$233,921 in Student Debt

I persevered and read the whole damn thing.

I’d love to rip Jack for accruing over a quarter million in debt, and one might think he’s fair game as a hetero, white, male; but not for this hetero, white, male because of my economic privilege.

I can’t rip Jack because I haven’t even come close to walking in his worn-torn shoes. Back in the Pleistocene Era when college was affordable, my parents paid my college tuition which is just one example among many of the economic help they provided me and my family. My family and I are economically secure for lots of reasons, but “luck” is first and last on the list.

That’s why I can’t say, “What the hell Jack, step away from the loan application!” Nor can I go back in time and tell him to tell his kids in no uncertain terms that he can’t afford to send them to four year universities. Community college will have to suffice and then part-time jobs while working their way through public universities. Saying those things to Jack would be poor form.

It would even be insensitive for me to frame my criticism as questions like,”Jack, why the hell, loan on top of loan on top of loan? At what point do you just say ENOUGH debt already?” There has to be some personal agency, doesn’t there?

Other questions bubbling up in my pea brain are more benign. Why didn’t Jack’s “friends” stage an intervention? And how many Jacks are there out there? How can we help them avoid his fate? Where’s the urgency around this type of student debt? Is my university complicit, at all, in creating additional Jack and Jills?

In fairness to Jack, he hasn’t been seeking fame or fortune. Just a LITTLE job security. Previously homeless, and still on the edge of it, he deserves compassion.

So it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything too harsh to him.


Sentence to Ponder

“Nine months, 400 job applications, and 17 interviews later, I landed a part-time minimum wage job at the local Macy’s working on the loading dock.”

From “What It’s Like to Be Single in Your 60s With $233,921 in Student Debt”.

I need to muster some strength before reading the whole, mind blowing story.

Addendum: Something doesn’t add up. A full-time (I assume) fifth year teacher making $30,000? Ah, private Catholic school that apparently doesn’t have any qualms with not paying a livable wage.

New Car Math

I just bought a new car, or more accurately, a pre-owned car. A 2017 Prius-V, the uber-sexy wagon* that Toyota doesn’t make anymore that gets 45-50mpg**. Suffice to say, my friends’ jealousy is spiking. Don’t hate me because you ain’t me.

I paid $23,100. It had 13,662 miles on it and was in near new shape. Taxes, fees, and registration brought the total to $25,700.

This damn car review of the 2020 Prius Prime makes wonder if I made a mistake that you should avoid if in the market for a new car. Start at the 12 minute mark.

For some reason I can’t explain, in my upper lefthand corner of the world, car prices are lower in Portland, especially when I add in the tax savings since I live in a county with a lower than average rate and they use my home address for the sales tax calculation. Dig this 2020 Prius Prime car listing. Note, importantly, it’s the base model recommended by the Savage Geese.

Purchase price $27,201. For me, taxes, fees, and registration are going to push that to right around $30,000. Then, crucially, subtract the $4,500 federal tax credit that comes with it for an out of pocket cost of $25,500. Two hundy less than I paid for my lived in 2017 that I can’t plug in at night for 25 miles of electric range. I could stop right here, but let’s extend the case study for potential new car buyers unaccustomed to car math.

We’re going to own it for 8 years. Since it’s a Toyota, and we’re going to take great care of it, and not use it for ride sharing, let’s assume it depreciates slowly at 7.5%/year for a cost of approximately $1,900/year. Let’s fully insure it for the first six years at an approximate cost of $1k/year and then remove comprehensive and collision for years 7 and 8 for a savings of $300-$350 in each of those last two years. So total insurance costs is approximately $7k for the 8 years or $875/year.

Because we mostly use it in and around town, and use juice to do that, let’s assume 6 trips to the gas station at $25 a pop for a total outlay of $150/year. Same with maintenance, $150/year on average. The first two years are free, then we’d probably average $200 a year because we have an independent mechanic we trust and the car is bullet proof.

The final equation $1,900+$875+$150+$150=$3,075/year or about the same TOTAL cost my nephew paid for his beater Corolla. The big differences of course are the considerable safety and technology enhancements, superior ride quality, and convenience of only having to do regular maintenance.

$3,075/month is $256/month, or if you make $25.60/hour, 10 hours of work a month. Not too bad.

I am aware I failed to factor in electricity costs, not quite sure how to calculate those. Finally, my car has one distinct advantage over the new Prime, its vo-lu-mi-nous cargo space.

*with me in it

**because the RAV-4 Hybrid has cannibalized sales.


Friday Assorted Links

1. Estimated car cost as a predictor of driver yielding behaviors for pedestrians.

“Drivers of higher cost cars were less likely to yield to pedestrians at a midblock crosswalk.”

What are your theories for this?

2. Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang banned for eight years. Long suspected. Eight years though, talk about swimming dirty. How to make amends to the numerous clean swimmers that lost to Yang?

3. The darts player beating men at their own game.

“She’s going to stand out. It’s great for the sport. Stereotypically, it’s associated with the pub, beards and beer bellies. But that’s changing.”

4. iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra camera comparison: Which phone is best? Damn, kills me to write the conclusion:

“. . . the iPhone can’t compete with Samsung’s zoom king.”

And only $1,400.

5. What’s happening with the stock market these days? A beginner’s guide to investing.


The Week That Was

From The Wall Street Journal:

“Andrew Freedman, a 31-year-old finance professional, was in an Uber in Connecticut on Monday morning when he noticed his driver fiddling with his phone. When he asked his driver to pay attention to the road, he was stunned by his response: ‘Do you mind if I pull over for a minute? The market’s open, I have to sell some things.'”


Just Say No

From ESPN:

“LOS ANGELES — The widow of Kobe Bryant has sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in fog and killed her husband and her 13-year-old daughter last month. The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant in Los Angeles says the pilot was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions on Jan. 26 and should have aborted the flight. Pilot Ara Zobayan was among the nine people killed in the crash.”

Bryant is probably right, the pilot should’ve aborted the flight. And she may even win. But that doesn’t mean she’s right to sue. Her family does not need the money, so what’s the point? I have a dream that someday, really wealthy people who are wronged say, “I could sue, and I’d probably win, but I’m not going to.”

I Watched Americana

And not too proud to admit it. Well, so far, the first 35 minutes, which to my TSwift-loving daughters, secures my place in the pantheon of history’s most outstanding fathers.

For extra credit, I read Amanda Petrusich’s review in The New Yorker, TAYLOR SWIFT’S SELF-SCRUTINY IN ‘MISS AMERICANA'”.

 Petrusich notes:

“Swift is certainly not exceptional in her yearning for approval, but her life has unfolded on an unprecedented scale.”

Not exactly original insights. If The New Yorker had commissioned me to write the review, which in hindsight they should’ve, I would’ve framed the film as another in a long line of case studies on the corrosive effects of fame. As my saying goes, “Fame tends to corrupt and absolute fame corrupts absolutely.” Then I would’ve referenced “Amy” the documentary about Amy Winehouse which powerfully illustrates how sadly pop icons’ stories often turn out especially when surrounded by selfish, financially dependent employees, family, and “friends”.

And it’s odd that The New Yorker’s choice for reviewer is silent on our mindless tendency towards celebrity worship, which I’d argue makes us complicit in Swift’s struggles and Winehouse’s demise.

It’s also disappointing that their reviewer is silent on Swift’s passive acceptance of her fame. Swift did lay low for a year, but more as a pause in her incredibly ambitious career. What’s stopping her, someone has to ask, from a complete retreat from the public sphere for much, much longer.

Taylor, if you’re reading this, which I suspect you are, eat up and change your appearance, move to Canada, make friends with Harry and Megan, and dig into the ancient Stoics. You won’t be disappointed.

I can’t speak for my daughters, but the rest of us will be okay.