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August 23, 2008

Who and how do you bounce, oh bouncer? (And, my plan for America's borrowers)

August 23. Day 54.

I had a thought today. An evil thought. As you read, imagine that I am rubbing my chin pensively, so as to appear more authoritative.

The Times published an article in Sunday's edition about how difficult it is to get out of paying student loans.

Those arrogant underachievers who get jolted awake by wage garnishment and collection agencies because they couldn't find work or afford those pitiful $500 per month payments -- how dare they expect sympathy? forbearance? a hardship grace period? If only there were something to motivate those losers to finally get their acts together and pay off those loans, like people did back in my day. Oh wait, my parents paid for my tuitions, all four of them. But still.

Here's the solution I put forth to the American people: What if at the signing of every educational loan promissory note, a new clause were built in. "If borrower does not pay back loan within X years [to be determined by lending institutions and schools -- not borrowers, heavens!], the academic degree acquired with said funds is revoked and [half or complete] loan is forgiven." Half of the loan, so there remains some incentive to lend. Or all the loan, to be benificent with the less fortunate.

There you have it! People don't repay? Such loans are harder to collect because they're not collateralized? Great! Make the degree count as the equity it is!

Perhaps, to take this a step further, we could institute a degree swapping payment system, where successful people with no degrees could pay off the loans of indigent Harvard graduates and then assume their diplomas. It works for condos, and is a college degree not the most precious foundation there is?

(For the record... in case anyone thinks I'm serious... get real!! I'm loaded with loans from my undergrad years, and I'd never advocate such a solution even if I were debt free. But can't you just imagine such ideas being tossed around Capitol Hill over Highland Parks?)

(My Mama has just implored me to not publish this. "Don't give anyone any ideas! If Bush reads it, he'll hire you as his economic advisor." I'll take my chances.)

Speaking of privilege, I was back in downtown tonight, struck by an insistent Pinkberry craving. That's next door to Moonstone, a club that wants to be veeeery exclusive. Think LA, or even NY!

Unlike other Gaslamp clubs, there was no drunken horde clogging the doorway, and the bouncer appeared to be culling quite ruthlessly from the few who dared present themselves.

After about ten minutes of observing and nibbling fro-yo from across the velvet rope, I made eye contact with the bouncer and he came over.

"Just curious, how do you decide who gets in?"

"There's a guestlist."

"I see. But what about the people outside. You're kind of supposed to decide who to let in, right? Is it about how they're dressed?"

"Sometimes it is." He held out a business card. "Just call ahead so you're on the list."

Gained: future access to a club I'll probably never go to. But who knows?

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