Sunday, March 8, 2020

Profile of a Bernie Bro.

Nothing left to lose, or just whining a lot?

The New York Times illustrated once again why they cannot be trusted as a news source anymore by publishing an article about a "millennial" couple who have "nothing left to lose" so they are voting for Bernie.

It is another of those "half the story" stories, where important details are left out - or buried in the story so deep that you have to wade through a lot of emotional crap about how their grandma died or something, before you get to the hard numbers.  They want you to feel sorry for the subject of the article, so you miss the point when they get down to the numbers later on.  If they put the numbers first, you'd say, "What?  These people are solidly middle-class!  What are they bitching about?  Some trivial debt?"

The gist of the story is this young man has a shitty credit rating because of an "ambulance ride" he took when he was 18.   Hmmm... 18 - shouldn't you be covered under your parent's health insurance at that age?   And what caused the ambulance ride?  Motorcycle accident?  Drug overdose?   How much of this was just "shit happens" and how much was his fault?   Where were his parents when he was in the hospital at age 18?   We'll never know because The New York Times won't tell us, except to obliquely refer to it:
It started with an ambulance ride when he was 18 and two hospital stays. Then came college loans. By the time Mr. Michelz made it out into the world, his credit score was so low he could not even get a credit card. He has paid for everything he has ever bought — televisions, furniture, cars — up front. After grocery shopping on Wednesday, his bank account had three dollars in it.
Irony alert - he has "nothing left to lose" in life, but has a television, furniture, and a car.  In Somalia, "nothing left to lose" usually means not having eaten in three days and seeing your entire family murdered by Muslim extremists.  Oh, and by the way, paying for everything in cash isn't some hardship, but an advantage.   Buying things on credit, only makes you poorer.

The medical debt is listed as $24,000, but nowhere is it mentioned how much he owes today - or whether he declared bankruptcy at age 18 and wiped out most of it (which would have been the smart thing to do).   A decade later, his credit rating would be in fine shape by now.  Again, half the story - there are holes in it so big, you can drive a truck through them.

But the big ticket was student loans for his wife, reported as an even $100,000 (not $99,892 or $103,456?) for a nursing degree - presumably a post-graduate degree, which means the student loans may include living expenses, and we have no idea how high on the hog she lived as a student.   Was part of this money for a spring break trip?  If so - no sympathy!  I never took a "spring break" trip in my 14 years of college - I couldn't afford that sort of crap.

As for the husband, he went to Lutheran College (WTF?) and now works at a tire store.   Did.. not...see... that... coming.

But a nursing degree - that means a pretty steady job in today's economy, where health care is a larger industry than automobiles.  According to Glassdoor, you can make $43K to $80K as a registered nurse in Wisconsin - much more if you specialize.   So she is making at least the average income in America, and has a $100,000 self-inflicted debt, that costs $800 a month to service.  The cost of living in Madison, Wisconsin isn't too bad - they are renting an apartment there for $1600 a month. And since he has as job at the tire store, their income could be well into the six figures. 

Nothing left to lose, indeed!
Ms. Michelz, 30, borrowed around $100,000 for nursing school, and pays $800 every month, a sum that is more than half their rent in the small, tidy apartment on the southwestern edge of Madison. They both want children, but Ms. Michelz thinks they should wait.
 “I want to be slightly more comfortable financially,” she said, “to have a little extra cushion.”
Yes, indeed, we'd all like to be slightly more comfortable, financially in life - at all stages.  Guess what?  It never happens.  Well, it never happens if you do nothing.  And it will never happen if your idea of being "slightly more comfortable" means squandering yet more money:
Mr. Michelz is now married. After years of blocking out his ruined credit score, he cares a lot about it. He still cannot get a loan, which means leasing a new car is out of the question.  He wants badly to buy one with heated seats for Sarah. 
Arrgh!  Why is it that the plebes think that leasing cars - the most expensive and wasteful way to own a car, is some sort of special treat being denied them?  I have never leased a car in my life, and likely never will.   It just doesn't make any economic sense.   Oh, wait, I answered my own question - poor people are poor because they make poor choices, such as leasing cars (or even wanting to!).   Buy a secondhand car, pay cash, drive it carefully (not like a poor person - full throttle everywhere) and save a bundle of money - enough to pay off those student loans!

The story starts out with the phrase, "Debt has dogged him his entire adult life" - all ten years of it.  And oddly enough, even though he took an ambulance ride at age 18, he didn't bother to vote until four years ago.

Four years ago - age 25, when young people's minds finally finish developing and people start to get their shit together.  It was the age I sobered up (literally) and finished my Engineering degree and started on law school.  And yes, I had student loans and bad credit.  "Only" $38,000 in student loans, which would be about $75,000 in today's dollars.  And yes, I paid them off and went on to succeed in life.

So for all you naysayers who want to say, "You don't know how hard he has it!" I say, Fuck you.  

We all struggle, and the struggles of today's youth are not much different than the struggles of yesteryear.  And we have it easy, today, compared to our predecessors.  Mark's Dad had to jump out a flaming B-17 after seeing the copilot's head blown off.  Yet, I have heard some millenials tell me, with a straight face - that their generation has it worse than any previous generation before them - in a message tagged, "Sent from my iPhone!"

The two profiled in the article will be just fine over time.  Yes, it sucks you have to go off to a "job" every day for the next 30 years.  Guess what?  We all had to do it.   And no, you don't become rich overnight the moment you graduate from college.   And yea, I thought that too, at the time.  I'm making good money, where's my Ferrari?  Turns out, a salary is money to get by on, not money you get rich from.   If you put a little aside and pay down your debts, though, over 20-30 years, you'll be amazed at what happens.

Yes, the young couple profiled in the article have a bright future - that is, unless Sanders gets elected (which is unlikely) and he institutes his policies (which is damn near impossible, given Congress).  Socialized medicine would mean salaries for nurses and other medical practitioners would be controlled - and taxes raised to pay for it all.

I think this fellow should be wary of what he wishes for.   Get-out-of-debt-free sounds like a good deal, but it ain't likely to happen.   Pining for massive social change as a solution to your personal problems is never a good plan.   Odds are, it ain't gonna happen, or if it did, not in a way that would benefit you personally.