This morning, I saw the following tweet from Senator Elizabeth Warren …
While I don’t believe Warren’s intentions are particularly dishonorable, this idea of free college and debt forgiveness need to be squashed.
I’m not going to lie …
I’m so tired of listening to this nonsense.
Even Warren knows that there’s no such thing as “free” college.
Unless, of course, there’s a group of teachers and administrators that are willing to work for free.
And the cost to keep the lights on at these schools will be covered by the utility companies.
And those responsible for maintaining campus grounds and buildings want to do that job just for fun, and don’t need to be paid.
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that nothing is free.
It seems stupid to even have to write those words, but apparently a lot of folks need a reminder.
Certainly college tuition isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s become downright cost prohibitive for many Americans. And I don’t pretend to know how to fix this problem. Certainly there’s something to be said about subsidized student loans that seem to have resulted in universities jacking up the prices for admission, since they get paid regardless of whether or not the student pays back his or her loan.
But I’m not an expert on this, so I’ll let the proper libertarian thinkers dissect that one.
One thing I will say, however, is that we need to get rid of this idea that everyone needs to go to college.
Truth is, a lot of folks would be better off going to trade schools right out of high school in an effort to learn a trade that will result in steady income and career security.
A good friend of mine became an apprentice to a plumber right out of high school. This was in 1988.
Today, he makes about $80k a year, owns his own home, has a decent retirement plan lined up, and has never been unemployed.
Another friend of mine with whom I went to college, graduated with a degree in political science. He interned in Washington (for free), got a job at a public policy think tank, lost his job two years later, and has since had four different jobs, three of which paid nowhere near what a plumber makes.
It would be one thing if he actually worked in politics and enjoyed what he did. But he doesn’t. He’s been working in sales for the past 12 years. He seems to be OK with it. The money’s really good. But he sure as hell didn’t need to spend $40k to get a political science degree to work in sales.
Understand, I’m not criticizing higher education. If it’s something you want to explore, and you believe that it can help you prepare for your future in a way that will provide fulfillment and financial security, then you should definitely try to figure out how to make it happen.
But the truth is, there are just too many kids going to college, who really don’t need it.
Instead of talking about free college – which literally can never exist – perhaps we should be encouraging young people to figure out if college is even right for them. And of course, not criticizing those who don’t attend college.
We also need to stop talking about debt forgiveness.
While I feel for those carrying huge student loan debt, “forgiveness” is just another word for stealing.
If I lend you $10, with the understanding that you’ll return that $10 to me in three months – with interest – I expect to be repaid. If I’m not repaid, that means you just stole $10 from me, plus the gain I was counting on since I provided you with capital that could’ve been deployed elsewhere.
So when it comes to this idea of student loan “forgiveness,” what happens to the money that’s owed to those who lent it in the first place?
Senator Warren is suggesting that an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” – which is a 2 percent annual tax on the 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth – cover this massive cost.
Just because someone is a millionaire, doesn’t give you the right to steal from him.
And make no mistake: This IS theft.
I know it’s easy to blame rich people for all the world’s problems.
It’s easy to vilify them while so many people struggle just to put food on the table.
But blaming rich people for income inequality is nothing more than laziness. It allows us to not seek the root of our economic problems because it’s always easier to just blame the wealthy.
It’s always been that way.
Yet the question we really need to ask ourselves is, what are the root causes of this student debt crisis and the high cost of tuition?
It’s not rich people.
Senator Warren says its because state governments and the federal government decided that we don’t treat higher education like our public school system — free and accessible to all Americans.
Here’s the problem with that …
First, the free and accessible public school system available to all Americans is incredibly flawed, and really does little more these days than provide the skills needed to take standardized tests, which are also incredibly flawed.
As well, I can tell you that a public school in the suburbs of Montgomery Country, MD is far different than a public school in south Baltimore. Social and education inequality is a real thing that continues to plague our communities, and public education funding and oversight can’t fix this problem.
If Senator Warren is trying to make a case for treating college the same way we treat public schools, she’s making a case for something that is already severely impaired.
Again, I don’t believe that Senator Warren’s intentions are dishonorable. I do believe that she simply wants that which is best for those who continue to struggle with the high cost of college and crushing student loan debt. But her solution is one that is based on this idea that it’s OK to steal from some people, but not from others.
Teaching our kids that it’s OK to steal is not a good lesson, and it’s one that will have horrible repercussions down the road.
Now I really don’t know how this is all going to play out.
And I really wish I had the answer to these problems. But I don’t.
All I know is that to deny that this student debt crisis is indeed a crisis, is foolish. And while Senator Warren is quick to suggest theft as the answer to this problem, if those on the right don’t offer some meaningful suggestions, which don’t dismiss things like social inequity, income inequality, and the advantages of trade schools, Warren’s policy of theft will continue to gain traction. And that’s not going to be good for anyone.