Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Avoid the Pitfalls of Student Loan Forgiveness


One looming issue facing the incoming Biden administration is what to do with the $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loans, mostly held by the federal government. The most recent internal government analysis found that the United States will lose about $400 billion on its current portfolio of $1.37 trillion, a number likely to increase as the government continues to allocate about $100 billion per year in new student loans. Notably, that analysis did not include the roughly $150 billion in loans backed by the federal government but originated by private lenders.

By way of comparison, private lender losses on subprime loans in the residential lending market were about $535 billion during the 2008 crisis. The student loan and subprime mortgage crises share the same root cause: by statutory design, the government wished to expand both markets, such that loans were made with little or no examination of the borrowers’ creditworthiness. The meltdown of the residential home market arose because private lenders relied on the implicit federal loan guarantee. In the end, this practice pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the holders of weak mortgages, over the edge, and ultimately resulted in the wipeout of all the private common and preferred shareholders of the two companies.

Fortunately, the absence of private shareholders ensures that the student loan crisis is not likely to generate such chilling collateral consequences. But the problem of borrower defaults will not go away soon, given that the federal government continues to pump billions of dollars each year into student loans. Unfortunately, this constant infusion of new capital into the lending market is causing increases in college tuition that outstrip inflation, imposing additional costs on individuals who do not take out student loans, and raising the overall cost of education above competitive rates.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ‘Caddyshack’ Nation: America is Bushwood Country Club


After Trump’s 2016 victory, I considered forming a new political action group called the Al Czervik Republicans. It would be based on Rodney Dangerfield’s classic character in the 1980 comedy film Caddyshack and serve as a tribute to those considered the “wrong kind” of people by the establishment in Washington DC.

If you’ve never watched Caddyshack before, you might want to do so before reading the rest of this. Spoilers will follow.

In many ways, Trump is a perfect metaphor for Dangerfield’s Al Czervik. They’re both self-made businessmen and builders. They’re sometimes crass, often hilarious, and completely despised by the “right kind” of people. They both delight in pointing out the hypocrisy of the privileged class and are targeted for retribution as a result.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Slowing Down


Over time, I’ve been nagged by an annoying thought and it just won’t go away. I’ve tried to ignore it, discount it, and ridicule it, but it is persistent. The other evening, I was walking from one room to another, and noticed my gait—slow and gentle. And there was the truth: I was slowing down, undeniably, and in some ways, disturbingly.

Now you have to understand that most of my life I have put a high value in doing things—almost anything—quickly. I might not be the smartest person, but I was fast and efficient and could run circles around many people. I took pride is this talent for a long time. Finally, I began to notice that I was striving to do things quickly that just were not all that important; they certainly did not demand my meeting a deadline. I also realized that trying to do everything at warp speed was causing me a great deal of stress, but I was the only one who seemed to care about this ability. So, I made a concerted effort to slow myself down. I realized how valuable this goal was when one day, I had rushed home from a work-out and had another obligation to fulfill—not one I was particularly interested in. I decided I simply was not going to rush, but instead took my time. Out of curiosity, I checked the clock when I was ready to leave, and was astounded to realize that I had showered and changed in record time! It wasn’t possible! But, in fact, I discovered when I was simply attentive to what I was doing, timeliness would often take care of itself.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Murder and Mystery By the Ohio River


Piper Blackwell is an ex-GI. She saw service in Iraq with the 101st Airborne, seeing combat as an MP. Instead of serving her planned 20 years, she separated at the end of her hitch to look after her father, Paul Blackwell, ill with cancer. Her father, then sheriff of rural Spencer County, Indiana urged 23-year-old Piper to run for sheriff in his place. To her surprise, she won.

“The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge: A Piper Blackwell Mystery,” by Jean Rabe, is the fourth book in this mystery series. Blackwell is into her ninth month as sheriff. She has shaken up the sheriff’s department, mostly for the better. Even her election opponent, Chief Deputy Sheriff Oren Rosenberg, who would like for her to be inadequate so he could replace her, grudgingly admits her competence.

This book opens with Piper taking a three-day Labor Day weekend in Kentucky, with several ex-army buddies. They are playing paintball on land owned by one of them when tragedy strikes. They get attacked by an armed, active shooter. Several of the participants are killed, including the shooter. Others including Piper are badly injured.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: True Wealth


“Despite the synergine the Count’s eyes were going shocked and vague. He pawed at the little plastic oxygen mask, batted away the medic’s worried attempt to control his hands, and motioned urgently to Mark. He so clearly wanted to say something, it was less traumatic to let him than to try and stop him. Mark slid onto his knees by the Count’s head.

“The Count whispered to Mark in a tone of earnest confidence, ‘All . . . true wealth . . . is biological.'” — Lois McMasters Bujold, Mirror Dance

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Thanks for Excellence


November 2020 offered two shining public examples of humans “being best:” one on a racecourse in Turkey, the other racing up from Cape Canaveral to meet the International Space Station. Formula 1 went racing in Turkey on Sunday, November 15, in the rain. The unworldly talent, Lewis Hamilton, started in sixth position and stayed there for much of the race. Then the unexpected happened, as might have been expected.

Closer to home, in all the ground clutter of Democrats trying to steal our republic, you might not have noticed that Space X Crew Dragon roared off the launch pad with four astronauts aboard on November 16. We can be thankful for the individuals and entire systems that produce such amazing achievements while noting that they are gravely endangered by the global leftist movement, to which they at least pay lip service.

Space history:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Covid19 Thanksgiving


This Thanksgiving Day will be precisely the way we always celebrate, and paradoxically unique in the annals of the Quinn Family.

Our plans began several weeks ago when we realized that the large group of people we ordinarily invite for the Thanksgiving meal were mostly holed up in their homes. (We live in a 55+ community.) They venture out occasionally, but have been socializing mainly in small groups. So, anticipating their reluctance to come over today, I was “uninviting” them; I realize some might still have wanted to come, but most would have been uncomfortable with the presence of so many people. (We were uneasy about it ourselves.)

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. An Inconvenient Hiccup and Resurrecting the Swamp


Now I finally get it. How could I miss the obvious?

For the deluded Left, the last four years were just an inconvenient blip on the screen of history. They hated it when Trump won the 2016 election, and made sure everyone—those on the Left and the Right—experienced hatred and frustration in one way or another.

But that was then and this is now.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Obligatory Thanksgiving Essay


I can’t remember a bad Thanksgiving.

Correction: I don’t remember a bad Thanksgiving. There are many reasons this is possible. I drank to oblivion! Unlikely. I drove it from my mind to keep the illusion of perfect family gatherings intact! Also unlikely, as I remember a few kitchen arguments and last-minute tensions that darkened the mood for a while. That’s expected. Something always goes wrong. The potatoes do not assume the proper density. Someone didn’t butter the lefse. The popovers were insufficiently puffy. But no one cares, and no one remembers. 

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. All Debt is bad and sad and ergo should go away


Doc B – like our old long-lost friend Doc Jay, but probably less likely to look at your chart, say “screw it,” rip out your tubes and drive you to Vegas – wrote about a patient thrilled by the promise of college debt elimination. The patient did not have a firm grip on things like “economics” or “reality,” but she’s not alone.

As long as we’re talking about college debt relief, why not all debt? The New Yorker is here to tell you what it means in terms of PHILOSOPHY and also justice.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Enslaved Once Again


“Miraculously, just as soon as we were given personal responsibility, it was taken away. In the darkest of ironies, after 345 years of having our personal responsibility stripped from us by governing white society, we allowed that same white society to take it right back. Their method for taking it had certainly changed. Rather than callously telling us we couldn’t be responsible for ourselves, by outwardly barring and banning us from various institutions, this time, they began telling us we shouldn’t be responsible for ourselves because it was unimaginable that blacks would suddenly be expected to perform at their level. This ushered in a period of black victimization, which our community readily embraces to this day.” –Candace Owen, Blackout

In part of her book, Candace Owen shined a light on the true purpose of the Great Society agenda. People close to Lyndon Johnson knew that he despised black people, and he made sure that they would see themselves as dependent on the government forever. By “enslaving” them once again, he guaranteed their political support of the Democrats into the foreseeable future.

Even though many of us on the Right realize that the Democrats often acted against the wellbeing of the black community (as in fighting the Civil Rights Act and participating in the Ku Klux Klan), they managed to hide their true identity. As time went on, blacks became convinced that in spite of evidence to the contrary, their lives should be entrusted to the Left. Although programs of the Left have repeatedly crippled blacks in America, they have remained loyal.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Mr. Trump: Speaking of Grace…


I’m a conservative. I don’t like chaos, I’m not attracted to nihilism and social destruction. I like things to proceed in an orderly manner, following sensible rules, and leading to understandable results that inspire confidence. Having said that…

For four years I’ve watched the Democrats and their cohorts in the media (which is to say, pretty much everyone in the media) make a farce out of politics. It started with Hillary Clinton paying for Russian-made dirt on candidate Trump. It continued with Hillary Clinton making up a Russian collusion narrative in order to save face after her unexpected defeat in 2016.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Second Whiskey Rebellion Has Begun


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Oh, to Be a Low-Knowledge Voter!


For the first time that I can remember, I wish that I were ignorant of politics. To want to be ignorant about anything is so contrary to my nature. Although I know that I can’t undo what I know, I can’t help contemplating what life would be like if I didn’t know the disruption that was happening in the election process . . .

I could focus on getting my ingredients together for Thanksgiving. I make my own cranberry sauce with cranberries, sugar, dried cherries, and a bit of fresh orange juice; I love to watch the mixture bubbling and rollicking in the pan. And savoring it with the juicy turkey.

Or I could imagine the smells of my mother’s stuffing recipe made of matzah and other goodies, scents that fill the house with memories and joy.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘50s Broadcast Tech Tales


The UK had gone through hell during the Second World War, and its early postwar years were bleak. “Austere” was the accepted, understated way of putting it. Food and heating fuel were expensive and scarce. In 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen when her father died. This was formally confirmed in elaborate rituals throughout England and Scotland, leading up to her grand coronation in June 1953. It had been eight years since the end of the war. The UK economy was finally looking up. The English were ready to kick up their heels a little. So they staged what amounted to the first worldwide television spectacular.

With the Queen’s acquiescence—in fact, her insistence—the BBC’s cameras were permitted to observe almost all of a ceremony once held to be all but sacred. Announced long in advance, the Coronation resulted in the purchase of millions of TV sets, no longer exclusively associated with the upper classes. The live television signal was microwaved across the Channel to France, where it was broadcast in Paris and relayed onwards to Holland and Germany, whose viewers also watched the ceremonies in a growing number of fortunate private homes, and thronged the many bars and meeting places that already had television sets.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A New World Battle in an Alternate Timeline


Eric Flint launched his Ring of Fire series in 2000 with his novel “1632.” Intended as a stand-alone novel, it tells the story of Grantville, a West Virginia town switched in time and place with an equal area of space in Thirty-Years War Germany. 1632 proved addictive to readers and writers. Flint wrote a sequel, inviting David Weber to collaborate. Readers ate it up. Flint then opened his playground to other writers, curating the results. As of 2020 there are over 30 books in the series.

“1637: No Peace Beyond the Line,” by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon, is the latest addition to the series. It is a sequel to “1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies,” published in 2014.

“No Peace Beyond the Line” picks up where “Commander Cantrell” left off. Captain Eddie Cantrell is holding together a coalition made up of Germans, Dutch, Danes, Irish, and renegade English colonists. The English have defied their national government to remain in the New World. The Irish are members Wild Geese, Irish mercenaries estranged from English-occupied Ireland, formerly in the service of France. Led by the chief pretender to the Irish throne (held by King Charles of England) they are running a settlement in Trinidad, producing and exporting oil, with the cooperation of the local natives.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Mayflower Compact, Four Centuries On


Just received this note from a well-read and perceptive friend:

Don’t want to let the day slip away without noting that today marks the 400th anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Vaccines are Coming: Sign Me Up!


If it were up to Zeke Emmanuel, were I to catch the coronavirus he’d probably just let me die. I am, after all pretty close to his cut-off date for saving old people who are ill. He might be skeptical about my receiving the vaccine, too, since it was developed under the Trump administration. Yet I am encouraged and excited about the prospects of this vaccine, and am hopeful that we can continue to get our arms around this disease. Our first responders and related occupations should be the first to get the vaccines.

Unfortunately, the vaccines for coronavirus have been so heavily politicized that I should have no trouble finding a place in line to get the vaccination; many people in this country want to take a wait-and-see approach to vaccinations since people like me might die from the vaccine. Or they are anti-vaxxers who object strenuously to vaccinations. Others are suspicious because vaccines are being developed under Operation Warp Speed, although the Pfizer vaccine was developed without government funds. Then you have the government leaders who are determined to make sure the vaccine fails. It’s difficult for me to believe that their resistance is all about Trump, since I’m fairly confident that he hasn’t interfered with the vaccine developers. But you won’t convince New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:

The government has sent states a data sharing agreement asking for information such as age, sex, and race of someone who gets the vaccine. While Governor Cuomo says the state will reveal that data, it won’t release the other details such as passport numbers and Social Security numbers. The governor believes that information would be used to deport undocumented immigrants, a claim the White House is denying.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Such Times


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

We may not be living in times as cataclysmic as those of Frodo and Gandalf, but it has been a trying year. Next year bids fair to be worse. The good of the last four years will be undone and we will likely face more restrictions on our civil liberties and can almost certainly expect higher energy prices as the United States once again becomes an energy importing country.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How to Build a Computer 38: Epitaxy


Hello and welcome back to How to Build a Computer. If any of y’all are worried about my long absence, well, let that be a lesson to you: The bearded nogoodnik with the dimensional transportalponder does not have your best interests in mind. Sadly, the story is much less interesting than that; I ran out of processes that I either learned about in school or worked with on the job. I’m much less happy regurgitating textbooks than I am imparting actual experience. For instance, I don’t even know if “epitax” is a real verb, but I’m going to use it like such because it’s fun to say.

With the preliminaries out of the way, let’s take a look at the wonderful world of Epitaxy. From the Greek root it looks like we’re talking about a tax atop your other taxes, but however timely and relevant such a word might otherwise be that’s not what we’re working on. What we’re building here is a crystal on top of your other crystal. Recall way back from the start how wafers are sliced out of boules that are composed of one giant crystal. There’s some advantage to remember that that’s not a perfectly flat surface. Here, let me demonstrate:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Life in a Zoo


It was an eerie and uneasy time for us. My husband and I decided to get away and we went to St. Petersburg to stay for a couple of days. The first day was bathed in the warm sunlight of fall, and was perfect weather for touring Zoo Tampa, where we had never been. We had watched the care of the animals on TV and thought it would be fun to become acquainted in person.

Aside from the sunny day, however, much of our visit seemed somehow off. We were hungry when we got there, so we went into the cavernous café near the zoo entrance near noontime. Hardly anyone else was there. Everyone was masked up when they weren’t eating.

When we started touring the zoo, one of the first enclosures had a single tiger in it. We watched as he paced from side to side in one portion where there were rocks for him to walk on. I wondered if his behavior would be considered normal. Later I asked a staff person about it, and she said he was probably waiting for his meal. Maybe so.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Here’s What’s Wrong with ‘Trust the Science’


Think about the times you’ve been told to “trust the science.” Two occasions should come to mind immediately: when discussing climate change and when talking about the Wuhan coronavirus.

There’s a lot of science being done on the subject of climate change. There’s a lot of science being done on the subject of the coronavirus. Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that the vast bulk of this is “good” science — that it’s being conducted by competent people acting in accordance with the techniques and standards of science. That’s almost certainly a safe assumption.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Arizona Voters Foolishly Choose New Taxes


Arizona voters have some serious ‘splaining to do about the passage of Prop. 208, which raised education funds by boosting income tax rates up to 98% for high-income filers. How could this have happened?

Arizona schools have already received over $1 billion in new sustainable monies over recent years, with more coming. More importantly, Arizona public schools, without receiving much credit, have become a remarkable success story.

Academic achievement gains for minority students are among the highest in the nation. Arizona charter schools excel in competitive rankings.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Don’t Blame Restaurants for Covid Spread


Last week, I sat with a new potential restaurant client, six feet apart and fully masked, of course. Let’s call her Viola.

Viola told me her story. She and her husband are both non-citizens, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit—and they opened a small restaurant a few years ago in Scottsdale, AZ. It’s in a hard-to-find location that is, however, usually found by tourists from all over the US and Canada in the booming tourism season in the Desert Southwest.

Enter 2020. Viola told me how they had finally picked up traction in their tiny spot; she shared stories of her regular customers, expanding hours, wine dinners, and more. They were so confident and excited, that she purchased a building to expand into with a new concept that would eventually also house her existing restaurant. That all happened in January.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: No Excuses!


“I attribute my success to this — I never gave or took any excuse.” — Florence Nightingale

Okay, I admit it; I’m obsessed with the importance of personal responsibility. And this quotation by Florence Nightingale, the woman who was the founder of modern nursing, reflects my strong beliefs on the subject. No doubt Ms. Nightingale ran into more than her share of roadblocks in her aspirations, but she was fearless and willing to take them on.

Today we have a society that is drowning in excuses. People who encounter difficulties blame others for holding them back. They purport to know people’s biases, feelings, preferences, and hatred toward them. They want to be able to pursue their goals in life with a minimum amount of effort. If they weren’t hired for jobs, racism was to blame. If they weren’t promoted to a new position, someone had unfair influence. The opportunities for feeling insecure and frustrated are endless. Especially when we can blame other people for our losses.