by Andrew Ross
Everyone is talking about student debt, but almost nothing is being done about it. On the federal level, there is no debt relief in sight, as anyone can infer from the annual Congressional ritual in which lawmakers assemble to grandstand over lowering federal interest rates by a fraction. Nothing on Capitol Hill comes closer to the cliché of putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Rising rates of default (half a million more last year) and delinquencies (more than 30 percent of all borrowers) are a sure sign that many student debts cannot, and never will, be repaid.
This arrangement is not only unsustainable, it is immoral. For its casualties, the grisly consequences of this mass default amount to a form of collective punishment. And the overall household student-debt burden is growing particularly for the elderly. More and more of those in their so-called golden years are seeing their Social Security benefits mercilessly garnished, often because they have felt compelled to co-sign student loans for children and grandchildren.