Friday, February 24, 2012

Thought for food

You can recognize that money is defined by the State, and in our modern economy, that means laws. Your access to money, and your obligations to repay that money are defined by laws, and if you truly think strategically, with the ends in mind, you can game the system.

As you may know from this blog, I’m really not big on being a lawyer. It requires that you spend like 50+ hours per week sitting on your ass and shuffling paper. I’d much rather be in control of my own time – traveling, or reading, or at the gym.

Well, in this, the American system, it turns out you can basically get access to unlimited money in the form of student loans. While there is a cap on subsidized loans, you can literally take out an unlimited amount of “PLUS” loans. Enough to finance your schooling basically forever, including living expenses. We’re talking food, clothing, lodging, transportation, entertainment, and even health care.

And while the law says you can borrow as much as you want, there is another law, known as “income based repayment,” that allows you to cap your repayment obligations – limiting them to a fixed percentage of your post school income, and a fixed amount of time. Presently, those limits are, I believe, something like 20% of gross income over $20,000, for no more than 25 years. Those terms are set to improve in 2014, due to legislation that was attached to the health care bill. There are also specific programs that are far more forgiving, where you do government work after school.

And while you’re in school, you aren’t obligated to pay anything.

Therefore, in theory, you can take advantage of this asymmetry. With the economy this bad – now and presumably well into the future, you can go to school for a really, really long time. Why not do an MBA, then a PhD, then a JD? That’s a decade of free money!

When it’s time to face the music and pay up, your obligations will be limited.

Of course, since this whole little system depends upon the laws, you’re taking a risk that the laws won’t change to your disadvantage. Then again, they could change in your favor, just like they did recently.

Now, I clearly don’t have the cojones to stop being a lawyer and go back to school, taking on even more debt. My parents and my girlfriend would be mortified, as they are all upstanding citizens who intend to play along with this game called market capitalism. As am I.  But the point is I could do it another way. And, if I really thought about things strategically, it might make sense.

If you’re not someone who intends to accumulate a lot of money, and you just want access to goods and services while you enjoy your life, this choice could make sense for you. And you never know. Maybe while you’re dicking around during your PhD program you’ll write a best selling book! If you were working full time, you’d never have the energy for that.

I’m not suggesting that there aren’t compromises involved, and you should clearly do your own homework on these issues before making such a radical life decision. But the point is that once you understand that money is defined by the state, and is merely a placeholder for power, you can think strategically and exploit the asymmetries in those power relationships in order to get access to the goods and services that you want. In this way, you can prosper.

During these rough, rough economic times, try to step back and realize that money isn’t something permanent, and that you aren’t anchored to one way of living. There are other ways to get what you want.


Politically, it is never a particularly good idea to first tell people they are your equals, and then humiliate and degrade them. This is presumably why peasant insurrections, from Chiapas to Japan, have so regularly aimed to wipe out debts, rather than focus on more structural issues like caste systems, or even slavery . . . Debt peonage, it would appear, is far more likely to inspire outrage and collective action than is a system premised on pure inequality.

This may not end well.


  1. I pray that it just ends, well or unwell. There must be a reckoning. And soon.

  2. I am glad that you understand the situation, and have spoken out about this mess, LawProf. Most legal academics are AWARE of this reality, but they choose to remain silent. After all, they are personally and professionally benefiting from this system.

    This makes them no better than someone who knows about their niece or nephew being molested, and keeping their mouth shut. Yes, such gutless rats are the moral equals of American "law professors."

  3. The commenters on that site are great. They are diverse in their views, seem to be very well-read, and argue their points in a cogent manner. Very grown-up stuff. Thanks for the link.

  4. So, thinking as a parent who would ideally like their children to live happy, productive lives, I have to admit that there is some significant appeal to the perma-student IBR scam-plan. Of course, it is morally wrong to borrow with no intention of repayment, and in some circumstances stealing is technically illegal, but…

    I can think of far worse fates for my kids than having them spend decades in colleges, appending long stings of useless initials to their names while incurring staggering debt with no real possibility of repayment. Absent debtor's prison, (which is constitutionally prohibited), what is the worst case scenario, and how different is that from what is now a common scenario in terms of unmanageable debt? Once you reach the point where you are unable to repay the loan, any number in excess of that amount is really just academic right?

    Moreover, I think my young kids are great and all, but do I really honestly believe that they will be the origin of some world changing thing as professionals in their adult lives? Nothing they wouldn’t do as students, and so I wonder if this is really worse than anything else they could be doing with their time? In the service-based economy, isn't this just one big circle-jerk anyway?

    So, if tuition continues to increase at the same rates it has over the past two decades, it will be right around $100K/year (all in) for a private college like the one I attended when my 4 year old graduates from high school. Additionally, if wages continue to remain steady relative to inflation, as they have for the past half century, that child will be looking at wages that look similar to what today’s graduates face. Finally, if my child graduates into a job market that resembles what we have today, carrying significant non-dischargeable student loan debt, I would seriously consider advising that child to “shoot the moon” and keep getting degrees. Then they live with IBR until they either win the lottery or can demonstrate undue hardship.

  5. But, as LawProf points out, IBR could go away or be changed at any time. It's not a solution to the problem of ballooning student loan debt. Too many people already have uncontrollable student debt, and many of those people don't even qualify for IBR. Therefore, at some point IBR will either be revoked, sharply curtailed, or replaced by something else. It already has a trigger mechanism that puts you on the hook for your entire accrued debt, with interest, if you ever go above the income-to-debt ratio prescribed by the law. 10 years is a long time to guarantee that you're going to be in a public interest job that pays little enough relative to your debt to qualify you for IBR, even if that is what you want and are committed to. People don't always get what they want - you can get fired from your low-paying job, or develop family responsibilities that just require you to get a higher paying job, etc. 25 years is an even longer time to guarantee that you will be making little enough to qualify for IBR in the non-public interest context. Anything can happen in even a year, let alone 10 or 25 years! Shoot, in 10 years I went from being completely committed to practicing law for the rest of my life to figuring out that I didn't even know what I was doing when I made that commitment.

  6. Explain the many people that don't qualify for IBR that can't afford to make their payments please.

    Also your balance is growing during those years so you should be able to get raises and still qualify right?

  7. I plan on retiring at 55 and going to graduate school for 10 years. I will continue to contribute to my IRA with my student loan money, and when I get out I will have enough money for a home in Costa Rica and a big fat IRA nest egg.

  8. 8:57, so you're saying that you would be fine with getting IBR for 9 years, running up your loan balance, and then getting a job that pays slightly too much to qualify you for IBR and being on the hook for your full amount borrowed, plus 9 years of capitalized interest, because now you can afford to make the payments? You can "afford" those payments for the next 30 years, if you want a decent standard of living, which most people over age 28 do. If you're especially "frugal," maybe you'll only have to pay it for 10, depending on how much you borrowed in the first place. So, that's a minimum of 19 years you spent paying on educational debt. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

  9. 9:41,
    I didn't say I was fine with anything. My question is that I don't realistically see that scenario happening. If you can't afford your loans and need to go on IBR I think it's unlikely that after X years you're going to all of a sudden get a job that pays so much that you are disqualified you from IBR.

    My comment regarding the growing balance is that it will probably marry up to whatever raise you receive such that you will still be eligible for IBR.

  10. Well, I don't know. Nobody knows if that will happen or not - you're free to try it out and report back when you get the hefty IBR forgiveness check and I will gladly eat my words. I hope it does work out for people, but to me it seems like a temporary bandaid at best. It's great if you're in a temporary slump and making no money, but it would be a hell of a lot better if they forgave your debt once a year rather than once every 10 or 25 years.

  11. Presently, those limits are, I believe, something like 20% of gross income over $20,000, for no more than 25 years.


    Try 10% bitch. And that's right I'm on IBR with $300,000 of law school and LLM loans, and IBR is my way of saying fuck you to the world.

    Fuck you moron working to pay my student loan debt.

    Fuck you moron working to pay my social welfare entitlements.

    Fuck you all of you, as I spend my day chilling out.

    That's what you get for scamming me. I went to law school to get a job, but came out a social welfare bum and as such a bum, I say Fuck you as I pass this financial pain onto you suckers who work every day.

  12. 10:16, it's that kind of attitude that is going to get IBR revoked. The taxpayer didn't scam you, assuming that you were "scammed;" the law schools did.

  13. The IBR program is way too generous with regard to amount people pay per month.

  14. 10:16:

    10:41 is right. People see that kind of attitude and they use it as justification for revocation. Your attitude stinks. The reality is that IBR is a trap and should only be used if the borrower is desperate and staring default in the face. The only thing worse than IBR is default.

  15. Like I said, fuck you.

    I'm chilling out all day surfing the net, playing video games, exercising and going to a coffee bar later followed by a night out -- on your dime you working lower middle class bitch.

    Law school fucked me, so I'm fucking you. Entitlement living ain't all that bad.

  16. @10:16. IBR isn't your own personal FU to the world, b/c there's nothing unique about being on it. It's not a statement. It's a condition.

  17. Hey, 10:16 -- IBR aside, please ease up on the profanity. Thanks,

    ol' Tender-Ears

  18. 1. Get a job at a non-profit (which includes most colleges

    2. Get paid $60,000+(which is what a temp atty would make anyway---and have no IBR option)

    3. Consolidate all of your loans under the new Obama plan or even the old plan with Direct Loans

    4. Get on the IBR Plan

    5. Have your debt forgiven in 10 years with no IRS penalty

    If you have $230,000 in loans at 8.25% like me, for example, then your payments are only $560/month. Over 10 years, that is $67,200 that you would pay.

    And just doing simple subtraction(not considering interest), $230,000-67,200= $162,800 forgiven.

    I REPEAT: $162,800 FORGIVEN.

  19. Maybe the universities could be made liable for debts that their former students cannot pay. I read on Andrew Sullivan or somewhere that Glenn Reynolds was talking about this. I actually read it earlier on anunusual forum that I used to read in the context of the very angry people who posted on this forum becoming very, very angry about Obama's student loan reforms, darkly blaming liberals (including specifically blaming Keynesians for this gradual reform) and basically anybody who is intereted on anything that is different what is like them.

    Any benefits to eliminating IBR and not replacing it with dischargeability or a solution like the one aboive in (1) discouraging people from delaying employment by entering graduate school, (2) controlling tuitions at law school, or (3) limiting government expenditures on student loans would be outweighed by the harm it would cause to former and current students who rely on it. Although many of these students could be free to pursue a legal claim against the law schools they attended for cases where the debtors were actually treated in an unjust way (for which those debtors should not be held responsible), as opposed to being treated in an unfair way (for which those debtors should be held responsible although more clarity about the actual costs and benefits of law school would reduce the chances of other people being treated in this unfair way, and even being responsible for this decision these debtors would still have access to the same idea of money and services, defined by the law and provided by private entities and government agencies, that are open to most people in a society, along with whatever special considerations that the law grants them with the treatment of student loans), they are unlikely to succeed. Instead, their deep debt would be even more serious (especially because of the increased relevance of nondischargeability for bankrupcy if IBR goes away) because of a decision that they made to learn and get better jobs, which are simply positive desires that should not be subject to debts that are almost punitive.

    I wish that I were writing the Great American Novel while in law school. I am simply too much of a nervous wreck about my future to do anything productive as opposed to leaving rambling nonsense comments on blogs.

  20. 9:12: Sorry to break it to you, but you aren't IRA contribution-eligible if you aren't earning taxable compensation or self-employment income in the year in which the contribution is made. And if you have one of those types of income, you can then contribute up to the maximum allowed amount - from the money you've made that year in the eligible type of income. Good luck with that retirement plan of yours!

    9:16: as a hardworking employed attorney, yours is exactly the sort of attitude that has me opposed to a generalized IBR. I think that IBR should be available to government and nonprofit employees only - folks who got an employable degree in good faith and are using their skills to serve the public.

  21. 1. Get a job at a non-profit (which includes most colleges

    2. Get paid $60,000+(which is what a temp atty would make anyway---and have no IBR option)

    LOL at these being easy goals.

  22. 9:16: as a hardworking employed attorney, yours is exactly the sort of attitude that has me opposed to a generalized IBR. I think that IBR should be available to government and nonprofit employees only - folks who got an employable degree in good faith and are using their skills to serve the public.

    LOL at shitty nepotism infested, lazy, do-nothing government workers being more deserving than private sector workers.

  23. Well, 10:16 is an angry lad, and attitudes like his may provoke Congress. But from the point of view of the lender (and by lender I mean the federal government, since it is the holder or guarantor of most student debt) I don't see doing away with IBR helps very much with the basic problem -- that it has made and continues to make loans the borrowers have no hope of repaying. Yes, there are all sorts of enhanced collection methods available to student lenders but if the borrower has modest income and no assets they don't yield much. You can garnish J D Painter Guy's wages, sieze his bank account, tax refund and social security, repossess his can, hell, you can strip him naked and whip him at the cart's tail, and it will still not begin to pay off his loans (though it will make his life miserable, which he doesn't deserve). For that matter, what is the point of IBR? To take 12:28 as an example, he is accruing interest at a rate of about $19,000 per year, paying $6700 and in 10 years the lender will write off three or four times what it loaned. What's the point? Why not just discharge the loan in bankruptcy and be done with it. It will never be repaid and you are not only postponing the inevitable but also increasing the amount of the ultimate write off?

    And the answer, I think, is one of those things so blindingly obvious that you don't notice it until one day you have a slap yourself in the head moment. By making the loan non-dischargable and permitting the borrower to pay at IBR rates the lender (again, read the government) can pretend there is an actual loan that is not in default when in fact the borrower is not paying it off, will never pay it off and the loan is effectively discharged, although the discharge is deferred. So Congress can avoid telling the taxpayers it has poured billions of their dollers down a rathole, continue the current unsustainabe system that benefits no one but the universities a while longer and kick the can down the road.

    This will not end well.


  24. RPL,
    You forget the government isn't a profit center. The cost of the write off is the principal + cost of capital which is much less than 6.8%.

  25. I'd be interested to hear what happens at the end of IBR for both 10 year and 20 year settlements. Does the government pay interest to a quasi-public lender, or is it just the principal?

    I am suspicious that this process funnels taxpayer money to insolvent quasi-governmental financial institutions.

    But that's been my suspicion about everything the government has done since 2007.

  26. Perhaps it's not surprising, but it is reckless
    that those who have the most to lose (law School deans, administrators and profs) seem to view shared sacrifice as a foreign notion.

    Surely, one doesn't have to be Nostradamus to see that this gov-edu financing bubble will burst within the next 5 years.

    If those vested within the system begin scaling back compensation and other expenditures now, with the goal of reducing tuition by a minimum of 25% over the next 5 years--perhaps they can save themselves. In this particularly drab field it's more probable that a 50% tuition decrease is required--at least for the majority of institutions.

    Instead, these allegedly intelligent people seem to be blithely marching off to extinction as a sea of Cassandra's point out the foreseeable consequences. It's amazing to watch this play out. It really does seems like dialectical materialism in action.

  27. @1:21pm Excellent points all around.

  28. 1:21 True enough if the government is the direct lender but at the numbers cited by 12:28 it still doesn't make economic sense even at a lower cost of capital. If the government has guaranteed a private/quasi-governmental lender's P&I, then the loss is very real.

    terry m: doesn't it have to guaranty at least a portion of the interest to make the deal at all attractive to the lender? Getting back just your principal after 10 or 20 years is a huge loss even given today's low interest/discount rates.


  29. RPL
    You just gave a "slap in the head" moment.

    Tricia Dennis

  30. I appllied for a loan for a new rug a couple of years back. After my application was rejected the salesman shook his head and reluctantly tried Wells Fargo, who rejected me as well.

    When I got a letter a week or so later it said that my credit application was rejected due to a high "Debt To Income Ratio" meaning the student loan debt.

    In addition, my ex-wife was terrified of the large debt, and constantly woke up in the wee hours of the morning expressing concern that the "Government" was going to put a lien on, or "take" the house.

    She was also very fearful of her tax return being garnished, and her social security and pension being garnished as well.

    Speaking on behalf of one failed marriage, the Student Loan Debt caused fear, and it could not be simply rationalized or discussed away.

  31. RPL,
    Agreed regarding private lenders. My comment was intended to be prospective.

    12:28's numbers fail to consider raises and promotions so it's not a static payment for the 10 or 20 years. That's not to say it's a good deal at those numbers but that 12:28 dramatically oversimplifies the calculation. Many smart and hardworking people will rise through the ranks over 20 years and the govt may recoup a significant amount of its investment.

  32. If ibr is so easy- why are so many people in trouble with student loan debt. Can someone explain this to me? And what was the purpose of I've in the first place? To help people who can't get jobs? It sounds like it can't be this easy.

  33. Because they don't know how to play the entitlement game. All it takes is one form people, and you an be saying "fuck you" to all these bitch ass losers working 40 hours a week for $50k to pay for my vacation lifestyle.

    Fuck you morons!

  34. The payment amount required under IBR is much too generous, hopefully they will increase that percentage in the near future.

  35. 1:08 - seriously, fuck you if you think there aren't government attorneys working damn hard. A lot of us work just as much as private sector attorneys for a lot less. Seriously, go fuck yourself.

  36. So wont jdpainterguy loans be forgiven under ibr?

  37. @1:53 - beautifully written. So people who own law degrees don't always lose their writing skills....

    Another thing about IBR and working for a non-profit; I've been looking into the requirements and see no barrier against simply establishing your own charitable organization (as long as it is legally established) and showing a minimal salary, do this for ten years, and write off the bulk of your loans. This is of course if you have some sort of grey economy, under the table source of income. All of these new options are just completely open to "unethical", but fully legal loopholes. And I find no problem with that - what else would you expect from an inequitable system?

  38. RPL hit it on the money. IBR cannot go away because then the real default rate will be exposed.

  39. If debt is going to be forgiven- why keep racking up the interest? This Ibr program seems to have been poorly thought out. Racking up and capitalizing interest just means a larger amount of money has to be forgiven at the end of the term.

  40. 5:12: You think it's "fully legal" and "find no problem with" "showing a minimal salary" for debt forgiveness purposes while having a "grey economy, under the table source of income"? That high-quality legal reasoning may be why you don't have a real legal job, bro.

  41. I work in the private sector, in-house. As I sit here reading these posts, I am often amazed by how out of touch both academics, and I guess, the unemployed lawyers out there are about the legal industry.

    The reality is that in the real world a lot of unfair things happen. If you can get onto IBR, and get out of your debt, I say do it. I have worked in several private sector businesses. I have represented several mid-sized companies (I can't imagine bigger companies are better).

    They work from the same principles: (a) relationships (read they give their friends jobs and opportunities) (b) getting over on the system (read if their is an advantage they will take it. None of this waxing moral crap I see here) and (c) sometimes corruption (they will not only bend the rules, but ignore or break them, including exploiting others so long as they think they can get away with it. They hire folks like us to guarantee they can. That's why I wonder reading these comments at times how many people here have ever worked in the private sector).

    This is the reality of business. So, why are we expecting higher standards from people who have been abused by the system.

    Again, if you have the chance to be on IBR, take it. I do agree it should be pay off as you go. I agree it needs to be reformed further. In fact, I would not only change it to pay as you go, I would make it 15 years at 10 percent of income. That part of the law needs to change, and the IRS hole needs to be addressed. But, I think overall its a good idea. I

    I also don't buy the arguments about the program being taken away later- does that raise Ex Post Facto issues, or some other Con law issue like that? I don't remember Con Law that well, but I didn't think the government could change the terms of an agreement after the fact like IBR.

    Also, the reality is that even if it is taxable, you are still only paying a fraction of the debt owed. Say 100k is forgiven, what are you going to owe? Say you are taxed 28 percent? That's 28k versus 100k.

    Bruh Rabbit

  42. Bruh, re: this:

    "they will not only bend the rules, but ignore or break them, including exploiting others so long as they think they can get away with it. They hire folks like us to guarantee they can. That's why I wonder reading these comments at times how many people here have ever worked in the private sector"

    I'm an employed public sector attorney who spent some years as an associate in BigLaw. I fully agree with your statement that I quoted, and it's part of why I left BigLaw. It's for this reason that I am tremendously disgusted with the people who malign tremendously hardworking public sector attorneys* while extolling the virtues of the private sector.

    And, FWIW, I expect higher standards both from the private sector and from unemployed attorneys. I have no problem with people using IBR lawfully, but there have been repeated discussions on this blog of ways to exploit IBR fraudulently to defraud taxpayers. I condemn those suggestions wholeheartedly and hope that those who engage in them IRL will be identified and prosecuted.

    *Just because you may have encountered lazy public sector employees at, say, your local post office does not mean that those employees are representative of government attorneys.

  43. Bruh:

    Ex post facto applies only to criminal laws. This group (student loan debtors) are used to the government changing the rules in the middle of the game....see retroactive changes to student loans in late 1998. IBR is not a good deal. It should be used only by the desperate. A few reasons:

    1. The debt grows during the 25 year period prior to forgiveness. Try getting a loan FOR ANYTHING when your debt to income ratio is out of whack. If you don't believe me, ask some of the people on it.

    2. The tax discussed.

    3. Another long term K with a government that is nearing insolvency. Why would they want to help the citizenry avoid their bills?

    4. The big issue: What happens if/when someone makes big money during year 19, after capitalization? According to the rules, a person on IBR will never pay greater than the ten year standardized payment. Does the ten year time start at year 19 when the big money is made? Do people realize that it does not take a math major to understand that by those later years on IBR, all unpaid prin and interest as CAPITALIZED well beyond what was originally borrowed?

    5. What if a person inherits money from relatives in year 19? Do they have to pay the capitalized debt incurred, which again, is significantly more than what they borrowed?

    I cannot find answers to these questions. My law school cannot answer them, nor can he DOE, and my servicer is useless. Ever tried to deal with a servicer who is incompetent and drags their feet at every turn? They are not exactly interested in seeing the borrower go on IBR. These hoops have to be jumped through every year by the borrower. Read about some of the horror stories. Try being married in a CP state and apply for IBR. If your answer is to file separately, have you ever tried it? Ever seen the tax breaks lost?

    Why would I accept IBR when these questions remain unanswered?

    What you say needs reform I say needs to be abolished. IBR is another shortsighted "solution" that is another living, breathing example, of how the educational system is in this mess in the first place. Don't you think that it is a HUGE PROBLEM when people are taking on debt which cannot be supported by the jobs they get? Duh? It is just another example of a population that has no concept of loan amortization or how money works.

    What you call a good idea is a travesty.

  44. 10:18/3:13: You think you're living the "vacation lifestyle" right now. Newsflash: couches and video games aren't nearly as fun in your 40's. At some point you're going to want to...I don't know...accomplish something...even if that something is quite small and insignificant in the grand scheme.

    I'm a 'wage slave' and I don't envy your "vacation lifestyle" one tiny little bit.

  45. 4:02: the only government attorneys who think they work hard are those that have never worked in private practice.

  46. 7:34, exactly, and also, I don't believe there is even a "contract" at all with IBR, is there? As far as I know you're just supposed to select IBR as your repayment program and then pay for 20 years and THEN file your claim for loan forgiveness. I know with the public service forgiveness you have to have your employer certify every year that you're working in public interest, and then keep track of that so you can prove at the end of your 10 years that you qualify for the forgiveness. Why would Congress not be able to eliminate this program at any point? And, why would they not choose to eliminate it once the true costs to the government become clear? They're already chipping away at student benefits - see the revocation of the in-school interest subsidy for graduate students.

    I just think these people who view IBR as a panacea are seriously naive. And throwing around justifications like "there must be some kind of ex post facto Constitutional argument or something" is not what I really expect to hear from lawyers. It's more akin to what I see in the writings of pro se plaintiffs, actually.

  47. I guess 7:52 knows every state, local, and federal government attorney who has ever lived, and can prove that all of them work less hard than every private sector attorney. Pretty amazing! I'm guessing some of the lawyers at DOJ might beg to differ with the argument that they work less than those at Jacoby and Myers.

  48. Hi 7:15,

    (a) There's a tremendous amount of propaganda about working in the private sector. Unfortunately, unless one works on the legal end, most don't hear about how bad it is. there is also a tremendous amount of propaganda attacking government, even when people want government. It results in weird polling outcomes like this one:

    (b) I mostly don't care about whether fraud occurs with IBR because its one of those things that no system can completely prevent. The fact that fraud exist is not reason not to have a program. That's simply cost benefit analysis. You don't design a business model based on small risks, but people often use the 5 percent chance of fraud in government as an excuse for why a program should not exist. I wouldn't even care if its 25 percent because the benefit to society still work outweigh the cost.

    Don't get me wrong. I understand your point. I just am not swayed that it should affect the program. the problem when you get into discussions of fraud is that people don't weight the risk of fraud so we end up creating rules that harm everyone for a small percentage.

    Bruh Rabbit

  49. 7:52: you're completely incorrect and very ignorant. I'm 4:02 - and I am a government attorney who is a BigLaw alum. Fully agree with 8:00.

  50. Bruh @ 8:04:

    No quarrel with your latest post, generally speaking. I would want to know how prevalent the fraud was before I could fully agree with your point (b): 5 percent is okay, but 25 percent would concern me.

  51. Hi 7:34,

    (a) You do realize that I said there should be further reform to make it "pay as you go"? That means that for each month of payment one has loan forgiven by a percentage until the full time is up rather than waiting until the end. One important issue here is if you aren't going to read what I actually wrote, then there's not much real conversation we can have since you are essentially debating straw men arguments. Respond to my actual comments.

    (b) You do realize you aren't arguing against the idea of IBR? You arguing it does not go far enough. That it should happen faster rather than waiting. Since that's what I actually already said in my prior post, once again your reading the comment, or asking questions if you didn't understand would go a long way to saving both of us time. Its easy to be all outrage, and nothing else. As for your hypos, you are a lawyer right? You do realize some of these questions wouldn't have answers due to the newness of the law. Nor am I terribly sympathetic to some of the hypos you raise because the overall value of a loan forgiveness program outweighs in a cost-benefit analysis way the draw backs.

    Again, if you want to say it needs to be reformed to help even further, I am all on board that.

    But, if this is one of those strange up is down, and white is black arguments that says because IBR isn't the way we want it to be that the idea of loan forgiveness itself is bad, then you lose me completely. There's no economic rationality behind such an argument. Even if its less than stellar state right now, its still marginally better than the status quo.

    As I have said many times before, and the site can tell you this, I am not an incrementalist. I believe that in fact the system needs to be change wholesale so that education is cheap and or free for Americans because education cost should not be a factor in one's ability to contribute to the greater economy. No more than health care cost should be.

    However, for those who are arguing for incrementalism, like student loans are the problem, let's do away with that first, then its up to you, if you are such a person to explain why this isn't incremental reform.

    Warning: ranting about how I am an idiot or how horrendous this is without proving it is a waste of your time and mine.

    (c) I am not sure Ex post facto issues or whatever it is called when you change a contract after the fact are limited to criminal law.

    Bruh Rabbit

  52. re Hours in practicing law

    Hours vary wildly from type of government agency to type of law firm to type of in-house attorney position.

    The overreaction to the fact that some government lawyers work long hours is

    (a) kind of stupid int hat Puritanist work ethic way that I find annoying because ultimately who cares if one works long hours or short hours? I would rather have someone work short hours doing something constructive for our society than half the crap that private sector lawyers do. We are often working the long hours trying to figure out a way to get our corporate client's loopholes that the rest of the American public don't have the money to buy.

    (b) Clearly represents a problem with the way Americans think. They always worried that someone else is getting over on them rather than asking how the system overall is working for all of us? I am sure the guys who work at, for example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or some civil rights group, or at, the FDA, or what ever, are worth a lot more to me as a citizen than the guys who work at some random white shoe law firm.

    So part of the issue here is assessing value. To me, the hours alone does not determine value. That's a very blue collar way of looking at the world. If we were working in factories, that might be a good thing. From lawyers? Not so much.

    Bruh Rabbit

  53. 8:07

    I am not saying I wouldn't be concerned at all with 25 percent. I am saying that it would not be my primary concern. I think the problem with most Americans is they don't know how to do basic cost benefit analysis or risk management analysis. Both are essential to operating in our modern economy. Unfortunately, it took me until after law school to develop the talents for these two areas, but they have given me a much more clear understanding of how to assess a program like IBR. Its better than nothing,b ut needs a lot of reform, but that reform should not be focused on fraud issues. That's my sense of the big picture.

    Bruh Rabbit

  54. Bruh:

    I was the poster at 7:34. Before I begin....for someone who just wants their questions answered, you come across as very testy and defensive. Lighten up and try not to take yourself so seriously. You come across as a thin-skinned douche. This profession seems to attract many thin-skinned douches. Again, lighten up.

    A few points:

    Yes, I read your pay-as-you go proposal. Don't like it. Why? As I mentioned in my posting, a person has to apply for IBR each and every year. I could only imagine how the pay as you go proposal would confuse the hell out of any governmental entity or servicer.

    Could you imagine?

    If you read through my comment, you would have have seen that I suggested IBR only if the borrower was facing default. I don't think it is better than the status quo because it gives the borrower a false sense of security. In some ways it is worse. Just look at the earlier asswipe bragging about being on IBR. Dude is gonna get a little surprise later on in life. Of course, he was stupid enough to borrow 230K.

    My solutions:

    1. Abolish IBR, PSLF, ICR, and any other creative government programs.

    2. Restore BK protections to all student loans, including truth in lending requirements, elimination of capitalized interest, and all applicable SOLs. I call this the Collinge rule.

    3. Have the government lend to the schools at 1% fixed. The schools lend to the students at 2% fixed. The difference (1%) is set aside by each individual school for future loans. The schools and the student are on the hooks for these loans. In the event the student cannot pay, the school is on the hook for the loan. The schools become the bank and the servicer. Fed gov is still the originator. After 10 years, the student is off the hook regardless of whether or not they paid off the entire debt during that time. If money is left over, the school pays it.

    The contracts clause prohibits states from passing laws that hinder contract rights. The K clause does not apply to the federal government. Federal loans are federal contracts. I am unclear as to your reasoning here.

    The federal government can change these federal contracts anytime it wants which is why it passed RETROACTIVE laws making loans that were already signed for and disbursed non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. See Clinton amendents to the HEA in October, 1998.

  55. @6:36 fails at comprehension while questioning somebody else's reasoning....bro. Too bad you can't figure out what part was deemed legal, bro. The internet, so full of idiots.

  56. And to think that there will be people so surprised they'll be doing fucking fish faces on the news when this all collapses. Exactly how publicized does something have to be before people smarten up and realize it's not a good idea - either to borrow or lend? What a joke. I always thought money was the one area where people acted sort of rationally. I mean, I know people eat McDonalds all the time even though it will kill you in a matter of days. But this is a whole new irrationality. I can't wait for the headlines. Fact is, the eventual disaster makes very little difference to me. It's all the same in the end at this point. What do I care if the world implodes? Amusement and outrage will genuinely compete for the upper hand when this news finally comes, and I genuinely don't know which will win the day.

  57. 9:42

    (a) Look up Ad Hominem attack.

    (b) You don't like further reform such as pay as you go because you make up a combination of a straw man argument and a slippery slope. Indeed, your entire argument is 'I don't trust government," which adds a third logical fallacy, argument by assertion.

    (c)Your "solution" is we should limit IBR? Why exactly? Because you say its not better because some random guy who you use an Ad Hominem against says something you don't like. We should base an entire system based on a subset of the population. Not on the value of the program itself, but some random guy on a blog. Why not just argue we should make policy on tea leaves next. I am joking. Sort of.

    (d) Your other solutions- we should have bankruptcy, but not IBR. I didn't know we were engaging in false choices- either bankruptcy or IBR, not both unless its for some more limited use. Why? Because.

    (e) More solutions: Let's make the schools even more like markets. Or, one can go back to when schools were focused on being schools, and the state governments were focued on the public good by , oh, I don't know, funding education so the student loans aren't necessary in the first place. But, you are a real brain trust. Must smarter than us douches and asswipes. We all know its far better to worry about financing than cutting the actual cost of education to the individual.

    (f) I am not going to get into the con law issues because I said I don't pretend to be an expert. I do find it funny that the conservative argument against IBR is that one day the government will cut it as a program, and therefore, its bad now due that future cut that we totally can prevent from happening. But, I know. You can't. Because none of you here are conservatives pushing an agenda that relies on neoliberalism. I know- these are all labels, but douches and thin skinned is totally me.

    Bruh Rabbit.

  58. 10:38 really are a douche. A last wordo el doucho.

  59. Bruh - I always agree with you and respect your intelligence until you start bringing in the "incrementalist", ideological, the-good-old-days arguments. Your IBR solutions can be argued away as incrementalist and bringing in ideology and larger systemic questions is a good way of never getting anything accomplished. First make the easy fixes with IBR and student loans and then you can get into your culture war. Show your ideology through your policy choices.

  60. IBR is a bad idea economically that compounds the college, law school and graduate school mess, where the US finds itself sending too many kids to college to "study" subjects, but in reality to waste time and money:

    "The Collegiate Learning Assessment reveals that some 45 percent of students in the sample had made effectively no progress in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing in their first two years...Students reported spending twelve hours a week, on average, studying—down from twenty-five hours per week in 1961 and twenty in 1981. Half the students ... had not taken a course that required more than twenty pages of writing in the previous semester... a third had not even taken a course that required as much as forty pages a week of reading."see,
    To this end we are extending massive loans to many of them - even as undergraduates. Many of them are incurring in some schools an average of for their school of more than $20,000 in their first year off college - some even more. see,
    The result is children, 18 year olds, are taking on large debts - and continuing to do so for 4 years. At the end of this period many are no more educated than they were at the beginning, no more productive. Then the most talented amongst this group, the fraction that have worked hard, the group that do well on the GRE, GMAT and LSAT are persuaded that they must have a graduate degree, an MFA, JD or MBA for which supply totally outstrips demand. But now we suggest that these graduate students - most of whom have been pre-law (i.e., they have studied some combination of political science, english, history, economics and psychology) and thus have gained no major marketable skills, that they should in fact borrow even more than they did as undergraduates. And so these otherwise bright young adults spend 3+ more years in an education system doing nothing productive.

    So where does that leave the US Economy. Well it has taken its brightest 18 year olds - sent them to college to get a largely pointless undergraduate degree - and then it took the best of those and sent them to another school for another 3 years - where they gained knowledge of no value in a market already glutted with people with the same knowledge, and they too did nothing for 7 years but consume. And here we are, with a bunch of unemployable lawyers and indeed other people with graduate degrees.

    At the end of this the students education has cost say the thick end of $120,000 under graduate and $140,000 graduate (leaving out living expenses), and lost likely economic production of say $30,000 a year (and that is conservative - remember we are talking bright adults here) for 7-year deficit of at least $210,000 - a cost of $470,000 over that time frame. How can we assess most of the $470,000 as wasted - because the market is not willing to pay the graduate for the "skills" and "knowledge" he or she putatively acquired - not enough to cover the interest on the capital expended (even leaving put the savings and non/borrowed money.) The education was not worth what was paid for it.

    Now along comes IBR, which is a program that says, essentially, if you choose TODAY to enrol in school and borrow lots of money to be "pre-law" and then more money to go to law school - and on its face the education you are buying is overpriced - that's OK, the US taxpayer and the US economy will absorb the cost. So off you go, waste the money.

    The problem with IBR is that it compounds the student loan problem because it maintains the over-demand for over-priced law school (and college) education, delaying the necessary economic adjustment where colleges and law-schools shrink, re-allocate to more economically valuable courses, and cut tuition to a level that reflects the value of what they are selling.


  61. That CLA also showed a gap between students at elite schools and those at non-elite schools in terms of how much they improved their critical thinkIng skills during college. The kids at elite schools learned more during college. Students who majored in the humanities or the sciences came out of college with better skills than those who majored in business. It makes a real difference where you go to school.

  62. Poor educational goals and methods are separate issues from the cost of school. Also, you're underestimating the effect of capitalized interest over two decades on a person's life.

  63. RPL hit it perfectly, and I thought the same thing when I first read about the terms of IBR.

    Long term, it helps no one, least of all the tax payer. People are still enslaved to this debt. Short term, if someone is on IBR, then they are not in default. If 20% of people are on IBR, that means that 20% of people are not in default. To me it's no more than an accounting gimmick designed to mask the true problem, much like how, for some reason, we don't count the long term unemployed in the unemployment % because they are not "actively seeking employment." ???

    So, IBR keeps another bubble from bursting, and averts another financial crisis, at least temporarily. Short term, that might not be so bad. I don't know if our economy could handle another trillion dollar debt crisis right now, and maybe that's what the politicians are thinking, too. Or maybe they just don't have the stomach or cajones to deal with another crisis so close to 2008. Either way, the crisis has been swept under the rug, at least for the moment.

    But the problem is still there. Long term, I fear for my generation. The student loan debt and national debt mean there are some pretty massive bills to pay. How are we going to pay for it? I don't know. At this point I think its clear that our generation will be worse off than our parents. The only question to me, at this point, is to what degree.

  64. IBR is to student loans what ARMs were to subprime mortgages. Both were created to prop up demand. We saw how it worked out in the mortgage market.

  65. At this point I think its clear that our generation will be worse off than our parents. The only question to me, at this point, is to what degree.

    Did you see or read "The Road."

    Best case, England (a once great empire).

    Worst case, beyond thunderdome.

    Not completely joking about worst case. We live in a fragile and complex economy. An economy so indebted that there is no case for all debts being paid in full, or even a high percentage of debts being paid in full.

    If you read the works of nassaim taleb and others, there is a real possibility that an external shock can cause untold calamity.

  66. "Not completely joking about worst case."

    Then you're an idiot.

  67. Interesting posts & comments, but I have few major critiques:

    1) First, the radical decision described in the original post suffers from a LOT of problems beyond those described. Not least of them: I'm not sure how one would save for retirement or have sufficient money to help out ailing relatives. Those types of obligations really restrict people from opting out of the money-career game.

    2) Second, it's always been the case that one can opt-out of the money-career game; you don't need to acquire tons of debt to do so. You always can decide that money and credit rating aren't as important as other values: that might lead you to becoming a Catholic Worker, an artist, or any number of things. I really respect that, but people who went to law school already rejected that calculus years ago; I doubt they're ready to change.

    3) I'm very sympathetic to critiques of our current social and economic system and that it subordinates too many people (debt is just one example). As a result, I've spent most of my life listening to people saying that things are getting bad enough to lead to revolution, etc. I seriously doubt that. Our system has proven remarkably resilient, and it's a mistake to think that many people are in desperate enough straights to give up what they have. Most people will cling to what they have (no matter how little) rather than risk it all. Don't kid yourself (and also, don't wish for it; revolutionary change often ends badly).

    4) 10:16, etc. Your attitude does undermine the support in this Country for social welfare systems, and honestly, I strongly suspect that you're a troll (in other words, I'm skeptical that you're who you claim to be). In any event, the United States has a relatively weak social welfare state. You assert that you are now a "social welfare bum." Good luck with that: I have a strong suspicion you're going to have to work hard to get by with a relatively low income subjected to the repayment terms of IBR. That's true even if you never manage to pay off your debt. In other words, as an outside viewer, your situation is a sad one, not one the rest of us will envy. Once again, don't kid yourself.

  68. 1:08 pm: Many government workers do work very hard for substantially lower salaries. They often are compensated in different ways (feeling of fulfillment from serving the public, greater job security, (sometimes) greater autonomy over day-to-day life, more interesting work, etc.). But, they often work very hard. As a government attorney, I know that my hours often are comparable or exceed those of friends at BigLaw and opposing counsel who are paid substantially more. Some government workers work very hard; if you think otherwise, you're delusional (likely for ideological reasons).

    More strange is your accusation of "nepotism." Unlike the private sector, the federal government actually has an incredible number of rules and restrictions that really reduce the risk of "nepotism" affecting hiring. I actually can't think of any of my co-workers who even could be the product of nepotism (i.e., they aren't related to anyone who would have provided them a connection). In contrast, nepotism in private firms is relatively common. Private firms have fewer procedures and remedies in place to discourage it. Indeed, many people tell you to play up family connections in interviews with private firms (not at all the advice you'll receive for an interview with the government). To be honest, this accusation mostly establishes that you don't know what you're talking about.

  69. 11:06,

    I am not favoring incremental reform. I am questioning why those who claim to be for incremental reform are against it in this case. I've made my actual position clear several times: (a) Forgive the debt; (b) Cut tuition cost by restoring education funding cut by the states. These two things would solve the problem. However, I have been told this must happen by increments. Hence, the objectively looking at incremental reform. Its not what I want. its what those who post here claim explain the odd fixation on market based solutions for those who claim they aren't ideological. I simply don't believe at this point, despite the constant denial that you aren't ideologues. I am not looking to break bread with people who can't be honest. Indeed, how do I know folks here can't be honest? For one, you keep distorting what I write here. If you aren't going to respond to what I actually say, you need to examine why that's the case.

    Bruh Rabbit

  70. An example by MacK of the ideological arguments masquerading as "reform" here:

    "The problem with IBR is that it compounds the student loan problem because it maintains the over-demand for over-priced law school (and college) education, delaying the necessary economic adjustment where colleges and law-schools shrink, re-allocate to more economically valuable courses, and cut tuition to a level that reflects the value of what they are selling."

    "Reallocate to more economically valuable courses" is very much in the neoclassical arguments about market efficient allocation, and market distortions caused by the government. Which is interesting given most education in the U.S. is by the government.

    First IBR isn't designed for law school alone. its meant to address the wider issue of education tuition finance reform in general. You take what is a general policy increment toward loan forgiveness to argue that in your specific case, due to the separate issue of too many lawyers, its still will not produce increment, which makes zero sense. You are arguing about a different point, but conflate the two by trying to argue that the solution will derive from treating a function of goverment (education) like its a market rather than directly making your point about "too many lawyers" to the gate keepers of how many lawyers are in the country.

    Your argument about allocation of courses makes little sense if you aren't arguing there are too many lawyers.

    You are arguing that there needs to be fewer law schools, and this will yield fewer lawyers. This is a different point than we hope market based solutions will reach the goal of reducing the number of law schools. The alternative to all of this market based approach is to actually put pressure on the government to force the ABA to cut out some fo the schools through the ABA's function of regulating the schools.

    IBR is wider than law schools, and thus must be examined not just in terms of "what it in for me" but what's in it for loan forgiveness in education tuition cost in general.

    So long as there are all these issues being conflated and focused solely on law school, then the arguments here will always tend to distort and miss the point. If you want feweer lawyers go after the ABA and the Dept of Education to force them to close law schools directly rather than relying on market efficiecy arguments to do so, you hope, in multiple steps after you have already damaged more students.

    Bruh Rabbit

  71. 8:35

    Much of the comments about government attorneys comes from stuff that people say to each other and believe is true because they have read on sites like JDU. This is why you also see the strange posts engaged in romantic delusions about police officer, ADA, and teacher's pay. In short, I wouldn't take it personally. It has no connection to reality, and I doubt you are going to change the mind of anyone willing to believe such things since the entire obssession comes out of irrational beliefs rather than data.

    Bruh Rabbit

  72. I agree 8:24. It's easy and, for some people, romantic to wish for revolution if you've never experienced the chaos, violence, rape, and murder that accompanies them. As tough as things have gotten, modern Americans have no idea what that is like. And in every generation, we're always about to come to "the end times", seeing signs of The Rapture around the corner.

  73. 8:24

    (1) I know this site is about law school, but the idea that education reform should be based on such narrow issues is just beyond screwed up. We are to ignore the impact of policies on social workers (who must get MSW degrees), teachers (who must get degrees), psychologists, and myriad of other professions that do not pay well because lawyers (which isn't even a true assumption) collectively made the decision that they care about money.

    (3) People are in fact getting more desperate, but I agree that its not going to lead to any kind of revolution.

    What will happen is that they will take more desperate measure to maintain the illusion. That's why I am against piecemeal solutions, and would be pushing now for a revitalized welfare state rather than the Neo-liberal nightmare we presently live in which people are expected in this economic environment to make decisions about debt to finance education. In other words, welfare state would not place peoeple into such debt, but Neo-liberal ideas about education as markets, would.

    See the following:

    "This new narrative has been produced (and necessitated) by the withdrawal of the state from the funding of its so-called public
    universities. If the percentage of a state’s contribution to a college’s operating expenses falls from 80 to 10 and less (this has
    been the relentless trajectory of the past 40 years) and if, at the same time, demand for the “product” of higher education rises and the
    cost of delivering that product (the cost of supplies, personnel,information systems, maintenance, construction, insurance, security)
    skyrockets, a huge gap opens up that will have to be filled somehow.

    Faced with this situation universities have responded by (1) raising tuition, in effect passing the burden of costs to the students who now become consumers and debt-holders rather than beneficiaries of enlightenment (2) entering into research partnerships with industry and thus courting the danger of turning the pursuit of truth into the pursuit of profits and (3) hiring a larger and larger number of short-term, part-time adjuncts who as members of a transient and disposable workforce are in no position to challenge the university’s practices or agitate for an academy more committed to the realization of democratic rather than monetary goals. In short , universities have embraced neoliberalism."

    We are being pushed into worse and worse terms precisely because of a reliance on market based ideas like if people are exposed to cost they will not take out loans with even worse terms.

    This is why the real solution has to come from a stronger rather than weaker welfare state. Whatever can be said of countries abroad, at least their young are not being made more desperate due to education cost adding to the burden merely because they choose to get an education.

    Bruh Rabbit

  74. If you think that widespread strife isn't a possibility you don't understand history.

    Rome fell. It happened.

    The earth is poc-marked with failed civilizations. And those civilizations didn't have the collapse jet fuel of petroleum dependency and attenuated supply chains. If the ATM stops spitting out twenties things get ugly in a hurry.

    NYC has about three days of food. What would happen if Iran attacked Israel and Israel nuked everyone they perceived as a threat, causing oil to spike to infinity per barrel.

    We are resilient, but we are not impervious. If you don't think collapse is possible you're just as irrational as the "rapture" folks.

  75. Revolution does not mean violence. Nor does order mean a lack of violence. These are American middle class beliefs projected onto the terms. Both can lead to destruction, or positive results. Its the context that matters.

  76. Yes, "Terry Malloy", civilizations rise and fall... as a result of revolutions and for other reasons as well. Everyone knows that. It's also true that human beings have apocalyptic visions of the fall of their "civilizations" every year, like clockwork. In some eras it makes more sense than others. I've seen people on this site compare themselves to the 600,000 who perished in the American Civil War, or refer to themselves as the "Lost Generation", a term coined to describe the millions of young men unlucky enough to have been born roughly between 1894 and 1900 in Western Europe.

    These are very tough times, and no one knows what will happen. But keeping a sense of perspective might help. As Bruh Rabbit suggests ( I can't believe I just wrote that) many of our problems are political in nature and could be solved through political action. The public could have a say about the withdrawal of public support for public institutions. But, so far, many Americans have bought into the notion that government is bad, and is on our backs. So, we've seen attacks upon publicly funded higher education and the rush to privatize things for which only the rich can pay comfortably, like education. We had a good reasonably priced higher education before. We could do it again, if people wanted that.

  77. 8:24 responding to some responsive comments:

    1) I don't disagree that we need a fairly major change in higher education both from a pedagogical perspective (it needs to be more oriented towards people finding practical and fulfilling employment outside school) and a funding perspective (I would strongly support increasing direct funding of public educational institutions). Our current program suffers from most of the perversions that accompany neo-liberal, crony-capitalism, privatization policy.

    I support those changes, and that places me well to the left of the political spectrum. At the same time, they're not revolutionary (as the word is typically used in the political context). They're changes that would be accomplished through typical, continual political organizing, influencing elections, and tweaking one aspect of our current society. I also think that partially achieving them would likely take decades. One benefit to being far-left is that I've come to realize that substantial improvement in public policy takes time, patience, and constant fighting. Injustices last a very long time and take a long time to overturn. I've noticed my more centrist friends who become engaged with a single great injustice (e.g., discrimination against gays, etc.) get impatient faster than I do because they don't have the perspective that comes with often being on the extreme end of a political spectrum.

    Positive change doesn't often happen through revolution, and studying revolutions shows that they rarely achieve long-term social progress. Instead, they generally either replace the people at the top of the hierarchy with new people or create a new hierarchy which is also incredibly unjust.

    2) I don't disagree that our society could fall or suffer a revolution. But, I seriously doubt that the student debt crisis would precipitate one or even be a primary factor in creating one. One risk in getting really involved in a progressive movement is beginning to imagine that the injustice is suffered more widely than it is. One also starts to imagine that it is more painful for its sufferers than many of them experience it. I just don't think that the student debt crisis will suffice for really revolutionary action.

  78. 8:35: Bruh Rabbit: thanks for directing me to JDU. I searched their discussions about government attorneys, and you're right, a lot of them are completely delusional.

    My favorite was the one where a DOJ lawyer allegedly did no work for 7 years AND allegedly made close to a million dollars in that time! Setting aside the theory that he did "no work" for 7 years (completely implausible to anyone who's worked in a government litigating department), even if he started at GS-15 (very unlikely), he never could have made close to $1 million in 7 years! A simple google search on salaries establishes the story is false, but they still believed it!

  79. 10:14,

    All I have ever said on this site is that the focus on student loans rather than the underlying problem of the cost of education (traditionally a state function in the 20th Century) is a mistake. I am playing devil's advocate with the incremental reforms ideas like IBR. The point is that they all run into the same problem. The problem is that they are indirect solutions ripe with assumptions that may be wrong to the problem of the cost of education being passed along to individual students rather than being covered by state governments, which did education cheaper than student loan backed financing did it. I don't see why that can not simply be the argument. That its cheaper to have the state pay for education for families and students. In response to the heavy propaganda to get people vote against their interest by pushing for student loan financed education rather than state education, the answer can not be to focus on something other than the source of the problem like arguing for market based "they will one day find wisdom" solutions. I don't think you can lead people to water, and they will drink here. I think they need to consistently here why education is expensive rather than buying into arguments that fog up the reason why its so expensive. People here seem to think that the public will react in a rational way if student loans are gone. I am not convinced of that. Nor am I convinced rthat the only two choices are no education or an expensive system. Like you said, we did it before (and continue to do in in cases like CUNY Law) so why can't we do it again?


    Patience is not always a virtue, and progress and change for the better is not always inevitable. Most change tends to happen , in the US, so far, in fast spurts with long periods of no change. The Black Civil Rights movement although it existed throughout after the freeing of the slaves, happened in spurts. First in the 1930s/40s, then again in the 1960s , The period in between lacked any significant change. Patience didn't win the day outside of may be the Brown v Board decision.


    Unfortunately, a lot of the people suffering now grew up under Reaganism, and its affect on how they think is pervasive. Many issues, with the internet, can be looked up these days. Its like my friend who told me that our private health care system is the best health care system in the world. I politely asked her had she Googled the subject recently? She kept saying its just true. If you believe, "government is always bad," pretty much even when suffering, most people double down on their beliefs rather than digging to find out what the right answer might be. The same friend blames the government for being corrupted by the financial sector, but does not blame the financial sector for corrupting the government.

    IMO, so long as there is this imbalance in what are possible solutions allowed on the table, it will be hard to find solutions. Unfortunately, the anti-government attorney comments arise out of the same thinking process as "government is always bad."

    Bruh Rabbit

  80. Still saying fuck you as my only worry is how to spend all my free time.

  81. Bruh Rabbit:

    In the US you are faced with a choice - either stop artificially pumping up demand for law school education by: (a) publishing dubious statistics that imply that law is a golden path; (b) making essentially unlimited student loans available for all; (c) providing IBR for those who are suckered into paying too much for a JD (or other degree). If you look at US colleges, many are closing their engineering and science programs because these are less profitable for two reasons: (i) they cost about 5 times as much to run as a liberal arts course (teaching ratios are very high, including lab techs, and labs are expensive, while science and engineering profs are expensive and like expensive equipment) and, (ii) for whatever reason they are unattractive to US students with big checks to sign over. There is of course an alternative - just intervene in the economy another way and order 1/2 the law-schools to close tomorrow, along with psych and poli-sci courses - but in the US that is not a viable system.

    If education was in the US wholly state funded that too would allow the government to do what some other governments do and tell colleges how many majors they will pay for in different subjects - but it is not, and it is not going to be anytime soon, because it is politically untenable - and I would note that in many European state funded systems there is still overproduction of law graduates, as well as sociology, psych, poli-sci, economics, history, national-language and in the UK the infamous media studies (communications) as well as the infamous business undergrads. But for the US IBR is a putting "bandaid on a sucking chest-wound" while continuing the shoot the patient.

    If the US needed the mix of graduates that it is currently producing and underwriting with its student loan system, or college tuition was at sensible levels (undergraduate and graduate) - there would be no need for IBR - those graduates would be paid enough to justify the cost of their education and the opportunity costs for their time in education. I work in technology-law and I have been the GC of a tech company whose products are definitely in your pocket - and in your laptop. Tech has a core difficulty in the US - too few US kids are getting the education that is needed for a lot of jobs - and so they are hiring on H1B Visas and setting up where they can find them (a lab in Bangalore is not really cheaper anymore than one in the US or Europe, and people are actually looking in Poland.) The student loan system is creating a serious miss-match between what the US needs and what it is getting - and that is dragging the economy, reducing demand for the liberal arts grads and poli-sci majors who see my point as driven by ideology rather than a hard look at the issue. Somehow I suspect Bruh that you did Poli-Sci - might a make a suggestion that you unlearn some of what your were taught - not everything is a nail.

    By the way, I am not saying that college education or graduate school is bad - just that it has become too expensive and too many people are being incentivized to study the wrong subjects while the US is increasingly short on graduate degrees (and undergrad) engineers and scientists, and skilled trades.

    @8:24 and 9:22 - I found myself in a DC bar eating dinner last week (she who must was travelling) - and the woman on my left at the bar struck up a conversation. She was in her late 50s or 60s with her husband, a retiring insurance executive - they were moving to Palm Springs. A clear member of fox nation (maybe she was at CPAC - they were in DC around then) she started complaining about how awful Obama was - and trotting out the usual government is the problem, the root of all things wrong and we need to get rid of government (and a lot of complaining about Obama.) I responded with my mother's favorite response - if you think government is the problem - why don't you spend a week in Mogadishu - try a little no government for a while. She did not take it that well....


  82. MacK

    Part 1

    (1) IBR was not designed to specifically address law school education cost. It was designed to address education cost in general.

    (2) You decide before hand what the options are. This is the Obama "We can't have Medicare For All because its not in the American tradition." Except, of course, we already do have Medicare. Or, we can't nationalizes banks although we already do through receivership. We already do determine what is happening with schools. The ABA is governed by the Department of Education. I am merely suggesting put some light on that fact and explain why, which would be a lot faster than waiting on the magical thinking that (1) the market will do it by (2) people being in so much pain that they will realize on their own why they are in pain, and will (3) Do the right things about it. Each one of these steps would need to be met for the student loan strategy to work. The first one alone is highly questionable, and the later two assumptions borders on magical thinking. Not to mention that its a convoluted solution to a problem that you can address more directly by actually advocating for the direct solution rather than deciding with your crystal ball which argument if consistently pushed will work with the public.

    (3) I am not worried about the overproduction of lawyers. That's your concern. I am worried about the risk that receiving a degree of any kind, including a law degree, will lead to financially devastating results because it requires people to bet or roll the dice on education, the precursor to whatever career they might have, rather than leave the gambling to the actual work force.

    The fact that the last 30-years has been about slow dismantling of the very system that you say can not possibly exist in the U.S. tells me that its possible to dismantle the dismantling. The idea that we can't is just pure defeatism masquerading as received wisdom.

    Bruh Rabbit

  83. MacK

    Part 2

    Let me once again link to how people misunderstand what they see with the American public:

    What this says to me is that arguments that the American public might actually buy are often fogged up by general platitudes and beliefs. You are so busy trying to argue based on the notion that Americans would not buy certain arguments that you end up making it harder to even argue positions that would lead to better results. "You" here is plural. This is a repeated problem in the last 30 years in American politics. Moving the Overton Window towaards the right for both "I believe these policies reasons" and "I don't believe I can get any better reasons"

    (4) In other words, you make a ton of assumptions, decide unilaterally that certain policy choices are off the table, and then decide, therefore education is too expensive. Sure, if we ignore the fact you made a ton of assumptions, decided unilaterally to take certain policy choices off the table because ... well you believe they aren't choices and therefore they aren't. Again, the plural you.

    With that kind of approach, it really do not matter whether you are a conservative true believer or merely defeatist in attitude. The effect is the same.

    (5) Your comments about the raise to the bottom in terms of shopping for cheaper wages has little to do with the process for education other than education was repackaged in the 90s as a way to address the globalization that neoliberals pushed through Clinton onto the American public. Well globalization and a lack of an industrial policy like say that of Germany. But that's far afield of this site.

    (6) I double majored in Biology (specifically genetics. If you still don't know what that means. it means I looked at the basic science of things like research into novel therapies for fighting cancer through targeted medications like the newer ones for breast cancer) and Political Economics. I have friends with PhDs in science. others with masters inc omputer science. The pressures we are discussing exist throughout the american economy. Nice try though.

    What I suspect ofyou is that you can't really respond to someone who challenges you. These are complex issues. But you have all these simple minded solutions based on assumptions that you just know are true. If anything is goingto change in this society, the first thing that must happen in challenging assumptions like those you hold.

    Bruh Rabbit

  84. Bruh - We've had this discussion before. I rarely see anyone bring out the market solution argument. Anyone in this thread? And good luck with the state funding, this is just not the right atmosphere for funding higher education even though it would go a long way in restoring the economy. I think for now attaching various cost controls to student loans and maybe even reinstating bankruptcy are the real options for awhile.

  85. To give you an example of the betting

    My friend is a chemical engineer. He had difficultied finding a job when he got out because he got out when the economy went under.

    This projections were different when he started his degree

    IN the US there's a kind of arms race going on for the level of qualifications one must have to do a job.

    Even in the sciences, it depends on which area of science you go into. Right now, all the projections are for computer science majors will continue to grow, but if people started to enter that market in higher numbers, and with the pressure from abroad for lower wages, that may shift, and even for those who are lucky to get a job, the cost of having obtained the degree still needs to be addressed.

    Incidentally, the reason Employers like H1b visas is because they are more easy to control than AMerican workers since the H1b holder can be threatened with losing their status for staying in the U.S. if they don't do what the employer tells them to do. I had this happen with an Indian friend working for a small biotech company.

  86. 12:04

    I doubt many of you even understand that you are making market solutions even while claiming you aren't, and you contradict yourself in the very next sentence by playing the game of taking choices unilaterally off the table, but then saying "but I am not advocating for the market.' If there are 5 choices possible, and you unilaterally take 3 off the table, it hardly matters if you think you are arguing for the remaining 2 choices are not. Its the effect of whatyou are doing. This is an issue of basic logic at this point. What exactly do you think you are doing when you make the unilateral decision to exclude certain possibilities?

    I get it. You aren't for market based solutions. You are just against discussing choices that you have decided will not convince others. Why do you k now this? Because you do.

    Like Obama knew people were against Medicare for All. In short, you creating self fulfilling outcome.

  87. Mr. Entitlement Guy:

    You're not kidding anyone. Set aside IBR: how are you getting by? If you're really unemployed, then your unemployment benefits (if you're eligible) or welfare benefits (if you're eligible) are going to run out eventually. Moreover, it's not much money. You can't go out or do a lot of the things that those of us who are employed can do.

    Moreover, you're clearly a conservative troll, because you've gotten the ressentiment down cold. You seem to think that the worst thing the rest of us can imagine is that someone, somewhere, is getting some benefits that they aren't due. Whatever. Personally, if you are telling the truth and you are happy, then the rest of us aren't that worried about it; we don't sit around worrying about other people's potentially unearned happiness. Of course, your anger and fury strongly suggest that you're not happy.

  88. Expenses can be quite low and you can get plenty of money and benefits if you play the entitlement system. I probably have the disposable income of someone making $25,000 per year, with benefits. Add IBR and I make much much more, off your back you dumb loser bitch! Keep working that shit job and losing your hair as I spend all day with my feet up chillin. Fuck you dumbasses!

  89. Brush- you seem to have a problem understanding the difference between judging what may be politically feasible today and personal ideology and desire for change. Those two are not te same. I am starting to agree with the guy who dismisses you as condescending. Just because I'm making a judgment about what is possible to fix under the current political atmosphere does not mean I'm pushing market solutions, in fact, last I heard, insisting on more govt regulation of the education system and student loans are quite the opposite of market solutions.

    You need to do more listening and less talking.

  90. Bruh Rabbit

    Why don't you just ....

    The only poster here who regularly pushed out ideology is you - a sort of poor man's Santorum - or is it Gingrich. And by the way I will raise your double biology a physic/chemistry/math.

    You are an ideological obsessive - denouncing anyone who says anything pragmatic as ideological - while making statements that are little more than twaddle and fantasy masquerading as fanaticism.

    There is zero possibility that the US government will embrace full public funding of college or graduate level education ... it is not going to happen. There is also zero possibility that the US government will directly intervene to direct the colleges to lower tuition or close courses and schools that are traps for students bearing loan checks. It is not going to happen - but this is the saw that you continuously play, denouncing as ideological anyone that does not push your personal manifesto... a little rich, or perhaps a little ....

    Even in the short term putting some sort of "leash" on the student loan system will be difficult because of the degree to which the entire US college and university system has come to depend on it ... constrain student loans and a lot of colleges will literally go bust. IBR is an effort to "kick a can down the road" because already there are signs that 18 and 22 year olds are balking at borrowing so much money to go to college and grad school. My point was simply - it simply lets the problem get worse. Your response is to "whine" ideology.

    Who is ideological here .... maybe you should retire ideology from you packed little cliché bag - it will still have a lot more junk in it.


  91. @12:04 the problem with a market solution is it is not easy to just "whip away" a market distorting externality like the student loan system or IBR. First, you have to decide what you do about students already on a track driven by the existing student loan system - do you grandfather it - is that fair to the next group.

    Second, you need to recognise how dependent the US college system has become on student loans. Almost everything that you can propose to constrain the student loan system - ending the bankruptcy protection, introducing real market forces would have the effect of dramatically curtailing the amount of money flowing to colleges and grad schools. A lot would literally collapse within a short time - you would see colleges and graduate schools including law schools going bust. Now closing half of the law schools might be a good thing - and indeed - but everything?

    Moreover, given the nature of US college funding - mostly private - that is not going to change anytime soon (not with states carrying huge deficits as well as the federal government) eliminating the student loan system in the US is to cut off access to third level education for anyone who is not wealthy. That was the very problem that the student loan system was established to address ... and if you get rid of it the problem comes back.

    There are few simple solutions to the current mess ... as I have put it in other earlier posts, my best answer if I wanted to get to a system that was fair, educated incomers to subjects with real economic potential and did not have a massively inflated cost base is that "if I wanted to get there I would not have started from here"

    Bruh Rabbit, you are discordially invited not to responded to this post - I am sure what you have to say will be tiresome ideological twaddle.


  92. You are writing as if students and their parents have no part in this. It's only faculty and schools that favor student loans.

  93. MacK

    You are affected by a profound inability to think out of the box of what you unilaterally decide is on the table regarding policy.

    So, you aren't "ideological" because you blame others for your unilateral decisions that end up de facto being the same as what a right winger would say here.

    Once again, whether you believe the policies you are pushing here as the only choice because you believe in right wing solutions, or you believe it because you can't imagine arguing other solutions because you have decided they have zero change (you decided that. Not the fact the solution haven't been argued and failed), the effect is de facto right wing.

    So, keep posting how you and others aren't right winger. It means little to me because I am quite clear that the argument doesn't depend on your admitting that's the effect of your argument.

    As I said, this is a simple matter of logic. If you say there are 2 choices (right and left), but then leave one off the table (left) because you decided that the left choice is not going to happen, you have made a choice for the right wing choice whether you have the courage to own up to what you are doing or not.

  94. MacK

    You are affected by a profound inability to think out of the box of what you unilaterally decide is on the table regarding policy.

    So, you aren't "ideological" because you blame others for your unilateral decisions that end up de facto being the same as what a right winger would say here.

    Once again, whether you believe the policies you are pushing here as the only choice because you believe in right wing solutions, or you believe it because you can't imagine arguing other solutions because you have decided they have zero change (you decided that. Not the fact the solution haven't been argued and failed), the effect is de facto right wing.

    So, keep posting how you and others aren't right winger. It means little to me because I am quite clear that the argument doesn't depend on your admitting that's the effect of your argument.

    As I said, this is a simple matter of logic. If you say there are 2 choices (right and left), but then leave one off the table (left) because you decided that the left choice is not going to happen, you have made a choice for the right wing choice whether you have the courage to own up to what you are doing or not.

  95. I have a problem with people babbling on about political feasibility when they haven't even bothered to fight. You aren't talking about what's feasible, you are talking about what you are too afraid to argue without knowing whether its a winable argument or not.

    Bruh Rabbit

  96. By the way, all this babbling about "listening" in a groupthink like this site in which people here are all saying the same things is a bit much.

    You think you are hearing different ideas here? That you are hear to listen? Really? Is that why you lash out every time someone points out the effect of what you are saying? You are "listening" then too? YOu are too busy being in denial to Listen. WHen you speak of "feasible" how many of you have argued for the approach I discuss versus simply saying its not possible before moving on?

    Bruh Rabbit

  97. @4:05 and 4:06PM

    Bruh Rabbit, you know that you have a distinctly condescending tone - and a stock of clichés that mean that not signing a posting does not mean that your twaddle cannot be identified, plus you really cannot avoid your favourite word.

    Rant on, just not at me - I doubt many others are listening either.


  98. The real problem here is we have people who have taken on more debt than they possibly can repay. This has the potential of creating tremendous social and economic instability. What is the purpose for not only permitting, but encouraging, this level of debt?

    Ultimately, it appears that the majority, if not all of this debt, is going to be held by the government. So we have the best and brightest people in our society owing the government more than they can every pay back.

    The consequences of this are dire. We end up with our brightest and most educated people sitting on a beach somewhere, refusing to engage in productive work and not paying taxes because their debt overhang provides them no advantages from working.

    The government obtains nothing from this situation. Viewed from the standpoint of New Monetary Theory, the government does not need the money, because it has a monopoly on the creation of money. If the government were to simply forgive these debts, its hard to see what negative impact this would have on the government.

    IBR and similar programs seem to be a Rube Goldberg solution to this problem, and one that offers little solice to people trying to start out on their lives.

    Perhaps a better solution is simply to make student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy after a waiting period, of say seven years (a biblical solution). Graduates who earn more than the median income in their communities will not be eligible for Chapter 7 relief at this point, and will be forced into Chapter 13 or to find a non-bankruptcy solution.

    A graduate of a law school who is not earning the median income after 7 years, however, probably is being unduly burdened by this debt.

  99. First, I appreciate MacK"s posts, which at least pick around the edges of what I consider to be the fundamental problem: the market distorting federal loan subsidization of universities on the backs of young students who, even in their twenties, just don't have the wisdom or experience to understand what six-figure debt means.

    I will say though, MacK, the "Mogadishu" come back to your conservative bar-conversation companion is a weak straw man I've heard many times. Conservatives aren't anarchists, and you seem smart enough to understand the difference.

    Because this forum seems to evaluate the worth of posters! Comments in part based on their circumstances, I'll add that I am in private practice, big law litigator ten years experience.

  100. Sorry for the typos in my post just now - I'm new to my I- pad...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.