Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pay up!....

Should the government be able to garnish the wages of people making $874 per month from Social Security? The Supreme Court has decided that they should.

That's how the Supreme Court ruled today in the case of a disabled, 67-year old, Seattle man who has at least $77,000 in unpaid student loan debt (NYT says $87k, AP says $77k). He says that he needs all of the $874 he collects each month to pay for his housing and food.

First of all, don't get me wrong, I think the Supreme Court's ruling in this case was the correct ruling, but that doesn't make it right. Having worked in a food bank and served people who were barely living off these paltry Social Security payments, the notion of taking this elderly person's money to pay off student debt (which is something the Education Dept. has the ability to waive), doesn't sit all that well with me. However, it is the fault of Congress, not the Supreme Court that this is happening. The court correctly ruled on the existing law; what this man should have been doing was lobbying Congress to change the laws.

With the coming tidal wave of baby-boomers who'll be signing on for Social Security, this is a very important ruling. I think that groups like the AARP knew that the ruling was going to go this way, based on the existing laws. The Supreme Court is not supposed to legislate from the bench, and this is a good example of a instance where they didn't. That being said, groups such as the AARP need to consider trying to get laws changed to remove situations like this and prevent further occurrences.

So those of you who thought that you could just get old to get out of your student loan debt, think again! The only way out is death... and maybe dismemberment (they might be nice enough to waive your debt if you lose 90% of your limbs).

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