My pal Zac Bissonnette, author of Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents, commends this good reporting from Money Magazine:

. . . For fees typically ranging from $800 to $4,000, these advisers — who represent a niche within the college planning universe — promise to help families save for college, pick good schools, and maximize aid.

The product many are promoting: life insurance. They tout guaranteed returns and point out that a loophole makes life insurance one of the few savings options that won’t hurt a student’s chances for need-based aid. That’s mighty attractive to parents disappointed in 529 returns and frustrated by colleges’ miserly aid packages.

Yet a four-month investigation by MONEY has found that, in reality, the people most likely to profit from this strategy are the planners themselves — most of them insurance agents with flimsy college-planning credentials and, often, little understanding of financial aid. . . .


Stephen G.:  “Hilarious column yesterday, Andy [suggesting we borrow the money to employ people to revitalize our infrastructure] — a great satire from the guy who wrote The Only Guide. Did you fall on your head on that ‘Ultra Liberal Groupthink Cruise’ and forget what you wrote about living within your means?  At least you’re safer in NY now with Emperor Cuomo. Today Obama may give the final blow to the Bill of Rights, we’ll see. I note that a Congressman will try impeachment, should have happened for NDAA but I’ll take it for this.  (‘After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.’ – William S. Burroughs)”

☞ Thanks, Stephen.  So a family should never take out a mortgage to buy its first home?  That’s huge deficit spending. Never put office supplies on a credit card to start a small business?  Never take out student loans to get an education?  Never borrow to fix the car they need to get to work?

Some things are perfectly reasonable to borrow for, especially when the 10-year interest rate is essentially zero.  You’d really rather let the country crumble than borrow to put people back to work strengthening it?  Continue to hemorrhage from energy inefficiency than spend what it takes to shape up?  This is not you at your most far-sighted.

Imagine if someone had said in 1943 that we shouldn’t build so many ships and planes and send so many troops abroad because we had to borrow (and,  by the way, tax) massively to do it.  Treason!  We had to win that war.  (And then, over 35 years — until Reagan reversed the happy trend — we gradually shrank our national debt ratio back to its pre-war, pre-Depression level.)

Well, we have to win this war, too — the war for a modern, efficient, healthy, competitive society — and, as I’ve suggested so many times before, the great thing about this war is that instead of borrowing all that money to blow things up, we’ll be borrowing to build things that last 100 years.  And lowering our expenditures on unemployment insurance and food stamps at the same time.

So that’s part one.

As to guns, I’m not sure I’d look to William Burroughs for the most thoughtful public policy.

Is it your view that “the right of citizens to buy Stinger missiles without a background check shall not be abridged?”  I think you’d agree we do have to regulate the bearing of those arms, useful though they would be in repelling the gunship attacks of a tyrannical government.  So where do you draw the line?  Howitzers?  Machine guns?  Is the line perfectly drawn today, with just the right safeguards?  When Congress passed the assault weapons ban in 1994 — by a simple voice vote in the House and a bipartisan 61-38 vote in the Senate — did you call for impeachment?  And ARE background checks okay?  If so, why NOT close the glaring, gaping, gun show loophole?



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