurting as many other people as possible.  The people that society is fighting off – because Rick Santorum has no place any thing that can plausibly deemed a functioning society – are only interested in destroying as much possible.  They don’t care about ANYTHING – things that would help everybody – they’re not into that because it doesn’t hurt enough people.

    Never has it seemed so clear – these people are orcs.

  • Anonymous

     I understand.  In that case, it simply seems that our subjective experiences are diametrically opposed.  :P

  • The most common portrayal of orcs these days is like that in World of Warcraft: a shamanistic proud warrior race facing an enemy who wants to wipe them out because they’re orcs. There are good orcs (including the most heroic character in WoW’s universe), bad orcs, and everything in between. That portrayal is one in a long line of those which have presented orcs as *people*, rather than demonic things to be extinguished. There are people who don’t like this and won’t accept it. They want an always Chaotic Evil race they can do whatever they like to and still retain a Good alignment. 

    I think the biggest problem with Santorum et al and their followers is that they think the rest of us are orcs. And they’re most comfortable when they can pretend that our suffering is good. They get XP whenever they succeed in structuring our society so it hurts us. 

    (I remember reading that Tolkein himself was uncomfortable with his orcs — he realized that the idea of an “evil race” was, in itself, pretty evil. But I can’t find where he said that, so maybe it’s apocryphal.)

  • Lori

    Apparently that only works for IBR – but then – you should be doing IBR if you have a high balance. 

    IBR isn’t real helpful when your I is effectively 0 and your loans are part of the reason you’re having problems getting an I > 0 (because they cause bad credit and bad credit now means that you’re unworthy for pretty much any job, even if it has jack shit to do with handling the business’ money).

    But yes, after 25 years of making lan payments that are large enough to keep me from being able to save any money or build any sort of non-poverty life for myself, but which are not large enough to make a dent in my indebtedness, I will be able to right off the loans. And then I’ll spend FSM-only-knows how many years paying off the brand new debt I’ll have with the IRS due to that taxable “income”. I figure 5 years on that score is likely optimistic. By that time I’ll be retired and living on air because I won’t have been able to save for retirement and my SS benefits are going to be shit because of all the time I’ve spent unemployed and therefore not paying into the system.

    Unless something happens to get me out from under these loans a hell of a lot sooner than 2034 my prospects are really, really bad.

  • Anonymous


  • Apocalypse Review

    I know people who are purposely looking to relocate permanently to countries with no reciprocal collection agreements with the USA or Canada because that wall of $50k looming over them is too much to bear in a market where they’re stuck waiting tables at minimum wage (which, here, is $8 an hour in a city wheer the average rent is now pushing $700 a month per person for a SHARED apartment).

    In the name of omgoutrage! about allegedly massive numbers of students defaulting on their student loans, governments have taken the punitive step of exempting such loans from bankruptcy proceedings, provoking exactly the kind of response you’d get from all the pro-business types whining about overregulation: the regulations get evaded.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not saying it doesn’t suck ass and isn’t unfair, by any means – sorry if I didn’t make that clear.  I’ve heard people bitch mightily about student loans, not realizing they were eligible for IBR (which does help, quite a bit) I was just trying to be helpful.

    If you are on economic hardship or IBR with a payment of 0, then that counts toward your 25 years.  If your income is 0, you should TOTALLY get on IBR, since that means they won’t require a payment until you make at least 150% of poverty level.  The payment on $100,000 of loans at $37,000 a year is like $260 a month – which is unquestionably a pretty good chunk of change – but it’s nothing like the $1500 monthly charge on the ten year repayment schedule.

    Private loans are another matter.   Those people (private student loan lenders) are nothing but vampires on the neck of society – if there were such a thing a corporate death penalty, they all deserve it.

    Checking peoples credit for jobs that don’t require them to have good credit I consider a moral failing of the highest order, so I’m right with you there.

  • Anonymous

    TMI Geek Warning:

    It’s in History of Middle Earth.  The orcs are corruptions of elves and men.  Morgoth took elves off the Great Journey and twisted them into orcs.  The movie was correct on this score (or as correct as you can be with this kind of thing.)

    In fact, there is little in Tolkien that implies that you couldn’t somehow kidnap an orc-child and raise it in a loving home and that it wouldn’t be perfectly capable of being a “good guy.” (There are some vague hints that the Druédain were exactly this.) The evil orcs were twisted by hatred – the will of Morgoth (and later Sauron) basically makes them hopelessly brainwashed.  It’s sort of implied that the whatever dark lord was holding sway during that particular age, would subsume the will of the orcs with his own magical will.  It’s also implied that slain orcs have the same fate as slain elves – that they await the unmaking of the world in the Halls of Mandos – so it isn’t like they are eternally punished for being evil.

    I actually think this makes my analogy of Rush Limbaugh as an orc pretty good.  He wasn’t BORN to be a monster.  An unfortunate combination of circumstances and the strength of a monstrous, impersonal evil turned him into one.  That’s terribly unfortunate, but there’s nothing you can DO.  What would happen if the socialist utopia (or whatever) were to arrive tomorrow?  If Aragorn actually conquers the dark lord, and everything gets better?  “Only the spells of evil are defeated.” Rush and his ilk are already ruined. The dark lord Mammon has already destroyed their minds.  Now, granted – Rush Limbaugh – for all of the very real harm he has caused – is not burning rick, cot and tree throughout the Westfold, so there’s no solution at the end of an sword.

    But – as in LoTR, it isn’t like you can REASON with an orc.  He’s not interested in your facts.  He’s not interested in what you have to offer – he’s not even really interested in winning. His sum total of demands is “you lose.” It’s just … orcish.

    Facing down the inexhaustible supply of servants of the implacable evil gets exhausting.  The Black Land is never emptied of it’s servants.  But still – it’s just. so. frustrating.

  • Lori

     I didn’t think you were being mean or anything. My comment was more in the way of “just sayin'”. My loans are large enough and my financial situation is dire enough that the best case scenario is still really bad.

  • It’s just, when I think “orc”, I don’t think “Lord of the Rings orc.” The orcs I think of these days are the good guys, or as close to the good guys as you can get in a messed-up world at war. And in WoW, the human leaders have been absolutely resisting any proposals of peace for years — and then an orc leader comes along and says, “enough! You want war, you’ve got it!” I was thrilled, but other people started wringing their hands over orcs finally acknowledging that the genocidal war against them was a genocidal war, and how they should be perfectly peaceful and keep their heads down and be content with the crappy land they’ve got and hope the humans will someday get a leader that doesn’t want to murder every last one of them and an army that doesn’t commit war crimes against them. It has… parallels.

    While I can believe that Tolkein was trying to say that orcs were a product of nurture and not nature, in my opinion he didn’t do a very good job of it. But then, I don’t like his writing or characters in the LotR trilogy.

  • I am just so tired of all this bullshit.  Seriously.  Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum are fucking monsters.

    They’re symptoms of the problem, but they’re not the problem. The problem is that according to the latest polling, 42% of the voters in this country would vote for Santorum over Obama, and fifteen million people listen to Limbaugh.

    I’m not going to say that all of those people are monsters. Some of them, definitely, but not all of them. The worry for me is how to reach those people, how to get them to see that, yes, they too are part of the 99%, and that this unprecidented accumulation of wealth is hurting them.

    Yes, there are amoral monsters out there, but I don’t think most of the people following them are monsters. I think they’re confused and scared and aching with a need to feel in control of their lives.

    All that said, I’m very pleased at the number of sponsors who have dropped Rush. Vote with your wallets, that’s all some folks will notice.

  • Anonymous

    But then, I don’t like his writing or characters in the LotR trilogy.


  • PurpleGirl


    One reason we can’t have a Jubilee-type program are the beliefs of a**holes like Senator Chuck Grassley.  When the last bankruptcy reform was being debated, a group of Christian lawyers asked that the changes be made within the framework of a Jubille program. Sen. Grassley said (paraphrase) “NO, because that would be imposing a religious idea upon people who may not believe the same religion, and separation of church and state and all that.”  The above URL is a short description of the whole episode.  Now one thing you need to know about Sen. Grassley is that he has no problem with the idea that the government can and should be involved in how you liv e your life (abortion, sex, stuff like that.)

    From Democratic Underground (old site):
    “I can’t listen to Christian lawyers because
    I would be imposing the Bible on a diverse population,” Grassley said.
    “I’ll bet those lawyers wouldn’t want us to impose the principles of
    forgiving debt every seven years. If that were the law, nobody would
    loan them money.”


    can listen to the most reactionary of the fundamentalists when it comes
    to imposing their cultural views on others, but listening to those
    trying to uphold actual Christianity and help the poor? That would be
    horrible! (Senator Grassley, I find you and your strawman argument
    appalling. They aren’t asking for a seven years law. Merely that the
    general principle of debt forgiveness be a guide. Thank you for
    playing, please come again.) 

  • Lori

    They aren’t asking for a seven years law. Merely that the general principle of debt forgiveness be a guide. 

    I’d settle for balancing the system so that it is no longer tilted so  incredibly heavily in favor of creditors at the expense of debotrs. We could start by holding bankers responsible for committing fraud and fixing the horrendous bankruptcy law so that it’s not such a special interest buffet.

  • So, more like Chuck Assley, amirite?

  • Tricksterson

    Which would be ironic since what Stan Lee did back in the 60s when he created “superheroes with real problems”, rightfully seen as a genre changing act, was to  introduce elements of soap opera to comics.

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