College Daze

All you need to know about the disconnect between the scions of  Wall Street and us mere peons on Main Street can be found on  page 61 of Andrew Sorkin’s tome to moral torpidity, Too Big To Fail.

In talking about then New York Fed Chief Timothy Geithner contemplating whether or not to take the position of Citigroup’s CEO, Sorkin writes:

“For the following week, however, the prospect was practically all he could think about—the job, the money, the responsibilities. He talked it over with his wife, Carole, and pondered the offer as he walked their dog, Adobe, around Larchmont, a wealthy suburb about an hour from New York City.  They already lived a comfortable life—he was making $398,200 a year, an enormous sum for a regulator—but compared with their neighbors along Maple Hill Drive they were decidedly middle-of-the-pack.  His tastes weren’t that expensive, save for his monthly $80 haircut at Gjoko Spa & Salon., but with college coming up for his daughter, Elise, a junior in high school, and his son, Benjamin, an eighth grade behind her, he could certainly use the money.”

I’ve got four daughters,  two through college (one working on her second masters, the other on her first), one in college and one on the way.  If a man making $398,200  (let’s just say a tad—if tad means many factors—greater than my salary) a year has to worry about putting two kids through college, I must really be screwed.

And, given that my salary as a college professor is higher than the median income, that means most of the denizens of Main Street must be really, really screwed.  That is, if they want to send their kids to college which, we’ve been told for decades, is a must if you want your kids to enjoy a comfortable middle class life anymore.

When I went to USD thirty years ago the tuition was around $3k a year.  When my eldest went there four years ago it was more than twelve times that.  So, my daughter will have to pony up $500k + a year to send her kid there?  Just when will such college costs finally break the backs of the American middle class?  (And will it happen before or after our backs are broken by health care, retirement and housing costs?)

Meanwhile, it’s amazing that a person making $398,200 could worry about being middle of the pact anywhere.  No wonder the power elite of Wall Street and Washington, worried about making ends meet on their six, seven and eight figure incomes, haven’t been able to work up a decent sweat addressing the concerns of all the five digit income folk.

Viva la middle class devolution.

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2 Responses to “College Daze”

  1. Augmented Ballot Says:

    I think it is finally, slowly sinking in in a few places that the folks using their homes as ATMs weren’t libertines pimping out their every room with plasma TVs. A substantial number were trying to keep up with runaway inflation of health care or a college degree for their kids. Our problems run deep.

  2. mr. mike Says:

    Where have you been, Luna? College prices have been spiraling out of control since the mid-1980s, mostly because costs have been privatized. Outfits like Sallie Mae are more like “break ya fingas” Mob loansharks than real lenders, and two generations are now in deep college debt, which many commentators are calling a new form of indentured servitude. The college loan reform packaged with healthcare reform is a good start, but some people need either total debt forgiveness or a structured program of debt repayment to avoid bankruptcy.


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