And so we begin Snark Week. In honor of Shark Week, I will really say what I think. Really.
So, big news this past week: More and more Social Security recipients are receiving reduced payments because the government is garnishing their checks to recover on unpaid student loans.
OK, so a generation that mostly didn’t go to grad school, got college super cheap (if they paid tuition at all), and generally in life got everything handed to them, *didn’t pay their student loans*? Are you kidding me?!?!
Of course, this issue is portrayed as if it is some big looming crisis of the moment. Old people, eating cat food because the big mean government is taking their Social Security check. Well,
- First, only so much of the check gets garnished. The recipient is always left with a minimum $750—which isn’t great, but it is there.
- Second, who says these people have nothing to live on but their Social Security check? These are folks who *went to college*. Not typically the bottom twenty percent or so who are living on nothing but a Social Security check.
- Third, it is only garnished until the debt is gone.
- Fourth, keep in mind that young people working for Job Corps and AmeriCorps are often expected to live on $900 per month, often in major cities where the cost of living is high. At least seniors have the freedom to move someplace cheap.
- Fifth, most communities have subsidized housing for seniors, so if they really are living on what is left of a Social Security check post-garnish, at least they will have a roof over their head. (Not necessarily so for our Americorps volunteer.)
- Sixth, there are outs for student loans—if you have health problems, if you worked in a low wage public sector job, if you were unemployed.
Keep in mind, the government only garnishes on its own behalf. These are the government loans, not private student loans. Who knows what was never repaid to private banks?
I think this just gets me back to what My Generation keeps asking again and again: What did these people do with their money?
Perhaps this will make a dent in the Feds financial woes. Perhaps it will make Social Security last longer.
Perhaps it is just debt made good.