When I read the title of the New York Times opinion essay--"Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans"–I expected to read the usual sad saga of the naive 23-year-old who got talked into majoring in White Privilege Studies at his $60,000-a-year liberal arts college and then found that the only job he could qualify for was delivering pizza for tips:

There would be a national shaming of colleges and universities for charging soaring tuition rates that are reaching lunatic levels. The rapacity of American colleges and universities is turning social mobility, the keystone of American freedom, into a commodified farce.

Except that the author of the article, Lee Siegel, is actually 57 years old. He's not a pizza man on a bicycle, but, rather, as his tagline has it, "the author of five books." And also, over the years, an editor for such prestige media as The New Republic and  Artnews. He's written for the New Yorker, Harper's, and the New York Review of Books.

His essay should more properly be titled "Why I Deadbeated on My Student Loans Because Working for a Living is Too Demeaning for a Snowflake Like Me" Here goes:

Maybe the problem was that I had reached beyond my lower-middle-class origins and taken out loans to attend a small private college to begin with. Maybe I should have stayed at a store called The Wild Pair, where I once had a nice stable job selling shoes after dropping out of the state college because I thought I deserved better, and naïvely tried to turn myself into a professional reader and writer on my own, without a college degree. I’d probably be district manager by now.

Or maybe, after going back to school, I should have gone into finance, or some other lucrative career. Self-disgust and lifelong unhappiness, destroying a precious young life — all this is a small price to pay for meeting your student loan obligations.

Eeew, managing a shoe store! Or destroying his "precious young life" by working in finance!

Even the banker who helped Siegel with his loan application is a target of contempt–so bourgeois!–by the self-pitying Siegel:

One late summer afternoon when I was 17, I went with my mother to the local bank, a long-defunct institution whose name I cannot remember, to apply for my first student loan. My mother co-signed. When we finished, the banker, a balding man in his late 50s, congratulated us, as if I had just won some kind of award rather than signed away my young life.

Let's see–when Siegel was 17 (he was born in 1957), the year was 1974. This was long before rampant tuition inflation by admistration-bloated colleges. In fact, the average undergraduate tuition and room-and-board costs for college back then was less than $4,000 a year. That would be about $20,000 a year in today's dollars–but the dollar amounts of loans don't rise with inflation, so Siegel probably owes, at most, about $16,000 for his entire college education. I don't think $16,000, even with interest, would be hard to pay off for a famous writer like Lee Siegel.

But Siegel is too good for that:

I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.

"Usefulness to society"! Siegel is a man who can never stop reminding us exactly how useful he is. In 2006 he was suspended as cultural critic for The New Republic for using a "sock puppet" in the comments section of his blog to berate other commenters who didn't think as highly of his cultural criticism as he himself did. Under the fake name "sprezzatura," Siegel would pen such writerly witticisms as:

You're a fraud, and a liar. And a wincingly pretentious writer. You couldn't tie Siegel's shoelaces.

No, famous writers ;ike Siegel don't really have to pay their debts. And they get to clothe themselves in the garments of morality that they have borrowed from the clueless millennials of today who got bamboozled into borrowing huge sums for worthless and genuinely cost-inflated college degrees.