Student Loan Forgiveness

When reading a news report on the latest discussion around student loan forgiveness, I saw this quote from Chief Justice Roberts: “Along comes the government and tells that person: You don’t have to pay your loan. Nobody’s telling the person who is trying to set up the lawn service business that he doesn’t have to pay his loan.” and I had to respond to this reprehensibly ignorant straw man argument. First of all, you want to discuss loan forgiveness of businesses? Who was it who received PPP loans? Whose tax dollars paid for that? Where was the outrage over small business’ loans being forgiven? Or the rampant abuse of the system such that many small business owners never even got assistance in the first place? How about the extra unemployment benefits under the CARES act? Was that to help students pay their tuition to not be further saddled with loans? Or was that for employees and small businesses who were out of work? Who paid for that? How about the massive bank bailouts in 1989? 2008? Were those paid back? Or were those largely stock purchases that the government is still profiting from? How is it legal and ethical for the federal government, especially any branch associated with making or enforcing laws or regulations, the issuance of grants or loans, or the collection of taxes to own a private institution’s stock and make a profit? Would that not be a gross conflict of interest? What about bankruptcies? If a small business owner is struggling, they have the option to declare bankruptcy. This is by no means a good place to be, but it does mean that they can get out from under crushing debt. What about students? Can they get out from crushing student debt the same way? Of course not. Not unless they prove undue hardship. I would LOVE to see the statistics on how often that has actually happened, considering the courts overwhelming penchant to side against the students in these cases. Why don’t we talk about wages? The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009 to $7.25 per hour. Since that time, we have seen inflation of nearly 40%. The actual buying power of that wage today is less than it was in 2009 BEFORE the increase. Let’s also look at average tuition costs in that same timeframe. In 2009 the average cost of tuition was $5,930 per year at a public 4 year college. Today? That number is $9,377. Nearly double. Hell, while we’re looking at all of this, why don’t we take a look at Universities themselves, and the costs they are charging in the first place. Who are the highest paid employees at public universities? The list is absolutely dominated by athletic coaches pulling in, many times, multimillion dollar salaries. How much of tuition money collected is paying for non-academics? How much is athletic sholarships? Coach and athletic staff salaries? Upkeep and maintenance of fields and facilities? You know, all the things associated with programs that have nothing whatsoever to do with the academic programs and which themselves bring in a profit. The cost of education in this country compared to the rest of the first world is an absolute embarassment. It creates an extreme class divide where we have an economy that increasingly uses degrees and education to filter out applicants, and we gatekeep those degrees with exorbitant prices in a worsening economy with zero movement on the government that is supposed to represent the people to actually assist the citizenry in surviving. We allow even public universities to act as predatory for-profit organizations, saddling young people with crippling debt before they even have a chance at getting their adult life started, and then making sure that, after graduation, they will struggle to take home a livable income. Justice Roberts said in the same quote, that the theoretical student in question is “…now going to make a lot more than him over the course of his lifetime,” while completely ignoring the fact that the life experiences that led to the forming of these opinions is no longer the world in which we live. The quote that inspired this email is just further proof that those holding the highest offices in the US are wilfully ignorant of the what the real world is like today, especially with regard to young adults, and are more concerned with acting like this country is a corporation and protecting the interests of business, than taking even the smallest steps to not absolutely fuck the American people and harm the future of this country. I am going to close this with a question, since Justice Roberts seems to thing that an imaginary person starting a business is a valid argument to not help the very real people that are being harmed under current student loans: If the people who ran this country had actually gotten off their ass at some point to ensure that 1. higher education was attainable for all and 2. wages, including minimum wage, had kept up with inflation such that a part time job could still meaningfully help pay for an education the way it did for most sitting members of the Court, and the other houses of government; if these two criteria had been met, would this imaginary person have even tried to start a small lawn care business? Or would they have pursued an education and a dream that each and every one of you, through legislation or laziness, is complicit in deprived them of?

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