In a column for the Sunday New York Times, 58 year-old writer and cultural critic Lee Siegel jumped into the Left’s (and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s) latest nihilistic zeitgeist by bragging about how he intentionally defaulted on all of his student loans. After voluntarily accepting taxpayer money to fund no less than three degrees from Columbia University, Siegel brags, “I chose life. That is to say, I defaulted on my student loans.”
“Life” for Siegel was pursuing his dream job as a writer as opposed to taking a job-job that would help him fulfill his obligations to the millions of middle class taxpayers who work the job-jobs that finance most of the United States Treasury, and therefore most of Siegel’s elite, top-shelf, Ivy League education.
Siegel goes on:
Years later, I found myself confronted with a choice that too many people have had to and will have to face. I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.
The paragraph above is nothing more than the blathering of a degenerate deadbeat trying to rationalize his immoral behavior into a higher cause.
I know this all too well because before I “chose life,” I worked in the salt mines of the debt collection industry for almost 20 years.
Like Lee Siegel, as a young man, I too wanted to be a writer. Who doesn’t?
Unlike, Siegel, though, I didn’t steal from anyone — including middle class taxpayers — to achieve my dream
Lee Siegel is too selfish, narcissistic, and self-involved to understand what it is like, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, to work a job you dread, but many of the millions of taxpayers he gouged (and encourages others like him to gouge) are not. Lee Siegel thinks he is above such things, that his “contribution to society” does not include the simple human decency of keeping his promises and commitments to his fellow citizens.
You see, Lee Siegel believes he is “entitled” to an Ivy League education paid for through his swindle. And that we are “entitled” to the benefits of his particular gift paid for through his swindling of, well, us.
Siegel’s thinking is circular logic in the extreme, and epitomizes the Left’s move towards outright anarchy (anti-cop campaigns, excusing rioting, increasing violent crime, expanding the welfare state, etc.). To his way of thinking, for the greater good, Siegel’s violating of his social contract and his word to his fellow citizens made the immoral moral. I’d love to see to see Siegel accept this New Age thinking when someone defaults on a financial agreement with him.
Do you think that as a young man in high school, with my whole life still ahead of me, I dreamt of a career as a bill collector? Trust me, no bill collector ever showed up at any of my high school career days.
Other than being a writer, what I dreamt most of was independence. I wanted to move out of the house and into my own place. Period. No roommate. No money from my parents. No debt. No obligations. College, therefore, was out of the question. Sure, like most of my friends, I could have gotten a government student loan. The last thing I wanted, though, was to start out a life tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt.
So directly out of high school, I went to work: Retail stores, a dairy farm, third-shift at a factory, a gardener-apprentice… The pay always sucked, the work was back-breaking, soul-killing, or both — but through fits-and-starts, by the time I was 19, I had my own place. All I could afford was to live in one the worst neighborhoods in Milwaukee, but I was on my own.
Not long after I fell into the collection agency business. Over the decades I would work my way up through that profession, until I was making a pretty good living.
I worked for some good companies.
I worked with and for a lot of good people.
I hated every minute of it.
But I did it. Every day. Eight hours a day. Five days a week. Fifty weeks a year, for nearly 20 years.
And so did my wife. As a matter of fact, when we met, my wife as working two full-time jobs — and these were definitely not dream jobs.
As the years and decades passed faster than I ever thought possible, we scrimped and saved and went without so we could invest and pay off our mortgage. It was only then that I was able to “choose life,” and pursue a dream.
For lack of a formal education and anything close to a college degree, I might not be as rich and famous or talented as Lee Siegel. But for my struggle, I am not someone who has so lost touch with common decency and the plight of the everyday taxpayer, that I am able to delude myself into believing that lying to them and stealing from them is a righteous act.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC