New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Debt of Gratitude

February 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Randall Amster

Less Earning, More Learning

by Randall Amster

I’d like to share a story, a personal story, a common story, an American story. For nearly two decades, I have carried the burden of a crushing student loan debt, well over six figures and impossible for me to fathom paying off in this lifetime. While I have written before about debt in a more generalized sense — advocating for a “Jubilee” as the ultimate stimulus and a chance for all of us to start anew — I’ve never connected it publicly to my own plight. The reasons are complex, but have to do with fear, fear of vulnerability, fear of judgment. I suspect that many people burdened by debt feel similarly and are often constrained to bear the pressures silently.

My story is relatively straightforward. I attended a private college (majoring in physics and astronomy, which did not yield any obvious career potential for me) and then a private law school. After clerking for a federal judge for a year, I was hired in the fall of 1992 to work at a large corporate law firm in mid-town Manhattan, complete with the accoutrements of privilege and compensation. I seemingly “had it all,” at least on the outside, and any rumblings of discontent — after a lifetime of being a working-class person — seemed somehow ungrateful. (more…)

Time for Jubilee

August 22, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Family, Politics, Randall Amster

Let’s Forgive, Forget, and Find Some Genuine Relief for a Change

by Randall Amster

If we’re truly looking for paths toward managing debt and promoting economic stimulus — which is about stimulating optimism as much as anything else — then we ought to consider getting closer to the source and stop nibbling around the edges of governmental machinations and corporate malfeasance. Instead, let’s directly incentivize and bring relief to actual people, giving them a new start by wiping the ledgers clean and ensuring that their future decisions will never again have to be governed by the demons of debt. For the price of two massive bank bailouts, and in the face of an austerity regime that mostly punishes working people, we could essentially “bail out” every American from under a mounting pile of indebtedness. (more…)