Axed Student Loans and the Safety of Salamanders


With the housing market still in shambles and the stock market going up and down as erratically as Kirsty Alley’s weight, a new bubble is on the horizon: student loans. Federal student loans are given out almost as freely as condoms on Quad Day, with financial aid offices urging on more loans. And in law school, the debts keep mounting.

Alas, bring on the emergency debt ceiling measure. Of the various cuts to government expenditures, the U.S. decided to ax subsidized graduate loans, meaning that the government will no longer pay interest on qualifying student loans while a student is attending school. Thanks. Government spokespeople say, however, that students have the option to pay the interest each month. And where will this money come from? Law students in particular have to agree that they will work no more than 10 hours per week in their first year of school. Ah, yes, they can pay the interest with … more student loans.

Stewing about the absurdity of this measure. I embarked on a quest to sniff out other questionable government expenditures in the last year or so. As you watch your student loan balances escalate, keep the following in mind.

Neon Boneyard Park and Museum

Located in the fabulous Las Vegas, the NBPM is the resting place of neon lights. The federal government gave them a $5.2 million dollar grant. If you would like to donate to this sprawling two acre shrine of old signs… or um … er … self-proclaimed “national treasures” click here.

The Free* Grateful Dead Museum

Bless the the Grateful Dead for wanting to create a public, free museum to house all of their collectibles. But did they really need $615,000 from our cash-strapped government to spend on reminiscing deadheads? I wonder if the Jerry Garcia Estate, with an estimated net worth of over $40 million, will be willing to make us a loan … *Your annual admission fee is due on April 15th.

Zoo Poetry

What would the jackass exhibit be without iambic pentameter? The federal government gave approximately $997,766 to infuse zoos nationwide with poetry.

Amphibian Crosswalk

While I feel for the thousands of salamanders and amphibians that fall victim to vehicular homicide, I am not sure I feel that bad to dole out a federal grant of $150,000 to build a safety tunnel for them to cross Vermont’s busy Vergennes Road. I am extremely curious as to how these critters know to use the tunnel instead of the major roadway. Is there a crossing guard?

Internet Dating Study

Ever wonder where the match.com commercial boasting that 1 in 6 relationships begin on match.com came from? It may have come from the $239,100 federal dollars given to study the effect of the Internet on dating. Here’s a more relevant study: the effect that student loans have on marriages. Just saying.

Census Superbowl Commercial

The 2010 Census “Snapshot of America” Superbowl commercial left most people staring into their beer bottles wondering if they were roofied. It made no sense. Wasn’t funny. And cost Americans $2.5 million to earn the title as one of the worst Superbowl commercials in history.

Study of Vietnemese Prostitutes

Ever wonder the social environments of Vietnemese hookers? A $442,340,000 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health aims to answer this pressing matter by tracking the social behavior of 124 prostitutes in Vietnam.

Wolfquest: The Biggest Competitor to Madden

Videogames have long been known to adversely affect children’s behavior, IQ, etc. But, it’s a classic case of monkey-see-monkey-do when the government gave the National Science Foundation $609,160 to develop a videogame called Wolfquest. Click here to “see if you can survive the call of the wild.”

South African Male Penis Scrub Feasibility Study

The National Institutes of Health received $823,200 to assess the feasibility of teaching South African men, unwilling to get circumcised, how to properly cleanse their post-coital penises in an attempt to further study whether or not a penis-scrub will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Here’s some unsolicited, free advice to these men: use a condom. And here’s some unsolicited, free advice to our government: If these men are not willing to get circumcised, what makes you think that they will be willing to adopt your penis-washing regime?

Sexual Behavior of Blue Monkeys

Who wouldn’t be curious about the sexual tendencies of wild blue monkeys? Columbia University received over $168,000 to study the feces of blue monkeys to learn more about their sexual behavior. No further explanation needed.

I don’t question the merit of these programs, products, and services, but I do question the timing and appropriateness of these expenditures. With law students accumulating more than $100,000 in student loans, I urge policy-makers to realize that our generation will be one of the first generations to pay their student loans with their social security checks. Umm, right.

Read more from Gianna Scatchell.

4 Comments

  1. Raul

    August 31, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Foolish expeditures? Alright, fair enough. But I’ve got some unsolicted advice for those overburdened by the cost of law school: don’t go to law school. You’re welcome.

  2. Michelle Beth

    September 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The root cause of the student loan bubble is the Government makes the loan money so easily available and enticing, as the author stated, “Federal student loans are given out almost as freely as condoms on Quad Day.” With the condoms, some would get fucked and it is over. With the student loans, many would get fucked for life. What needs to happen is the Government to stop blowing air into the bubble.

  3. Paul

    September 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    One possible solution, which I’ve written about on my blog, is to have a minimum LSAT requirement for federally backed student loans.

    There’s no point to go to law school (or for the government to pay for law school) if the person is unlikely to pass the Bar and get a law license. The strongest single factor in determining whether a student will pass the Bar is their LSAT score.

    Many American law schools have a tradition of taking large numbers of students who, statistically, are either going to fail out or fail the Bar exam. Some schools have had grading curves that are designed to fail as many as 25% of their students.

    • Liam

      September 10, 2011 at 12:13 am

      Better solution?

      Do what we do in Canada, and have the bar association limit the class size of law schools (and accreditation of new ones) to a level that can be reasonably carried by the market. That way law students can actually get a job to pay off their loans.

      Oh, and it doesn’t help that our tuition is heavily subsidized. Top law schools in the country with annual tuition of $10-20k? Yes please!

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