He's also a deadbeat. He wrote a column: "Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans."
Readers lit into him.
From Steve: "What ever happened to personal responsibility? I went to college, and worked. My 3 kids went to college and worked. Yet for one reason, or another some people think they deserve something free, that most of us had to pay to get. I agree that a lot of schools have taken advantage of easy school loans, and that door should be closed. Everyone, and I do mean everyone deserves an education, but when you have to work for something, and pay for it yourself, it will always have more value."
From Victoria27: "Wow. Astoundingly arrogant. I can see saying no to outrageous interest rates and penalties, but to not at least pay the principal is truly immoral and wrong."
From Heather Quinn:
If you had quantified your efforts to pay back the loans, showing that you had covered principal plus normally-reasonable amounts of interest, and also showing that the system, as it is, allows too much interest to accumulate when people make only minimum payments, and that people are often prohibited from renegotiating, refinancing or paying down their loans quickly to reduce their interest outlay, and that thereby the system, as it is, is rigged in favor of bankers, then I'd understand your argument. But all you seem to be saying is that in 30 years, you could or would not pay off your loan, so with.
Hey. For me, it was a privilege to have gotten a loan, and a privilege to pay it off.
Nothing is free. When you sign up for a rules-based transaction, you should do your best to follow the rules, and not resent or undermine the deal you made.
If I were living your life, I would find some way to finish paying the loan. I think this piece is about despair, and guilt, and only incidentally about the unfairness of the system as it is now. Best of luck to you. In writing this, you're finding ways of facing it.From Susan Shapiro: "Since your bio says you are the author of five books - and if it's the right Lee Siegel - your work appears in major publications - why don't you start paying back the debt now? You could pay it in small increments with your writing fees, advances or royalties. You're doing what you want to do, so you no longer have the excuse that you'd have to take a horrible soul-crushing job. You could have protested the laws and college fees instead of signing legal documents that make you a liar and deadbeat. Instead of being proud of this, you have a chance to correct it. It's never too late to do the right thing."
In 1982, at the the height of inflation, we bought a mobile home. Paid 19.5% interest on the loan. Paid it off. I have no sympathy for Lee Siegel.