Showing posts with label Wall Street Journal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wall Street Journal. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

George Floyd gets 3 funerals: Who mourns the death of 2 black police officers?

Many years ago, I was driving on a lonely stretch of highway in northeast Louisiana when I was stopped for speeding by a Madison Parish deputy sheriff. The officer was polite and didn't threaten me in any way. Nevertheless, it was dark when I got pulled over, and I was a little frightened.

I suppose you could say it was an edifying experience because I never speeded through rural Louisiana again. In fact, I  gradually gave up speeding altogether because I didn't want to scare the hell out of myself by getting pulled over by a Southern cop.

Cops scare me, and I don't mess with them. I don't know anyone who does.

 I don't feel entitled to disobey a cop because I am a middle-class, white guy. Unlike a couple of attorneys in New York City, I don't feel privileged to throw a firebomb into a police cruiser simply because I have a law degree.

George Floyd's death is an outrage. The killing of any unarmed black man while in police custody is a tragedy. But I do not believe our nation's police departments are packed with racists. I agree with the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which said yesterday that "[a] solid body of evidence finds no structural bias in the criminal justice system with regard to arrests, prosecution or sentencing [of African Americans]."

Hysterical and baseless charges of endemic police racism have made cops vulnerable to violence.  David Dorn, a retired St. Louis police officer, was shot and killed by a looter while guarding a friend's pawn shot. A video shows him lying in his own blood on a sidewalk.  People were filming his mortal distress, but I didn't see anyone try to help him. Dorn was black.

Patrick Underwood, a federal security officer, was shot to death a few days ago while guarding a federal building in Oakland. Underwood was black.  

Mr. Floyd will have funerals in three states: Minnesota, North Carolina, and Texas. I'm sure Mr. Underwood and Mr. Dorn will have just one funeral.

Over the past week, more than a hundred law enforcement officers have been injured while they were trying to preserve public order and stop arson, looting, and vandalism.  Some of them are men. Some of them are women. Many of them are white, but some of them are black.

I don't know about you, but I'm in favor of "domestic tranquility"--the domestic tranquility that our Constitution promises to promote. And we won't have domestic tranquility if a significant portion of our population believes that attacking a police officer is justified as an act of civil disobedience.



David Dorn, retired police officer








Monday, May 28, 2018

Mike Meru racked up $1 million in student loans to go to dental school. Will he ever pay it back?

Perhaps you read Josh Mitchell's story in the Wall Street Journal about Mike Meru, who took out $600,000 in student loans to go to dental school at University of Southern California. Due to fees and accrued interest, Meru now owes $1 million.

How did that work out for Dr. Meru? Not too bad actually. He's now working as a dentist making $225,000 a year. He entered an income-based repayment plan (IBR), which set his monthly payments at only $1,590 a month. If he makes regular payments for 25 years, the unpaid balance on his loans will be forgiven.

But as WSJ's  Josh Mitchell pointed out, Dr. Meru's payments don't cover accruing interest, which means his student-loan debt continues to grow at the rate of almost $4,000 a month. By the time, Dr. Meru completes his 25-year payment obligations, he will owe $2 million. Although this huge sum will be forgiven, the IRS considers forgiven debt as taxable income. Dr. Meru can expect a tax bill for about $700,000.

The student-loan program's many apologists will say Dr. Meru's case is an anomaly because most people borrow far less to get their postsecondary education. In fact, only about 100 people owe $1 million dollars or more. But 2.5 million college borrowers owe at least $100,000; and even people who borrow far less are in deep trouble if they drop out of school before graduating or don't land a good job that allows them to service their loans.

Here are the lessons I draw from Dr. Meru's case:

First, income-based repayment programs are insane because student debtors make payments based on their income, not the amount they owe. Dr. Meru's payments are set at $1,590 a month regardless of whether he borrowed $100,000, $200,000 or $600,000.  Thus, IBRs operate as a perverse incentive for students to borrow as much as they can, because borrowing more money doesn't raise the amount of their monthly payments.

Second, IBRs allow professional schools to raise tuition year after year without restraint because students simply borrow more money to cover the increased cost. USC told Mr. Meru that dental school would cost him about $400,000, but USC increased its tuition at least twice while Meru was in school; and Meru wound up borrowing $600,000 to finish his degree--far more than he had planned for.

Does USC feel bad about putting its graduates into so much debt? Apparently not. Avishai Sadan, USC's dental school dean, said this: "These are choices. We're not coercing. . . You know exactly what you're getting into." By the way, Dr. Sadan got his dentistry degree in Israel: and I'll bet it cost him a lot less than $600,000.

And here's the third lesson I draw from Dr. Meru's story. The student loan program is destroying the integrity of professional education.  As I've explained in recent essays, the federal student loan program has allowed second- and third-tier law schools to jack up tuition rates, causing graduates to leave school with enormous debt and little prospect of landing good jobs.

A medical-school education now costs so much that graduates are forced to choose the most lucrative sectors of the medical field in order to pay off their student loans. That is why more and more general practitioners are foreign born and received their medical training overseas, where people don't have to borrow a bunch of money to get an education.

Dr. Avishai Sadan, Dean of USC's School of Dentistry
"You know exactly what you're getting into."
References

Josh Mitchell. Mike Meru Has $1 Million in Student Loans. How did That Happen? Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2018.