Monday, April 16, 2012

The Face of Ignorance and Irrelevance

The visage above is a recent photo of United States Representative Virginia Foxx, a  Republican Member of Congress who alleges to represent people from the great state of North Carolina.

What she really represents is a snapshot of many of the things wrong with the United States Congress: out of touch, living in a different world, backward ideas that stem from a past so distant as to have no relevance to 2012, the inability to acknowledge or admit different points of view, and the endless practice of personal indulgence in doing “the people’s business”.

In other words, Foxx, like the US Congress, is ignorant and irrelevant.

A few days ago, the old bat was on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show, opining that student loans (one of the biggest, if not already THE biggest source of debt in the United States, surpassing Credit Cards) should not be more than they were back when she went to school.  Her website says she holds degrees granted in 1968 and 1972.

Foxx told the G-man “I went through school, I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money.  I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that”.

For the record, I have not taken her words out of context to make her appear out of touch with reality.  The two sentences above represent the essence of her rant to Liddy.

The comments clearly illustrate how out-of-touch Foxx is with tuition costs in 2012, and the other salient reasons driving the explosive growth of student loan debt – not the least of which is a Congress that essentially ‘privatized” the student loan business, as if higher education were some sort of undesirable social value, and allowed the private lenders to jack rates up to the sky.

A point I’ve made many times to illustrate the growth of tuition cost: when I was an undergrad – pretty much the same time Foxx was – you could nearly afford to pay for an entire year at the costliest public school in the state (which then was called “The University of Wisconsin”) with a decent summer job.  In the mid-60’s, all-in cost of two full academic semesters at the UW was just under $1500.  That’s tuition and fees, books, room and board, and about one pizza and six beers a week.  If you could bank about $125 a week on your summer job ($3.50/hr x 40 hrs, minus 15 bucks a week for summertime drinking and hell-raising and gas), you could spend the next nine months getting yourself educated.  If your job paid only a couple bucks an hour, you could still do it without borrowing, by availing yourself of “work-study” jobs at your institution of higher learning.

You simply cannot do that now.  College costs have escalated dramatically; many students have to work a 30 or 35 hour week to pay their bills and stay afloat, and that means you can’t carry an 18-credit load, which means it’s going to take you 6 or 7 years to get through school, and if you’re the typical UW student now, you’re going to graduate with around 30 grand in student loan debt – unless you’re in a profession like law or medicine, where you can typically run up nearly six figures in student loan debt.

And that’s NOT because you’re lazy or a spendthrift; it’s because it’s that expensive now.

This whole student loan debt thing is a huge monster that’s going to bite the economy in the ass very hard in the next decade or so, and this post doesn’t even scratch the surface of the problem.

But when we have people like this old Foxx woman “leading” us, we’re in deep doo-doo.


  1. The student loan swindle has been thoroughly documented, at least from the angle that outfits like the Great Lakes Higher Education Board and assorted fixers - UW Credit Union, for example - fleeced and are fleecing students. The interest rates are terrible and have been terrible, the students are treated like crap. I would and will and did vote for anyone who promised and followed through on that promise to clean up the student loan business.

  2. Obviously this "bird" has not read the documents...NC should not be any different than WI other than higher profile basketball schools....and if I recall properly from the investigations, every time the ability to pay narrowed between tuition and the loan, the institutions raise the tuition...add another issue to the bucket list..who out there is going to address this..Kohl? Johnson? Walker? Barrett? Baldwin? Falk? Soglin? Obama? Romney?...I have not heard of anyone in politics having any interest in setting up a "Blue Ribbon Panel" to find the facts and come to aid of our previous, current and future students.

  3. College costs have escalated dramatically...

    And this was caused by.......what, exactly?

  4. Dad29, This was caused by the slashing of state aid to public universities, a trend which began in the 1980s and has continued for decades. It was once considered a public good to make college education affordable for in-state students who qualified for admission, so the cost of their education was heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. Fiscal conservatives have done a very good job of cutting those subsidies and making a college education much less affordable, thus reducing social mobility and increasing income inequality as an added bonus.

  5. You can, of course, prove your assertion with a graph, right? And you can prove that either: 1) private colleges and universities don't count OR that 2) the same "cuts" also forced them to raise tuition.


    The far more rational thesis is this: there are too many "universities," most of which accept students totally incapable of u-level learning. (Curious, too, that the supply/demand formula does NOT work in this part of society, no?) Going on: "universities" which are really overgrown colleges hire staff and initiate programs which are unnecessary and/or duplicative, building unnecessary/duplicative buildings.

    ALL of which is supported by "student loans"--which were non-existent until the 1970's--which loans serve to support the increases in cost.

    Try again, Jill.

  6. Too many universities? That is certainly some deep thinking. Charts, graphs, studies...let's see yours.
    Supply and demand? Education isn't a commodity like automobiles and computers. You are living in an ideological dream world.

  7. Gareth, I'll remind you that the owner of THIS BLOG has been very clear about the quality of "college grads" in the noooozzzz biz, beginning with their lack of acquaintance with elementary grammar.

    Education is not a commodity? Yes it is. Plunk down 100 grand and you've purchased "education."

    Doesn't really mean much, but hey! It's a degree!!!!