Forgive College Debt Now!... man.
A couple weeks ago, I received an email from my younger brother asking me to support Rep. Hansen Clarke's H.R. 4170 - The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. My brother is not overly political. He's a recent college graduate living in a major Midwestern city, has 2 part time jobs and works hard. I've never received an email from him regarding politics or asking me to support or work against specific bills or even specific candidates. This stands in contrast to my Father who loves to send out anti-Obama blast emails to our family and friends, both Democrat and Republican...
At any rate, this was the first "political" email I have ever received from my brother. The bill, H.R. 4170 - The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, which you can read about here, supports "forgiveness" of student loan debt if the indebted pay the equivalent of 10% of their income for 10 years on their debt. After the 10% for 10 years, all remaining debt is simply "forgiven." Rep. Clarke claims the bill would make student loan payment both "simple" and "fair"... I agree with the former but not the latter.
I told my brother I could not support the bill. When he inquired as to why I could not support it, I sent the following email to him:
So if I'm a psych major who just graduated and I went to Harvard, I'd have $160,000 grand in debt. I get a job at Starbucks for 30 grand a year because i have no skills. I pay back 10% per year for 10 years, $30,000, and the remaining $130,000 is "forgiven".... so who is going to pay the remaining $130,000?...
Well, all the other taxpayers would have to pay for it... many of whom never went to college or decided not to... so in a sense many people who never went to college have to pay the bill for those who did go to college
Doesn't seem "fair" to me...."
There has been much said about college loan debt over the past month, on CNN, on the WSJ and in popular media at large. Is student loan debt a "bubble," is it toxic, does it hinder economic growth, or is it "no big deal, man?" Graduation is fast approaching in a little over a month and all of those psychology, sociology and anthropology majors out there are realizing that they may have made a "huge mistake" to quote GOB Bluth.
Like many Democrat bills, this particular gem supports the transfer of wealth from those who made wise decisions to those who chose to made poor decisions. The plumber down the street gets to pay for the flip flop wearing psych major's "degree" despite the fact that he chose to make the responsible decision and not go to college, thus not spending $100,000 on a 4 year binge drinking vacation.
The only hard part of this for me is that I sympathize with my brother. He, along with millions of others followed the conventional wisdom of the baby boomer generation: "All college education is valuable and a 'good thing.' The debt you incur is 'no big deal.'" I for one knew absolutely nothing about debt when I went into college and knew only slightly more than nothing when I graduated (remember, no math, I was a psych major). I was lucky in a sense because I went in state to the University of Illinois while my brother went to an expensive Jesuit school. Many college graduates are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I would suspect very few of them were truly aware of the huge financial decision they were making before they ever worked a day in their life.
Thomas Sowell once remarked that Progressive arguments are simple and often only one step. "College debt is bad and hinders economic growth, therefore we should forgive it." Or "home ownership is good therefore everyone should own a house." Conservative arguments, on the other hand, require two, or even three steps. "College debt is bad and hinders economic growth. BUT people have to be responsible for the decisions they make. Not only that, but forgiving college debt will, in the long run, cause more problems than it creates and will continue to perpetuate rising college tuition rates."
This bill also strikes me as the typical Democrat strategy of baiting those in trouble with promises to make it all better. Of course, can't just make all those bad life decisions go away and the initial problem will likely persist in that person's life for years, but none-the-less, those who are baited are likely to pull the lever for a Democrat every other November.
Nationally, student loan debt tops one trillion dollars, folks. Get ready to tell the recent college grads in your life why they should have to pay their own loans back without government help...
You should also get ready to tell those high school grads in your life why they should skip the whole mess entirely.