The College-Loan Scandal

Matt Taibbi reporting on student loans and the business of higher education:

One final, eerie similarity to the mortgage crisis is that while analysts on both the left and the right agree that the ballooning student-debt mess can be blamed on too much easy credit, there is sharp disagreement about the reason for the existence of that easy credit. Many finance-sector analysts see the problem as being founded in ill-considered social engineering, an unrealistic desire to put as many kids into college as possible that mirrors the state’s home-ownership goals that many conservatives still believe fueled the mortgage crisis…Others, however, view the easy money as the massive subsidy for an education industry, which spent between $88 million and $110 million lobbying government in each of the past six years, and historically has spent recklessly no matter who happened to be footing the bill – parents, states, the federal government, young people, whomever.

And some economics here:

College degrees are actually considered to be more essential than ever. The New York Times did a story earlier this year declaring the college degree to be the “new high school diploma,” describing it as essentially a minimum job requirement. They found an Atlanta law firm that requires even clerks, secretaries and runners to have four-year degrees and cited research that everyone from hygienists to cargo agents needs to have graduated from college to get hired.

Prices increase under high demand. Entry-level jobs now require degrees. Why, if not just to drive demand for college education and increase prices?

The Downside of Debit Cards

If you use a debit card this makes an excellent case for why you should just use a credit card instead.

So, what are the downsides to debit cards? Well, first off, they’re a direct link to your checking account and your money. I don’t like anything that has such a direct connection, which is why I don’t carry a checkbook anywhere, ever. If the card is stolen, or otherwise compromised, then the money that’s at risk belongs to you, not a credit card issuer. That’s just the first reason, and there are many more…