As the capital markets from Shanghai to New York were melting down in ways hearkening back to the early days of the prior financial crisis. A period of time many would like to forget (or act) as if it never happened. The Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman decided it was time once again to weigh in with what will surely be viewed by the so-called “smart crowd” as a brilliant perspective on what ails the world: Not enough debt.
The title of his Op-Ed in the New York Times™ seemed to borrow directly from one of Wall Street’s most celebrated fictional characters Gordon Gekko when he delivered the now immortal line “Greed, for lack of a better word: Is good.” For Mr. Krugman however, there was no need of a “better word” qualifier. He came out blazing with what seems the only bullet in his arsenal as a cure-all for what ever the ailment might be (e.g., debt.) as he argues this view in his latest: Debt Is Good.
As I read, I found myself repeatedly either laughing, or with my head in my hands. What seemed lost on Mr. Krugman was the irony of not only his timing, but also the glaring front-of-mind examples real people, with real issues, currently have that are entirely interchangeable as to replace his call for action; and replace it with the actions they are currently living through. All of which are both suggested as well as endorsed by him and his ilk.
Unlike most I believe I’m uniquely qualified to demonstrate how “tin eared” or “outright delusional” his thesis appears for I: Never graduated high school (although I did receive my GED from The University of S. Maine, so depending on the cocktail discussion, I can show to be “one of their kind” if I implore the Clinton-esque tool of what “is” is skillfully), can hardly spell cat without the use of spellchecker, make more punctuation and grammatical errors where if the Punctuation Police or Grammar Gestapo had their way; I would surely be sentenced to a lifetime of shock therapy.
However, what I have done is graduate from The School of Hard Knocks. An alma mater I’ll contend puts most Ivy League’s to shame in any business competition on the planet. So with that said; you decide whether I make a valid point or argument, for unlike many – I’m not embarrassed by my lack of “debt’s” current manifestation of a “participation trophy” i.e., a college degree.
Now I know, right here, I’ve probably just ticked-off some of you. I understand that, and I’m not trying to make, or be, provocative purely for provocative’s sake. However, I am here to trigger, or possibly kick-start your brain out of lethargy and get one to see things in a light you may not have contemplated. Then; work out how it might apply to your own situations. There was a time that was the reason for “higher education.” Yet today – “group-think” is the main course of the day in my opinion.
Also – let me be clear: I’m not talking about degrees that are required as to practice a profession. i.e., Law, Medicine, Architecture, et al. Although there are issues within this spectrum of education also. I’m speaking directly to those that have the aire of: “It states and reads like I might know something – but so far – there’s never been a job post listing the need for it” type of degrees. i.e., a degree in Allusive Quantitative Hypothesis of Reactionary Illuminations in Wastebasket Theory.
So with all that said I implore any recent graduate (especially those whom attended any that employed Mr. Krugman) to read his latest op-ed with one change: Everywhere he speaks about government debt insert “you” and the “debt” he articulates to be used for all those great infrastructure projects and more replace with “At your university of choice.” Here’s where all this “high brow, chin scratching” really hits the mark – as in your wallet, because; that’s where the real bulls-eye is.
Isn’t it just uncanny how the issue of debt, and debt is good, and the more debt the better, applies directly to the attainment of a college degree today? There are statistics everywhere showing today’s college graduate is more in debt, and will probably stay in debt longer, while a great many will never be able to pay off their tuition bill. For many of today’s recent graduates have nothing more than a degree that is near useless in obtaining a job. Let alone: a job that will pay high enough wages to cover the debt obtained to acquire it. Hense my application of “participation trophy” to many of today’s degrees.
All one needed was to sign their personal sovereignty away, show up to a minimal amount of required classes, turn in C- work (or D+ depending on the grading curve) and presto – you have a degree. What it’ll be good for other than covering the bottom of a birds cage going forward is anyone’s guess. Although one may take pride in the knowledge that, although the cage may not be gilded, the price paid for that paper in its bottom will sure seem like it.
However, don’t take to despair or any need for concern about making a living as to pay off what now may feel like an insurmountable amount as calculated using the highest of minimum wages paid. Take the insinuations made by that most “brilliant” of professors in economics and avoid it all by tacking on even more debt. Sign in, and sign on, to possibly double, if not triple your existing debt load and hit the books (or bong) to enhance your current “trophy” into a bigger and better edition like say a Masters. Or, go for the gusto and decide right here and now if debt is good, then more debt must be spectacular and stay in school and get the ultimate gold stamp with a Ph.D!
Who cares what the cost will be, look at what you’ll have avoided: Work as in – a job. The need to find your own place to live (Mom or Dad’s basement hopefully will still be there if they haven’t had their own money issues) as well as (and here’s the best part) pay on that debt in any meaningful way because, heck – you’re still in school regardless if you’re nearing 30! Ah, but what does this all have to do with “infrastructure” one might be asking. I’m glad you asked.
How about all that “infrastructure” needed at the ________________ (fill in with your school of choice)? All the new wings or buildings that need to be erected to house even more
serfs students. Buildings that will more than likely have one or two professors names emblazoned over their doors.
And how about all the money needed to pay for the salaries of people like Mr. Krugman? Can’t let that go unfunded regardless what it may cost you. Don’t forget about his retirement package also – for you’re gonna pay for that as well. And from what I hear, he enjoys the upper crust of society, so keep that in mind as you sign on to do your part as a “debt” participant, After all – Ivory Towers don’t come cheap, let alone what it takes for upkeep.
When I stated earlier about signing away your own sovereignty, I meant just that. For unlike what is perceived as normal debt (e.g., credit card, car, home, etc.) once you sign on to student loan debt; if life hands you lemons; there’s no making lemonade with your student loans. The bitter taste lasts and lasts for the rest of your life until it squeezes the last drop from you. Now that’s debt, no?
Want to look at what more debt does for a nation in real-time? Just look at Greece today. How’s that all working out? This should be the clearest real-time example of what debt, upon debt truly looks like and all its consequences.
Think Greece didn’t take on enough? Looks like they’re following Mr. Krugman’s advice to-a-tee and doing just what he advocates by “taking on even more.” The cost? A total abdication of a nation’s sovereignty, as well as anchoring its population into servitude with no realistic way to ever get out from under it.
One would have thought with all this new debt via Mr. Krugman’s viewpoint Greeks should be dancing in the street. Well, they’re taking to the streets again, but they aren’t dancing. Not only has the new promise of more debt not solved anything, it seems it’s literally tearing the country apart once again before the ink is even dry.
And speaking of debt, hows all that debt doing for China? You know, that land which many such as Mr. Krugman’s ilk lauded over as the country we need to be more like because, over there – they were getting it done. Well yes they were, and debt sure did help. Especially when they took that debt, lever’d it up, and bought stocks to fund infrastructure. Now look at what it’s turning into: an avalanche of margin’d sell orders inciting fear that it could possibly take down their entire market. I can just imagine a Gordon Gekko snickering “Debt is good.”
However it doesn’t end there. We used debt upon debt here (well over $4 TRILLION) to not address any of our issues when it comes to cogent business regulation, tax policies, and more. The academics at the Federal Reserve just created money ex nihilo to purchase our own debt so we too could allow Wall Street to lever up and buy stocks. Now, the mere mention of any policy to raise rates higher than zero has the so-called “smart crowd” whaling and gnashing their teeth reminiscent of an upcoming biblical apocalypse. Why should this bother anyone if debt is good, and more is better? Unless – it isn’t.
This is the beauty of residing within the ivory walls of academia. You don’t have to contend with what most others will never get out from under their entire lives: debt. All while simultaneously advocating the call for ever more debt that will never be paid by they themselves. No, heaven forbid, not that!
It will be paid for by the many that fall prey to their calls of “enlightenment.” Where an impressionable, possibly naive prospective student signs away their life to pay not only for Mr. Krugman’s upkeep, but the upkeep and infrastructure, and endowment, retirement, along with all the other never-ending alumni requests for donations they’ll receive their entire life.
Then, and only then, once that is paid, can they now begin paying for their own debt and taxes. e.g., a car, gas for it, maybe an apartment. All while working a job which hopefully one day might enable them to splurge and actually pay for something – rather than having to scour the internet day and night for a free illegal download.
But not to worry, “debt is good.” Just keep reminding yourself of that every time you look at that “trophy” on your wall. After all, that’s what they teach you in today’s school of “higher education” right? And you paid (and will continue paying) for it – dearly!
© 2015 Mark St.Cyr