Millennials don’t drive cars. Everyone knows it’s true. Indeed, even the 75+ set outpaces 25-to-34 year olds in car consumption. And yet, millennials are the Miley Cyrus of consumers. Pay us the right kind of individualized attention, and we’ll do the consumer equivalent of twerking at your command.
What’s the catch? You must view student loans as valuable chips with which to barter. And you’ll have to persuade President Obama to serve once again as dealmaker between his country and his beloved auto industry.
Think of Lemons for Loans as Cash for Clunkers, Version 2.0. The government would forgive a portion of monthly student loan payments equivalent to the per-month cost of leasing or owning a “lemon” made in the USA. "Lemon" is used here mostly for the sake of alliteration, not at all to signify an automobile technically subject to lemon law, and only possibly to refer to a poorly made, low-rated domestic product like the recently discontinued Chevrolet Aveo.
Ignore the “conventional wisdom” supposedly indicating that the smartphone has displaced the car as the au courant “must-have lifestyle accessory.” That’s idiotic! Saying I prefer owning a smartphone to owning a car is like saying I prefer high-speed internet to not living with my parents. Putting two things together in a sentence does not make them mutually exclusive, cost-commensurate, or in any telling way related.
So stop listening to other commenters who say cheeky things. TIME may note that a “mooch factor” is at play. Millennials aren’t driving cars because we mooch off our family and friends for rides (as well as for places to live, beer money, and hipster Hot Pockets). Is it our laziness and not economic constraint that accounts for our insufferable tendency to mooch? Who knows! But you can’t do much about our laziness, so focus on the economic constraint variable instead.
Student-loan debt held by Americans under 30 went from $162 billion to $322 billion between 2005 and 2012. Big Three, that $322 billion could be your next bailout if you play your cards right! Average debt held by a person who borrows for college is now $26,000 at graduation. That figure doesn’t even speak to the heftier loans racked up in the pursuit of professional degrees. And who’s most likely to predicate their self-esteem on objects? People with JD’s and MBA’s, of course. Making millennials' plight worse is that Obama’s current higher-education reforms don’t really do much for those who began borrowing before September 31, 2007. If you’re a millennial with student loans age 24 or up, your best and only option is Income Based Repayment. Speaking as someone who began borrowing in 2004, I can tell you that what the government says I should repay based on my income is hilarious — it amounts to 30% of my monthly after-tax earnings! Even more hilarious than the fact that the government thinks this is affordable, is the fact that car companies want someone like me to lease or own a car on top of student loans, rent, and groceries.
Lemons for Loans works as follows: Let's say I pay $690 per month to service my student loans. Say I lease or make payments on a low-quality, poorly rated car like the recently discontinued Chevrolet Aveo for around $300 per month. In this scenario, Lemons for Loans means my student loan payments would be reduced to $390 per month. To be clear, that $300 reduction would not merely be thrown back into my pot of debt to accrue more interest, that amount would be forgiven.
Getting President Obama on board with this plan should be fairly simple because it has a built-in, face-saving PR strategy. Our president will say he’s only helping those with student loans insofar as it ensures the continued profitability of our domestic auto industry. Plus, if the president retained the qualifier “lemon,” he would do the Big Three one better by enabling them to profit off their least desirable cars.
And for the rest of corporate America, who might lobby against another round of government goodies for the domestic auto industry,they should be reminded that the entire U.S. economy stands to benefit from this program. Everyone knows that the car is the gateway drug for conspicuous consumption. If Obama rewards indebted millennials for driving a lemon, he’ll be the dealer that gives the novice that first hit for free. Soon, we’ll all be hooked on American consumerism.
Worried what Rush Limbaugh and Ashton Kutcher might think? We have you covered there too. Just tell Rushton that the desire to drive something nicer than a car like the Chevrolet Aveo will make millennials work harder to pay down their debt faster. The desire to get out from under our lemon will be just the kick in the ass we need to overcome our lack of gumption, get up off the couch, and exert actual effort to better our lives!
Who knows where the future of programs like Lemons for Loans might take us? Perhaps student loans will even be offset someday by the monthly amount it takes to rent or own property the government couldn't get rid of — subsidies for living in Detroit! Student debt means you can make millennials do anything you want. Commit to the exploration of this untapped resource, and the sky’s the limit!