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Why hasn’t student debt been canceled?


Dylan and Dara are joined by Vox’s Libby Nelson to talk about the policy merits and political implications of plans to cancel some or all student loans. They also discuss whether President Joe Biden has the power to cancel student debt unilaterally. And, Vox’s Jerusalem Demsas joins Dylan and Dara for a white paper about prisoners of war and genetics. 




  • Sofi LaLonde, producer and engineer
  • Libby Nelson, editorial adviser
  • Amber Hall, deputy editorial director of talk podcasts

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Cooperation distributor. How and welcome to another observed the weeds. I'm your host Dylan Matthews and I am joined today by two excellent colleagues. Longtime weeds hosts Darwin VOX policy editor and would be Nelson hello. We were going into a bit of a non traditional upset. Today were we're gonna talk about our main topic with Libya for a bed and then she's gonna, hop off and boxes for some damn says is gonna come and talk about today's white paper, but first to these pursued is all about student loans. We brought libyan, because you spent many years covering bad at box, foregoing I read, among other places, if
on areas of twitter, Tik Tok, where recent college grads tend to hang out, you might have seen bash tat, cancel student deck going around. This is her bubbled up, since the by the industry an extended the pause and soon learn payments through May that's been happening through most of the pandemic, and now there is increasing pressure to incentives are part in payments, I just cancel some or all of student at fur for Ex college or grad student But if, like me, you instead mostly follows: follow a majority leader text. Schumer you'll, see that this is also something that alot The leaders are invested in I. He has frequently called for Joe Biden to forgive the first. Fifty thousand dollars in loans owed by each borrower and clean that biting can do this with executive power alone by himself says he only sports cancelling ten thousand. dollars and up her borrower and his administration has said they asked the Department of Education,
to prepare a memo outlining whether or not that would be legal with the powers of the Department of Education has now. Such a memo has not been publicly relief, officially by the department in activists, did He's a freedom of information ACT requests to get in almost a hundred percent rejected private memo, which confirms that such a memo does exist. In that their working on this, but we do know what it says, or if this would be legal. before we get into, does that nitty gritty, we wanted to start first How about some policies takes here and then get into some cases, foreign against debt forgiveness? So Libby you Curtis for a long time, but serve the state of play on student tat right now so right now, literally right now, I'm student loan repayments we're supposed to resume next month after having been on pause for almost two years since the beginning of the pandemic. We're supposed to resume in February, but there was
a lot of controversy and pushed back about payments resuming and then probably more important. We hit the comecon surge and so they had now it's their passing again and payments for resuming so there's of an interesting state of play here where student debt is obviously a huge issue for people headlines for a long time, We also have now like almost two years of college graduates and people who ve left school and all in all of that who have actually never had to make a low payment, their people whose loans were in trouble, I'm who had it been making payments who have now had almost too yours, you know without having to pick those back up, and so there a lot of concerns, I'm just about resuming payments and about how that structure is going to work and whether people are going to fall between the acts and then going off of that. We also have the broader conversation about debt forgiveness. I think people have actually forgotten in some ways why
The status quo wise and student loans prior to the pandemic, but there were a lot of people who were paying just on the standard. You know you take on an amount of money and you have ten years european plan. Then there we're a lot o. I I dont even know the exact number of income based repayment plans, which are all variations on the same theme of your your loan him. It is based either on your income, or on your discretionary income, and a lot of those plans had some kind of forgiveness element, but the forgiveness had been really hard for a lot of people to act. ass an so that's basically were things stand now we have essential nobody having having been required to make payments for two years or almost
here is, and we have sort of that thing, that machinery that was already sort of cream and confusing being about to come back to life. Initially it was supposed to be next month, and now it's going to be. It looks like later the spring, so a lot of be discussion around the proposals for student loan forgiveness and coming back to this, like basic distributive questions like who? Would we be helping by doing this? So can you talk about who the student debt holders are and whether that's you know how is affected by this kind of difference between the long time student that holders in this, in a tea, Angie student debt that you're talking up now so an interesting thing about student loans in the: U S is that they are simultaneously incredibly widespread in terms of comparisons to any other point in history into most other countries in the world, while
Also not being white is universal as a lot of people with student. Dad, who been mostly associate with other people who have been to college might think they are so there's a couple of things. I think here exactly how many people have didn't blow. That is not something. That's measured, quite as closely is how many dollars of student load that that there are and there's about one point, seven trillion dollars of outstanding student loan decorate out that is held by people who went to college and graduated and went to graduate school and graduated, and those are the people who, for the most part, to dominate sort of control conversations around student that, but it's all who held by people who went to college and dropped out in didn't finish and it how by, in other cases, the parents of college students- and this is what I think
ex thinking about how widespread this phenomenon is to be seen to be somewhat difficult, because graduating from college with the bachelors decree is still not an incredibly common experience in America. about a third of all adults in the United States actually have a bachelor's degree, but going to college I'm having some college is much more widespread and the majority of people actually have gone to college, I'm just so. You know to some extent but they're that they finished an associate degree or either they started and didn't finish I'm so we're talking about. You know different kinds of people with different experiences who actually have student loans, that their college graduates who have loan sort of in that two thousand five hundred and twenty, the thirty five thousand dollars range, which is obviously, if you know a lot of money to be showing at the beginning of your adult life, we're talking about people who went to law school and went to medical school who have much bigger loans that I grab. As you know, if, if an undergraduate loan is like a fancy car alone, I'm a gradual loan is like it a small mortgage. You know it's really a lot of debt and then
talking about people who don't have have any degree might not o nearly as much money, I'm usually less than ten thousand dollars, but really really struggling to pay it back At the same time, it's it's both of a pretty widespread fan. and I am certainly more widespread than it was a generation ago, certainly more widespread than it is in other countries. At the same time, it's really far from universal. It's difficult to put an exact number on on people with student. At the most recent report I could find from the Department of Education is that they they record having forty two point: eight million undue blockaded student aid recipients, and so some people get student loans that are private, so those wouldn't be included in that number. But the vast majority of the portfolio is is held by the Department of Education after the affordable care actin and serve associated legislation. Most of the industry was now
lies and put an end, the Department of Education, but yet until it point forty two point, eight million people is a lot of people is also about sixteen seventeen percent of the serb over eighteen population, and so we're talking about a very like intensely impacted group of people. but distinct minority in need all population, and also, I think, give in what we know about education, polarization and the movement of people with advanced agrees toward the Democratic Party and also the concentration of soon launch among young people disproportion
We have is a population that this kind of violence base, and so, on the one hand that might apply he wants to do things for them, but it also might mean that eating kind of ie does need to persuade them. This isn't something that's gonna, like turn the state of Montana. The other part of this is just the havoc not having great data, makes it harder to persuade politicians the kind of lake, even as more information comes out like the Wall Street Journal, did a killer investigation this past year on graduates all debt and end she wishes and the extent to which, like a lot of graduate programmes, have become a way for universities to generate, new that don't necessarily give the career benefits that they promise that you still have this
a little bit generationally out of date, idea that if you are getting a for your college degree or certainly, if you're going posed college, you must be in enough as it. You must be in a position where we can easily repay any debt that you incur You must already have enough economic capital enough social capital that, like you're, not a distributive politics, concern and not having great data on who exactly is affected by this. Even as we know that there is a group of people who are intensely affected makes it that much harder for advocates to build the case and, frankly harder for politicians to do the calculating of whether there actually is going to be tangible benefit of sort that's going to persuade people to vote for them next November will be. I would ask of a bit about more about applying the you're making that serve that these college finisher in college. A tender populations are quite different that sort of the median american someone went to college, but didn't finish at it doesn't like when we're thinking about her
Mr Lehne problem. There are their different populations that people have different amounts of concern for I, What am I best friends in the world is a theatre director is applying for em. If a programme, I am not going to help him give his ones for that. That is his own decision to I love the unique back come on, and on the other extreme are people who, like got taken advantage of by for profit colleges and often left without a degree in any very extreme debt or people who were unable to finish college students or life circumstances and stop deference which is in terms of how big a share of the student debt loads serve. People in that sort special concern case are of a search for profits or or non finish people who attended for profit colleges are a fairly
share of of student debt relative to the share of students who actually attend those colleges, but where they really show up, is there a much much larger share of the people who end up defaulting org? In other words, you don't not paying back their loads, and that's where really prior to their getting a lot of energy for some kind of broad based forgiveness. The Obama administration was really focused on measures, That would either reign in those. colleges and sort of crackdown on their practices. The idea of Sir retroactively for giving the debt of people had already taken on is actually much mention newer and that really has only come into. The conversation ten years ago. Ten years ago, this year, while I read story about the twenty hovel action and student dad people it being really the first year. That's didn't that was in the mainstream as a political issue, and it starts with.
Leave about a guy who was petitioning for broad based, didn't forgiveness and its basically exoticism like, of course, everybody so things, that's a crazy idea, but the idea that, like student loans are you know, an important policy issue is really gains and currency, and it's like it's a wild Overton window, omit to read that it be like nobody any more as saying the Uno. That's a completely crazy idea. We can't even consider it so. This is really to a degree of movement that ripple that out of concern about for profits, some of the debt jubilee work. Some of the activism around student loans started as activism around for profit colleges and then through the occupied movement through other things, it sort of drew into its orbit. People who have died from you now going to private colleges and and and borrowing in order to afford the tuition. People who went to public colleges for states are picking up less and less of the tab, and so
because this is actually an groping toward kind of it. One of the big questions here, which is what does student debt relief accomplished, systemically You know, there's there's that there is a repair it is sort of cast to this of while we let the system get really screwed up, it's gotten increasingly screwed up over time. I think all of that is true. You know there are people who were taken advantage of their people who weren't like taken advantage of in the sense that colleges were making them promises that they couldn't deliver There are people who, in the seventies, would get wouldn't have had to take on this level of debt to attend a public college and so a lot of the pushes in a we should do something about that. What we do about that, after we forgive the debt for those people is a much harder were open. Question I think it's why, even in some progressive policy circles where there has been a lot of concern about dad. I'm a lot of concern about for profit. Specifically, there is an all
ways as much enthusiasm about bride based wide sweeping forgiveness, as you might expect monetarily, because of that question of lake okay. So you know what now we help the class of twenty twenty, but what a point about the closet, twenty twenty four who were already about you know her already taking on those loud. What does this due to not just sort of repair of a system that broke earlier, but to make sure that were not? You know in this position where we're just doing right, based massive, didn't mind: forgiveness, every four or five years. There's one other aspect of the who question that I wanted to Hold down on and that's the kind of racial equities of this because obviously as ice as the rural majority, if not, every wiesner knows it's not because the percentage come up on the podcast de racial wealth. Racial wealth gap is until and persistent, and obviously that has a pretty big effect on whether you know non white, and particularly black students have families that can easily cover
ass if to issue. And what do we know about the racial considerations here? Yes, there's that there's a couple of eggs. One is that, yes, there is a huge racial wealth gap angle. Just did it get for precisely why what you're saying it's sort of whether or not you have to take on that is fundamentally about the resources that you have been almost more often about the resources that your parents have, or even your grandparents or your great grandparents have because there's a lot of intergenerational assistance with college wishing the number of loans where people oh more than they were originally borrowed because compounding interest because they haven't been able to make. You know that high enough payments is massively massively higher for black students than men for rights. It is so student forgiveness would disproportionately help people who has didn't loan that short black, because there is a really massive racial gap in terms of how much people have to borrow an often how how quickly and how efficiently there able to pay it act. But there is also especially when you look beyond lake,
Current college students there's also a big gap in who attend college and especially who graduates from college, and so while it can be true that people who take out soon ones who are black and with more Gatt and end up struggling more with that dad, it's us True, the proportionally especially historically more white people have gone to college in the first place and have taken on that, and so that's how something can both be a contributor to the racial off gap without being necessarily the main driver or forgiveness being able to erase it entirely. all right. We're gonna take a quick break after we're back we're going to die. The bit into solutions for student debt ends are what a progressive and well targeted forgiveness programme might look like. Did you get a decent hardy bonus this year or a really generous check from that uncle? You should call more often, if you can. some cash to spare for the new year and are looking to give back give wells, approved charities are great place. To start. Give us once more.
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policy genius dot com to get your free life insurance closed and see how much you could save. Ok, we're back. So we talked a bit about the basis of the student debt problem levy taxes through a lot of that. The data there and ends of where the problem is most acute. So, let's like a bit about solutions, so adding part of why we're all talking austrian dead right now is that it seems like something that may be by an administration could do on its own without Congress. It is not in bill back better or any other sort of legislative proposals being way by Congress right now, and so, if it any kind of forgiveness happens, it seems like you'd have to happen from executive action and I not sure if that's totally ironclad illegally,
careened a scholar. Yell has been making this argument for many years and it has to do with education's ability to settle debts. Bites I've Edinburgh, decent arguments that, but that power does not cover math cancellation by keeping that in mind. How do you guys think about how we should target debt relief? seems like most debate. Right now is happening in terms of dollar sizes that the bite and once the first ten thousand dollars, touch him or once the first fifty thousand dollars. But it sounds like if we can. We might once more nuanced kinds of relief, Liddy wow. What are some of the main ways of thinking about this yeah actually disagree with me,
the idea that a more nuanced kind of relief, which would ultimately be better, I mean Otis, for it would be that the education of Hartman? Certainly they will try tat. If I were, you went to school deciding springs from the idea that there are groups are classes of borrowers for whom either the case for forgiveness is sort of a form of repetitive. Justice is stronger in thinking about the for profit students or for profit dropouts, particularly on their people, for whom loan cancellation would make a big difference if we were to think in terms of your debt to income ratio or your debt to lake a potential, income ratio in the case of lawyers who borrow you know like it truly. Fighting amount of money that ended up earning a truly horrifying amount of money later on. So I do think you could constructive programme, that's like if you weren't, you are for profit call, Between this year and this year, when there were really knows not very many farm regulations, there is a strong case that use you could be able to have your deferent, and what concerns me about that is that the federal Student Loan repayment programme
instantly system in general is already overloaded with new ones and the choices one of Big issues is that there is wine? Ok, everybody peace back their loan based on income in its forgiven after exploited time programme. There is like seven of them. I'm not gonna. Look of exactly how many, because its astonishing and are always like. Maybe we should create a new reform programme and like now, maybe you should not have seventeen different repayment programmes? Public? service loan forgiveness, which is the closest thing we have to a target Ed Loan Forgiveness Programme in the United States, is a mess. I mean it's a mess because you have to certify that you ve been working in this profession that you ve done it for ten years, a break. I know somebody who literally works on this subject like she is an expert on public servant, loan forgiveness and the repayment of student loans- and she has had a incredibly difficult time get-
her own loan certified in forgiven- and this is somebody who is in like the chocolate, ten or fifteen people in America in knowing and understanding this programme, and so I do think, like I think you have to talk in terms of dollar amounts because they think anything else end up getting so convoluted and complicated that it's not going to reach the people that is meant to help because they're gonna, you know, there's gotta, be paperwork errors. I think that's where we started to the question of: is it ten thousand dollars? Is it fifty thousand dollars? Is that all of it I have really going through like a journey on this. A year ago I was pretty foolish, that's a good one. I was pretty I'm student loan forgiveness. I really thought there was a decent chance that the ten thousand dollars to find and had promised on the campaign trail was going to happen, and I thought that for a couple of reasons that is going to get the people who will they don't dominate. The conversation really do suffer the most from student that we just people who took on debt to get degrees that they never finished. For the most part, these people do a less than ten thousand dollars,
and they are very often caught up in student Monday fault, which is, which is how, like please make any kind of him Henderson, and if you can, it's really really bad to get in a situation where you are in your in default. They can really garnish your wages. They can garnish your social security checks that can go sort of all the way up. And that also gets. You know a fairly in full amount for the typical undergraduate it would be between half in a third, depending on how long you been paying your loans out, if you our round thirty to thirty five thousand dollars, if you ve been making payments for a couple of years, but really the reason I thought it was going to happen was that we were in a context of massive stimulus and forgiving. Ten thousand dollars of debt seemed like actually pretty decent stimulus. people who probably would spend that money. You know I on something else when you're talking about people who have degrees have jobs that are doing okay, but would prefer not to have that it would make a really big difference in the lives of people who aren't in that position. I think, unfortunately, what we're looking at now is in a car
where the concerns are much more about inflation, where hey, let's do a little bit more extra stimulus is like not something that's going to get the amount of okay. This is fine. Reaction, that even maybe people who were like super concerned Moral urgency of cancelling student data were concerned about the distributive effects, probably still it if I could see that still winning over people of lake. we'll gives them highly educated consumers a little more money every month and what will get the economy going again? I think without that arguments it's really hard to see this happening, and I think it's, I think anything more than ten thousand dollars is probably always dead in the water like that was that was Joe Biden bid add they are growing
I work on higher than that. The thing about the ten thousand dollars is. I am not sure I fully understand how this is actually being scooped out right, because President Biden argument appears to be twofold, one that he is willing to, which seems like a straightforward. If not, if you know politically movable position to that, he doesn't believe he has the legal authority to you more, which gets back to the question of this lake Secret reacted memo and what the Biden Administration has actually like, had its lawyers determine and- we are in the process that is, but it also strikes me as a fundamentally weird legal argument to make that lake somehow legally authorized to the eagerly the other as G, unilaterally forgive debt, but you're not like author as to unilaterally forgive more debt is there any earlier rightly is. Is there it? Is there any prospect that the number here is going to end up getting determined by this question of
There is legal, or is it really just gonna be a binary either it's ten thousand or zero, and we won't whether what role that this secret department, education memo ever played in creating political will or not. I think all of us here literally oughta podcast called the weeds and many of us it bugs in many of the people who like like to write about policy and legal issues with love for the real question here to be legal authorities, because an interesting heads naughty and we can t get joy, I will plead guilty, but yet fair, I don't think that's the determining factor. I think, if you look at how President's have used executive power over the past few administrations, if they thought there, a justification to do it and they really wanted to do it. They would try it and see. I maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe I'm being cynical here by my impression is that early of maybe a little bit less, though with his administration, but I'm thinking about you know, Obama's, very strong pivot to executive action. Let me die this into your bailiwick with doc? I adopt,
generally if they truly believe there is a moral and political urgency when issue, and there is a legal justification to try it even with the Supreme Court that might not eventually let them do it, which, oh, my god, with that biomass, you and see and attacks- and I do think like that- the legal I think the legal authority questions are really interesting, and I would like to talk about the more because their interesting but I am not sure like what exactly is in that quota, unquote secret mama, which is very funny if you open. It is like six pages This being so, it's like a memo existed and some people wrote some males about it. That's what we know about it, I'm not sure like a smoking guide on? Why Biden hasn't forgiven student London? That I think he has a forgiven soon, learn that because it's not a priority for him, I think that's like that's the answer I think we can make some educated guesses as to what is in that memo, not as to where they ultimately come down on it, but like the way that in trade ministration questions of legal authority generally go as we know we're going to get sued. Is it worth the fact that were going
to get sued and do we think the courts will ultimately rule in our favour and lake from that perspective, really does come down to a political will question anyway of if we know we're going to end up going to the Supreme Court yeah exactly exactly like the re yea. The delegation of, but like the litigation you know and is now? something that they appear to be willing to take on is appears to be the upshot of that concrete actions. Even if it wasn't the upshot of myself, I mean what
we can't married a word of this. We have no idea why this mammoth, as I want to be extremely clear. We know a lot more about certain CIA programmes that we know about this up. I also like, whenever, like education, have hurt, but why are you a research, something for like a couple days or whatever? I is probably living a very interesting life right Alec. Somebody should direct act by email to be like gloomy secret emails that it's like you just the use and release them anyway. I think the legal question here also like really truly is Greeley thorny. There are some interesting tax questions around forgiveness, which one way we can tell that this conversation is really not advanced to the realm of this is for sure going to happen is that there has been more talk about ever given that is often counted as income men. An issue that is going to come up with with with large amounts of one forgiveness, is that they then come with large tax bells, and so that's not like completely like. Presumably
you could also writer regulation. That says it's not taxable by that's like that, the big issue- and I just think of that it's kind of a signalling of like how seriously this conversation is really happening that that's not maybe as much in their discourses as I would expect it would be. You know why The deaths are all cancel. The men of Federal Circuit Court Judge says no. You can't do that, and then it goes to the Supreme Court. Like literally what happens to student loan borrowers. You know in the interim qualities works. Its way works its way through, obviously not unique just member hours. There are lots of people who are caught up in convoluted legal things than an end up. It's some kind of status limbo while it while it proceeds through, but that's definitely a situation. We began. and I think, because forgiveness is generally extremely individual in the United States. You can petition to have your debts cancelled, like if your school closed under certain conditions, you can have your debts.
Were given in theory other really many most people have not been able to do this if you're working and public service with better allowance for a certain amount of time, but the thing that all of those things have in common is its very like you fill out the paperwork and it's very specific to your situation, and we haven't every Dinah like Kay. Just you know, let's just say everybody who graduated twenty years ago, because you show me a lot alone payments by now and we're just gonna work, go everybody's that is cancelled, like what that literally looks like honestly presents and wished to issues that I dont think are insurmountable like if you know everything has a logistical side to it, but I think the fact that there has not been a lot of grappling with that suggests to me that lake there, not just waiting for a good legal opinion, said to to launch this thing into motion like there's a lot of knock on effects to think about into play around that there doesn't seem to be a lot of conversation around right now. Yeah me. I think that the situation of this as an executive action does affect how I think about it too, to a substantial degree
you'll sometimes see arguments against us doing. Loan cancellation from having David, Leonhard Bert some of the classic pieces on this, just on the grounds that it doesn't benefit people who didn't go to college at all. Most students on that seems to be beheld higher up the need the income scale most of the not most of the debt, but serve very disproportionate share of of soon learn. Daddy's is held from graduate degrees and all that in the counties of like arguing about whether Congress should spend a trillion dollars arisen, student dad or whether it should spend a trillion dollars like sending out checks to everybody, maize. Lotta sounds to me like I. If that's the choice, I think you should send out checks to everybody, because that,
to do a better job of targeting people at the bottom. In the context of these active action like they can't just set out text, everybody visited this. If this is a power, they have it's a fairly unusual par. They haven't it's one of the few kind of economic policies. They can act without Congress, and so the question I asked myself then is like is, is not. Is this better than spending an equivalent amount of money on something else? It is better than the doing nothing or doing the house that they can do with this power on which, as you say, that there has been a lot of likely of discussion about the income based repeating the programme is a mass there been proved serve puzzles over the years jury policies. Now, Governor Colorado had one when he was mouse that would serve put everyone. An income based repayment and try to rationalize that. That seems like a really good idea to me, but I don't know if that's something you can do without additional legislation and additional legislation might not be forthcoming,
avoid airline. Are you, in the middle of my absolute nerdy, is sweet spot of knowledge, which is how exactly the Education Department does regulation, because I agree like if I, if I were to say, ok, the legal footing for forgiving ten thousand dollars data shaky, and I want to look at other options- I'm not gonna going over there. I think I think, there's a really strong case economically and morally for ten thousand dollars of debt forgiveness. Frankly, but if we are to say, ok, that's off the table, what would we do? Yes, I would just throw everybody into the world scene lest income based repayment. However, the way the education environment dancer regulations is there a consensus process that not every other agency uses? I'm sorry. This is the most worrying thing in the world for this, is that we go for it which, which means, at any time. The education department basically wants to do anything regulatory. They sit in a room with the department, with stakeholders from the college's involved with other stakeholders in groups with outside experts with there's like one
she seeds for advocates groups. It is a much more bulky clingy process then in a lot of other industries are called negotiated, rulemaking, which they connect Gregg for short, which doesn't even really make sense. spent many hours of my life in windowless rooms watching this process unfold. The department can What kind of do what it wants, but they do have to go the department ultimately rights, the regulation, it's not like they sit down and are like ok here, section, eight, your section b here Sections II, but they have to make an attempt to reach consensus and even they want to make regulation. They have to do this, and so in me
departments. Ain't. You actually could say: ok, everybody that income extricate, but now you ve taken executive action. This is the executive action we have taken. It is drastic, but we clearly have authority over about repayment, the education apartment. You cannot do that. It would be like six to eight months of panel discussions and then you have to officially not reach consensus and fail, and then they have to do a proposed rural, I'm gonna come a period and like I'm, not sure why education functions in this very specific way, which is fairly at your shoulders. Only a couple of cabinet agencies that work this way, but it does mean that is really one of the things that makes executive action on this stuff tricky. The other thing about executive action, is kind of the fact the politics of it are more straightforward right. Like you know, I don't want to be like two nor me about this. I think that its you know it can kind of without saying that, like if, by a campaign promise and was that elected president, unlike that, doesn't feel that promise then, like, oh voters, will probably
give that or like we in a we can't really tell which promises are going to be. People will care about which ones they want, but like the fact remains that he made promise on something that, at the time he said could be dying, or at least important. Like that, you never said you would need Congress to do and certainly implied that he would be willing to do you know through executive action, unlike I kind of under in the same way that we know we talk a lot about this in terms of business right that, like the predictable, b of regulation is almost as important as the substance of regulation, because you know businesses are making future economic decisions based on what they anticipate. The government is going to say like especially when we are talking about the current generation of college students. People may very well have made life decisions based on the expert, He Haitian, not only like, based on the current environment of deferral, but also based on promise of a certain amount of forgiveness and lake
Do we morally take that into consideration as like moral hazard like they shouldn't have done that because it wasn't a sure thing or do we taken into consideration as something that lake needs to be addressed because it was. It was a almost that was me. I will say I was more surprised that they were actually restarting student loan payments. Then I was that they ultimately suspended the because it does feel like Congress loves. The cliff government loves the class. We are setting up a sort of it. I mean the fact- we'll have not had to make a loan payment in two years. You know is that the large amount of time to have not had to make one payments. I think the question of how people act on this information. It's just really tricky. They anticipate that kind of thing late, because you control as we see in the amount of misinformation on their lying. I hope people were not taking on a lot of debt, assuming it was going to be forgiven because of like enthusiastic chatter and twenty
democratic. Primarily. That would be very unfortunate if that were a thing that where'd you have, and the moral hazard I worry about is the moral hazard for colleges. We have seen this with public service loan forgiveness at the gradual level there have even been colleges that have sort of game systems of lake will repay your life. for a while and then you'll get them, forgive in the expectation that the role the college's play in all of this is talked about less than the role you know them then sort of the impact on individual students or a sort of the good idea, like our system, but lake colleges are also actors that are acting here in that generally are willing to raise their prices when and if they can, to the extent that they can and I'm I've done a lot of reading on sort of the connection between federal loans and and and college pricing. I want to be very clear that I'm not saying it's a wonder. Wine relationship that the availability of federal loads of Whitehall extradition is expensive. I don't think that's necessarily true, and it certainly has been borne out
Research by colleges are nonprofits, but that does not mean most colleges are nonprofits or or public institutions, but that does not mean that they have no use for money and that they do not want to bring you, and I That is something that you know. We need to keep in mind and that's why I'm really passionate about the idea that, yes, the system is unsustainable, but we have to look forward as well as backward when we're thinking about how we are we prepared, because you know, there's nothing. I think that justifies more the tuition that you now say. I want name names but say extensive private schools and in big urban centres charge to their undergraduates. Then saying it's ok, you know you made private loans in those the government, can take care of the other S, it's gonna be wiped out. You know five years from now, because that's how we do it now, like? That's that's! That's that's a big risk that is ultimately borne by the students, even if the moral hazard, a part in play is, is with the college's Jonathan Burge that gets into why
This is, as the only thing you can do with executive power is so it's such a sticky situation. At the end, and that ideal you would want to pair it with her forms that could constrain cost growth and reduce their moral hazard problem at colleges that would avoid Things like there's attack him in a case where Georgetown LAW was like caught, giving some presentation saying you know we just jack tuition, so that we could promise our law students that we'll pay their long payments until their forgiven, but we don't actually use any money doing that. Could we just like raised tuition commensurately like those kinds of schemes? Are Where did you want to avoid them and that's the kind of thing where you need a wholesale overhaul of of the higher at system, the lot of negation
it roaming right, Ray a lot in their Greg's s posed to serve a one off forgiveness. That might have these kind of, like hardly to be ripple effect, fit wine making college more expensive going forward. Yet that's why I really think the strongest case, practically speaking for forgiveness with stimulatory and that they did at the time were most likely to see it, because I think we probably wealthy some form of my forgiveness at some point you know in our in our lifetimes is probably in missions that economically, that are more like they were a year ago than they are now well. I think we should take a break in doorway paper. Thesis till we be fur for coming aboard, she's, gonna drop off and Jerusalem dumps, as you all know, and love is going to come and talk to us about the civil war and the genetics. Epoch, genetics the civil war get excited. If you're the business of selling stuff there's one thing- that's a pretty sure bat to sell more of it than a place
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and we're back of welcome to Vauxhall Jerusalem, dances, hello, one fast talker for another, we trade, but we will keep the pace. This week's way paper from you, Celia DORA Costa, is a very nice bit of economic history, so she's looking at the effects of going to appear w camp in the civil war on prisoners, grandchildren, so she's looking at green children of civil war veterans and comparing one sewer grandchildren of prisoners of war and predictably prisoners of war. In a period an eighteen sixty three early eighteen, sixty four where there were long stretches of time. I am prisoner work camps. I she explains that, sir, before that and after that, most spewed of use were just traded between the two sides pre rapidly and so people who have long stays
but in eighteen, sixty three in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation Confederate camps would not do trades for black soldiers and that meant serve longer stays in and Pierre W camps in cleans are really brutally awful places like Andersonville and such is comparing people during that period to people who are paid out, use but guts and backward fast to people who are never get and she finds that grandchildren Yoda views in and during the brutal period were ten percent more likely. die each in any. Given year after the age of forty five, the grandchildren of veterans were not geared up to use and were, and there are also more likely to die. Then grandchildren of veterans who were abuses are more humane period, Don't like ten percent more likely to die each year is. Is it really big effect
an interesting leave. It seems only happen. First, sons, not female descendants of our grandsons, not female descendants of of the veterans affair for male line grandsons for sons of sons, sons of science. Yes, that's right are so she looks it simple. Bob explanations were thus maybe it's serve social that that you have like a mean grandparent, because they went through some shit. Paid by our conclusion is that its most likely epigenetic I'm so her claim is that being an in a the camp like we change the dna of the prisoners in a way that was inherited by their grand sons and damage the grandsons. I don't really have an immediate reaction to this other than like that's pretty crazy the Jerusalem. What what did you make of it? the male line thing is what's what's really important here. So I did. A Y chromosome is passed from your father to your from Father to son, because women always give an x, chromosome and and then give Y chromosome, so what they funded. There's, not they don't find this.
four grand signs. They don't find it for grand sons of their daughters. They, despite of regret sons of their sons- and I mean I was sorry we have the time giving. This just seems, like somebody says to me, random industry, by this building very far fetched like when we have all the stake dad. I built this feels, like I don't know like. Maybe it's the case that, like Father likely that abolition, due to their sons in general and therefore gave a closer look at their sign that sons gonna have higher impact than what they would have their daughter, like. Maybe there's something like that going on. Obviously, it's hard impossible to control for something like that, but her reasoning, through with papers like crazy, pretty substandard and objects like in a relatively new field, but there are a couple other, papers that have shown similar things. They most prominently. People probably heard of of a swedish study that showed that if a grandfather had access to a lot of food in the years before puberty, his grand sons were found to have an increased risk of cancer. This is the over colic study in Sweden and any note like this like this and have recently found us in mice and stuff too. It really is quite shocking, as this is
it happens, because if it does happen, obviously a case where we can vary easily measure a massive trauma and then in a trace it to grandchildren and make luckily there's like relatively good. I'm records going on this time period, but, like does a lot of trauma, happens. people all the time, both small and large and like this is impacting you like generation later, there doesn't really seem to be a policy response to. This is kind of like yeah that, like really socks like you might die because Grandfather like didn't, have food or did have food or like was a prisoner of war night and like one year verses another and not seems just extremely bad, not just in general, but also. distributional if you consider as we're trying to close gaps, racial gaps, your gender gaps, indifferent spaces like you know, how do you control for that? How do you change or how do you get rid of those gaps? If, if, if it's just in your genes at some point because of massive try, that's been imposed on your ancestors yeah, I'm right there with
new Jerusalem in terms of Lake man, Genetics is an awfully strong place to go, especially for an economic history paper but lake, maybe it's just that neither of us super familiar with like papers where nature is an option on the table, but it did seem very closely reason like if someone who is an honest to goodness in our genetic researcher, wants to read through this and tell us whether the is actually really shoddy reasoning. I think that that would be welcome, but it certainly it certainly does seem to build the case pretty strongly that lake any give in so social or environmental explanation you could provide would not be specific to the sons of sons thing the interesting thing for me is that if this, true- and you know not just for like this finding, but if it is you, if the implication that why Chrome is Epigenetic are really substantial. Inward
What is a thing, and that's also where the swedish study goes. That says a lot about how we think about prenatal care right. There's, a lot of emphasis on what pregnant people should do in order to have the healthiest possible child and there is much an end lake, even people who are trying to get pregnant and there is much less emphasis on. If you are going to be contributing spur to a child aired like like too, you know to fertilize, an egg, then you need to be, you know living a healthy lifestyle or you need to be reducing source of stress in your life. You know This is now a public policy concern because we are putting a lot of stress on this class of people. That's going to result in. You know how health outcomes for their chip for their children and children's children. That sort of thing like ease- I dont, think we're anywhere near the point where this is going to like trickled down into lake health sections of local newspapers. If local
figures were still a thing our appeal, but it does raise some very interesting questions about how we frame the individual versus systemic conversation about prenatal have ya mean, I think in general. It is about what responsibility for health is like considered. Very individual new s are witnessing that, of course with covered in general, but whenever we have research like this, that just yet shows a cow. Much of this stuff is really out of individuals hands, like obviously like you could Advice to keep all the time like reduce your stresses. This can cause problems, but I mean it even the finding from me I'm from the swedish today. The dimension is kind of you know counter intuitive its grandfathers. You had an abundance of food in the years before puberty that had their grand sons, increased risk of cancer, like it's really hard to figure out what you're actually must be optimizing. Foreign like it seems like actually quite impossible and also like advise you try to get people to respond and change. Their behaviour is based on research like this, but it's like you know. It does seem like, hopefully, that this type of research is instead used to
push more of the onus onto society to care for ill people and to reduce, like the idea that you are like individually responsible for bad health outcome. and you know that's that's an outcome which obviously there's a lot of implications for that when it comes to disability, justice and things like that and asks when a light underscore like how big of an effect this is to the relationship between a grandfathers, ex prisoner of war status and a line grandsons mortality is on a par with the association between Dad Socio economic status and his sons, older age mortality. So we often talk about how much, like you up appearances, economic status, pacts, their kids who later in life. You know outcomes like this is this. This is on. whore with that, and so I think like I don't know that, because underrate important socio economic status is, but I think likely it's the opposite. So I too big that we're doing a like two things, both true here in terms of the agency question Jerusalem cause like on the
one hand. Yes, absolutely this indicates that like much less is in your control than you might think, and therefore there is much less weight to any of your choices. On the other hand, you know, for one thing, it can be a kind of disempowering You like it, if you, if you end up thinking about the kind of structural hurdles that can end You mean, like you, have no agency and talk about genetics can make it seem like you have no agency and in fact, epigenetic kind of risk or is the agency to the conversation, because it's like actually you're not born with the total blueprint of how your life is going to work. You know there is going to be a change in expanding expression we do have a certain. There is a certain amount of like indeterminate see in what genes you will pass on to any future children and how those would get expressed, and I think it's important, even in circumstances where lake people acknowledge that they can't control everything that they can't optimize, that they do understand that they have some room for agency and its.
not totally lake. Nobody wants that. You they're tombstone, to say well, faith lived in really difficult times right. There is a search, amount of power that individuals have, even if that is substantially constrained by the circumstances in which they live doing. I talked earlier this year to page harden whose you know have geneticist and die. You know she written a paper book recently on the impact of genetics on life outcomes and one day, points that she makes a kind of aside point in her book is just how interrelated on nature and nurture are like which underline categorizes is very separate in our heads, but, like you know, if you're genes make you like more prudent both to babbling at your parents at a very young age, your parents might like babble more at you, which may well make it easier for you to learn language like who is that
nature was not nurture. Is it something that you know you're you were like predisposed babbling labour and moving your mouth in a certain way does not seem to be a thing that was like you told to you, but it did lead to a specific behavioral response from your parents, not lead to specific life outcomes that are important, and I think stuff like that is like a like, as DORA said like. Hopefully, we start thinking of these things is much more internally. instead of being as a situation where we're like, oh, like either it's completely your control injects, are really important and, like you know, you're predestine from your birth or before birth, tat, specific life outcome, or we gotta think there's like now that, obviously, or put in a certain place, based on the tools that are given, but also like that's not immutable. Like you have you have agency there yeah. I guess my my very broad take away here is that that we should increase our estimate, the benefits of proving population health in general, sense that the main reason we should avoid having people be impure w camps is that it's bad treaty in Vienna
Jim. The Emmi and lasting I'll say here, though, is that obviously the rope tracing male line grandsons here in this in this paper, and I think it's probably easier to end. You know that happens in previous papers. Well, because easier to do that kind of research, because you just know that you got the Y chromosome from your father, you gotta from his father, and so I wonder if that's gonna be a problem like future research, that it's it's more difficult to track. What's happening to women, because the genetics there are more difficult sauce out. But this. We seem like an area where we can see a lot more, a lot more research, and it is this- is very preliminary for four weeks listeners all right. We should wrap it up there. Thank you so much to Jerusalem and Todaro DORA for being here and maybe who joined us further for the parts of this discussion. Thank you, too are produced. so people want be Nelson is our editorial adviser. In always, the deputy editorial director for talk pot casts. I am your post Dylan Matthews. You can see.
you're. Your more reads takes on the weeds newsletter: go to box dot com, slash letter. We will be back in your needs this Friday. With a conversation between Jerusalem and Peter Newman, who I've expert on extremism they'll be talking about January six, we will see you, then the weeds is part of the Fox Media Pike, gas network.
Transcript generated on 2022-01-05.