Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Two From Maggie's Farm: Lee Siegel

The NYTimes carries an ope-ed from a man who has defaulted on his student loans, and explains why. Because this is much in the news, I leaped immediately to the assumption that this was a young man (or perhaps woman - Lee is sometimes feminine), in his 20's or perhaps 30's. Lee Siegel is almost 60, and a successful writer. The loans he defaulted on are old, and now that he is better off it does not seem to him that he should make good the sins of his youth.

Because it wasn't his fault, you see. He is actually doing the morally superior thing by not repaying the loans. If everyone did likewise it would expose the corrupt higher educational system, you see. Their money-grabbing, insensitive ways would be out for everyone to see, and the world would scream out that such madness be fixed. We should thank Siegel, really.  A hero.  It takes great courage not to pay money back, I imagine.

I would not agree, but I could understand the excuse of the young person who got in too deep, then his parents divorced and the money went away, and the jobs weren't there despite his best efforts when he graduated, who just felt there would never be respite or relief and apologetically turned his back. But Siegel's argument is quite different (though it includes those elements when it serves him). He has writes with disdain for the banker who approved his first education loan. He had to leave an expensive private college and go to a cheaper, less fashionable school.  This still wounds him, as he has to mention, sneering back at those he imagines are sneering, that perhaps they think he didn't deserve being at such a school.

Of course it was impossible to take a job where he might make more money and pay it back, because his usefulness to society is as a writer, not mere trade.


Texan99 said...

I guess one way to get the money you need for the necessities of life is to borrow it and then refuse to pay it back. Another is to take a job that's beneath you, but the hero of this story was too motivated by the good of society to do something so sordid.

I think it was OK, though, because the guy who approved his loan was bald, and acted like he was doing a would-be student some kind of favor.

Sam L. said...

He is so superior to we lesser folk. Mayhap the bank could sue and get him sent to debtor's prison.

james said...

This jumped out at me:
"But I have found, after some decades on this earth, that the road to character is often paved with family money and family connections, not to mention 14 percent effective tax rates on seven-figure incomes."

So only the rich can afford to have integrity. I seem to recall a rather more authoritative source saying that the rich faced needle's eye problems.

I like "Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." (*) At least hypocrites have an inkling of the truth; the shameless completely reject it.

(*)Francois de La Rochefoucauld, according to the web--I thought it was Wilde.

Christopher B said...

Advocating 'jingle mail' was the rage during the recent mortgage implosion though I never heard the practice was widespread.