June 08, 2015

Confession of a Vulture Lee Siegel

Today Lee Siegel confesses that he screwed the system out of bachelor of arts degree from the Columbia University School of General Studies a master's degree and M.Phil. from the Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

ears later, I found myself confronted with a choice that too many people have had to and will have to face. I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.

I chose life. That is to say, I defaulted on my student loans.

Lee they goes on to explain that in order to pay his student loans he's have to change his vocation so shoe salesman because at the time he wasn't making it as a writer, his chosen vocation.
It struck me as absurd that one could amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college. Having opened a new life to me beyond my modest origins, the education system was now going to call in its chits and prevent me from pursuing that new life, simply because I had the misfortune of coming from modest origins.
IN other words because at the beginning of Lee Siegel's career he could not afford to pay his student loans and also pay the rest of his bills. So his solution was to go even further in the hole and get a masters degree.

As if entry level writing would pay an even larger bill. He then goes on a tirade against the banks and Department of Education who guarantees the private loans that Lee took out.

Or maybe, after going back to school, I should have gone into finance, or some other lucrative career. Self-disgust and lifelong unhappiness, destroying a precious young life — all this is a small price to pay for meeting your student loan obligations.

Forty years after I took out my first student loan, and 30 years after getting my last, the Department of Education is still pursuing the unpaid balance. My mother, who co-signed some of the loans, is dead. The banks that made them have all gone under. I doubt that anyone can even find the promissory notes. The accrued interest, combined with the collection agencies’ opulent fees, is now several times the principal.

The Department of Education makes it hard for you, and ugly. But it is possible to survive the life of default. You might want to follow these steps: Get as many credit cards as you can before your credit is ruined. Find a stable housing situation. Pay your rent on time so that you have a good record in that area when you do have to move. Live with or marry someone with good credit (preferably someone who shares your desperate nihilism).

So Lee's solution to his bad credit is to leach off another's credit rating just like he leached his degree from the the taxpayer and also every single other person who paid their loans back?

Am I detecting a pattern here?

So now years later, not that Lee is a supposed success, an author with five published book and regular writing gigs it appears he is able to pay the bills he wants to pay but has no intention of paying back the loans that gave him the education he uses to pay for all those other bills. And he justifies it by pointing a self righteous finger, I mean down sprinkles at the the Dept of Education.

Am I a deadbeat?
Yes..... not only that but a leach as well.

What gives me the right to say that? Because I lived it. I too had to borrow to get an education and to my surprise I didn't get hired as VP on my first shot. No I had to start at the bottom, running proof, babysitting printers, can you imagine someone as precious and educated as me, with my qualification babysitting a band printer? OMG! The injustice.

So when I started I could not pay my loans either. I mean I has a choice to make I could pay my loans or eat. One of the two but not both. Maybe not as glamorous as living the precious life Lee was meant to lead. But I found eating to be a necessity.

So at first I could not pay but as I worked I began to move up, take new positions, learn my profession and while doing so I began to earn more money.

I began to pay my loans, not as much as the lenders wanted me to. But enough to hold the line on the balance, to stop the bleeding. Lenders bought and sold my loans down the line each adding their own brand special fees until it had been 10 years. My balance stubbornly high. The last lender now was able to claim the guarantee from the Department of Education and now the Federal government became my creditor.

No see this is another sticking point I have with Mr. Vulture. The last lender I had paid all the interest due and about $1000 in principal. At long last I was making progress on paying off my education. But when the Department of Education sent me their balance the previous lender had added enough in fees to undo all the progress I had made, it was as if I all the money I had paid for years was simply gone and I was back where I started.

But by this point I was earning enough to make a payment large enough to make a dent but I was down about starting over from the beginning. So I called the US Department of Education and talked to the person in charge of my account. I explained that I had paid the previous creditor on time every month and showed her how all the progress I had made against the principal was eaten up by fees posted the last few days that creditor had the account.

She went to work for me and recovered all those bogus fees from the previous creditor. Returning the progress I had made in the previous years. Not taking the interest the previous creditor had earned, just the tacked on fees for nothing.

So they we worked out a new payment. I kept it as low as possible because although I was earning a bit more it was still a struggle. But as I earned raises I would tack on extra principal to the payments. Starting at first with an extra $20 then $40, then $100. Ind the end the Department of Education was the best lender I worked with.

And guess what I paid them off. Ever. Last. Cent. I was 37 years old.

But Lee won't even try. Because as Lee Siegel admits he has no character. He feels not moral obligation to pay for his degrees. He fully intends to let the taxpayer an all those struggling to pay their loans to shoulder the burden of his default. And fully intends to allow the consequences of his default fall on those around him, admiring his precious self in someone else's mirror.

You know what, F8ck Lee Siegel.

ike Lee Siegel, I came from a lower middle class background. So did my wife. Like many, many other Americans in our circumstances, we paid our student loan debts. Siegel doesn’t get to default on his and pretend his shameful abandonment of his obligations is justified.

The biographical note at the end of Siegel’s piece states: “Lee Siegel is the author of five books who is writing a memoir about money.” Good. I hope his memoir about money is successful, and that he makes a lot of cash from its sales.

And I hope Siegel’s creditors take every penny.


By Howie at 08:16 AM | Comments |