By Dom Giordano

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Lee Siegal, the author of a controversial editorial in the New York Times explaining why he defaulted on his student loans, defended his piece and criticized politicians and cultural elites for not doing more to change the education system in America.

Siegal told Dom Giordano on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT that the poor and lower-middle class have no real advocates in the halls of power.


“Nothing is changing in this country. You look at the Republican candidates, you look at Hillary, you look at the status of our politics and nothing’s changing. I got angry and then I looked around at the people who are in my world, anyway, here in New York journalism and I saw that most of these people come from elite, wealthy backgrounds and they couldn’t care less about the plight of the lower-middle class. They’ll talk about the poor and they’ll talk about the black poor because they don’t have to have anything to do with the black poor. They can cry crocodile tears and say the right thing and never have to see them or rub elbows with them. But when it comes to the lower-middle class, they don’t have a thing to say. I sat down and I wanted to write something for people like me, from the lower-middle class of all races, of all backgrounds, people who are struggling and have struggled under this cruel and oppressive burden of student debt.”

He believes are education system should be more like other countries around the world.

“I think that education in this country, as in Canada, Brazil, Germany, Norway, France, and in so many different places, it should be mostly free. I don’t think that a poor kid, or a lower-middle class kid, or a middle kid should not be able to get into a school that he or she has the talent to get into just because he or she doesn’t have money.”

Siegal also said he did not start out looking to not pay back his loans, but made the choice along the way.

“I worked my way all through college and graduate school. I had to take out that money to survive, to live. As far as defaulting on my loans, I never took them out with the intention of defaulting. I didn’t default deliberately. What I wrote in the piece was that I refused to take on a soul crushing career just in order to pay off my loans.”