SLATE: The New York Times Should Apologize for the Awful Op-Ed It Just Ran on Student Loans

Career College Central Summary:

  • Lee Siegel is an award-winning critic and an unrepentant leech. After pursuing not one, not two, but three degrees from an Ivy League university, he chose to default on his student loans at taxpayer expense, because he felt that paying them back would have hampered his ambitions of becoming a writer. “As difficult as it has been, I’ve never looked back,” he wrote this weekend in a New York Times opinion piece. “The millions of young people today, who collectively owe over $1 trillion in loans, may want to consider my example.”
  • For the love of God, no they should not. The Times, on the other hand, should consider apologizing for publishing this deeply irresponsible op-ed.
  • I can sort of imagine why the opinion section’s editors might have found Siegel’s article topical. In recent months, almost 200 former Corinthian Colleges students have made news by launching a debt strike, refusing to pay back loans they accumulated while attending the now-defunct for-profit education chain. With support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats, the strikers have asked the Department of Education to forgive their debts, which it has the power to do in cases where a school essentially defrauds its students. According to multiple lawsuits, Corinthian appears to have done exactly that by lying about its job placement and graduation stats.
  • Siegel, however, was not the unwitting victim of a predatory for-profit college. He was just a feckless liberal arts major. As the man tells it, he grew up in a “lower-middle-class family” and borrowed heavily for school after his parents split following his father’s bankruptcy. At first, he tried to do the financially responsible thing by transferring from his small, private college to a state school near home in New Jersey. However, Siegel felt he “deserved better,” and left. Though his piece never mentions his alma mater by name, his official speaker’s bio states that he eventually went on to earn a B.A., M.A., and masters of philosophy from Columbia University—all seemingly financed with a mountain of student loans. Later, Siegel concluded that he wouldn’t be able to pay off his obligations if he wanted to keep working as a writer. So he chose to shirk them instead. Thirty years after taking out his last loan, he notes, “the Department of Education is still pursuing the unpaid balance.”
  • And how does he justify pickpocketing the government?

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