College Debt Forgiveness

I find the debate about the hinted-at college debt forgiveness to be maddening because most of the people who participate have absolutely no knowledge of the subject.

The usual old fat canards about PhDs in the Humanities that make people go into debt are getting rolled out, and it’s exhausting.

PhDs in the Humanities don’t cost you anything. I was paid ≈ $250,000 overall in stipend and medical insurance plus a tuition waiver by my University to do a PhD with them. And I’m not a special case. That’s 100% of people I know, including my husband with a PhD in Math and Stats from a very fancy school. It’s how it works.

I’m sure there are unusual human beings who managed somehow to get into debt in this setup but they are an exception.

[Here’s the point where somebody invariably pipes up with a comment about the medical school as if I didn’t lead with the words “PhDs” and “Humanities.”]

I’m not even expressing an opinion on debt forgiveness. What I don’t understand is why people who don’t even know such basic things feel the need to have one.

Another annoying argument is about the “overpaid professors in the Humanities.” Again, I’m sure there are a few. But the majority are anything but. My starting salary when I got here was $42,000. And we had a salary freeze for years after that. Plus, we had no medical insurance for over a year. That’s hardly great riches. If college is overpriced, it’s not the professors who are eating the money.

I could tell you what the real problem with college debt is. It’s that very VERY many people are tricked into going to college who have zero chance of graduating. They get admitted, take out loans, fail, and end up saddled with the debt and with nothing to show for it. They can never make the money to pay it back. That’s the real problem. That’s the scam.

New ways are constantly manufactured to create more of these victims. Removing SATs as an admission criterion is one of them. Another one is making it a professional suicide for a professor to mention that many students are never going to be successful in [insert whatever subject] because they don’t have the aptitude for it. It’s like telling somebody who’s 5’4 that for a low low price of [insert tuition cost] you will get him to play for the NBA. And all of the nice, well-meaning professors who are terrified of the words “intelligence” and “aptitude,” let alone “talent,” are abetting the scammers.

This is what I want to talk about. Let’s discuss how to avoid doing this to more and more young people. And yes, let’s definitely reimburse the victims of the scam. But only after we’ve done something to stop creating more victims. Let’s not throw money into a joke that we keep digging. Let’s fill it up first.

Run, Fox, Run

Fox News’s ratings have collapsed after the channel threw the election to Biden. It’s gotten so bad that MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” beat Fox for the first time in 20 years. Viewers are running away in droves.

Fox is now hoping Tucker will save them (as he hinted on the show today). They’ll probably need to have him stay on 24-7 to stay in existence.

Book Notes: Lidia Falcón’s The Children of Those Who Lost

What happens when your side loses the biggest political conflict of your country’s history? What do you do if the winners establish an authoritarian regime where you aren’t allowed to express your beliefs, read your books, or teach your values to your children? Do you conform and watch your children be brainwashed with the lies that deny everything you hold dear? Or do you resist, knowing that you are dooming your kids to being pariahs in their own country?

Lidia Falcón’s family was on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War. The men of the family were killed or exiled, but Lidia’s grandmother, mother, and aunt made heroic efforts to raise Lidia in the spirit of resistance to the stultifying, anti-intellectual, and repressive environment of the dictatorship. And yes, the words “resistance” and “fascism” have been emptied of all meaning in English but this was was actual resistance to real fascism.

Lidia is now in her eighties. She fought against the dictatorship and later became a writer and a politician in the democratic Spain. Today, she’s waging a battle for true feminism and against the gender dogma of the radical left. Lidia’s conclusion is that, even in the most oppressive regime, you should definitely raise your children to know the truth and uphold the values of true liberalism. She’s very grateful to her family for not allowing the dictatorship to conquer her young brain.

The story is far more complicated than that, though. Lidia’s aunt and cousins had to leave the country and go into exile. Her mother, whom Lidia loved with great intensity, committed suicide because she couldn’t bear seeing her daughter jailed by the dictatorship.

There are no easy answers in this book, which is what makes it great. If there are any fellow Hispanists reading this post, I highly recommend this book for college courses on the postwar Spain. It’s so much better than Carmen Martín Gaite’s work. You truly get a feeling of the misery, the horror, the hunger, and the idiocy of the postwar years from Falcón’s writing. Compared to Falcón, Martín Gaite is so bourgeois, and I hate this word but I don’t know how else to put it. Falcón writes about people who celebrated a boiled potato as a great feast, not about the idiotic chicas topolino and their inane concerns.

Falcón also hates Carmen Laforet’s writing and simply eviscerates all of the literary idols of the 1940s. It’s so good. Highly, highly, highly recommend the book.