Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book about the student lending crisis

If I were to write a book about the student lending crisis - the ins and outs - would you buy it?

29 comments:

JDpainterguy said...

Are you kidding?

I will buy a dozen copies for my family and friends, and I will insist that you sign my copy!

So much can go into a book like that: The Horror stories, suiidal thoughts of debtors, ruined credit, families, careers, the demise of the "Dream" for many, that a Higher Ed. would help them, when it in fact harmed them.

Also, feelings of betrayal by Academia, and the "System" in general.

John in Boston said...

Absolutely I would! You're the Elizabeth Warren of the issue!

Paul said...

Yes. I definitely would. A concise book is still a great way to learn a lot of information. The internet is amazing, but can be distracting and overwhelming, too. Good luck.

One Who Survived said...

More information, please. Would it have cool pictures?

Seriously I'd buy one just on principle. But your question as stated is overly broad. If you're obliquely inviting suggestions for how to make it more marketable, the first that comes to mind is to avoid taking an academic "social science" approach. Emphases upon personal experiences - yours and others - are more interesting and usually even more ontogolically truthful than "data". Furthermore, the depersonalisation of economic victims is part and parcel of how they continue to be victimised.

Some gallows humour might also be useful. I can't speak for JDPainter, but I'll bet he and I could assist you by collaboratively inventing a game board, "Student Loan Chutes and Ladders". As an amateur cartoonist I could draw it. And it would be impossible to go up any ladders; all options would lead down a series of lower and lower chutes.

Or how about a parody of Monopoly, called "Insolvency". Each piece of real estate on the board becomes more and more miserable - the opposite of a Monopoly game board - starting with a middle class one bedroom apartment (the players can never own any houses), regressing to living with one's relatives, and finally living under a bridge.

katie said...

Ironically, there needs to be some education about student loans. People need to know what is going on. I can't tell you the hassle I go through every time I try to explain my situation to a concerned friend. They always try and give me advice that I can't use. Sallie Mae won't consolidate my loans because they are all different interest rates and everyone seems to think I'll somehow be able to. I'm also told to try and go bankrupt which inevitably just makes me laugh. If you were to write a book--I could hand it to them and make them see the light of day. People need to know, and from what I've seen I truly believe you are just the person to tell them.
:D

One Who Survived said...

Above "Paul" wrote, wisely in my opinion:

"The internet is amazing, but can be distracting and overwhelming, too."

Due to space limitation, I'll reply in two parts.

Part One:

Yes, I agree with Paul, but I'd go even farther than that. As a lifelong student of History (around half a lifetime old, ie around one and a half generations old, in other words one who went to university BEFORE the internet, using a manual typewriter and knowing how to do research WITHOUT computers...

...I predict that the internet in its current form will not exist 100 years from now, and perhaps not even ten years from now.

Among the material facts that OUGHT to be obvious, are the facts of the internet's dependency upon very ephemeral, very UNSTABLE conditions, such as political conditions AND (even more basic) technological conditions. Here are two obvious examples of what I mean:

1. Political conditions: In China today, the internet is strictly censored. If China can censor the internet, so can any other power, and ALL powers (both state AND "private") want to censor any information unfavourable to them;

2. Technological conditions: Aside from what OUGHT to be OBVIOUS about the internet's dependency upon electricity (which you take for granted at your peril), there's also the common-sense fact that hard copy is more durable than digital. To put it very common-sensically, if for some reason I would become unable to access the internet tomorrow and for the rest of my life (this is a realistic possibility!), then I'd still have my books.

It's just that simple. Books are more durable, and less vulnerable to political and/or technological attacks, than the internet.

The American fetishisation of the Internet is, to my mind, what Owen Barfield (friend of Tolkien and CS Lewis, also a friend of a friend of mine) called "chronological snobbery", the superstitious belief that the present is always wiser and more competent than past generations. I think it was CS Lewis (or perhaps Chesterton?) who wrote something like:

"Saying 'this is the 20th century' is no more logically persuasive than saying 'this is 3 PM, and at 3 PM we're wiser than we were at 2 PM.'"

One Who Survived said...

Part two, continuing my above comment:



Using the logic of "chronological snobbery" - the superstitious belief that the present is always more wise, more noble, and otherwise "better" than the past, a German Jew in Berlin in 1942 could argue, "But this is 1942, not 1780!" But in the German states of 1780, there was nothing like the Auschwitz of the "scientific, progressive" Germany of 1942.

But I digress, as usual. Back to your Paul's point about the limitations of the internet, and my magnification of his point, the basic fact is that the internet is not any more stable or durable (and I could argue it is LESS stable!) than oral communications.

In other words, Cryn, I'm reminding you of the peculiar power of the written word - and I'm also reminding you of the material difference between the written word on the internet, versus the written word on paper. The latter has been proved to be durable across thousands of years, but the former has not.

Therefore please write your book, and publish it in hard copy! So that it will become more likely to be read 10 or 100 or 1,000 years from now, than your blog which in a few years will be forgotten as well as "dead" - censored or (more likely) de facto lost in oblivion - on whatever might remain of the internet in 2021.

One more remark in closing, just for now: Personally I regard the internet as the LEAST powerful of all media! The internet is less powerful than written (hard copy) OR oral communications! Why? Well, please just consider, and imagine:

If Jesus' Apostles had relied mainly upon the INTERNET to spread the Gospel, then their movement (Christianity) would have died a swift death around year 34 AD. Because the power of words is inseparable from their material media. A woman such as the Apostle Mary Magdalene (the first personal witness of Jesus' resurrection) who orally testifies in person, has a lot more power in her words, than a blogger. Similarly, when my patron Saint, St John the Evangelist, dictated his Gospel of John to one of his disciples in circa 80-90 AD, the written word was taken deadly seriously throughout the world; but if St John had been a blogger, his Gospel would have passed into oblivion by now.

In sum: There is in fact a close connection between the power of words and the material forms in which they're expressed. And from a Christian viewpoint, Jesus is the best example, because he never personally wrote anything, but his oral words are remembered because of how he personally, bodily, personified his words (The Word of God, the Word made flesh)

Get the idea, Cryn? Words are inseparable from their material forms. And the more personal the words are, the more real and enduring they are.

One Who Survived said...

Part two, continuing my above comment:



Using the logic of "chronological snobbery" - the superstitious belief that the present is always more wise, more noble, and otherwise "better" than the past, a German Jew in Berlin in 1942 could argue, "But this is 1942, not 1780!" But in the German states of 1780, there was nothing like the Auschwitz of the "scientific, progressive" Germany of 1942.

But I digress, as usual. Back to your Paul's point about the limitations of the internet, and my magnification of his point, the basic fact is that the internet is not any more stable or durable (and I could argue it is LESS stable!) than oral communications.

In other words, Cryn, I'm reminding you of the peculiar power of the written word - and I'm also reminding you of the material difference between the written word on the internet, versus the written word on paper. The latter has been proved to be durable across thousands of years, but the former has not.

Therefore please write your book, and publish it in hard copy! So that it will become more likely to be read 10 or 100 or 1,000 years from now, than your blog which in a few years will be forgotten as well as "dead" - censored or (more likely) de facto lost in oblivion - on whatever might remain of the internet in 2021.

One more remark in closing, just for now: Personally I regard the internet as the LEAST powerful of all media! The internet is less powerful than written (hard copy) OR oral communications! Why? Well, please just consider, and imagine:

If Jesus' Apostles had relied mainly upon the INTERNET to spread the Gospel, then their movement (Christianity) would have died a swift death around year 34 AD. Because the power of words is inseparable from their material media. A woman such as the Apostle Mary Magdalene (the first personal witness of Jesus' resurrection) who orally testifies in person, has a lot more power in her words, than a blogger. Similarly, when my patron Saint, St John the Evangelist, dictated his Gospel of John to one of his disciples in circa 80-90 AD, the written word was taken deadly seriously throughout the world; but if St John had been a blogger, his Gospel would have passed into oblivion by now.

In sum: There is in fact a close connection between the power of words and the material forms in which they're expressed. And from a Christian viewpoint, Jesus is the best example, because he never personally wrote anything, but his oral words are remembered because of how he personally, bodily, personified his words (The Word of God, the Word made flesh)

Get the idea, Cryn? Words are inseparable from their material forms. And the more personal the words are, the more real and enduring they are.

One Who Survived said...

PS, re my above comments re the written word...

...here are the words of King Sargon of Agade (in what is now Iraq), circa 2350 BC (around one thousand years before the time of Moses, or rather the Egyptian monotheistic heretic whom the Bible calls Moses, who lived circa 1250 BC, simultaneous with the Trojan War) written on a clay tablet:

"Sargon am I, the mighty king...My mother was of lowly birth...my lowly mother conceived and bore me in secrecy, placed me in a basket of rushes, sealed it with bitumen, and set me in the river...The river bore me up, and it carried me to Akku, the irrigator, who took me from the river, raised me as his son, made me a gardener, and while I was a gardener, the goddess Ishtar (aka Venus) loved me. Then I ruled the Kingdom."

This is in fact one of the historical origins of the Hebrew myth - in the Book of Exodus - of Moses being born the son of a slave and then being found and adopted and raised to become a King. In ancient Egyptian, "Moses" is a name suffix equivalent to Irish "Mac", meaning, "Son Of (fill in the father's name here)"

In circa 800 BC, when the Biblical books of Genesis and Exodus were written, the ancient Hebrews had received and remembered some oral legends of their patriarchs, similar to how the Greek poet Homer (lived around the same time, c 800 BC) recited some ancient oral legends about the Trojan War of c. 1250 BC, simultaneous with the historical "Exodus" of monotheists from Egypt to Canaan (today's Israel/Palestine)...

...so my point here, is about the historicity of oral stories AND their consequent WRITTEN stories...

...BOTH of which - oral and written - are MORE credible than anything on the internet! I mean, just imagine the Egyptian monotheist prophet Moses as a BLOGGER, in circa 1250 BC:

Moses: "I have seen God, and He told me his name is 'I Am', the Living God, the Creator! And he has given me Ten Commandments, to remind Mankind of the law written upon all of their hearts!"

Moses' internet commentors: "LOL!"

One Who Survived said...

For good measure, re Biblical themes, here's this from "Quo Vadis" (c 1950); Nero reminds me of all American Presidents from Nixon to Obama:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EVZwTMmk8c

(In my estimation, the downfall of the American Empire began in 1945. But the VULGAR VENALITY of American Emperors began with Nixon, all of whose successors have exceeded his vulgarity and venality, exponentially.

One Who Survived said...

And then there's this, Cryn - for you and your readers - vis a vis my above comments...

...the final ten minutes of the 1964 movie "Fall of the Roman Empire", which I first saw (on TV) when I was a small boy, and it made a lifelong impression on me.

Here ya go, a semi-fictional scene set in circa 192 AD, the year of the assasination of Emperor Commodus, the adopted (bastard) son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (reigned 149-180 AD). The English essayist Alexander Pope called Emperor Marcus Aurelius "one of the most beautiful Human Beings ever born", because Marcus Aurelius (one of my heroes) wrote words like:

"Dont talk about what it means to be a good man. BE ONE!"

;-) :-) But after Marcus Aurelius died in 180 AD, he was succeeded as Emperor by the bastard son of his legal wife, Commodus...

...and Commodus had many traits in common with GW Bush. Commodus was a spoiled bully, who equated Power with virtue because he had never personally experienced being powerless.

Anyway, Cryn, in light of all the above, here's the final ten minutes of the movie "Fall of the Roman Empire", around 70 percent based upon historical facts. And this movie inspired me when I was a little boy, it inspired me to fight against all Emperors AND their servants!

And it also inspired me, when I was a little boy, to think: "What was Rome like? Why was Rome worth preserving? I will study more about Rome, so I can fight for Rome!" ;-) :-)

Here ya go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxoCM1yQqEA

Anonymous said...

Nice post, OWS.

Book - yes, I'd buy.

I'm a frequent reader of this and related blogs from outside the states, in a satrapy of Empire (Australia). A gen X'r, I've been reared in a society in cultural thrall to the States. It's now fascinating to watch from the periphery as the centre fails to hold.

US student lending is an acute symptom of a broader systemic failing. And for one who's been fortunate to enjoy quasi-socialist tertiary education, grimly fascinating.

I'd snap up a cogent treatment of the issue.

Meanwhile, good luck and more power to you all.

Dona Furiosa said...

I'd buy copies and pass them out as if they were candy canes at Christmastime.

Strelnikov said...

I second the idea of writing a book on this Goddamn quagmire we are in: both to keep the suckers out of grad school or professional education, and also as chronicle of the collapse of a cruddy system, the Edu-Financial-Fraud
(1989-201?, MAY YOU ROT IN HELL AND DAMNATION FOREVER, YOU BANKER SCUM.)

I would make sure every library in my area had a copy, along with the junior colleges and universities.

John S. Cline said...

You know you've got my order already waiting to be placed, Cryn. Plus, I'll advertise it to the hilt to my 5000 Facebook friends and 1000+ Twitter followers! By the time I finish my Ph.D., I'll have well over $100,000 in student loan debt with no idea how I'll pay it off, and my wife will have another $80,000 or more as well. This is INSANE!

Anonymous said...

I'd most certainly buy it. It's time someone wrote it. FYI- this was in the wsj this morning:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903703604576587103028334580.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

Musings From The Bluebird Patch said...

Of course I would buy it because it means I support the cause. There are NO books out there covering this topic, or at least covering the way it supposed to be. We need to get the word out. The internet is NOT enough. Hard copy is the logical next step. Go for it chica!!

Rhonda K. Donaldson said...

I would totally buy it for me and the library where I work and every library after. Everyone needs to know about this!

Benjamin said...

I support this effort absolutely! There are "books" out there "written" by Palin, Bush, a few Kardashians, O. J. Simpson... it's about time we had some serious discourse on an issue of the utmost importance.

I myself am fortunate enough not to be crippled by student debt, but I know all too many people who have no idea what to do about it. This book will be such a fantastic boon to those who need the information desperately.

Hooray!

Leni Weisl Ellwein said...

Yes. But if you have a chapter in the book with stories, will you put mine in it? And karl says we will donate money to help, but you must stay at our house in november.

Anonymous said...

I'll buy more than one! Can't wait to read it.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Leni - absolutely. Your story is going in the book, and I can't wait to hang out with you two in Nov!

Karen said...

Yes, I'd buy one. I think all my colleagues at work in the community college system should be required to read it--same with universities. And yes, include some of the realities of the system. Many well meaning people give advice before and after about student loans that's not based in reality. I think this is the reason so much of the public is nasty about the issue--they really do not understand that student loans are unique in every way and that strategies that could be used to deal with other types of debt do not apply. Start writing...the support is there.

matt said...

I would certainly buy such a book.

Vee said...

This is a book that would fill a sorely empty gap in the education finance and sociology sections of libraries. I know every school and public library in the country would likely feel obligated to have it--right next to the FAFSA forms they are sent to destribute to desparate parents trying to fund their children's "required for a job" college education.

Because I speak with parents and students everyday--they are woefully misinformed about the nature of the loans they acquire, the amounts they will pay, and the long term effects of same. I was better informed about my mortgage--and I had a big number at the end that included all payments and interst to look at. I don't recall such a number on my SL papers. If there was one, certainly no one pointed it out.

No one ever plans to defer, be unemployes, forbear, default, live with their parents, or worse--but these are the times we live in, and with college costs increasing at an exponential rate over living wages--students who go to school need to expect to have no expectations of a life after school with these loan sharks taking all the money they earn.

I for one would love to give such a book to the dad who said, my son, he's gonna go to college--he's all I can afford--but my daughters--if they want to go, they can apply for loans. They can pay their own way. So I guess they'll have to marry rich, 'cause there is no job that will pay them off.

Theres a term for that and that's worse than indentured servitude.

Reid said...

I would go to each University in Oregon and Washington and make sure there were hundred of copies available for sale in each bookstore! This cause is too important. I continue to tell students that I come in to contact with on a daily basis about their options available to them that are drowning in student loan debt and terrified that Sister Sallie or Nelnet are going to kill them off with their aggressive collection tactics.

Keep up the amazing work Cryn! You are my hero.

Reid said...

I would go to each University in Oregon and Washington and make sure there were hundred of copies available for sale in each bookstore! This cause is too important. I continue to tell students that I come in to contact with on a daily basis about their options available to them that are drowning in student loan debt and terrified that Sister Sallie or Nelnet are going to kill them off with their aggressive collection tactics.

Keep up the amazing work Cryn! You are my hero.

Tara J. said...

Definitely! Somebody needs to do an in-depth investigation into the devastating shift in educational financing that's taken place over the past few decades. I believe there is a link between our economy's decline and the incredible difficulty in getting an advanced degree. And you're just the person to expose the whole mess!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a fun read.