In the first hour, Ian Punnett welcomed the founder of StudentLoanJustice.org, Alan Collinge, who discussed how federal student loans have become predatory, turning a generation into debtor slaves. "It's a socially horrible epidemic," he declared, noting that America's total student loan debt now surpasses the nation's credit card debt. He explained that student loans are particularly pernicious because they contain no consumer safeguards such as bankruptcy protection, statute of limitations, or the ability to re-finance the debt in an open market. As a result of these factors, Collinge said, when a loan is defaulted, it can double or even triple due to penalties and fees.
In looking at the source of the problem, Collinge pointed to student loan advocates and the Department of Education as the key entities that "failed to play their part" in overseeing lending practices. According to him, the DOE has been using a faulty metric to determine the default rate on student loans, thus misleading Congress into increasing the allowable limits on colleges for lending. Additionally, Collinge said, the DOE actually makes "about 22% versus what they pay out" for defaulted student loans. In order to fix the student loan epidemic, Collinge endorsed restoring bankruptcy protections for these loans. Should that happen, he said, "a multitude of problems" will resolve themselves, including an "almost overnight" drop in college tuitions.
The remainder of the program was devoted to Open Lines and featured callers responding to the student loan issue as well as sharing their tales of the strange and unusual. "I don't see UFOs," Catherine in Arizona insisted, "I'm one of those very boring people who does not have strange things happen." However, she shared the one strange tale which has flummoxed her for the past two years. She recalled seeing an 18-wheeler, parked at a truck stop, which sported a "holographic picture of a grey" alien on the back. As she got closer, the image became more vivid and then disappeared as she went past it. Despite attributing the sighting to her imagination, Catherine was mystified when the incident repeated itself two weeks later. Strangely, the truck also bore no company identification on it and appeared seamless, "almost like a mirror."
Later, Hale in Greensburg, Indiana shared the uplifting tale of how his dog sensed his arrival home from the Navy. Hale explained that, upon getting out of the service, he planned on surprising his parents by not letting them know he was coming home. As such, on the day of his return, he was dropped off by a friend on the street corner near his house. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, the family's dog had been so anxious to go outside that Hale's parents let the canine out to roam. However, the pooch did not go too far, Hale laughed, because "when I got out of the car, on the corner, my dog was sitting there, waiting for me."