For several years now, my favorite soap-box topics have been the twin evils of overpriced colleges and the associated crushing levels of debt taken on by students.
College administrators were encouraging this irresponsible behavior by calling these loans "an investment", when they had to know that nobody makes money on a $60,000 "investment" in a Women's Studies degree or a $100,000 "investment" for a Masters in Social Work. Too many parents failed to warn their children against taking on too much debt -- perhaps because they, themselves, were already up to their eyeballs in mortgage and credit card debt, or perhaps because they bought the "it's an investment" line.
The federal government bears much of the blame, because ever since they got involved in the student loan business, colleges started jacking up tuition at nearly criminal rates of 5 - 6% a year, when inflation was running at about 1%. It's the third-party payer syndrome, just as in health care: when somebody else is paying (or at least appears to be paying, by dishing out deferred payment loans), nobody feels responsible for caring much about what it all costs.
For several years now, I've realized what a terrible danger this was for the students. They would spend decades -- maybe a lifetime -- paying off these loans. They would have to postpone marriage, buying a house, starting a family.
What I didn't realize - until now - was that this would also be a terrible danger to our republic.
Obama just announced that he will start a structured debt-forgiveness program for student loans. Other than being a naked attempt to buy the votes of young people, it's also a horrible idea.
I got into a bit of a discussion this morning with a young acquaintance of mine -- a good, responsible, bright young woman -- who basically said, hey, I have a lot of student loans and I'd sure like to have them paid off. At one point I said,
If we are to remain a free country, a republic with productive, independent, responsible people, then we have to stop rewarding bad behavior, and stop encouraging people to "vote themselves the Treasury." Life is all about making choices. What about those young people who decided, realistically and responsibly, they couldn't afford college, so they went to community college, lived at home, took online classes, or maybe got a job instead. Why should they now have to pay for OTHER people going to expensive colleges they couldn't afford? Because, in fact, taxpayers WILL pay the bill for this, since Obama nationalized the entire student loan industry a year or so ago.Here's a good article, "A College Loan Scam", which I found today via Instapundit (still my favorite news aggregator).