Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Would Secured College Loans benefit everyone?

I recently heard that there are more than a trillion dollars in outstanding College Tuition Loans that are increasingly likely to go unpaid.  And the implication was that the federal government would have to step in and take the majority of the loss.

Somebody in charge of this has failed to have the elevator serve the top floor for some time for this to be the case.  A simple review of the risks would suggest that loans for any kind of study program need strict controls to prevent untoward risk.  Just consider the variables: the motivation of the student; the quality of the courses; the appropriateness of the courses to accomplish the goal; and  the likelihood of actually getting the job the student is preparing for and the pay being sufficient to live and also pay off the loan.

Do you know of anyone really looking at those things?  No?  Neither do I, at least not on a required basis.

When we want to buy a home, we need to provide certain qualifying information.  We need to show that our income level is adequate to enable us to pay the proposed monthly charge for the loan; we need to get an appraisal of the value of the house so that, if we should NOT pay, the lender can ultimately expect to get all...or at least most...of his loan value from a sale of the property.

Why can't we do this with college loans?  Consider requiring an application that would do the following:
  1) Indicate the potential student's goal; what is the career that he or she wishes to pursue;
  2) Indicate the number of jobs in the intended area of employment that is expected to be available in 4 (or 6, or 8...whatever the requirements) years when the student would matriculate;
  3) Show the ranking of the intended College in preparing students for that intended job;
  4) Compare the intended College with others that also prepare students for this area of employment, showing costs, both present and predicted for the period of study, percentage of students in each college employed in their area of preparation;
  5) Provide the curriculum..the courses and course load...that the potential student is committing to if the loan(s) are granted;
  6) An attestation by a qualified College Advisor to the accuracy of the analysis provided in 2-4 above;
  7) An agreement that after each semester, prior to release of the next semester's tuition, the Student will provide a certified copy of a transcript showing successful completion for graduation credit of all coursed taken in that semester, plus a certified copy of the course schedule to be taken during the upcoming semester together with a comparison to the obligation of course load committed to prior to the origin of the loan(s).

This would accomplish three (3) things:  it would a) show the quality of preparedness of the student for the College process, proving a sense of direction, together with the ability to provide a personal business plan for his or her life; b) it would provide proof of the value of spending for the degree in showing how likely successful employment could maximized and actually provide for repayment of the loan; and c) it would pressure Colleges to teach for the measurable benefit of their students, showing that there was demonstrable value in the offered degree.

It is true that this would have no effect on those of means...or perhaps more properly, of parents with means...in going to College just to party or "search" for themselves.  But it is their money involved, not the government's...which is to say, "ours", since it is our tax dollars that now fund such loans.

There are thousands of very good paying jobs right now that go begging because of our current over-valuation of a College degree.  My parents worked at whatever job they could find that paid enough to live.  They researched...looked...for better opportunities, figured out how to prepare to do those jobs and moved on, eventually starting their own business.  There was no guarantee of success...and there interim failures...but all served to teach them things that were required to succeed.  And succeed they did.

Would it be so bad for those without the money to pay for college to have to prove to any person or entity that was inclined to consider loaning them the money to go to college to show that proposed lender that they were making a good investment, to prove their readiness to work toward a goal that would provide for repayment to the lender, and a successful career for the applicant?

I would suggest that it would be a benefit almost as great as the degree itself.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What does President Obama think?

I am old.  I remember my parent's thoughts about President Roosevelt, and I personally remember all of our Presidents from then to now.  Some I noticed more than others as they acted.  Others I have come to study as I grew older and wanted to "understand" ... not a totally achievable goal, but one can try.

What I found for most of my life was that, while I could disagree with their actions, I could always agree with their motivation; Presidents acted, in office, for the good of all the country and with recognition of differing beliefs on what the problems were as well as what their solutions might be.  There was a desire to represent all the people, not just one segment.

And all of the Presidents admitted to errors...and mistakes, both in evaluation and in execution.  They all had experience that they brought with them to the Office and surrounded themselves with people who were able...and obviously supporters.  But the prime consideration was ability, with ideological identity and loyalty following.  So...I didn't like a lot of our Presidents, but I respected them all...they campaigned, then upon taking office, stopped campaigning and worked in the Oval Office to serve the country at large...to serve ALL of the American people.

Were promises not kept?  Of course.  Were there compromises? Yes. None were ever perfect...but they served the country and seemed to realize that as President they owed an allegiance to each citizen, not just those who voted for him.  They were honorable men.  Men with which to disagree, but to respect and honor.  And they showed respect to us; in office they told us the truth, acknowledged failures and worked to make things better.

Then President Obama took office.  He promised to correct the problems with the Veteran's Administration, to be the most transparent administration ever, to fundamentally change America.  Well, one out of three might be good in baseball, but not so much in public office.

I cannot come up with any logical evaluation of President Obama's thought processes or his motivation. He seems to have chosen his Cabinet Members by looking first at loyalty, then at contributions.  I see no sign that ability or qualifications based on administrative accomplishments were ever considered.  That by itself is madness, because the government is far too large for one person to track, so able subordinates are essential if you are not to be ill served and surprised by problems.

Is there any doubt that a President has to be interested in actually administering?  Can you imagine that a President promising to correct the already flagged inadequacy of the Veteran's Administration wouldn't call the Cabinet Secretary responsible for that area every quarter to make sure that he was correcting the errors he had identified during his campaign and which he had promised to correct? \\

When your President campaigns on lowering health care costs and promises that if your are happy with your health care plan, you will be able to keep it, aren't you entitled to believe that?  After all, the campaign is over, he is elected and as President shouldn't you expect he must be speaking the truth?  How did that work out.

And how about your Representatives, who repeated that same plan.  How do your feel about a government where your elected officials vote to enact a bill without ever actually reading it.  How respected does that make you feel?

With the IRS looking at organizations on the basis of their expected ideological positions, rather than their technical qualifications, the Justice Department ignoring some laws that Mr. Holder disagrees with ideologically, but taking action where those with whom he disagrees, and Mr. Obama using Executive Orders to exercise King like power, by-passing Congress, my mind cannot find any way to understand Mr. Obama's purposes when comparing his actions to those of past Presidents...with the possible exception of President Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court.

While it is clear that President Obama is an elitist and thinks highly of his opinions and has quite a thin skin when faced with opposition or challenge, that does not fully account for his administration.

Certainly, he lacked experience in administration.  But even after over one term, he still seems not to have developed an ability to work with...to horse trade with...Congress, nor even a recognition to develop personal relationships with those in the Congress.  That is troubling.  He seems to not want to work at the job  to which he was elected...he seems to salivate at the opportunity to leave the Oval Office for almost any reason: to campaign; to fund raise; to go abroad; to vacation; to play golf.

President Obama reads a great speech.  But the value of a President is how he follows through on what he says or promises in those speeches.  He has been proven a liar.  Some of his Cabinet Members have been proven to be not up to the job.  He has promised much, but accomplished little...and that is accompanied by a seeming inability to recollect his own promises, or acknowledge his failure to keep them.

My conundrum is that I simply cannot decide whether President is simply inept, or intending evil.  If someone could offer a third option...other than "both," I would love to hear it.  I keep coming back to the the work, "obtuse" but even that seems inadequate.

If he were a Republican...or anything other than a Democrat...I cannot understand how anyone could support anyone who was in President Obama's camp...following his party, his party's leaders or his party's talking points...

My State's Representative...actually MY Representative parroted Obama's promise of "if you like your health care plan you can keep it" nonsense.  Will I vote for him again?  Nope.  He has proven himself not only inept by not reading the bill before voting, but disrespecting of his obligation to represent my concerns...again, by not knowing what he was doing and listening to his party's leaders instead of to my questions.