Student Loans are Worsening Inequality, with Thomas Piketty

Student loans are intended to provide everyone with equal access to education, but the staggering amount of student loan debt that Americans currently hold is retarding economic growth and entrenching wealth inequality.

Student loans are intended to provide everyone with equal access to education, but the staggering amount of student loan debt that Americans currently hold — estimated at over $1 trillion — is retarding economic growth and entrenching wealth inequality.

Or at least according to the exhaustive analysis of French economist Thomas Piketty, whose academic treatise, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, became a popular success and carried with it the cultural weight of a work by Adam Smith or Karl Marx.

The central observation of Piketty's work is that money works differently now than ever before. Invested income has grown at a rate outpacing the rise in wages, meaning the rich get richer and the poor stay about the same (or get poorer relative to inflation). And as college tuition has grown, the loans required to sustain it become more burdensome.

"In other countries in the developed world, you don't have such massive student debt because you have more public support to higher education. And I think the plan that was proposed earlier this year in 2015 by President (Barack) Obama to increase public funding to public universities and community college is exactly justified. This is really the key for higher growth in the future and also for a more equitable growth."

Having to pay back hefty loans while looking for your first professional experience is a mentally taxing experience. It can cause undue stress and depression, which makes functioning well in a professional environment all the more difficult.

It also makes you more likely to accept positions that do not take full advantage of your qualifications, because you need a paycheck now, and complicates starting your own business, which requires difficult periods of cash-poorness.

At what point can we say that the deal has gone south for Americans who owe large amounts of student loans? Some students attending for-profit universities have publicly refused to repay their loans, arguing the services they received did not match what they paid in tuition.

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less