Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Eliminating College Debt Eliminates Personal Responsibility

Eliminating College Debt Eliminates Personal Responsibility
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 25, 2019

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” 

It’s sad the author of those words need be identified, yet 58 years seems like ancient history to today’s students whose collective knowledge of American history is dismal at best. John F. Kennedy spoke those words on January 20, 1961 in his inaugural address the day he swore to uphold the Constitution as the 35th president of the United States.

The then liberal Democrat would probably be considered a conservative by today’s standards, or lack thereof, of the Democrat Party. Kennedy probably would not even recognize today’s Democrat Party that seeks to redistribute wealth, reduce health care to a single payer, non-competitive system, reduce free speech to what they believe, dominate the educational system through socialist indoctrination, strip gun rights from honest gun owners, raise taxes, thwart entrepreneurship via more stringent regulation, and punish success.

The Democrat Party of the Millennial generation is not about serving this great nation, but instead is about what can it get for free. The two dozen Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for 2020 are in an all out battle of who can out Socialist each other. Leading that parade, as he has been pounding that drum the longest and loudest, is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (S) with his mantra of free college for all and how Wall Street will be responsible for paying the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt.

While I fully support the notion of more affordable education costs, I also support more affordable housing and automobile costs. It would be nice to dine at five star restaurants, visit five star hotels, and own a private plane as the daily course of existence. But we live in the real world with a free market system, competition, and personal responsibility. With Sanders’ Utopian fantasy, he would remove the notion of personal responsibility from people’s lives giving them what they want with the so-called rich footing the bill.

Most of the rich got that way via hard work, education, invention, talent, and creativity. Most paid their dues climbing the corporate ladder, providing great service to grow a business they started, serving great food, being great singers, dancers, ballplayers, and/or rising through the ranks in a professional field. The American dream is not dead, but it is being taxed and regulated to the point of being on life support.

This outrageous notion of absolving people of their student loan debt is not only irresponsible, but it teaches them that personal responsibility is inconsequential. No one forced students to incur massive amounts of debt to go to school. Students knew what they were doing when they made the choice to accept the terms and conditions of these loans. And isn’t that what Democrats, liberals, and progressives clamor for - choice? 

Be fiscally responsible - attend a community college for a year or two and complete prerequisites and non-major coursework. Live at home. When transferring to a four-year school, again, choose prudently and opt for an in-state institution. Major in subject matter that won’t leave you wondering why you can’t secure employment following graduation. There are myriad ways of keeping college costs to an almost reasonable amount. Apply for scholarships and grants.

To be fair, were government student loans to suddenly dry up and disappear, colleges would have no choice but to lower tuition rates. This is also about supply and demand and there are plenty of schools complicit in the runaway student loan debt “crisis.” (Everything is a crisis, according to liberals, except the genuine crisis of the illegals running amok invading the southern border of the United States.) Don’t forget, cancelling student loan debt does nothing to lower the cost of college. In fact, it will simply be the impetus for universities to raise their prices - and further implicate them in this rampant pattern of irresponsbility.

Universities could reduce costs by limiting the abundance of food offered in their dining halls. They could offer numerous so-called student services on an a la carte basis, instead of rolling them into tuition costs - athletic fees, health/medical centers, workout facilities, etc. Does anyone actually parse their tuition bills for these hidden costs and fees? It’s akin to interpreting a cell phone or cable bill.

If a student is the picture of good health and never sets foot in the campus medical center, why pay for it? Students should be subject to those costs on an as needed basis - just like visiting a doctor off campus - with insurance and a co-pay. For those who suggest that all students pay the same fees for that service whether or not they take advantage of it, that’s called socialism. Same with the athletics fees - some people spend four years on campus and never once set foot in a football stadium or a basketball arena, yet they are paying for others to do so.

Then there’s the almost usurious rates of interest the government and private lenders heap upon students. While lenders certainly have the right to make money - that’s what keeps them in business - interest should be capped at five percent and only be compounded upon the commencement of student remuneration after graduation. Instead of saddling students with such high rates that reach double digits, go after the scofflaws who default on their loans and punish them, not those who make their payments on time.

Why eliminate college loan debt? Why not eliminate car loan debt? Why not eliminate mortgage loan debt? If students can attend colleges with costs beyond their ability to repay, why not sell Rolls Royces to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, instead of selling them a Saturn. Why not sell people houses they can’t afford… oh, wait, that failed in the last decade. It’s called personal responsibility and living within one's means.

Next, former students who paid for college on their own and/or completed their loan payments are going to demand a refund on all that money - and why shouldn’t they? Why are the irresponsible being rewarded?

And just who will pay for those rewards? We the people. Sanders said Wall Street will pay the freight, but that simply means the taxpayers. How many of us have already been to college and paid our bills and now we are expected to pay for those who are either irresponsible with their finances or with the choices they made on campus. My children are in college - that’s our responsibility - not the taxpayers - they have their own responsibilities.

By absolving students of their college debt, in effect, the millions of students who have paid their loans diligently are being punished for doing the right thing. This is the same liberal, progressive M.O. of punishing the success of hardworking Americans with higher taxes. The slothful are rewarded, while the industrious pay the price. This is backward thinking, yet this is the work of the liberal progressive. JFK would hardly approve.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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