Does Government Really Help People?

I have a friend who went to a state school and got a Bachelor’s Degree. When last I heard, his student loan payment was larger than our mortgage payment. He’s the friend that has more luck than anyone else I know, I just can’t figure out whether it’s good or bad. While the student loan balance hanging over his head isn’t the only problem he has, it is a large problem that he will have with him for the rest of his life.

When my friend was in college, he thought he’d get a job making tons of money, so he didn’t worry about the student loans. Another friend and I tried to encourage him to borrow less and get out of school sooner. My friend went to college for the maximum number of semesters and took the maximum loan every semester. Worse, my friend works in a field totally unrelated to his degree.

I have a friend who has an two year degree who is much better off financially than my friend with the four year degree. I suspect that has to do with the fact that has to do with his having the good fortune to get out of school and pay off his student loans before my friend with the four year degree.

Our government seems to be steering everyone to a four year degree and crushing student loan debt. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should do some form of education or training after high school. IF there is one thing that successful people share, I suspect it is the desire to never stop learning. It is however a mistake to drive everyone to the one size fits all plan that is a four year college degree. Everyone kid in high school should come up with a plan for what they’re going to do after high school. For many of those kids, that plan will include a four year degree. But for many of those kids, there’s a good plan that doesn’t include a four year degree.

Every time I think about my friend with the degree and the crushing debt, I have to wonder about all those who went to college and left without their degree. How are they going to pay their student loans? Or more importantly, how are they going to get on with their lives?

As Kevin Drum says in this article, student loan debt is a real problem. The chart says a lot. However here are two things the chart doesn’t say. It is an awful problem that will still be around even if we drop the interest rate on student loans to zero. More importantly, the government created this mess in an effort to help people!

My Two Cents Worth On Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting Process

Instapundit links to this article on budgeting and Dave Ramsey’s budgeting process. Since my wife and I are in our second month of the budgeting process, I have some thoughts about the article I wanted to share.

Yes, the envelope system is constrained, but Dave only suggests that for certain categories. Things like groceries and eating out are two excellent categories for envelopes for example. But a lot of categories aren’t suited to the envelope system. My wife and I are doing a budget every four weeks. We do the budget in pencil because we have to make changes. Within 15 minutes of making our last budget, we came up with a list of three things we hadn’t included. We’ll be revising the budget to handle those. We can always rearrange our budget to handle unexpected events. Dave Ramsey’s budgeting process isn’t as constrained as the article would have you believe.

What Does It Mean To Be Rich In America?

I read this post by Elie Mystal about why $250,000 doesn’t make him rich in his town. I’ve been thinking about his post for some time. I have long said that $250,000 in a big city is like $100,000 in the town where we live. Upon further reflection, that may not be right. It is possible to live in our town with a $100,000 per year income and not live in a place that looks like it was just robbed. It’s also possible to live in our town on $100,000 per year and have assets that aren’t judgement proof.

Now For Something Completely Different

My wife and I have a decent income, but we seem to be experts at spending 105% of our income. We finally decided to do something about it and have enrolled in Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University. So far we have made a budget, and are sticking to it. Our next step is to get rid of our non-mortgage debt. We have a plan to do that, I’d just like for it not to take four years.

There Isn’t Necessarily One Right Answer

In my previous post on diet, I left out the specific reason I wrote the post. In that post I intended to mention that Charlie Martin at PJ Media is doing a more drastic diet than I am. He’s going very low carb, and it’s working for him. I congratulate him on his results so far. Also, I see Nathan is back on Weight Watchers and losing weight. Charlie, Nathan and I are all doing three different diets. We all are getting good results so far.

If you have a weight problem, I encourage you to do something about it. The three of us are doing different diets, but we all looked in the mirror and decided we need to change. The government isn’t making us, and Charlie and I are both disregarding the government’s advice on diet to some degree. The government can’t make me diet, and if they could, they’d probably make me go on the wrong diet.

It’s your life. If you have a weight problem, I encourage you to do something about it. I think exercising more and eating healthier are two things worth thinking about if you want to lose weight. If you do the South Beach Diet like I’m doing, and get results, then that’s great. If you accomplish your health goals by a completely different path, then that’s great too.

A Few Words On Diet And Health

Just over 3 years ago I looked at the scale and realized I weighed almost 250 pounds. I finally decided it was time to do something about my health. I’m just over six feet tall, so I felt I was heavier than I should be. I wasn’t having weight related health problems, but I was slowly gaining weight. I estimated that I had gained 80 pounds over the previous 10 years.

I started on the South Beach Diet and eventually lost 31 pounds. Since then, I have gained 12 pounds. I’m starting over on the South Beach Diet, and I am going to start regular exercise. For me it’s not about losing weight so much as it is about making decisions to be a little healthier. I now weigh about 225 pounds, but if I hadn’t made some changes three years ago, I’d probably weigh about 275 pounds now, and eventually I’d probably start developing weight related health problems.

I realize the sooner I decide to eat sensibly and exercise regularly, I’m starting on a trip to a healthier, happier me. I’m not going to go to they gym, that’s just not my style. I’m going to start walking more, riding my bike more and generally taking better care of my body. The healthiest I’ve ever been was the summer I took drivers ed, because I had to ride my bicycle three miles each way. I have decided the time has come to regularly exercise. Not anything crazy, just walking or bicycling.

I’m choosing the South Beach Diet, for two reasons. First, I tried it, and it works for me. Two, of all the diets out there, it makes the most sense to me. While the diet experts are debating whether low carb or low saturated fat people are right, I’m plodding along down the middle of the road. If South Beach stops working for me, then I’ll try something else.


I just read a post by Walter Russell Mead comparing the collapse of the Blue State Model to the fall of the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. In the same piece, he gives Paul Krugman a good smackdown as a bonus. Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for tweeting the link!

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I saw at Nathan’s blog that arrests have been made in the Richmond Hills arson/explosion. My wife knew Jennifer Longworth better than I did, I only went to lunch with a group of 10 or 12 people including my wife and Jennifer once. However, having learned that arrests have been made of people alleged to be responsible for her death, I have to keep reminding myself that the arrested parties are innocent until proven guilty. Nathan remarks that he was surprised that the investigation was handled this quietly given the now released facts. I am not surprised. I met Jennifer once and the only thing that surprises me given the now released facts is that the story never mentions the death penalty. This explosion killed two people and required 36 homes be demolished. I think the police rightfully kept this investigation very quiet, so that they could arrest those responsible and hold them for trial.

I Just Corrected A Serious Oversight

I just read that the price on Salman Rushdie’s head has increased by $500,000. I thought about it and realized I don’t have a copy of The Satanic Verses, so I immediately went to Amazon and bought a copy. In dead tree form so that in Obama’s second term, the police won’t have to go to the trouble of searching my Nook Color for offensive books.

Now when will Innocence of Muslims make it to Netflix Streaming so that I can invite my friends over to watch the film while eating pork rinds and drinking beer? Oh, wait, I forgot there isn’t enough beer in the world to make me sit through the Innocence of Muslims.

Read This Juan Williams Piece Now

I frequently disagree with Juan Williams. He always makes me think. This may be his best work yet. Please go read it now.

Let me just say to any of my left of center readers who would criticize Mr. Williams because he appears on Fox News. Mr. Williams is the left of center media personality who I (and my Republican friends) see the most on television. You seem to think he’s a turncoat for appearing there. He is not, he is the ambassador for the rational American left on Fox News.