A Millennial Who Paid Off $100K In Student Loans Just Months Before Biden Announced Forgiveness Says The President Should ‘Forgive All Of It’

There was no confetti. No congratulations or fanfare of any kind. No one cheered for Steve, a 36-year-old software engineer in Texas, when he woke up at 6 a.m. on March 15, 2022, and made his final student loan payment. He didn’t think this moment would be so matter-of-fact, considering the huge—and at times painful—impact his loans had on his life.

It took Steve nearly 12 years to pay off more than $100,000 in student loan debt, just five months shy of the Biden administration’s announcement it was forgiving $10,000 in loans for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year.

Despite the financial, mental, and even physical pain that carrying more than six figures in student loan debt caused Steve, he says he’s happy for anyone who receives student loan forgiveness—he doesn’t resent anyone eligible for the government’s $10,000 (up to $20,000 for Pell Grant holders) forgiveness plan.

“Forgive all of it is my opinion,” Steve says. “$10,000 is a nice start…maybe with this amount of debt off their backs, people can begin to build their lives.”

The Biden-Harris student debt relief plan is expected to wash out roughly $300 billion worth of debt, according to the Penn Wharton Budget Model. Approximately one-third of federal student loan borrowers (me included) will have their debt completely wiped out, with benefits going disproportionately to working-class and middle-income households.

Since 1980, the cost of public and private colleges has nearly tripled. Federal support has not kept up, which means more people have had to borrow money in order to get degrees.

Recent data totals student loan debt in the U.S. at $1.75 trillion, with the average college graduate carrying as much as $40,000 in debt. The average graduate student owes up to $189,000 in federal student loan debt.

“I’m not mad I missed out”

Steve graduated undergrad in 2008 with a degree in English that he says was virtually free because of an in-state scholarship program. But after struggling to find a decent job, he went back to school to get a master’s in teaching. It was a mistake, he says. He borrowed roughly $70,000, but interest ballooned the total to $118,000.

He couldn’t pay off his loans on his teaching salary, and by the time he turned 30, he was questioning what he was doing with his life. He had no savings, and worrying about the debt impacted his physical and mental health. “If I had had a medical emergency, I would be in ruin,” he says.

Desperate to make a change and dig himself out from under the debt that was keeping him up at night, Steve taught himself to code—there was no chance he was going back to school—and changed careers. He refinanced his loans for a lower rate and, with his higher salary, began making extra payments.

“I knew what I was getting into somewhat when I got the loans,” Steve says. “I knew teaching wasn’t a lucrative career, but I thought I could stay afloat, you know? I definitely miscalculated.” He says he left his heart in the classroom.

It was so easy, though, to get that loan at 22, he says.

“I had no employment history, no income. Universities know that, and they just jack up the prices,” Steve says. “I want to live in an educated society…[but] you shouldn’t have to ruin your life to get an education. The fact that you can’t even declare bankruptcy—the only way to relieve the debt is to die—that’s just really messed up.”

Submitting his final payment—paying off six months’ worth of debt in one foul swoop—was rather anticlimactic, Steve says. It took a while to sink in, but once it did, he says, he began to feel like anything was possible.

With the additional income, he began to think he could get his finances on track, so he decided to meet with a financial planner: “Just maybe I’ll be able to retire some day.”

His friends ask him often, he says, whether he’d be upset at a loan forgiveness program, having just paid off so much in student loans. He’s actually quite excited, he says. Though it would “be nice if I could retroactively benefit. But I’m not mad I missed out by a few months.”

Source: Fortune

NASA To Retire International Space Station And Crash It Into Pacific Ocean In 2031

In less than 10 years, the International Space Station—the site of many an interstellar marvel—will become a relic in Earthling’s minds, vanishing like it never existed. NASA plans to decommission the orbital outpost at the end of 2030 and actualize the ISS’s retirement by crashing it into the Pacific Ocean in January 2031.

The space station, which made its maiden launch in 1998 and was first occupied by humans in 2000, is destined to make its descent home alone—with no humans on board—before sharply plunging into a very remote area often dubbed the “spacecraft cemetery,” reports Gizmodo.

Point Nemo, as the crash zone is called, is 1,670 miles away from the closest inhabited area.

Although a 2030 date is expected, Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, warns the news outlet that this deadline could arrive earlier, since NASA hasn’t disclosed if partnering space forces, like the one in Russia, would agree to back the ISS through 2030.

Be that as it may, with the outpost’s retirement, NASA will hand over the keys of space exploration efforts to a private sector, whose activities will continue to be supported by the space agency.

“The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with NASA’s assistance,” explains Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters. Combined with the resources of private entities, NASA will continue “sharing our lessons learned and operations experience… to help them develop safe, reliable, and cost-effective destinations in space.”

The ISS was, in actual fact, scheduled to retire in 2024, but the Biden-Harris administration quietly prolonged its operations to last through 2030. It is believed that this will be the last extension.

As it approaches its last legs, the ISS is reported by NASA to be “busier than ever” and entering its “most productive decade,” as well as paving way for more diversity in space exploration roles.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, and researchers,” notes the space agency. “It is thus crucial to our nation and NASA’s efforts to maintain the interest and curiosity of today’s students so they continue to be inspired by and participate in the wide scope of space exploration roles.”

Source: DesignTAXI

Why Some Black Activists Say Plan To Put Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill Is An Insult To Her Legacy

This week, the Biden administration announced that it would resume efforts to put the image of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, a move first championed by the Obama administration in 2016. Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Treasury Department is “exploring ways to speed up” the process to ensure the 19th century freedom fighter is recognized.

“It’s important that our notes, our money — if people don’t know what a note is — reflect the history and diversity of our country,” Psaki said during a White House press briefing. “Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.”

Many initially praised the move put forth by Obama-era Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to highlight the American abolitionist. To supporters, the idea of having Tubman, herself an ex-slave, replace former President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, is a bold rebuke to an ugly era in American history.

But some Black activists say putting Tubman on the $20 bill is an uneasy fit with her legacy.

“Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade or competitive markets,” Feminista Jones, an activist, author and advocate, wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2015.

“She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves,” Jones added. “She risked her life to ensure that enslaved Black people would know they were worth more than the blood money that exchanged hands to buy and sell them. I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the ‘honor.’”

Tubman, born into slavery around 1822, was the fourth of nine children, and grew up working in cotton fields in Dorchester County, Md. In 1849, Tubman escaped her plantation under the cover of darkness, following the North Star to Philadelphia, and at 27 years old began working as a maid. After saving enough money the following year, she returned to the South to liberate her sister’s family. Over the next 10 years, Tubman helped more than 700 slaves escape to freedom, becoming the most well known of the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.”

Jones, in an interview with Yahoo News this week, questioned why putting Tubman on a bill would honor her legacy.

“Why would we want to put somebody who fought for freedom from this kind of capitalist oppression?” Jones asked. “Why would we want to take her image and then make her the face of this thing that so many people lack access to?”

“I’ve studied Harriet Tubman extensively,” she added. “If there’s one thing that I understand, is that she did not get recognized for all of the amazing things that she did. She died a pauper, and she was a U.S. veteran. The [country] should have honored her as a veteran. She was the only woman to lead a raid for the Union Army. That in itself is just an amazing accomplishment for the all-women crowd. So why not acknowledge that?”

Instead of putting a Black woman, or any woman of color, on a note, Jones says Black women merely want to be valued equitably in society.

“When it comes to representation, I’ll be quite honest, I don’t care much about it,” Jones said. “Representation without action, without policy change, without improvement of daily life means nothing to me.”

Historically, Black women have made a fraction of what white men and women make, despite being the most educated population in the country. For every dollar a white man earns for work in the United States, a white woman earns 79 cents and a Black woman earns just 62 cents, according to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

The median net worth of Black women in America paints an even grimmer picture. Single Black women ages 20 to 39 with children but without a bachelor’s degree have a median net worth of $0, according to a 2017 report from the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. Single Black women ages 20 to 39 with a bachelor’s degree fare even worse, having a median net worth range of -$11,000 to $0. White women, on the other hand, fare considerably better. Single white women ages 20 to 39 with a bachelor’s degree have a median net worth range of $3,400 to $7,500.

The push to have Tubman on the $20 bill was initially set to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement in 2020. But the year came and went without any revision to the $20 bill.

The plan to put Tubman on the $20 bill stalled under the Trump administration. Donald Trump, while still a candidate in 2016, called the push to replace Jackson with Tubman “pure political correctness.” He hailed Jackson as his political hero and installed a portrait of the former president in the Oval Office amid criticism from some historians and activists who noted that Jackson, in addition to being a slave owner, committed genocide against Native Americans.

However, not everyone is so supportive of the move. Ashley Stevens, a Black Twitter user with a substantial following, said she thinks “there’s some sort of perversion” in putting Tubman on the bill.

“A woman who was traded as capital becoming the face of capital doesn’t sit right with my spirit,” Stevens said Monday in a tweet that went viral. “If you wanna honor Tubman there are much better ways to do so that would change the material benefits of people’s lives. Build schools, parks, a historical center, etc in her name. Putting her face on the 20 dollar bill isn’t even a feel good. It’s giving me the yucks.”

Source: Yahoo

Photographer Nate Gowdy Captured Images Of The Chaos Outside The Capital – ‘Still Processing What I Witnessed’

Photographer Nate Gowdy has documented close to 30 official Trump rallies since 2016, so he thought he knew what to expect when he arrived in Washington, D.C. after leaving Atlanta this week.

“My flight from Atlanta to Baltimore the night before should’ve prepared me for what would be one of the most surreal scenes I’ve documented,” he explains. “I’d never been aboard a plane where the dichotomy of people’s views was so starkly apparent, with people donning red hats and Trump merch side by side with people just getting from one place to the other.”

A chant of “Four More Years” began and was booed by others on the plane, which then resulted in someone shouting: “Go back to Venezuela!”

After the events of January 6th, when a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol and swarmed for hours until they were ejected from the government building, Gowdy states: “I’m still processing what I witnessed yesterday. We all are. It’s difficult to know what people are thinking when they’re breaching security barriers, attacking law enforcement, threatening members of the media, flaunting pandemic safety protocols, and bashing down the doors and windows to Congress, feeling enabled by the words they’ve just heard uttered from their ringleader, the President of the United States, who tells them that they are fighting the good fight. Throughout the afternoon, I heard countless individuals quipping how it was the best day of their life, and that it was one for the history books. How do you capture something so unprecedented, particularly when you don’t believe the ‘truths’ they do?”

Source: Rolling Stone

The Biden campaign started selling fly swatters right after the debate. They’ve already sold out

The Biden campaign didn’t miss a beat trying to capitalize on the, um, buzz of the vice presidential debate.

Within minutes of the debate wrapping up Wednesday, the Biden campaign tweeted a photo of Joe Biden with a fly swatter and a caption that said, “Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly.”

In case you missed it: A fly very noticeably landed on Vice President Mike Pence’s stiffly coiffed head as he debated Sen. Kamala Harris. The fly lingered, and the internet couldn’t stop talking about it.

Two hours later, the Biden campaign website was peddling $10 “Truth Over Flies” swatters.

And within a few hours more, a campaign spokesperson said, the nearly 35,000 swatters had sold out.

Biden campaign selling ‘Will You Shut Up, Man’ T-shirts following first presidential debate

Joe Biden‘s campaign started selling T-shirts bearing the phrase “Will You Shut Up Man” after the Democratic nominee directed the retort at President Trump during the pair’s first presidential debate Tuesday night.

The Biden campaign store began selling the T-shirts with the phrase superimposed over an image of an unhappy-looking Trump even as Tuesday’s debate was ongoing. The former vice president’s campaign is selling the shirts for $30-$33.

Trump frequently interrupted his Democratic opponent during the debate Tuesday, a tactic the former vice president occasionally reciprocated. The hour-and-a-half debate included a number of heated moments, with candidates repeatedly talking over each other or seeking to cut into the other’s speaking time.

Source: The Hill

The History of Ballot Design is the History of Democracy – As millions of Americans begin to head to the polls, here’s how our printed ballots have evolved

1) Early Ballots

Early ballots were printed using letterpress with the voter writing in the candidates name by hand. These pre-printed tickets from the 1850s made it easy confirm the sale of intoxicating liquors in Boston.

2) Ballots as Propaganda

Ballots were often used to illustrate a particular party platform, like this vivid anti-Chinese ticket for the Workingmen’s party in San Francisco. Several parties touted the protection of White labor, culminating in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first federal law barring a specific ethnicity from immigrating to America.

3) Impressive Displays of Typographic Grandstanding

The mid- and late-nineteenth century was a period of heavy experimentation in the printing world. Wood type, metal type, and lithography were often combined, creating layouts that are impressive displays of typographic grandstanding.

4) DIY Ballots

Ballot modifications were not discouraged by political parties and were so habitual that small strips of gummed paper called “pasters” would be sent to voters or handed out at the polls. Glue pots were provided at polling stations so voters could literally stick alternative candidates’ names on top of the printed ones. Ballots layouts became more elaborate as a reflection of the period style, but also served as an attempt to foil pasting efforts with serpentine typesetting.

5) The Australian Ballot

The adoption of the new Australian ballot format in the late 1880s was a radical shift in format, but these examples are more aligned with ballots we recognize today. Mandated by the government, all candidates were listed by office and the ballot was cast in private. Despite the regulations, modifications still persisted, like this New York ballot from 1914 that used tiny emblems to denote party affiliation. Voters were now able to freely select candidates across different parties, but detractors claimed the layout was too arduous as the volume of candidates and offices necessitated sometimes huge and unwieldy trim sizes. 

Ballot reformers like civic activist Richard Childs proposed ‘short ballots’ to simplify the decision making process and make it easier for the average voter. “The people must take an interest in all their electoral work if they are to be masters. If they do not take an interest in a given ballot, there are two solutions—change the people or change the ballot,” he wrote in his 1911 book, Short Ballot Principles. “As the people are too big to be spanked, and since human nature in the mass responds but slowly to prayer, it is good sense to change the ballot.”

Source: AIGA