Squeezing Blood From A Turnip

The extent to which Republicans are willing to damage the country’s long term health to protect the assets of the moneyed classes is truly astonishing (and sickening). Howard Kurtz, writing for The Daily Beast, reports that even as the GOP stands in absolute opposition to any tax increases that might form part of a budget package to reduce the national debt, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Viginia representative Eric Cantor have identified one area of potential revenue increases they are willing to consider. Student loans:

As Monday’s White House budget talks got down to the nitty-gritty, Eric Cantor proposed a series of spending cuts, one of them aimed squarely at college students.

The House majority leader, who did most of the talking for the Republican side, said those taking out student loans should start paying interest right away, rather than being able to defer payments until after graduation. It is a big-ticket item that would save $40 billion over 10 years

That Republicans are willing to make higher education even more unaffordable than it is now to shield their wealthy patrons from tax increases is simply astonishing and betrays a degree of irresponsibility that is difficult to fathom. As our economy becomes more and more focused on high technology and innovation and as the nation faces ever mounting challenges from emerging econmies around the world, the GOP is promoting policies that would hamper the educational prospects of our next generation of scientists, businessmen, entrepeneurs and innovators. It’s mind boggling. It’s a dagger, thrust directly into the heart of the middle class. How these people still command legions of angry followers simply defies explanation. GOP voters need to get back on their meds so they can see the world as it really is, and not as the screetching voices echoing in the hollow spaces of their paranoid minds tell them it is.


Serolf, as long as their kids get to go party at college for four years, come out and run a hedge fund, and hire Chinese and Indian engineers to come to the US and innovate, why should they care about the other 99.99% of ‘Merikah? The UC system, once the jewel of higher education, had another 20% in cuts this year, and is turning more and more in-state kids away to recruit out-of-state and foreign students who pay four times as much in tuition. The CSUs have doubled or tripled tuition in the last few years.

But the for-profit University of Phoenix and DeVry Universities and others like them publicly traded on the stock market see their shareholders cheer every time the terms of student loans get more onerous.

@SanFranLefty: Well, those kids too poor to afford college can just go out and ger manufacturing jobs, right? Or join the military and help protect US corporate interests overseas.

Cantor’s thinking long term for his party. Edumakashun’s the one way to turn a rightwingers into lieburls. Considering that the demographics aren’t going to go his way in the next 20 or so years especially since the GOPers demonized the Hispanics to appease their fat white base of dumbasses.

Short term “gain” for the GOPers and long term pain for US America.

@Dodgerblue: Or we could target the kids and ruin their lives through a bogus “War on Drugs” and hysterical “War on Gangs” and lock them up in publicly traded for-profit prisons that give GOPers huge donations, and use prison labor to do former public employee jobs for free. It’s a win-win-win for the thugocrats.

Lovely. My kid’s state-school tuition went up by $11K despite being awarded two scholarships and having some tuition shaved off because they’d like to see him back and eventually graduate. He’s an out-of-state student, and while he isn’t being hit nearly as hard as other state schools hit their out-of-staters, we’re going to move and establish residency because that’s the only way I can think of keeping him in this school.

He’s crushed, and I’m beating myself up because I can’t help him much. I told him he might need to take this year off.

I wish I’d made different decisions so that he wouldn’t be facing this right now, but I hope it will pay off in the end. He’s learning that he’s much more capable than he ever imagined and that many people will help him if he just asks.

He’s lucky. Although he lacks tangible resources, he has access to people and information that most in his situation don’t. If anything saves him, it will be that access.

I wanted him to have an easier time of it than I had, but that’s not his reality. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

@JNOV: Fuckity fuck! Don’t blame yourself. Blame that fat fuck governor and the people who voted him in.

Tell Jr. to hang in there. Any summer job possibilities?

I never realized George Jetson would be the prototype of the employee of the future. His job was to push a button every now and then. Thinking of many of the current young employees I encounter, I can only assume that keeping the vast majority of American children uneducated and easily entertained seems to be the ultimate goal.

My niece is an on-line “student” at one of the for-profit colleges. The writing she is being asked to do looks like maybe junior high level work. Her counselor is dangling scholarship money in front of her to keep her motivated. Of course she will never see a penny of it – it never leaves the college’s bank account. She’s convinced that at as an unemployed student taking her second college course at age 37 she will soon be qualified as a highly-paid English teacher because God told her she would.


Yeah, I’m seriously considering either: (1) Moving to Virginia so my kids can get in-state tuition at UVA or getting a job at Johns Hopkins, so my kids can get reduced tuition.

My 7 year-old daughter is extremely bright. I doubt she’ll have any trouble getting into Princeton (she’ll be a legacy, since that’s where I went) but I have no idea how I’ll be able to afford to send her there. At the very least I want her to attend a top notch school, even if I can’t afford to send her to my Alma Mater.

My 4 year old is still very young, and has a very different personality, but I have little doubt that she’ll also be a smart kid.

Like you, JNOV, I made choices in my 20’s and 30’s (academia) that placed me squarely in the middle class. I’m not pulling in a 6 figure salary, and paying off a mortgage, saving for retirement and saving for my kid’s college is like trying to square the circle.

Between this cheery thread and Tom Friedman’s vacuous column where he breathlessly explains that all we have to do is remember that employers are asking themselves “Can this person add value every hour, every day — more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer?” – I’m ready to go back to bed.

@Serolf Divad: Children are a luxury these days, especially as we move into the Brave New World that Mr. Friedman is celebrating. Not enough jobs for the population, quarterly job evaluations, no benefits, the expectation that one work around the clock because there are five people waiting to do your job for half the pay – it’s hard to see where kids fit in the evaluation. Add the direct costs of raising them and college, I am in awe of anyone who isn’t a millionaire who has kids. That’s a level of optimism and hope for the future that I just don’t have.

It seems he thinks he’s above it all.

I’m all for value added, but I’m not all for being somebody’s little toady at their beck and call.

@ManchuCandidate: I’d love to see Friedman forced to reinvent and learn new programming languages every 4 months and work 17 hours a day 6 days a week with a few days off in December. He’s such a douche.

It’s probably why I enjoyed it when his sugar mommy’s real estate company went bankrupt leaving him married to only a millionaire, not billionaire.

@SanFranLefty: Who will support you in your old age? [breaks up, laughing]

As some of you may remember, I work in higher education at a state school in Georgia. The GOP in the General Assembly — in collusion with the relatively irrelevant Georgia Democratic Party — have cut the HOPE scholarship, which once sent very bright kids to school and kept them in-state if they kept a 3.0 — their tuition and fees were completely paid for. I was a beneficiary of the full HOPE back in the early 2000s, and I am glad I graduated when I did. Now, to have the full HOPE ride, you have to have something close to a 3.7, and for the rest of ’em who are eligible for HOPE in any format, it will only pay tuition (not the extravagant fees), and THAT is locked in at the 2010-2011 rates. So, as tuition increases, more and more has to come out of kids’ and parents’ pockets.

Tuition continues to increase while the state withdraws support, and the idiots on the local newspaper message board simply follow the Galtian line and say “well, the kids need to work their way through.”

Do they even know how hard it is to get a job in the first place, and how much of a struggle it is to keep up both with school and work? Do they know that even working while going to school won’t pay for everything? No, they don’t care. Let’s make ’em suffer for trying to be all smart and stuff and improve their lives.

And people keep voting for these assholes in Georgia. I need a lunchtime cocktail.

@SanFranLefty: He can’t find a job. On the 4th of July he had an interview at McDonald’s, but they declined to hire him because he’ll only be here for the summer (hopefully). He had an internship lined up, but it fell through at the last minute. He’s been volunteering at the public library. He’s been working the phones contacting people at his school as well as family — I think he’ll be okay, but if we don’t pay the first installment by Friday, he’ll lose his classes. He didn’t get his bill until last Friday.

@Serolf Divad: Yeah, I don’t think we even qualify as middle class anymore. I made more when I was an ultrasound tech than I do now, and I wasn’t saddled with huge student loan debt. I don’t know what my 1994 salary would be in 2011 dollars, but it was about $20K more than I make now.

My family convinced me that I should go to college and that it would all work out in the end. It hasn’t, and I’m not sure that it will work out for my kid. But I don’t see an alternative to him going to college, and I still think it’s very important for him to have this experience. I just don’t know if the cost will be too high.

You have to wonder what kind of lives these kids are going to have after they’ve indebted themselves so severely. Is the payoff of studying, learning, following your bliss (Fuck you, Joseph Campbell) worth the stress and fear that often come later because you wanted to learn or be formally educated or maybe you thought that eduction was the key to a better life for you and your children.

I wish I’d never gone to school and had been content to take x-rays for the rest of my life. I thought that if I got this degree and got that one that I’d be in a better position to take care of my son, but I’m not. His college fund, such that it was, was sacrificed so I could go to school.

Now, I can barely keep the roof over our heads, and I wonder, “What the hell have I done?” Selfish. Idiotic. I didn’t learn that the American Dream was a myth until I was in college, but I kept chugging along.

corporate america cannot be trusted. unfortunately, a salary is only a trap these days. i have a business degree from tennessee and it was and still is worthless. i left a wonderful life and job bartending/bar/restaurant mgmt to work at a bank for less disposable income and no kinda life. the bank assured me that they would never be bought out because their safe and secure policies kept the precious stock price so high. that really meant of course that they would be bought out and the employees could go get fucked. i left before that and have been a fully commissioned mortgage loan officer since. (i did not cause the meltdown). there is no safety anymore in any salary or alleged pay guarantees. the only thing left is to sell something, invent something, or god forbid in america today, actually build something your own damn self. american corporations absolutely refuse to do these things (except for selling promises of others to pay) and will not hire anyone for any reason while they sit on huge piles of cash that could be invested in manufacturing, invention, and technology. for this reason you cannot trust anyone out there. the only person you can count on is yourself. you have to create or you have to sell, sell, sell. that fucking sucks, but it is reality. most months my own mortgage payment is late. a tree i cannot afford to take down threatens my neighbors power line, my roof leaks and i can’t sell without bringing cash to the table. so, all that’s left is to get up every morning and find a loan to close. every fucking day. i used to go out every weekend, attend every sports event and concert i could get to. i have not been to a bar since jan13, 2010 and have gone nowhere else but work and home since. i spend what little i have on food, gasoline and cheap beer while trying to keep what i have and keep it from rotting out from under me. but that’s just fine because my self pity and depression have finally turned to channeled and focused anger. everybody here and in this country has to get to the same point. fuck the economy, fuck politics, fuck everything else that keeps you from getting where you want to be. you are the only that can help your self. nobody else gives a damn. you gotta get pissed off and go out and make something happen. do it right fucking now. legally.

@SanFranLefty: We’re encouraging Son of Mr Cyn to consider plumbing.

@Mistress Cynica: Mine is in his third year of Mandarin. He’s only eight, but he can already say ” Get back to work!” with maturity beyond his years.

Someone should punch that fat fuck right in his fat fucking face.

@JNOVjr: Who, Eric Cantor? If he’s fat, then I’m morbidly obese. ADD: and I’m not, just “big boned”.

@jwmcsame: Preach it, brother/sister. There are more than a handful of us here living the day to day. Sometimes I wonder whether my baby, code named Ling Ling, will ever have the thrill of walking out of a clothing store with something new in her shopping bag.

I’m watching this depressing story on News Hour about the Lincoln Electric factory that pays its employees piecemeal and how the employees are now eating their lunches on the assembly line. They can get disciplined for not having happy attitudes.

@JNOVjr: Sending you a big hug, jr.

@jwmcsame: A hug to you, too. And you are so right when you said “my self pity and depression have finally turned to channeled and focused anger” – just waiting for the rest of this country to catch up.

@Dodgerblue: Longevity without any life quality is not something I want, having seen my grandma suffer through Alzheimer’s for close to 10 years. I’m not religious so I don’t have any hang ups about suicide. A good short life, as this guy put it.

@Mistress Cynica: Plumbing is good.

@flypaper: Heh, I didn’t mean that he was literally fat.

@SanFranLefty: Hugs!

@rptrcub: Honey, none of those people have been to college. Of course they don’t know that.

@JNOVjr: Besides you were talking about that swine Chris Christie, amirite?
/if anything will pull PromNight out of lurking, it’s a mention of Christie….

@Mistress Cynica: The Three Rules of Plumbing: 1. Shit flows downhill. 2. Payday’s on Friday. 3. Don’t pick your nose.

I have great respect for plumbers. I remember when my youngest brother told me he was bagging college and going to (a real, state supported, public) vocational school. I could not have been more encouraging. “Guys like me call guys like you when shit goes wrong,” I said. “Plumbers always have big 4WDs and you can never find one on the weekend. You call the shop and they say, ‘He’s up at the lake. He’ll be back on Tuesday.” I think my bro should get his mail forwarded to General Delivery, Major Trout Stream, New Mexico because dude is always fucking out there.

My man Charlie the Plumber came by the day after Christmas after I killed the disposal. (I can now fix that myself.) We fed him pie, he tuned my guitar and played us Mexican songs and early rock and roll. He killed a woman in an accident the winter before last when his truck slid into her when he was on a call up a hilly part of town in a really bad snow storm. Freaked him out bad, but he is relying heavily on his Catholic faith to get through it.

Mrs RML is looking at a furlough soon so we really hunkered down. Everything is budgeted to the fucking dime TFN. I’m on a $20/wk allowance for the duration. That’s movie tickets, ammo, metal cds, eating out. I took my lunch to a conference out of town the last couple of days, although that could have been legit business expenses. I’ve been poor half my life, so I can do without a lot of shit. The “check engine” light on the truck will wait. Also, we pulled Son of RML out of Catholic school when he got into the public charter arts school, so we’ll be saving a lot in tuition right there.

@flypaper: I developed a taste for Oxford shirts because (a) that’s what guys on the back flap of books wore and (b) that’s what mom brought back from church rummage sales in town. I’m not ashamed of where I came from. I embrace it.

@JNOVjr: It gets better. I was a smart kid from the rez, first in the family to go to college, and now I’m a partner at my law firm. I was a professional dishwasher, latte slave and laborer. I wear my Upper Working Class badge proudly.

I’m currently paying top dollah for my grad program at a private university, and I can tell you that our public cross-town rivals are catching up fast due to tuition increases caused by apocalyptic state budget cuts.

My colleagues and I were just discussing this the other night. Even with the nightmarish costs of busyness school, it’s “worth it” ’cause we’re in an academic arms race for a dwindling number of good paying jobs that only required a bachelor’s ten or fifteen years ago. Now you have to have an MBA or a law degree (or–FSM forbid–both!).

I’m not all that concerned about my student loans, since I’m fairly certain that by the time I graduate–June, 2013 if you’d like to mark your calendars–we’ll have hyperinflation and my loans will be worthless. A gallon of milk will cost $43,000. Think about it: Is the US Gummit really gonna pay back $14 TRILLION+ with interest? It’s a mathematical and political impossibility, so that’s some comfort I guess.


I’m not all that concerned about my student loans, since I’m fairly certain that by the time I graduate–June, 2013 if you’d like to mark your calendars–we’ll have hyperinflation and my loans will be worthless.

I hope you’re not banking on this scenario. The hyper-inflation crowd have been banging this same drum for decades. Hyper inflation is just around the corner, blah, dee, blah, blah…

The fact is: 14 trillion sounds like a lot, but U.S. GDP is 14 trillion also. That’s an eminently manageable amount if we want it to be. And we could certainly limp along for a loooong time just making interest payments if that’s all we wanted. The debt is only growing because the GOP wants it to grow.

@Serolf Divad: I have to question your last sentence. Remember the big debate during the Clinton administration about paying down the debt? There were plenty of Dems as well as Repubs who were not in favor of reducing it then. My guess is there aren’t that many Democrats now who seriously see reducing the debt as a good thing. You have to remember that SOMEBODY is collecting interest on every penny of the debt. Whether it’s the Federal Reserve or other private lenders, ultimately it comes down to individuals who have invested their own capital in the money making machine that is the US of A.

@Serolf Divad: I was being facetious, but clearly something is going to change quite dramatically very soon. We have millions of college students graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and–if they’re among those lucky enough even to get jobs–they’re not earning nearly enough to repay their loans. There is only one outcome–massive defaults and fewer loans available in future.

Likewise, our gummit–either through insanity, incompetence, corruption or most likely a combo of all three–can’t figure out how to tax the world’s wealthiest people and corporations appropriately. Something is going to snap eventually since we’ve reached the end of the road for monetary policy and are now in a liquidity trap. The Fed has thrown everything they’ve got at the current Depression and there’s nothing left that will help the poors and the former middle class: All assets and wealth are being hoovered up by the Richie$. We’ll either have a gradual wind-down into mass poverty like Mexico, or we’ll go out like a car crash similar to the Russian economic collapse in 1998.

Sobering thread. Sorry some of you guys are having a rough time. I can totally sympathize.

@¡Andrew!: I don’t understand the idea behind student loans. I don’t get it.

@Benedick HRH KFC:

Officially: We get to enjoy our personal responsibility in the ownership society by saddling our future selves with huge non-dischargable mega-debts that something… something… encourage us to make profitable career decisions? I dunno what. Helping people through state paid tuition is evil?

Unofficially: The reality is that it’s the new indentured servitude. The sadistic psychopaths that control our economic and political systems need the proles that are intelligent enough to respond to education to be leveraged to the hilt and in a constant state of fear and anxiety of losing their livelihoods in order to ensure that they don’t cause too much trouble in the tragic event that they achieve class consciousness.

@¡Andrew!: Darling, I know. What better way to cow the brightest and best to the tow? The most efficient way to stifle dissent apart from gulags and blacklists is debt. “Yes, Cheryl, tell us what you think. And if Harvard don’t like it we will leave you exposed to Mad Dog Collection Agency: We Fuck Bitchez.

This is why you must not give up on our sainted holy preznit and his fighting Dems. It’s either them or Raoul on the barricades (musical theatre ref: ask noje; he’s got all the recordings even Tokyo) and I’ve got my pitiful retirement fund to consider. The other end of student loans.

Speaking of which, my union pension kicked in. (You can claim at 35. I just made it. So you can be still totally Armani cute) That monthly deposit is all kinds of reassuring.

@¡Andrew!: Whatever happened to grants and scholarships, for crying out loud? Or being able to pay a good chunk of the tuition with work-study income? The non-dischargeable element of student loans is the worst perversity I can imagine.

@¡Andrew!: Either you are studying in sociamalistic heaven or the rest of the future MBAs around you don’t realize that the degree stands for More Bad Ass.

I hope they play Gang of Four at commencement. Jon and Andy never got their proper due.

@Nabisco: Ha! We probably couldn’t get Gang of Four, but maybe they’ll let me karaoke some Bad Company. I’ll be practicing on my trip to Japan next month.

@¡Andrew!: Watashi wa Nippon ni imasu – we should stinque up the joint.

@SanFranLefty: I earned an academic scholarship which covers about 10% of my tuition. They’re still around, but they ain’t what they used to be.

@¡Andrew!: Please wear that Paul Rodgers get up.

Where the hell is DrinkyClown Huh?

@Nabisco: Hell yeah! I’ll be in Fukuoka from August 28th to September 2nd, and then Nagasaki from September 2nd to September 6th. I’m going with a group from school, and we’ll be visiting Lexus’s manufacturing facilities and Asahi breweries among others. After that we’re heading to Busan and Seoul, South Korea. Will you be in Japan then?

@¡Andrew!: I may be here through the 30th, but I’m in Tokyo. Let’s chat more the closer it gets.

I toured the Toyota city/facilities just over 10 years ago, and even got to drive one of their prototype Humvee knockoffs, it was a blast. Both Busan and Seoul are also old haunting grounds – Copa Mundial 2002 in the house!

@JNOV: He’s still on the Book of Faces. Maybe he lost his Stinque log-in password like baked?

/mama hen herding her chicks

@JNOV: Passed out in a gutter somewhere I shouldn’t wonder.

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