Posts Tagged harvard

Someone Is Finally Defending the One Percent

Smart parents are more likely to have smart children, and their greater intelligence will be reflected, on average, in higher incomes. Of course, IQ is only one dimension of talent, but it is easy to believe that other dimensions, such as self-control, ability to focus, and interpersonal skills, have a degree of genetic heritability as well.” – Greg Mankiw

Clearly, the first question I ask after meeting a privileged CEO who spends more time on the golf course than in the office where his average employee makes a fraction of what he makes in an hour, and whose primary long-term contribution to the firm will be a PR disaster after which he’s fired by the board for “ethics” violations and sent on his merry way with a seven-figure golden parachute, then it is “well my, what an intelligent and diligent worker with great interpersonal skills you gentleman are! Couldn’t we pay teachers, firefighters, college professors and nurses less to give you more money?”

Ah the trials and tribulations of the 1%. I mean yeah folks, exploitation is hard work. So many offshore accounts to create, so much tax evasion to be done, so many loopholes to be exploited, so many unions and worker’s rights to be quashed, so many Congressman to be bribed and bought, so many health benefits to be denied, so many dinners with the President to be had, and so much manipulation to do to get people to vote against their own self interest and buy into the bullshit bootstraps narrative,  and yet so little time.

Clearly the 1% need advocates too and that’s where former President Bush/ wanna-be President Mitt Romney adviser Greg Mankiw comes in who was finally brave enough to write a book defending the 1%. Ann Romney would be happy.

Solution to the Debt Program

Mankiw is a Harvard professor (my condolences to Harvard and all his students) and apparently also timeless comedian who briefly made the headlines last year for telling a hilarious joke (see right). Haha..poor people. Hahaha…seniors on medicare.  Hahaha…self deportation. Let’s make the elderly whom Paul Ryan just proposed we take Medicare away from the butt of jokes…hardi har har har.

The party of hate and greed apparently cannot function without inserting that hate and greed into their pastimes and jokes as well. I imagine that as a 1% er who gets richer by the minute because others keep getting poorer, that really must be funny.

His hilarity has been finally memorexed in a book titled “Defending the One Percent” in which he argues that income inequality is not as terrible a thing as liberals make it out to be. And even if it is, fixing inequality is really hard to do in a way that is not totally unfair to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

Awww….

Mankiw’s basic argument is that the 1 percent are richer than you probably because they are just better than you. It’s just science! Even the children of the wealthy are probably wealthier and better-educated than you at least partly because their genes are just better than yours, he suggests, and not because these people won the cosmic birth-family lottery that let them be born into wealth and privilege open the doors to the kingdom. Terrible beginnings don’t matter, except insomuch as they make great first acts for Sandra Bullock Oscar movies.

poor helping the rich

First of all, the fact that we live in a society that rewards intelligence, diligence, and interpersonal skills with wealth, while the lack of those with destitution, is pretty fucked up, because such a supposition automatically views people who are not intelligent, diligent and who lack interpersonal skills as less than.

Less than deserving of fair, livable wages, less than deserving of access to affordable and quality health care, less deserving of receiving a quality education, less deserving of clean air, water, food and soil, less deserving of a bail out and definitely less  deserving of overall financial stability. In other words, if you are stupid and lack charm, you deserve being exploited by your employer, have your house taken away, pay outrageous interest rates on your credit cards, have no access to health care, not get a good education, breathe in toxic air and ingest toxic food and overall be punished in society and viewed as a lesser human being.

I guess that explains the homelessness problem and why that prick Reagan defunded all government run mental institutions. People with mental illnesses (which may include “unintelligent” people) and those who lack breeding and pedigree don’t deserve a roof over their heads, medical treatment, a warm meal and a job. Let them rot on the streets, why should we, as a society, care? Let them eat cake… or garbage…

That is what the meritocracy is all about in this country, right? The idea that if you got what you got then it’s ’cause you greased your elbows and worked hard while those who don’t have anything or are barely muddling through despite a job and hard work, are lazyasses who neither want better lives nor want to work for it, ipso facto they deserve starving or succumbing to an illness or else lead a tenuous middle class existence from which they could be unceremoniously exiled after a brush with unemployment or a health crisis.

That is a pretty neat argument when you are part of the 1% or those wanna-bes because it just makes it so much easier to keep focusing policies on the 1% and how to get them rich(er) (and to get you to vote for their interests so that you too, one day, may join their rungs), as opposed to focusing our resources to create a meaningful social safety net that addresses those very issues.  Why worry about leveling the playing field and caring about unintelligent losers who lack charm and clearly deserve to be exploited or else lead a life where they are a paycheck away from complete destitution, when you can focus all your efforts to keep the wealthier even wealthier?

Of course, the assertion that the US rewards intelligence, diligence, and interpersonal skills with wealth is an abject falsehood. As if only 1% of the population possessed such attributes, which then automatically translates into them being deserving of and entitled to everyone else’s money and all the privileges contained therein.

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Notes From the Out-of-Touch: Wiping Out $90,000 in Student Loans in 7 Months

“I am so accomplished. I had money and wealth and used it. Follow my lead”

Harvard MBA Joe Mihalic, in what is supposed to be an inspirational story for all Americans, especially in light of the current student loan crisis, has made headlines  – most notably in the magazine of the Mecca of Greed – Wall Street Journal – for having paid $90,000 in student loans in seven months.

He accomplished this by getting a second job (in his case, landscaping), forgoing all restaurant dining (even McDonald’s), selling all unnecessary items around the house — and getting a flask.

Yes, a flask. Genius decided that one of the best and most effective ways to save money in this world is carrying your own booze around in a flask to bars rather than ordering drinks and shelling out $50 everytime.

Instead of the movies, he took dates out hiking, or for bagels and coffee. He ate protein bars packed from home and walked several miles to the city, to save a few bucks on transportation, during a trip to Michigan. He got two roommates to rent out his house. Mihalic also took steps that financial advisers typically say are a no-no: He liquidated his individual retirement account, drawing a tax penalty, and stopped contributing to his 401(k), even though his employer offers a matching contribution

Oh and yeah, did I mentioned one minor detail? The guy makes six figures working for Dell, Inc. As in $ 100,000 and above.

And therein lies the rub in this story of “inspiration” because pointing out the obvious,  namely that having wealth makes it easier to reduce debt, is neither inspirational nor newsworthy.

So thanks Wall Street wizards and thanks to this guy. He did not go to Harvard for nothin’.

No Kids, no wife, no health-care bills making six figure income and able to pay off debt. Reminds one of wrinkle cream commercials starring a twenty year old.

Fact is, you can’t pay off 90 grand in student loans taking a flask to the bar and selling household junk on ebay and saving a few bucks on a bus pass every day. This is utterly ridiculous and insulting to the whole movement aimed at keeping student loans and interest rates in check and affordable.

While the frugality tips are good, the point of the student debt  crisis is not Harvard Business School grads with six-figure incomes trying  to pay down student loans by “slumming” it for a while.  It’s people from middle-to bottom-tier schools with  no jobs, or very little income, drowning in $100k or similar amount of debt with high interest rates.

With a six figure income, this guy is already six steps ahead of most students buried in debt; students who don’t have jobs and if they do have a job, they are lucky to be making 35k and rent a room somewhere or move back to live with their parents.

Beside the six figure income, the other major factor in his “accomplishment”  is that he has a sizable amount of assets to slash his debt. According to his website, his after tax (i.e net) income was $85,000 per year. He immediately used around  $27,500 in cash plus $14,000 from stocks, and $9,500 from his IRA.  He also stated that his monthly entertainment expenses were $1,300… x 7 months= $9,100! He got two roommates bringing in $5,950 over seven  months. He sold a bicycle for $900 and a motorcycle and his second vehicle for another $9,500. A also received a tax refund of almost $1,900. A work bonus of almost $14,000 and  don’t forget that he was already paying $1,050+ each month to his  loans so there’s almost $7,400 already. He banked $4,000 from stopping his 401k. He got a raise for $2,300 over 7 months.

That alone is over $106,000 available to him in either assets or funds that he was already receiving without even delving into his regular monthly expenses,  i.e mortgage, utilities, cell phone, etc.

How in the world any of this is any kind of accomplishment that is news worthy is beyond me. I don’t need the WSJ telling me that having money greatly helps reducing your debt and improving your life.

Paying Off Student Loan Debt is Not Just a Matter of Discipline 

This is not an inspirational story, it is a harrowing tale of a privileged man using his considerable financial resources to pay off his debt. The reality for over 90% of students coming out of colleges and grad schools, however, is more like they are buried in student loans at high interest rates and have either no job or a job that barely pays for the necessities, such as room and board and basic bills, much less for astronomically high student loans.

In other words, Mihalic’s situation is neither typical nor representative of the situation of college and grad school graduates in this country and it certainly does not provide a realistic template with which to to approach the student loan crisis.

When you come out of college or grad school and make around 40k – and if you are lucky maybe your employer also throws in a health plan  – and after you paid your taxes and for your basic needs, there is not much room left to work with. And that is the issue. Mihalic had a lot of room to shuffle money around; he had options: top benefits, bonuses and promotions oh and yeah a six figure salary. The majority of grads don’t.

A young person having recently graduated from an institute of higher education should not have to suffer and subdue themselves with some minimum-wage paying slow death at all costs just to pay off student loans issued to them under draconian rates and conditions.

The point is to reform student loans and make college affordable so that people aren’t burdened and buried in debt just for getting an education.

Making it look like the problem was one of personal discipline alone as opposed to structural is what truly irks me about the press surrounding this guy’s alleged “accomplishment” because all it does is put a bandage  – a very expensive one – on the issue saying “Hey kids, stop whining about student loans. Do what this guy did (never mind most of you cannot) and you will be fine.”

When you don’t have any or much money, you don’t have many options. That is, after all, what is so great about money: options. Mihalic, on the other hand, had options and he used those options to adjust his life such that it was possible for him to pay off his student loan debt quickly. Many graduates in his place don’t have these kinds of options.

File that under yet another rich privileged dude doing what all rich, privileged dudes would do in his place: spend his money to be better off.

This country has taken the notion of finding ever newer and more creative ways to make fools out of people and insulting their intelligence to new heights.

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