The CARES Act, Public Law No: 116-136 (03/27/2020) aka the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allows student loan borrowers to defer payments without accruing interest from September 2020 to October of 2021. The balances, or the total loan debt, will not increase in that time frame. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, none of more than half of the federal student loans totaling $1.6 trillion will be required to be paid back. Twenty-two million citizens who borrowed money from the federal government for college won’t be making an average payment of $400 a month .The interest that has been cancelled by the CARES Act totals $5 billion per month, with a total projected to be $90 billion. The taxpayers are footing that bill, all while the debt of the United States climbs to record highs.
In the meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren is asking President Biden to cancel $50,000 per student of their loan debts. The request is for President Biden to just cancel the debts, by presidential order. The prevalence of our “cancel culture” means whatever anyone wants is now just a presidential declaration away. As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
Not only do the college graduates make more than those without college degrees, (information available almost anywhere) the U.S. government seems to be willing to finance the lifestyles of the well-educated, especially the lifestyles of college graduates with advanced degrees, who have a very small unemployment numbers compared to those who did not pursue a college degree. Citizens with advanced degrees suffered far less financial hardship than the blue-collar workers during the pandemic. The “privileged Americans” win again, none to anyone’s surprise.
The media reports that many of those who have been temporarily relieved of having to pay for their college loans are paying off their higher-interest loans, buying houses, and becoming day-trade stock market players. Just more proof of what Thomas Paine said long ago: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” But it is almost a foregone conclusion that the wisdom of Thomas Paine will be shaded by his acceptance of some social norm of his time that we consider despicable nowadays, and any wisdom he might exhibit will be labeled as inept.
Our government is not obligated to finance citizens who made choices that they later regret, and to ignore the sacrifices made by those who paid their way is a vicious stab in the back.
Only briefly considered in this whole fiasco are, as The Wall Street Journal describes them, the “rubes” who made the payments on their loans. The “rubes” those college students who worked two or more jobs, who survived on ramen noodles and Kool-Aid, who took the bus, or, if they were lucky, drove an old car that broke down a lot, are just suffering from bad decisions.
Then there are the parents of the “rubes” who sacrificed vacations and other lifestyle luxuries in order to help their children get up the economic ladder. No need to mention all of the donations to their IRAs and retirement funds that were sacrificed in order to pay for an education.
It seems that those who sacrificed and paid don’t get anything out of this, but maybe a big “thanks.” Gee whiz, thanks for giving up all of those things, “rubes.” All of the Spring Break trips, the concerts, the nice clothes, and, in some cases, the health care that would have benefitted those who paid for their college are just gone, never to be found again. For many, college would have been fun if they hadn’t been so poor; but hardship and sacrifice develops character. And here many thought that college was to teach citizens not to depend on the government. More’s the pity.
Let’s not forget “networking,” that essential ritual for success in today’s economy. Some of those poor “rubes” never accomplished any networking because they were working nights and weekends. Some of those “rubes” are still working nights and weekends, because, even if you are skilled and educated, economic success in today’s economy is all about who you know and not what you know.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, college tuition and fees were 1,416.68% higher in 2021 than they were in 1977. For comparison purposes, inflation was a meager 3.39% in that same time frame. A well-educated work force is a benefit for any nation or society.
But in a nation that seeks well-educated employees in other nations, or “off-shoring” as it is called, many skilled, well-educated citizens will be sitting on the sidelines, underemployed. While our representatives in Congress and the Senate might find 22 million citizens difficult to ignore, these same citizens made choices all on their own. Our government is not obligated to finance citizens who made choices that they later regret, and to ignore the sacrifices made by those who paid their way is a vicious stab in the back. America is full of people who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and no one ever said that those bootstraps should be attached to the Department of the Treasury.
Most of the facts were gleaned from The Wall Street Journal of April 17-18, 2021
Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary