The Case For Forgiving Student Debt And “Free” College

I have been in favor of forgiving student debt since first hearing Jill Steintalking about the subject. To be honest, while I have been in favor of universal adult education for decades, I had not considered this possibility until I heard her speaking about it.

I get sick of hearing people calling this idea “Bernie Sanders’ idea”. No, it’s not. Fact is, this has been on the Green Party platform since 2014. Yes, the party platform. Compare to the DNC, which opposes the idea as a party. This is not something which will make it to the DNC platform any more than universal healthcare will. BTW, universal healthcare is also not “his idea”. I have been in favor of universal healthcare for decades also. Numerous countries have had universal healthcare and adult education for as long as 70 years.

If you truly support an idea, an issue, that means voting in a way that you can believe it may be acted upon because it takes more than one person to bring it to reality. When a party opposes legislation and a candidate has a history of compromise on vital issues, then talking points mean nothing at all.

No matter who may or may not bring student loan forgiveness into being, it is a very good, very effective idea which would benefit the economy to a great degree. So, let’s explore how it would help the economy and real people on the ground.

First of all, this would free up billions of dollars in a single year which is currently being paid to banks. In other words, this money is suspended from being used in the general economy. So forgiving student loans would put money back in the pockets of consumers. This is money which would nearly all be spent in the general economy. This would increase real profit margins, maintain and create jobs.

Obviously, this would generate sales tax revenue for municipalities and states. In addition, it would increase income tax revenue from workers who benefited from the jobs maintained and created.

This would not be a short term boost to the economy. A one time forgiveness of student loans would mean increased money in the general economy for years, even decades. Students who currently have large student loans with years to pay on them would instead be boosting the economy with the money currently going to banks for the entire length of the remaining time left on their loans. So this would not be a one-time-and-done deal. Nor would it be like tax breaks for the rich, which just went to increased profit margins and stock repurchases.

Student loan forgiveness would be best if coupled with universal adult education. In other words, “free” college for US citizens.

However, in each case this should come with certain limitations and exceptions to truly benefit the economy.

First, both student loan forgiveness and free adult education should have an income cap. Being reasonable, say only available to students whose family incomes are below $200,000 a year. (Income meaning from all sources.) For families with incomes above that, it would simply result in more welfare to the rich. The wealthy simply don’t even feel the cost of education like poor and middle class people do. That’s not saying they could not deduct tuition, fees, books and student loan interest on their taxes, so that amount is not taxed.

There should also be legislation placing a cap on profit percentage for adult education facilities and organizations. Something reasonable like 15% at most. No deductions allowed for executive bonuses, sports facilities and related expenses, advertising and extracurricular events/facilities/etc. This would limit the continued rise in the cost of education.

Participation in universal adult education should not be mandatory. Colleges and universities that choose to opt out should be allowed to. However, this should come at the cost of no longer receiving any federal or state funding at all. No federal research contracts, either.

For those that object to student loan forgiveness because “I paid for my college”, I challenge you here and now. Pick a college or university. If the one you attended still exists, use that one. Go to their website and look at what the current costs are to attend compared to when you attended. Be sure to include all fees. Then look up the cost of textbooks for the subject you studied. Multiply the cost per credit hour times the number of hours you completed. Do not comment until you do so. When you do reply, be sure and include how much you paid and how much the same program costs now. Then and only then, explain how you don’t understand the situation students face today. No insults, no profanity, no diversions, no exceptions.

If enacted these issues would improve the US economy, the standard of living for millions of Americans, expand availability of higher education and improve the education level of the US, which has badly fallen behind other countries.

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The Diversity Of The True Left

One of the most interesting things about the true left, aka Progressives, is our diversity.

The right and centrists have certain homogeneous traits. The far right is typically either poorly educated and proud of that fact or they are educated and set on taking advantage of the less educated ones. Centrists tend to be better educated in general but middle class who think they are much higher on the feeding chain than they actually are.

In each case, right and center, the ones at the top take advantage of those lower down, who never examine the lies they are being told. In most of both cases, they are predominantly white and, while they call themselves Christians, they fail to follow the tenets of their own religion.

I am being quite serious when I say that those to the center left tend to have the highest intelligence and sense of empathy. In today’s terms, center left means far left of neoliberals and slightly right of Marxism.

Any form of extremism is extremism. Whether far left or far right, there is no balance and any extremist system is bound to fail, if not by it’s own shortcomings, then by massive resistance which results in outright violent conflict. While ethically I do see value in Marxism sans fascism, I understand that our society has not evolved to a degree that it is realistic at this time. First and foremost because of the means of motivation which have been conditioned into our culture. If I thought it were realistic, I would be for it. Not in our lifetime, though. We have a long way to go.

Back to the main subject.

Progressives span a wide variety of people across cultures and subcultures, races, genders, religions, income levels and education levels. Too often we are portrayed as lazy or wanting something for nothing. Yet most of us are employed, most educated. In fact, I would venture to say a larger than average percentage of us can be classified as workaholics.

Not all of these people are running for any office but they are all examples of who is on the true left.

Dr Jill Stein. Harvard educated and magna cum laude (Harvard College) physician and social/environmental/political activist who has run as the Green Party nominee in every election since 2012. Prior to that, she ran for various elected offices in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010 in Massachusetts.

Professor Richard Wolff. Marxian economist known globally, has taught at Yale, University of Paris, University of Mass-Amherst, New School University-New York, the Brecht Forum, University of Utah and City University of New York. Has a weekly radio program and appears on various leftist TV shows and radio programs in addition to writing.

Dr Ajamu Baraka. 2016 Green Party VP Candidate, most people know. He has also served as founding executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, served on the boards of Amnesty International, the Center For Constitutional Rights and Africa Action and is an Associate Fellow at the Institute For Policy Studies. Prolific and powerful speaker and writer.

Aaron Mate. Journalist who never fails to ask the right questions and challenge interviewees when they speak obvious falsehoods. Currently at The Real News Network, he has also reported for Democracy Now!, The Intercept, Vice, Al Jazeera and the Toronto Star.

Jimmy Dore. While Jimmy is a comedian, he is a voice to be reckoned with, having been on The Young Turks for years, he has his own show on Patreon and YouTube. Any Progressive can love watching him go on a heated rant because he never holds back. He travels the country doing stand-up comedy which is politically intense. His show usually has Stef Zamorano, Ron Placone (who also has his own show on YouTube and also travels doing political stand-up) and frequently Graham Elwood.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A New York Representative who is making a name for herself on the left. I do not always agree with her on some subjects but she shows promise. Considering the fact that she was a waitress not long ago and has risen to using her first day of her apprenticeship to stage a protest in Nancy Pelosi’s office, I would not call that lazy.

Tulsi Gabbard. Representative from Hawaii who stood up for equal representation for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election, stepping down from a top position in the DNC. She has traveled to Syria, stood up to the power structures in DC and is an Army veteran. Highly Progressive on many subjects, though again I cannot claim I always agree with her.

Bernie Sanders. Yes, I know some of you will be pissed I did not put him first. On many subjects, he is highly Progressive and extremely vocal on those issues. I still believe he should have won in 2016. He is one of the most energetic members of Congress and definitely one of the most Progressive until recently. This is merely an example, not an endorsement. I have stated clearly what I feel his failings to be previously.

While this is a rather short list, they are some of the most visible. These are all strong voices who work hard and always have. They are capable of seeing and caring beyond themselves. They work toward improving this country and this planet for someone besides the extremely rich. They do not divide people nor do they try and convince one sector of society that that sector is superior to others. They try and unite us all, which is precisely why they encounter so much opposition. None of them endorse the concept of something for nothing.

Not in popularity but in effort, I’d like to include myself in this list. Anyone claiming I want something for nothing could not be more wrong. I am a diagnosed workaholic. I began working when I was 12. Over the years I have been a dishwasher, chef, veteran, auto/diesel/turbine mechanic, assistant military instructor, web designer, freelance writer and a nurse. Right now I work 32–48 hours a week, try and stay on top of issues and attempt to write 4–5 articles a week while making virtually nothing for doing so. If you read my articles, you can see that I do my own research and am not averse to running numbers to prove my point. In fact, I may be spending more at times than I earn from my writing. Does any of that sound lazy or selfish to you?

It used to be a standard that employers provided for medical care for employees in this country. I even had that when working in a convenience store while in college. Now that idea is being considered selfish on the part of the worker. How did we, as a nation, come to care more about the profits of the rich than the suffering of the many?

It used to be a standard that people earned a days pay for a days work in this country. Again, how did this become too much to expect? It is not in any way unreasonable to ask multi-billionaires to part with some of their accumulated hoards which they could not spend in 100 lifetimes so that this country is truly prosperous.

All of this has come about as a result of corporations owning the means of information. It is beyond time to turn off corporate media and see them for what they are.

It is beyond time to look around and see how close to the edge we are as a country. That when we turn our backs on each other, we have nothing left. It is only through diversity that we will gain unity and change the way things are going. The road we are on now runs directly to epic disaster as few Americans have ever dreamed.