Student Debt

When considering student debt, people seem not to understand that the average person starting graduate school is a nearly 40 year old woman. There are far fewer grants for grad school than scholarships for undergrads, so most people take out loans. In fact, even in colleges now, “student aid packages” are predominantly based on loans unlike any others. They cannot be claimed in bankruptcy proceedings and the current administration has almost completely eliminated debt forgiveness proceedings for teachers and other public servants who were eligible for debt release after ten years of service and payments.

Given the age of most graduate students, many are likely to have children and are often single parents trying to return to the workforce or improve their earning power, but those earnings are often unlikely to allow them to pay off those relatively high interest debts and support families through their education. Heaven forbid that they also incur medical loans or try to purchase a house rather than pay continually increasing rents!

Historically, debt forgiveness is not a slippery slope into anything other than boosting the economy, in spite of the histrionics I see in comments regarding Elizabeth Warren’s recently stated platform. (And no, I’m not crazy about her or anyone else right now, but her platform isn’t far fetched and is in fact, in line with many of the world’s wealthy, “developed” nations)

So the REAL questions should be:

Why are education costs in the US such that only the wealthy can afford to be educated?

Second to that is why do Americans allow their hard earned tax dollars to be used to forgive the debts of banks and multinationals, but fight to maintain their own positions as indentured workers?

Why do so many Americans fight against union benefits that help every worker rather than fighting for their own ability to bargain?

And why does a country that’s falling behind in education undervalue liberal arts? We had one of the best educational systems in the world when those subjects were part of the general curriculum, including at the best technology colleges, such as MIT. It’s pretty simple: if I can read, write, and have a decent grasp of critical thinking, math and science, I can pretty much learn everything else (given an aptitude and willingness to work) and communicate with others across disciplines.

Sadly, I have some ideas about the above “whys” but I can only hope that I’m wrong because if I’m right, it means that too many Americans are stupid, mean spirited, and ignorant about how the systems under which they spend their lives actually work, or their real positions within society.

As working people we have more in common with one another than we do with the 2% richest or even the legislators who are supposed to represent our interests but too often use their political terms to enrich themselves at our expense. We don’t have to like each other or agree on everything, but we sure as heck need to stop fighting each other in ways that keep us all down.

Stop acting like crabs in a barrel, people. Raise each other up: in that way, everybody benefits.

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