And what is the first box under the tree, Santa? Such sparkly red and blue wrapping, but the colors seem to want to stay away from each other? How odd. Oh, look, you got me some political news chum. Just what I … wanted …
- Student Loan Forgiveness … Not. Student loads are a major problem for our young adults these days. They leave college with a degree and loads of debt. But there was purportedly a way out: do public service for a number of years. The problem? Out of almost 30,000 people who applied for a forgiveness program, just 96—less than 1 percent—had their debt erased. The problems point to a “huge, huge information gap” between borrowers and loan servicers in general, and that bad information was the reason so many thought they qualified for forgiveness only to discover they didn’t. The reasons might vary from borrowers not having filled out some paperwork, updated their address upon moving, or just not being eligible due to some technicality about which their servicer had failed to inform them. This could also be a problem for another debt forgiveness program—one based on making income-contingent payments for 20 years, regardless of your career.
- Gutting the IRS. The IRS is not a favorite agency of many. They make understanding the tax law hard, and they have to enforce it. But the problem really isn’t the IRS — it is the lawmakers who create the laws. The IRS itself simply attempts to comply with the law and collect the funds so the government can operate. But there’s a problem. An eight-year campaign to slash the agency’s budget has left it understaffed, hamstrung and operating with archaic equipment. The result: billions less to fund the government. That’s good news for corporations and the wealthy. And now with the government shutdown, there’s less money for the IRS. They can take in your money, but they can’t process refunds.
- A Problem for Women in Congress. This year’s congressional cohort has more women than ever. That’s a good thing, especially with the way the men have been behaving. There’s one problem, however. Congress wasn’t built for women. From adding lactation stations to considering child care needs, Congress is rushing to adapt to a record number of women. People who have gone to Engineering schools will understand this well: buildings were designed with men in mind, and women as an afterthought. The same is true with processes in traditionally male disciplines: such as politics. Late nights, last minute meetings, constant travel — none works well for the single mom or the mom with small children. There have also been more women who are middle or lower class elected, and even with a congressional salary, that doesn’t mean they can afford life in Washington. Do many care about this? There are many who see Congress as an enemy. Although some are very wealthy, they aren’t the bulk of our elected effectives, who are just dedicated public servants working for the people.
- But Can’t You See That You’re Wrong? Have you ever had a debate with someone on the other side of the spectrum, and they just couldn’t see how wrong they were? Appropos of my last post, have you wondered by people can’t see through the propaganda? It turns out that people with radical political views, both on the left and the right, are less able to judge when they are incorrect, a study suggests. Scientists at University College London found those on the political fringes tended to overestimate their certainty after getting questions wrong. The study found that people with extreme political views, “…often have a misplaced certainty when they’re actually wrong about something, and are resistant to changing their beliefs in the face of evidence that proves them wrong.”
- Did the Civil War Ever End? This is an interesting opinion piece about how Donald Trump is really a Confederate President, with Confederate Values, acting as if the war didn’t end. It is an interesting read, but based on the previous link: if you agree — you probably agreed before; if you disagree, you probably are on the extreme end of the Confederate / Union spectrum.