Solving the Student Loan Debt Crisis
It should serve as a perfect example to everyone that such a simple problem could present such a complicated issue. Solving this crisis should have been accomplished generations ago. There is only one reason why it has persisted, greed. (we'll circle back to that theme later...) I will make several fundamental points about this issue, including explaining in some detail how we can absolutely solve this problem, easily and in one fell swoop. The reality is, it's not complicated at all. Before we start, let me encourage people to contact me anytime about his issue. I know how it affects the daily lives and living conditions of so many of our residents and I'd love to talk with you further about this problem we're all facing. Your input and feedback is as important as any piece of information we work with in our effort to perfect an overall resolution and we always try to include as many specific details and personal examples as we can. (the only way to do that, is to somehow know everything about everyone's personal situation...) There are so many critical points that I can make, but I'll try to limit my comments to ideas that seem reasonable.
1.) Higher education costs have gotten out of hand. Much like prescription drugs, movie theater popcorn, nightclub drinks, etc., consumers have been conditioned into believing that these are "life or death" commodities and therefore the "manufacturers" can rationalize charging anything they want, or whatever they believe people will pay. This has to be addressed. We must start limiting the prices of tuitions and associated costs for higher education. Whether through govt. subsidy policy, market correction, or direct boycott. As a country we have to decide that the cost of college education is not only too high, the high cost is wrong and counter-productive. Frankly, it is a ridiculous hypocrisy to argue that public education is so necessary that the govt. must provide it to every living resident, and at the same time, justify ending it at 12th grade and insisting people pay exorbitant personal costs in order to continue. (and let us never forget that the use of cost as a determining factor in college choice, educational opportunity and ultimately life long financial success, is also at the heart of our income inequality and ulitmately, our Social Justice discussions...)
2.) Lately we've heard the Bernie Sanders wing of the "progressive" party talk about cancelling student debt. (We've probably heard our own current U.S. Congressional representative discuss this very issue...) "I am one of the 45 million people with student debt—45 million people who are held back from pursuing their dreams because of the student debt crisis. It’s why I’m proud to stand with @SenSanders and @RepJayapal to pass #CollegeforAll and #CancelStudentDebt!" -(Ilhan Omar Twitter post June, 2019)
And why not, this is one issue that personally affects her bottom line, so it makes sense for her to feel this way. Just like we'd all prefer to win the publisher's clearing house sweepstakes (if we had our choice...) Let me state without equivocation that the very idea of simply "canceling" student debt is neither reasonable nor realistic. If you're holding your breathe hoping for that miracle, please don't. The reality is that you'll die long before that ever happens. It's 100% a placated pandering to a select group of constituents that are willing to trade their support for a candidate for some pie-in-the-sky, unattainable promise that no one will ever achieve. (I might add, this nonsensical rhetoric comes at the cost and trade-off of real, legitimate solutions for this problem...) I understand that, to people with burdensome student debt, the "cancel all student debt" option must sound like a miracle. Sort of like a guaranteed lottery win. But let me assure you it is more likely that you will win the lottery than this country will ever agree to wipe away trillions of dollars of people's legally incurred debt. I'm sorry to be the person who tells the truth, in the face of so many other career politicians, all ready and willing to tell you fantastic lies in an effort to win your support. But no matter how long you live, (and I hope it's a long, long time...) that's all these lies will ever amount to...silly tricks and political rhetoric designed to excite the masses into supporting people who have no legitimate solutions or real proposals and ideas about solving this problem. Whenever you hear a politician discuss the idea of magically "wiping away student debt", you can know for sure that they are selling you down the river. It is a fundamentally flawed concept and a total non-starter politically. Sadly, there are many politicians today who prefer to stroke people's fantasies rather than discuss realistic solutions. The good news is, there is a reasonable and realistic answer to this problem.
3.) The realistic solution is quite simple. (Of course, in conjunction with lowering costs and expanding school choice) end both the interest and term conditions on all student loans and make 100% of the loans totally non-interest loans, re-payable over the life of the borrower. (we'll restate this simple formula again to make sure everyone follows it...) Of course, there will be guidelines, and protocols and specific policies involved. For example, credit scores can still be adjusted and reflect the borrower's financial commitment to repayment. But whether the person pays the loan(s) back in 3 years, 10 years or 30 years is the borrower's choice and option and our bottom line fundamental principle in this nation going forward ought to be that no financial charge, fee or penalty should ever be assessed for education-based loans. Essentially, when the loans are paid back shouldn't really ever matter to anyone except the borrower themself. Right now, there's so much profiteering involved, everyone cares. The banks, the schools, the counselor, the govt. the politicians, the institutions, the fed. Allowing greed and profiteering to completely control the platform is absolutely the wrong way to handle this issue. There are far too many ways to make money in this country to resort to profiteering off of people trying to better themselves, or attain a higher education. While it would be wholly unwise to offer free money to young people under false pretense, the wise and fair distribution of loans that must be repaid insures a calculated and understood acceptance of responsibility.
Right now, the biggest problem with school loans is that there are too many individuals, companies and institutions (banks and schools) wildly profiting on the backs of people who just want to become better and more productive citizens. If this money was being handed out as "medicare loans", it would be fraud. This is an insane and quite backward juxtaposition of principles. It should be the task of the local, state and federal governments to ensure that all students have access to reasonable amd gainful employment and a standard of living commensurate with their education and training. So if the govt. does its job, there will be every incentive and opportunity for all students to educate themselves, and then, to pay back all student loans. And while it would be impossible not to conceive that some loans won't be repaid, (for a variety of reasons) that number will be far smaller under this plan than the default rate is under the current system. Again, and very obviously, there will be intelligent and fair codes, guidelines and policies, (and this framework needs to be the by-product of sensible and proper, bipartisan (or nonpartisan in my case) legislation and constitutionally validated law, not some fly-by-night executive order, that can be rescinded with every new administration...) but the bottom line is, whether you borrow $10,000, $50,000, or $250,000, then that's precisely how much you have to pay back. Not 1 dime more...or less.. And if it takes you 5 years, 10 years or even 40 years, that won't change anything.
Imagine current debt holders finding out that not only is their interest wiped away, but they now have an unlimited amount of time to pay back their principle. Many consumers would have no debt left if interest payments were erased. Many others would be freed to make serious life changes that would positively impact them right away. Others might take a break from paying on their debt, until they improve their job status and have a lot more disposable income.
This is a real, reasonable and worthy solution that makes sense and promotes the type of fairness our society should have already instilled into its core structures and institutions. Yes, America is a capitalist society, but we are also the wealthiest nation on the planet and we don't have to suck the blood out of every last citizen especially when it's so clearly counter-productive. In plain point of fact, it is the unfair efforts of greedy institutions and programs that jeopardize our status as a wealthy nation and bring into reality the possibility of default, downward economic trends and longterm recessions. Rather than always seeking to take advantage of 100% of all capitalist-based, money-making opportunities, we should be actively looking for chances to create self-sustaining institutional upgrades. A system where nearly 100% of all student loans are repaid and more people can graduate faster, with less overall debt, and a more flexible framework of repayment makes sense for almost everyone. Admittedly, there will be some rich, financial institutions who see the elimination of interest payments as a financial loss. (But, if we consider how much less lobbying costs they'll incur...it may well equal out in the end...) And let's remember, almost 80% of all student debt are govt. loans, not private financial institutions.
It's important that everyone who supports me and our overall effort to uplift and revolutionize the manner in which politicians are elected and our city residents are represented truly understand that I get it, and that we as a country do have a reasonable solution to this issue available to us. This solution is only a sacrifice by a few giant and super wealthy financial companies who have been getting rich for generations by unfairly squeezing the system. Also, it's important for everyone to remember that the only reason no one talks about this solution is because the politicians and political leaders are bought and paid for by the lobbyists, financial supporters, and Political Action Committees who work for these same giant and super wealthy financial companies. Quite frankly and honestly, it will take more than just 1 independent, non-partisan, unbiased, unrestrained, newly elected official (meaning me) to challenge this particular status quo situation, but we have to start somewhere. With the platform of an elected leader, even a lowly, incoming, city-councilman, we would work to inspire others to see this truth. When we have a large enough platform to gather together enough like-minded individuals and influence them into accepting our solution, then we can actually make these necessary (and long overdue) reforms.
I want to remind everyone that it's highly unlikely that this is entirely my idea. (there's no question, I'm a genius...) But while I've never actually heard anyone discuss this issue in quite this manner, I'm sure some other highly intelligent and thoughtful financial person came up with something close to this plan a long, long time ago. Maybe even some naive legislator drafted a bill with this basic framework. (right before he was never heard from again...) One thing I keep telling people is, despite how completely broken our current system is, there have always been solutions. Some are very simple, some are less simple. We have always had in this country, non-profit organizations, philanthropic foundations and just plain smart, and good-hearted people who have dedicated themselves to working solely to fix problems that we have. The good nes is that America has never suffered from a shortage of solutions. The bad news is that what we lack is the political "guts" to stand up for what is right and work hard to turn solutions into meaningful legislation and real reform. We don't need to search out to find and elect "special" people who are the only ones who know something about some "secret fix", but rather, we need new leaders who are willing to work together for the good of the common citizen. Not beholden to partisan politics, not obligated to fatcat fundraisers and rich financial backers, not overly self-impressed with their own ideas or personal political ambitions. Just regular people, willing to do what is necessary and intelligent that can truly benefit our whole society.