Monthly Archives

August 2018

A Dose of Debt Reality

By | Student Debt, The Pragmatist | No Comments

Today, I attended a support group for individuals with crushing debt suggested to me by one of my readers.  Even I did not realize the situation was this bad. Yes, I may be irked by the government profiteering on our backs and the steady decline of the value of a bachelor’s degree simply due to the hubris of those who should be obtaining a vocational degree; however, I find my life to be rich in love, friendship, and purpose, despite any monetary shortfalls.

Today, I learned about those of my peers whose debt burden has led to health problems, divorce, and even suicide.  Listening to their stories, I sat there stunned.

In 1982, my parents got married.  My mother, the math major, crunched the numbers and told my father that they could not get married because the cost of starting a life together exceeded their income.  My father, ever the romantic, told her that love would prevail. He did so with such passion that she did indeed walk down the aisle to hold his hand and continue henceforth on the adventure of life together.  

As the Wall Street Journal corroborates; however, this is not the story we will be telling our children (if we ever can afford to have any).  {cite article}. Honestly, that fills me with a profound sadness. Until one has children of one’s own, life should be a journey of oneself. Not necessarily easy, but rewarding in experience and self discovery.  It is these life lessons that inspire the next generation to achieve greatness beyond their forbearers’ dreams. If we take away the hope, the positive experiences, the fulfillment, what exactly are we passing to the next generation?

Tomorrow, therefore, it is imperative that we fix the problems of today.  We must stop sending our future trades people to obtain degrees they do not need.  We must stop corporations from underinvesting in their most valuable asset, their employees.  And, dear god, we must sponsor programs like Third Estate’s Forgiveness Fellowship to throw a line to our future generation of parents, so that they do not drown in debt, the American Dream, unachieved.


Sincerely yours,

The Pragmatist

Mama Just Don’t Know . . .

By | Student Debt, The Angry Millennial | No Comments

So today Mother and Father were kind enough to help me move into my new apartment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful; however over dinner Mother again asked when would I be settling down, buying a house, and popping out some grandkids for them.  Once again, I explained that having my own home, children, and all of the other traditional milestones of life, were all expensive and beyond my reach, despite the fact that I have a respectable job that pays a “living wage”.  Between my rent, car payment, student debt, and groceries; only a small fraction of my income is left to, for example, save up for a down payment on a house. Of course, Father chimed in at this point saying that he and Mother had all of those expenses too, and they made it work.

It was their sheer lack of comprehension that really irked me, and led me to do some research, so that I could provide them with a cogent response.

So no, Mom and Dad, my situation is not the same as yours.  You may have the same types of debt in name alone at my age, and yes I may make more than you made, but wage growth has not kept up with the growth of the other expenses.  The fact is that the hills I must climb to reach those milestones are steeper than you can imagine. When I do reach those peaks, especially the one that involves progeny, don’t worry, you can make up for lost time by spending more time with your grandchildren than Nan and Pop spent with me.  I can’t afford daycare anyways.

Yours in solidarity,
The Angry Millennial

Survival Under the Shadow of Debt

By | Student Debt, The Angry Millennial | No Comments

Well, we’re all fucked . . .

It’s no secret that America is in the midst of a student debt crisis. But, most people do not understand that we are facing two distinct crises with two distinct groups.  The first group is those people who incur debt, but do not finish their education or alternatively earn a worthless degree. Whose bright idea was it to let you get a communications degree from a community college?  Go work in retail. You’ll learn at least as much and actually get paid for it. Also, if you got shit grades in high school, why on earth would you not go right into the workforce, or at most seek vocational training?  Instead, you continued to get shit grades, flunked out of college, and now are saddled with thousands of dollars of loans that you can’t afford. Good job genius.

These are the people who represent most of the individuals defaulting on student debt. Because they are never able to obtain the higher paying jobs required to pay off their debt, the lost individuals in this group, unable to discharge the debt in bankruptcy, have been squashed by a rock they could never bear.  And, the bankruptcy piece is key. If Lord Protector Trump is right about one thing, it is that our bankruptcy code exists to correct economic fuck ups, so that people can get on with their lives. Because the government is by far the largest owner of student debt (see my diatribe {hyperlink} on that issue), bankruptcy is not an option, and you basically have to die to get out of your student loan.

The bottom line being that we are forcing the lower-middle class into destitution and widening the wealth gap into a chasm.  We are stripping away what few comforts they would have been able to enjoy in their lives, if they had not taken on the student debt.  We are stripping away their hope for a better life. These people will continue to perform the same jobs that they have always performed, rent in the same neighborhood they would have rented in, and, apart from a small hit to consumer goods that can be corrected by selling more product abroad, the American economy will continue to go on.  The more alarming issue is what faces our second group.

Our second group of Americans in crisis are those who take on student debt, do make those soul-crushing monthly payments, but are never able to amass the same financial cushion as their predecessors.  They will rent longer, have kids later, and underfund their retirement. These are our traditional homebuyers. This is both our middle and upper-middle class. Why is this important? These are the individuals to whom the Baby Boomers planned to sell their homes, the asset in which they hold most of their wealth.  Right now, America’s real estate market is enjoying a surge of pent-up demand from the Great Recession. But, when this game of musical chairs is up, what do you think is going to happen to the value of all of those McMansion cookie-cutter suburban homes? Crash, crash, crash.

In short, our current economic clusterfuck is screwing us all.  For those of you who see the writing on the wall, come live with us in our sustainable inner-city neighborhoods.  Yes, the ones that were abandoned a generation ago, and we can ride out this next crash together. We may even share our avocado toast.

Yours in solidarity,
The Angry Millennial

How Does Third Estate’s Points System Work?

By | FAQs | No Comments

At Third Estate, our goal is to give everyone a little more agency in how communities change and function.  Not everyone is the same, and that’s ok. Some people have the capacity to stand on the front lines of change, while others are best suited to supply the tools that move change forward.

From a technical standpoint, when you donate to Third Estate, we convert your dollars to points and provide you with a receipt that allows you to take a deduction on your taxes.  Further, we reallocate a portion of said points to ensure that those on the front lines have some decision-making power as well. Every decision-making point is worth a dollar; however donors only receive one point for every two dollars the contribute.  Think of it like TOMS shoes, where they send one pair of shoes to Africa for every pair that you buy. The other dollar (now point) that you didn’t receive is placed into a pool. From that pool, we take as little as possible to cover our overhead (5%), and distribute the rest to our resident partners on the front lines who have a different perspective on which individuals have the requisite skill set to continue to move the community forward.  No purchase is necessary for them. But, we think you’ll agree with us in that the existing community members should get a say in who their new neighbors are going to be.

One benefit of utilizing a points system is that when you donate to a campaign on our website that fails to raise the amount of forgiveness requested, we refund the points you spent on the campaign back to your account, so that you can allocate them to another campaign.  Points in accounts that have been inactive for a twelve months are swept back into the general fund.

For companies or individuals looking to make a specific impact through a significant donation, we are happy to work with the donor on a special arrangement that may not adhere specifically to the above rules.  For example, we are happy to work with donors to set up donor advised funds, charitable pooled income funds, or other specific vehicles that one might require for their own particular tax situation.

As always, if you have any questions about how we handle your money, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Our priority is to establish a working relationship with our donors that will persist for years to come. 

Battle debt! ~ Build communities! ~ Join the cause!