Dingus of the Week: Anyone Saying Debt Relief Is Bad
Oh, no! The poors! They might not be so poor!
This is the weekly dingus — the Friday newsletter, where I talk about something really dingusy in the news, then share some links and a drink recipe. You can find all the past dinguses here.More and more people are relying on their weekly dingus newsletter for a bit of levity in These Times™. Subscribe and never miss a newsletter!
This week, in a rare moment of actually doing something, President Biden announced a plan to cancel some student loan debt. The plan covers both graduate and undergraduate loans and cancels $10,000 of debt for some borrowers and $20,000 of debt for people who received Pell Grants. The plan also has a repayment cap of 5% of a borrower’s income. More details and information about the plan’s implementation are forthcoming. And the New York Times has a good explainer.
According to the 19th News: “Biden’s initiative is expected to provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers, including roughly 20 million for whom remaining balances will be eliminated. It stands out as the most ambitious proposal to date by a president to tackle a situation widely described as a crisis, as student loan debt tops $1.7 trillion.”
Of course, it doesn’t go nearly far enough to address the problem. Some people have accrued $10-$20,000 in interest alone. But it’s something. And I’m not too proud to admit that this program is going to wipe out my remaining grad school debt. Which will save me $150 a month. And in a couple of months, that’s a new washing machine, which I really need since I’ve been repairing mine weekly for the past year.
I was able to pay off my $65,000 of undergraduate debt in 10 years. But only because I was, at the time, married to someone who had no school debt and whose parents gave him money to buy a home. He got a good job and I got okay jobs, but every penny I made for nearly eight of those years went to paying down the debt. I’m not going to pretend I did it with bootstraps. I did it because I married someone who had generational wealth. Did I work hard? Absolutely. Did I work harder than anyone else? No. And I hope no one has to go through what I went through. The stress and anxiety of not having enough money in college and then coming out with so much debt I had dreams I was drowning. I would not want that for anyone. And so many people have it worse.
Let’s be crystal clear, if you were able to pay off your college debt, you did it through one of a few ways: You had someone subsidize some aspect of your life. You earned a lot of money from a job that was and is at least lightly predatory. Or you were lucky enough go to college when it was cheap, get a well-paying job before the 2008 recession, and avoid any real tragedy. So, let’s dispense with this whole notion that paying off your debt is somehow more moral.
America’s predatory financial institutions make debt a necessary part of life. You can’t even get a place to live without a credit score. And a credit score is based on your ability to carry debt. So while debt is systemically necessary and lending institutions are biased and predatory, carrying debt is deemed as shameful. Dave Ramsey has made an entire career out of shaming people for their debt. Blaming individuals for a systemic problem that is also a big and booming business and making money off of that shame…That’s the Dave Ramsey method.
After the debt relief announcement was made on Wednesday, Anne Helen Petersen shared some of the stories of what the debt relief would mean for individuals. It means saving for a home, health care, working on medical bills, it means going on a vacation. Money doesn’t solve every problem, but it sure solves a lot of them.
The impact of the plan was immediate in that it resulted in the creation of an entirely new economy of whiners — people who think that they are better because their dads helped them pay for undergrad, but they had to pay for business school at Harvard. And now they are worried that other people won’t be able to experience that great American pastime of belittling the poors.
In fact, the whining of the American pundit class over this debt-relief plan was so strong and powerful, Joe Biden invented an entirely new form of renewable energy.
But of course, nearly everyone who whined about the shocking and horrible and unfair debt cancellation also benefited from a PPP loan. Looks like a lot of people in glass houses never learned how to shut the hell up and stop throwing stones. Behold, an entire thread of people whining about debt relief, while other people pointed out they benefited from it.
For the sake of transparency, I also benefited from a PPP loan, which I used to pay half of my nearly $40,000 tax bill. This makes me sound very fancy, but the reality is as a freelancer and single mom, I live under a lot of debt. My CPA told me that in order not to owe the IRS money, to get a loan from the government to pay the government. And the only lesson I learned is that money isn’t real. It’s an entirely made-up concept. And our entire system is based on exploitation. So if the government, which is the note holder on most of the college debt, wants to get rid of college debt, what it tells us is that money is fake. And oh my god, why didn’t we elect Elizabeth Warren?
But it begs the question. If all these people who benefited from the government’s fake-money programs are mad about it, what could their motivations be? What is driving this fierce anger? For answers, we look to Indiana Representative Jim Banks, who tweeted, “Student loan forgiveness undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools at a time of dangerously low enlistments.”
So there we have it. How can we force the poors to go fight in pointless interventionist conflicts if we can’t manipulate them with money? How can we force masses of people to do things we would rather not do without our crushing system of monetary exploitation?
(And you might be thinking to yourself My god, this man just said the quiet part out loud. How could his comms team let him do that? Well, funny story, his Communications Director is Buckley Carlson. The son of Tucker. )
For everyone arguing, that this debt relief is a temporary solution, and what about next year and the next? Exactly. Abolish it all. Free everyone. Make college free. I mean, terrible society we have here. Shame if we completely restructured it.
And Now for a Good Thing:
The debt relief is good. And I hope it inspires more relief. Lord knows we need it.
And another good thing this week was that the flame war between Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar was reignited this year. Talking about the Minnesota State Fair, the senator mocked Buttigieg and promised to show him the butter carving. Which, if I were Mayor Pete, I’d call the FBI. Also, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz took a shot at Iowa, saying our state fair was minor league.
What began was the War of the Opeses. The Great Mediocre War. The War of Midwestern Passive Aggression. And you love to see it. Yesterday, I bravely forsook my other responsibilities and briefly became a war correspondent. Reporting from deep inside the Midwest on the fight for Midwestern supremacy.
Another good thing. A protest group infiltrated an anti-abortion fundraiser and grabbed the mic and twerked in booty shorts.
And another! Voter registration among young women is up in Pennsylvania.
Also, if you haven’t joined the Discord community, why?? We’ve had some amazing conversations over the past two weeks. We talked about the use of AI art (which I won’t be doing anymore), and Oprah, and Virgin River. You are missing out. Also, I let Discord help me pick the dingus. So it’s elite level. Also, everyone’s jokes in there are funnier than mine.
What I Am Reading:
Powerful people tell us things. This is an analysis of news stories that look at power and systems and reporting and is so smart it should be taught in schools.
ProPublica reported on the industrialist Barre Seid funding the anti-democratic movements in America.
Relistening to this episode of the Ezra Klein Show that was an interview between Tressie McMillan Cottom and sociologist Louise Seamster, whose work Elizabeth Warren based her own student-debt policy proposal on.
Zachary Oren Smith wrote about the Gannett cuts and how they are going to further decimate an already hollowed-out media.
I wrote about being alone.
What I Am Drinking:
Last week, I advocated for a corn margarita, which I consumed on Saturday night. Relatedly, on Sunday morning, I changed my stance. No corn margaritas! I regret my error. And Debra (you know who you are), you were correct to chastise me in the comments last week. Please forgive me.
This week, it’s all about coke floats with bourbon. Pour some coke into a cup, add some chocolate ice cream and bourbon to taste. Drink while you watch Virgin River. Have a lovely weekend.
Thank you to the amazing Beau Anderson for making that. If you haven’t guessed by now, the MYAM community is the most amazing internet community since The Toast (IYKYK).
We *really* should have elected Elizabeth Warren. She's the only candidate I've ever known who actually understood how our bonkers system works and how to fix it.
Other than the actual debt assistance, the best thing about yesterday was The White House Twitter acct trolling hypocritical Republican politicians who whined about the debt assistance. Monstrous quacks, the lot of them.