is college worth it

[PODCAST] #375: College Debt – The Most Expensive Lesson of All Time?


Today's guest is Mike Vine, the Editor at Schiff Gold News and the Principal at Centinel Consulting. I sat down with him last week in his Portsmouth, NH office to discuss the recent paper by Addison Quale titled, "The Student Loan Bubble: Gambling with America’s Future."

Episode #375 In a Nutshell:

- the place for personal responsibility in the student loan debt crisis
- Student loans represent the third bubble in the last 20 years, following the dot coms in the late-90s and the mortgage crisis of 2008
- there is a 300% increase in student loan debt in the last 10 years
- almost 25% of all loans are in some state of non-payment (default, deference, or forbearance)
- the significance of debt to GDP ratio
- the economic implications of this crisis
- How can people protect themselves? Precious metals? Bitcoin? Expatriation?
- Mike's advice for students

Additional Visualizations:

Look Closer - Related Episodes:

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  1. I have a simple rule with economists. I look for evidence that they have been right in the past before trusting their projections on the future. Unfortunately, the Austrian school comes up short. I remember back during the bank bailout of 2008 they were predicting hyperinflation by 2010. That it did not happen means there is a fundamental misunderstanding of money there.

    But he’s right about student loans – indentured servitude awaits. Community college and apprenticeship seem a better deal these days.

    • To me that sounds like a great policy for just about every self proclaimed public oracle. Economist, Social commentator, Religious figure, Politician etc… If they screwed up predicting the future in the past, perhaps their mental model of the operations of the system they are making predictions about aren’t quite right. I’ll have to be more vigilant about checking in with the predictions of such oracles… *Sigh* guess I’m going to have to be less lazy… again…

      Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who is wary of Austrian economists (along with most other schools of economics). I just wish I could pinpoint why I am wary… Perhaps it is the push to readopt precious metals as full blown currency instead of leaving it as an asset as it is now. Tell me, if we all rushed to gold and silver, wouldn’t that inflate the price a whole bunch again? Would that, by definition, be a potential bubble? Didn’t we have a small precious metal bubble back in 2011-2012… I seem to remember the price sky rocketing for a couple of months, and then crashing back down to its historic norm as people figured they’d missed the boat and decided to not enter the suddenly high price game.

      In fact, I kind of take problem with the notion that any currency, be it fiat, metal, or other asset is backed by anything other than the arbitrary value we put into it at any given time, being inversely proportional to the price of the products for which we collectively agree it can be exchanged. That or in the case of the U.S. dollar the fact that the U.S. military will be ordered to bust down your door and terrorize and/or otherwise take your life if you do not follow whatever arbitrary rules the people in charge choose to put in place regarding its use and exchange.

      • Vine did not seem to realize, it chose to ignore, that we don’t have a government banking system, but rather a private one. I found that odd. He’s also caught up in the demand curve/money supply dynamic. Economies are complicated, and I do not understand ours here in the US. I just wish that others, like Vine, who don’t understand large interrelated and multidimensional things like national economies, would just say so too. It’s bigger than a guy with a money press. It’s bigger than our brains. Stop trying to reduce it down to your personal political philosophy …

        Which reminds me … At a certain point he talks about Atlas shrugging, and I realize we got ourselves another Randian. THat whole school works fine fo college freshmen, but man, you have to move forward.

  2. Ha! You mentioned Addison Quale. I’ve known since he was five. I went to grade school with him. I could tell you a lot more about him, But I’m responsible for him being an anarchist.

  3. oh poor neglected comment sections… One of these days I’ll get back on facebook so I can join in on the broader discussion. Till then, I may as well speak my mind here, in the safety of inattention.

    We, as a nation, have gotten ourselves into quite the pickle haven’t we. We are caught in the transition between competing societal narratives, and culturally adopted life scripts. My narrow generation is suffering the effects of that transition quite heavily. If you are five years older then me, you likely got into a career before the recession hit and employers ramped up layoffs and switched everything to contract labor. You may be able to get by because you still have the social tokens of success to stick on your resume that will allow you to find more good employment in the old crumbling labor market.

    If you were born 5 years after me, you had a good chance to be raised with the coming life script. Our society is slowly turning over to the purely experience based social token of success. In the coming years, due to the inflation of the college degree and certifications, we’ll switch to social proof based on your online presence and network contacts.

    If you are in my generation, You either have to work hard to go digital native, or you are drowning in the debt of your college tuition. Or you are like me, you are completely screwed as you have neither social proof for the old or the coming social structures. The money ran out before you finished college, and you were raised on the wrong life script and didn’t know you were supposed to be a full time maker of things and producer of content, and publishing all your accomplishments to all the world all the time… and your livability is greatly at risk.

    What is my point? I lost it in all my rambling… I lost it all. I lost at life.

    So what do I do now? I live in fear of falling into a life of progressive squalor as opportunities continue to dry up. No one wants to take a chance on me and I don’t have the safe space to really start something new on my own. I am the star of a Greek Tragedy, taken down by the mix of fatal flaw and perfect circumstances.

    What was the fatal flaw? Seeking to be “Well Rounded” in a climate where the persons in highest demand is a honed specialist. I can’t find my so called “Passion” that everyone else says ad-nauseum, “you should follow.” I simply do not have one. I have a dozen thousand interests, and an allergy to the monomania that is Passion.

    We’ll get out of the pickle, as a species I mean. But there is very little guarantee for people like me, or people in my generation, falling through the cracks as the tectonic plates of our society shift in upheaval. I just hope for everyone else’s sake that when the grounds settle, that the grass will be greener…

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