If only people could be as open and honest as the young barista I ended a conversation with just now.
“I tried becoming an electrician…it didn’t work out…the students and teacher made fun of me…I always wanted to cook…I’m going to take some classes at community college to save money…my aunt is still paying off her student loans…she’s 50.”
This 22 year-old definitely did not mind opening up about his life. Simply curious to get his take on the student loan forgiveness plans being broadcast by leading presidential candidates this friendly young man gave me a deeper portrait of his life and struggles.
This level of depth is a rarity in most modern conversations. (I find that those who get turned off by “getting too deep” in conversation are better to be left alone all together. Just sayin’)
“I grew up very poor…That’s why I am taking time to figure out what I want to do…I’m either going to take business classes or coding classes as I work here…I don’t want to get into much debt”
If only the millions of other students now demanding some form of governmental handout or special group privilege could think along these lines.
Increasingly it is becoming the case that this college push for the masses experiment, horribly implemented to the detriment of millions of gullible young people (myself included), is finally coming to its inevitable ugly end.
The rallying cry among those most horribly impacted – young, angst-filled millenials afraid the world will end in only a decade or so – is the following:
GIVE US OUR MONEY BACK OR THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY.
Believe me, they rallied against Trump, protested, fought against “the system.” This battle will be more widespread, potentially more damaging.
I get it. It sucks to spend so much time, money, and energy to only stay at your current job or have no job at all. It sucks that virtually everyone practically has a degree now and standing out is no longer as easy. It sucks that you have to still be at home with parents in your late twenties as you prepare to “launch.”
I’ve experienced all this and more: poor spanish-speaking parents with the faintest idea on how the system actually functioned; educated at horrible failing city schools; underemployment largely due to lack of “being in the know.”
But is universal student loan forgiveness the solution to this millennial angst? In my opinion, no. Here is my reasoning on the matter.
1. Substitute the word “forgiveness” with “privilege” and this is what it is really about: for a party that is predicated on representing and helping the most vulnerable just how forgiving college debt becomes the priority is at best good-intentioned empty political promise and at worse complete utter hypocrisy and foolishness. Seriously. Upper middle class people routinely go to college, not the working poor. To bail out already wealthy people with the connections and know-how to get jobs and move around (not up) the system is just plain old wrong and irresponsible. That out of touch, that privileged, presumably both, the mentality is to “let the little people (they’ll convince you it’s the top 1%) bail us out as we lecture them on what is best for them.” Give me a break.
2. The Very Structure of State Funding for Higher Education is Flawed and Unethical: Again, the poor and struggling typically do not go to college. For those that do, typically, they wash out: one or two semesters and they are gone. The retention rate is especially low for low-income minority males. Why are the taxes of poor and working class people subsidizing the education of the middle and upper middle? The fact that much of the middle and upper middle class wants their loans forgiven entirely – outright ignoring their free-willed decision that, understandably, was motivated by societal and parental pressure – is completely insane. Maybe the first change that needs to happen is that students (and their parents) understand the true nature of funding for college.
3. The Unaffordability of College – and, Consequently, the Desperate Plea to be Bailed Out – is Largely Due to the GOVERNMENT: When the government decides to fund loans virtually without asking a single occupational or financial question you can only expect mass disaster later on. This shouldn’t be rocket science, but common sense. If an impressionable 18 year old would go anywhere else for a loan – say a small business, sizeable downpayment on a home – he or she would be denied instantly. For some reason, borrowing large sums of money without any concrete plan to pay it back for college does not bother the powers-that-be one bit. “Hey, you need more for a master’s degree that you have been pressured to get so you can get a good job?” “Here, why not? Thousands more are behind you waiting in line.” The message being sent to young people is that the price of education should not matter that, somehow, more schooling means more lucrative work opportunities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
4. Why Bail Out Student Loans for the Wealthy and Not Car Loans for the Poor? : The cost of living for poor and lower middle class people is increasingly becoming higher and higher; wealthy people not being able to pay their loans is bad financial decision-making and bad career planning. The argument could be made that a wealthy college kid doesn’t even need a degree; they simply wanted one. Poor people needing cars, whose livelihood depends upon them driving to and from work, is another matter entirely. A Wall Street Journal article recently documented how difficult car payments are becoming for many. What is more crucial for society–vehicles for transportation to work and elsewhere, or a piece of paper now collecting dust?
Simple question courtesy of Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire: why favor wealthy people who purchased a now largely worthless thing (Apple, Google and other companies don’t even want them now), understandably through cultural programming, over poor and struggling middle class people who bought a necessary thing?
5. What About Credit Cards? Is there Debt Not Worthy of Being Forgiven? Consumer debt is fast-approaching over $14 trillion. Again, most people presumably do not get into credit card debt out fanciful thinking: buy this now, so I can make more money later. Sure, many people have shopping problems, etc, and bring financial consequences upon themselves. But consider these stats: 50% of Americans have maxed out their credit cards. A study done by The Ascent, a popular financial website, showed that 1 in 5 respondents depend on credit cards to cover basic living expenses. It is safe to assume these people are not high income. Why no bailout for Main Street? Their debt load would presumably be 1) much lower, 2) give them much-needed breathing room to save and invest money wisely and 3) allow for much needed expenses like fixing a car, saving for a home – heck, it would even allow them to pay off school loans they took out while working full-time to support a family. I know of many people who fit these latter categories. Tragically, they are invisible to the political masters too concerned with getting votes from vocal young people.
6. The Same People Who Got Us in this Mess Now Want to be the Ones to Fix it? University administrators, government officials, for-profit loan processing companies, not to mention the millions and millions of people who depend on the current university system for their livelihood – are they at all going to be inclined to reform this system and trim down all the unnecessary fat? It is not likely.
I’m not blaming the regular workers doing their day-to-day jobs. Those on top, however, should be held accountable. The politicians who signed off on this mess should be booted out. The teachers feeding the tired narrative that college is the only way should get a new job…in the real world. Notice too how the solution is from one extreme to the other: offer student loan forgiveness entirely–in the case of Warren, to families earning less than $100,000 a year. No mentioning of anything more concrete on how the university system could be reformed more meaningfully.
The sad reality is this: It is easier to bark really loud during an election year and promise the impossible. That way, when she doesn’t get in office, she doesn’t have to implement anything. She can maintain: “See, I told you I was the best one….” Offer the world, deliver on nothing, claim you are still the best. No accountability, just empty promise – presidential political marketing in 2020. GO WARREN! SMH.
7. What About Those…? : who already paid off their college debt? What about those who didn’t go to college because of the high cost? What about those students who got accepted in a great school but settled for a good one simply because of financial considerations? What about college students now in school? Or those that plan to attend in the future? Will they be eligible for this pardon? What about the “ultra rich” who are going to be taken to town to pay off these drastic loans? As Matt Walsh makes clear in his recent article, there is no forgiveness here or cancellation. It is a mass TRANSFER OF DEBT. About those “filthy rich” people he comments:
“…rich people are still people, last I checked. We still have to deal, ethically, with the fact that we’d be requiring private citizens to pay back loans they didn’t take out, for a product they didn’t purchase. Defend that morally dubious model all you want, but don’t call it cancellation or forgiveness. Nothing at all is being forgiven. We are just forcing someone else to do the atoning.”
8. The Reason they Can’t Pay Loans is Because they Can’t Get Jobs. They Cannot Get Jobs Because Everyone Now Has a College Degree : and, in some cases, these students are “too good” for certain jobs. They are better than “Joe Schmo,” by virtue of their special piece of paper so, presumably, they would rather not work at all than work a job they put in the “loser” category. It is all very pitiful and shameful that we look down on certain people and the jobs they do because of some bogus social and economic position. Although they cry afoul in university settings at how the rich oppress them, when it comes to work they cannot be caught dead working alongside, much less living among the little people. Someone I know, a history grad from a state university, managed to pay his student loans (he owed about 80k) entirely in three years by working as a linen delivery driver. Good for him. No mercy for the entitled.
9. Parents Shame on You For Not Advising Your Kids to go to Community College: Keeping up with the Jones’ takes another form when kids are involved. When it comes to college, nothing inspires bragging rights more among friends and family than where your kids attended college. Again, it’s all foolish, selfish, entitled talk. What a superficial society we have when what matters more, when someone’s worth boils down to where they went to school and what they do for work. That this comes at an extremely high price in terms of financial cost, societal functioning, respect and compassion for others, simply does not matter. My goodness, if Joe doesn’t quite view you as a good parent because you are encouraging your son to go to community college, forget him! But what do I know? I don’t live in the suburbs, drive a Volvo SUV, nor have a bumper sticker with Yale University affixed to it.
10. Less People Need to be in College, Plain and Simple: I’ve been saying this for years. It is simple supply and demand: the more people that are in college and getting jobs shortly after means more competition for all. This normally translates into higher qualifying factors that previously did not exist. They now throw in the application their “preferred qualifications” as if the simple skills you once needed with a only high school diploma don’t suffice. Call center rep. A bachelor’s degree preferred. What little jobs remain at McDonald’s in this age of automation will likely require an advanced degree. Come on!