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Students victimized by for-profit schools are crushed by debt

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, releases a Senate Democratic report asserting that for-profit schools often hit vulnerable students with exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, and abysmal student outcomes, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 30, 2012. Harkin is joined by by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., center, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


I completely agree with your editorial in Thursday’s paper.

You covered most, but not all the ramifications of student loan debt, especially to private, for-profit colleges. What is missing is the fact that in 2005, Congress revised the U.S. bankruptcy code to exempt student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy, which, by the way, was while I had worked in the commercial — not consumer — collections field.

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As you say, many of these students who find themselves, still, “…without an education, without a job and without a dream….” with still “…an obligation to pay back a student loan, often running into the thousands of dollars.”

The bigger catch is if those students “without a job” — forget “the dream” — find themselves forced into filing for bankruptcy, those thousands of dollars are non-dischargeable in the proceedings. In other words, while a car loan, mortgage, credit card charges, medical bills, you name it, are dischargeable, (i.e., forgiven), that student loan will be their obligation until the day they finally pay it off or die. Almost forgot, all the while, that debt will continue to accrue interest … and then there’s that additional 16 percent tack-on.

Rich Rzadski, Portage Park

Connects the dots

Neil Steinberg connects the right dots by recognizing that health care coverage is about security, risk, and protection (“Terror or No Health Care Will Kill You Just as Dead,” March 20). In 1944 Franklin Roosevelt proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” to Congress. Among its “entitlements” were a “right” to “adequate medical care” and “protection” from the “economic fears” of debt due to sickness. Together, these protections would give Americans a secure “opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.”

It seems astonishing that Roosevelt made this bold domestic proposal in the midst of a world war. But he saw the connection between military and diplomatic security on the world stage and freedom from want and fear at home. The latter protections were equally vital to national security.

How is it that, nearly 75 years later, our leaders fail to make this connection now? Instead, Paul Ryan has reduced freedom to “the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need” in an insurance market without government intrusion. This anemic vision drives the American Health Care Act. In reality, the Act would deprive millions of “adequate medical care.” It would subject millions more to “economic fears” that any sickness will require care they cannot afford.

We need to revive Roosevelt’s expansive vision and renew the long struggle to make it a reality. We need a Congress and a President who will prioritize freedom from want and fear in the provision of health care, and will craft policies that actually advance these goals.

David McCurdy, Elmhurst

How much did he contribute?

During the Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Neil Gorsuch has frequently answered questions with his “I can’t get involved in politics.” Most judges get their positions by contributing thousands of dollars to a political party to be slated on the ballot. Should a member on the Senate Judiciary Committee ask Gorsuch how much he contributed to his party, would he actually give a direct answer?

Jay Massey, Glenview

Alarming silence

As concerned and caring citizens of Illinois we are alarmed that Gov. Bruce Rauner has been silent concerning the necessity of protecting the ACA from the onslaught of the destructive Republican health care replacement bill. For 24 million Americans it amounts to a death care bill. In Illinois, that number is over a million! And, because Governor Rauner refuses to negotiate and compromise with the Illinois legislature about a budget, those same citizens will not be able to get help, after losing their health care. Hospitals will be forced to close, agencies will suffer huge reductions in services, and citizens of all ages will suffer. Governor Rauner wants to be elected to a second term. His indifference towards the citizens of Illinois, and his lack of concern and compassion for what is morally correct, will certainly affect his ability to be re-elected.

Phyllis Markus, Evanston

Collision course

Human beings are on a collision course with disaster. We inhabit a fragile celestial body floating through space. Is it our destiny to lay waste to our heavenly home?

Our planet is a perfect example of divine order. Everything on the planet has an ordained place and function. The planet is capable of maintaining this order without our help. Unfortunately, God’s perfect world is being interfered with and disturbed by the actions of imperfect and flawed human beings.

We are spoiling our own nest on a daily basis by polluting our water, land and air. The result is global warming that is causing an ever increasing number of natural disasters and bizarre weather patterns that are relentless and deadly.

Add to this state of affairs is man’s seeming inability to get along with his fellow man and live in peace and tranquility on this fragile planet. Are we doomed to use our resources and ingenuity to kill off each other?

Our national priority as recently pronounced by the president is to keep us safe and to do so we must spend more of our national treasure to build larger and better equipped armies and to assemble more nuclear weapons. Why? Because nations like individuals have difficulty getting along and trusting each other.

The result will be an arms race as countries endeavor to keep up with each other’s stockpile of weapons. Nuclear weapons in the hands of unstable leaders can lead to the destruction of the world, as we know it. And there are a number of such leaders in the world.

We have been told that the Dooms Day Clock that portends the end of our world is ticking away and getting ever so close to midnight. Our only way out of this seeming road to disaster is maybe in a perverse way, CLIMATE CHANGE itself.

The nations of the world may be eventually faced with so many natural disasters that their resources will have to be expended to deal with them and have little or no time squabbling with each other.

We are on this planet for a short period of time and should spend our time preserving it for future generations. It was once pristine, now it is soiled. We can do better. We must work at it, for the sake of our children.

Ned L. McCray, Tinley Park