Forgiveness of Student Loans Should Be THE Democratic Issue For 2014

Protecting Social Security and Medicare — the strong and fundamental safety net for older Americans — is a core mission of the Democratic Party and Democratic voters.

Equally important — it’s a moral obligation — is making sure we don’t leave younger generations bereft of opportunity and buried in debt. We must preserve hope for everyone from today’s elementary school children to today’s forty- and fifty- somethings.

President Obama’s call for quality early childhood education for all children gets us thinking in that direction. But what about today’s working adults, from age 21 to age 62? Too many will find themselves caught in the middle between the costly (privileged?) senior generation and the expensive (and essential!) younger children.

I’ve long been troubled by the accusation that preserving Social Security for today’s elders will lead directly to the indebtedness and impoverishment of our children and grandchildren. I don’t believe it! We have to make sure it’s not the case.

If we don’t have intergenerational fairness, then we’ll deserve intergenerational conflict.

Debt forgiveness for student loans is an excellent place to start. It’s at least as important as the mortgage debt and consumer debt problems. No, it’s more important.

Student loan debt can’t be discharged through legitimate bankruptcy. Student loan debt is like original sin. It’s a burden on the backs of the Millenial generation that’s unforgivable and at the same time, unbearable.

Student debt is not a responsibility that young adults should start life with. It was foisted on them under false pretenses at a time when they weren’t even old enough to legally rent a car.

American college students should have been able to receive a good college education at a reasonable price and without staggering debt. If anything, responsibility for student loans should be on their parents and grandparents. Good education is and should be a civil right. Mature adults have a responsibility to make available a good education for all young people, up to and including college. Mature adults would and should gladly pay the costs of all education, either by direct payment of tuition and expenses, or by patriotically paying taxes to support public education. ANY QUESTIONS?

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Forgiveness is the central issue. Forgiveness is at the very heart of Christianity, and of many other religions as well. You could look it up. Forgiveness is a blessing to give and lifesaving to receive.

Democrats and the Democratic Party should make student debt forgiveness the central issue of the 2014 elections.

What say you? Are you for or against forgiveness of student debt? And why? Speak up. Don’t be frightened by the stern tone of the lecture. There are no wrong answers. Extra credit for class participation.

— John Hayden

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10 Comments

Filed under Debt crisis, Life, Social Security

10 responses to “Forgiveness of Student Loans Should Be THE Democratic Issue For 2014

  1. I totally disagree. Those who took out student loans are the most able to repay them. You want to forgive loans of doctors and lawyers and those with the highest incomes?
    I joined the Navy to avoid a student loan and debt. You forgive student loans and who’s going to pay them back? Taxpayers! Me! I can’t afford it.

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  2. Good points, Mark. I hadn’t even thought about lawyers and doctors! I was mostly thinking of all the young kids who start borrowing for tuition and books at age 18 and find themselves eligible for the poorhouse before they even understand credit. Many of these young adults, armed with only a bachelor’s degree, find few job opportunities and face a bleak future.

    Since we already have way too many lawyers, anybody who tries to borrow money to go to law school should turned down as a prima facie bad-credit risk. Anyone who’s silly enough to borrow money for law school is probably planning to be a millionaire partner at a NYC corporate law firm, and should pay his debt, and on time!

    Doctors are a special case. Medical education is especially lengthy and costly. That contributes to the complex web of our high-cost medical system. I’ve long proposed that my state and others should establish a Physicians Academy, modeled on West Point and the Naval Academy. We don’t charge future military leaders to go to college. We screen them carefully, provide rigorous training, and actually pay a small stipend while they’re at the academy. In return, the graduates serve their country as military officers. Hard to imagine a more ideal arrangement. States or the fed govt should do the same thing for med students. Set up one or more medical academies, admit only the best students on a highly competitive basis, give them an excellent education for free. When they graduate, the new doctors get prestigious jobs at reasonable pay — just like newly minted officers. Like young officers, they repay their education by providing medical service to the community. As years go by and the debt has been balanced out, and the doctors prove their excellence, they advance in prestige and salary. They could remain in public health service as their career advances, or take early retirement and go into private practice.

    I’d propose the same academy system for nurses and physicians assistants. Like the military academies, no one would be forced to go to a demanding medical academy. Aspiring doctors and nurses could also choose private medical school and pay their own way.

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  3. The student loan industry is one that has been ruthlessly exploited. Far from being a guarantee of solvency, a law degree nowadays often comes with an insupportable price tag attached and no firm prospect of employment that will cover it.
    http://www.salon.com/2013/02/04/student_loans_the_next_housing_bubble/

    In my own profession — massage therapy — the cost of education has inflated as the occupation has been “mainstreamed,” primarily– it seems to me– for the profit of investors in spas and chains like Massage Envy. Vocational schools now qualify for Federal student loans, and have inflated the costs of training in a way that would never be tolerated if loans weren’t available, just as the existence of medical insurance, necessary as it may be, has inflated the cost of health care: “Let’s order this test, your insurance pays for it.” I paid $1200 per semester for a three-semester primary certification in massage therapy. Young people today are forking out $16,000 for the same certification. You cannot tell me that the cost of providing that education has increased by a factor of more than tenfold since 1986. Good Lord, even the house I grew up in hasn’t appreciated that much (I checked). Kids who look at a vocational certificate as a viable alternative to a costly college education are getting dinged as badly as people who go the four-year route (which, when I was a sprout, a middle class family could still afford for one or two children).

    In short, there is a predatory pattern here, and I fault the schools and the loan industry — hardly the people who see no alternative to becoming their “marks.”

    I do like your proposition for medical academies.

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    • Disclaimer. Math is not my strong suit (you do not want to see my check register). My certification cost $3600 total. So that would be a fourfold increase, roughly. Still: housing itself has NOT jumped even that much, not where I am. And these kids paying $16,000 are certifying over the course of six months — not the 18 that I attended classes. Someone is pocketing the overage with a grin on his face.

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      • Thanks for expanding the conversation to include vocational schools, and especially for-profit private technical schools.

        Students are being swindled. Propaganda promoting education is everywhere you look, from kindergarten on. It’s ingrained in our culture. Believe it: Education is an absolute necessity, and it will guarantee good jobs.

        Colleges and technical schools take all the money students have, all the money parents are willing to spend, plus all the money they can borrow. Many students become practically addicted to education, so it’s easy to sell them just one more advanced degree, just one more semester at the tech school.

        When graduation finally comes, students find out they’ve prepared for jobs that don’t exist, or don’t pay enough to repay the loans.

        The tighter the job market becomes, the more urgent the frenzy for higher education. The irony is: How do you resist, because the propaganda about the benefits of good education is basically true, except for the job promise? And everyone else is doing it, so if you don’t keep up you’ll be left behind for sure!

        It also serves business and industry. The masses are ALL educated and trained, providing a huge supply of workers. Business and industry can skim the cream off the top — the most talented or hardest-working — who were identified through the long certification process. The large surplus of trained workers can settle for low wages or no wages.

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  4. There are many ‘other sides’ to this conversation. Not every child is college material, they do well in a chosen career field that they earned through internship or hands on experience. They do not ask for anything from the government. Should this student be required to pay for the education of a classmate who decides to go to an expensive university rather than stay home and attend a local college for the first few years – and pay as you go while working part time and saving for the more costly education?

    Is that so difficult? A friend worked for a university while attending classes free, saving for the more expensive classes they would have to attend; full time. Now that friend is a doctor, who mortgaged their home to pay for the final four years of classes. No student loan – now, should that doctor have to pay for a less ambitious student?

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    • Excellent questions. We don’t necessarily live in a zero-sum world. The fact that one person gets an education doesn’t mean that another person must be deprived of same. And in the modern world of high finance, I doubt that a person who doesn’t get an education is then sent the bill for the person who does. I would propose that forgiveness of college loans be charged to the banks. It would be only partial repayment for the bailouts the financial sector has received.

      I agree that not everyone is cut out for college. But i think it’s pretty clear that nearly everyone in the modern world needs some amount of education or training, by way of a vocational school, the military, the tutoring of a parent, the kindness of a mentor, or even on-the-job training.

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  5. I like your “academy system” idea.
    I’m surprised none of your readers have massive student loans and are all for having their debt forgiven.
    Do you still think forgiving student loans is a good idea?

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    • Actually, I have several nieces and nephews who have student debt ranging fro $30,000 and up for bachelor’s degrees, and one with debt of $100,000 for an advanced degree. The advanced degree will probably prove well worth it, although it will take quite a few years to pay it off. I know they value the good educations they received, but they are in a financial straight jacket from the beginning.

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  6. This problem is here in UK also… once they hook you into debt you are hooked!

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