Thursday, April 27, 2006

Paperback News

The paperback version of Generation Debt will make its debut in January (not February) 2007. There is a new gorgeous cover and a new awesome subtitle: Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold out for Student Loans, Credit Cards, Bad Jobs, No Benefits, and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers--And How to Fight Back.
There will also be a new chapter, full of activist tales from the road, and an action guide to taking control of your own finances.
I am really excited about this relaunch, I think it's going to be a smash.

On Tubbs Hill

Greetings from gorgeous Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where I am appearing as a featured speaker for the Kootenai County Financial Literacy Week. I talked to about 200 high school students yesterday about how not to get in trouble with credit cards& why it's fun to invest--really!--'cause compound interest and the Rule of 72 can work either for you or against you.
Brad Dugdale, a certified financial planner who invited me here, is also really excited about getting people to opt out of pre-approved credit offers, which you can do here. I could stand to get less junk mail.

My message is in an interesting new context here where real estate values are rising, but you can get a 3-bedroom house for just over $100K, and where kids are skipping out on community college for construction and tourist jobs.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Student Debt Alert Clock

A counter, courtesy of Student Debt Alert, that shows the total amount current and past students are on the hook for, WITHOUT interest. It was at $413 billion last I checked. Pretty close to the 2004, 2005 and projected 2006 budget deficits, all around $400 billion.
That's less than 25% of the nation's total consumer debt, a little over $2 trillion,
5% of the national debt, north of $8 trillion,
and 0.7% of the figure that dwarfs them all, the $53 trillion projected bill for Social Security and Medicare.

Name Check in the NYT

"The Bank of Mom and Dad." Shallow, but relatively sympathetic, take on 20somethings whose lifestyles are subsidized by Boomer parents.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Making College Affordable

Rep George Miller, D-CA, sponsored an online forum this week on college affordability, for which I submitted some "expert" testimony. If you are a student or parent, you can submit testimony here. Miller is the sponsor of a bill along with Senator Dick Durbin that would, quite simply, cut student loan interest rates in half, thus saving the Typical Student Borrower $5,600.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wedding Day Blues

My newest story in the Voice is about Tariq Rivzi, one of approximately 2500 South Asian immigrants to New York City who have been detained or deported since September 11, many seemingly without reason.
Secret prisons and unexplained imprisonments...

UPDATE: Tariq Rivzi was released April 20, I learned. On parole, no explanation. Amazing coincidence, no? Go to the Council on Peoples' Organization if you want to get involved and help more New Yorkers in his community, with legal clinics, afterschool programs, ESL classes, or a donation.

Monday, April 10, 2006

U Michigan Speech Today

Big props to the Michigan Organization of Students, who are trying to start an undergraduate union and are staging a three-day teach-in called Tent State University. I spoke today on the steps of the library in Ann Arbor about the French example and why students should encourage others to fight for their own economic interests--and provide a positive alternative.
For more about the Tent State movement, go here.

Mom to Kid: You're On Your Own for College

An amazing story climbing the NYT most-emailed list: the laissez-faire economic order has finally reached the family, with parents leaving kids on their own more and more to pay for ginormous college costs. Don't take my word for it:

"What I've really seen in the last 10 years is a generational shifting of the responsibility" to pay for college, said Ellen Frishberg, director of student financial services at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "Our parents helped us pay for school. These parents are not as willing to help their children pay for school."

"It's such a new phenomenon that there's not a lot to compare it to," said Christine W. McGuire, director of financial assistance at Boston University. She said changing attitudes about debt were behind the trend. "We're so comfortable with debt burden now as a society, and the parents already have a significant debt burden of their own, they may not see it as a big deal if students are also taking on large amounts of debt," she said.

Maggie Walsh, a senior at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Ga., said that although her top choice for college this fall was New York University, she was worried about the cost, which could come to more than $30,000 a year for tuition alone, according to N.Y.U.'s Web site. As a Georgia resident, she said, she could take advantage of a state scholarship program that offers full tuition at any public state university to any high school student with a B average.
"I've been thinking about it," Ms. Walsh said. "If I don't get any financial aid from such-and-such a college, is it worth going into years and years of debt? It's starting to look like more and more of a bad idea."

French Young People Win--But for What?

An amazing demonstration of youth power--they got that discriminatory law overturned. But what now? They're still 22% unemployed. Entreprenueurial incentives? Liberalize somewhere else? Do they have an alternative?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Newsday Reviews

Check it out


Some funny blog-reviews of my Canadian radio debate on "The Current" today with Leonard Steinhorn, author of The Greatest Generation, about how grateful we should all be for the Baby Boomers and their contributions to diversity and tolerance. Steinhorn has a conversation-stopping habit of quoting shocking instances of retro racism and sexism to bolster his argument. He seems especially offended by the fact that African-Americans once used toxic bleaches to lighten their skin and hair. True but what of today's tanning-salon craze? Turnabout is fair play I must say.
A more serious problem was that he didn't engage either my argument (Boomers are leaving America quite a mess to clean up) or Professor MacMillan's (the 60s were complicated, and besides, where did all those conservatives come from?) but instead kept repeating his talking points.
ps he was 20 minutes late keeping me waiting in Boston and MacMillan in Toronto.
pps. I know my voice is a little high and girlish. I was getting over a cold yesterday so it was prob breathier than usual. Working on it though.

Imagining the Future of Global Warming

I think this is a brave, important piece. It's about envisioning what we need to do--not just wringing our hands.

Climate change should be the primary driver in our biggest decisions over the next 20 years. It should define our major economic investments, tax policies and foreign policy. It is that big. It is that big of a threat, that big of an opportunity. It is not merely one of many important issues -- it is the issue that will define our generation. It is our destiny.

Wages Up, Workers Scarce in China

Fascinating. It had to happen I guess.

The shortage of workers is pushing up wages and swelling the ranks of the country's middle class, and it could make Chinese-made products less of a bargain worldwide.

They say lower down that the number of Chinese people enrolled in college has tripled since 1999, to 14 million (US has 15 million). And minimum wages are up 25% in three years in the big cities.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Reprint in the Times

A little article I wrote last month for Men's Health on "What's Your Spending Style?" rated a mention in the Saturday business section of the NY Times.