Forgive us our debts

Wilmington StarNews Editorial Board members (“independent of any news reporters and editors at this paper”) put forth another political social justice message they frequently offer for reader edification on a favored topic: education. “(W)e should realize,” they lecture, “that allowing students to graduate (from college) with mountains of debt hurts our economy as well as individuals….” I don’t know who “we” is, but I assume the Board means us, the people. (link)

Why are “we” presumed to be responsible for a lot of debt incurred by college students—“we” didn’t allow this irresponsible behavior. Of course, someone did enable it.

The usual suspects include: parents, counselors, educators, editorial boards and the federal government. The Board even admits that “President Obama has made college affordability a key policy point.” Easy money is available debt-deferred and cheap from the Feds.

And the Board tells us student debt has increased “during the recession” (made worse by federal spending and regulations) because of reduced family incomes (caused by federal fiscal irresponsibility) and higher tuition and fees (resulting from easy, cheap federal loans); and, predictably, “deep cuts in state budgets.” The Board blames State legislators for excessive student debt.

It raises the old, tired canards that the State’s Constitution “stipulates that admission to state universities should be free”; and that college is an “investment,” not an expense. The State Constitution recognizes that free college education isn’t practical, and for some students college can be an investment—those with strong motivation, focused on their future and knowing what they need to do for success—but for many it’s an expensive waste of time.

Again, the Board’s favorite boogiemen, the (Republican) “Honorables,”are faulted: “…have taken that constitutional mandate as an unworkable suggestion…budget cuts have gone beyond belt-tightening.” Ho Hum.

According to the Board, falling family incomes and State spending reductions is a big problem because of “the gap between the rich and everyone else.” It furthers the myth that the “U. S. economy was built on a strong middle class.”

Our economy was built by enterprising, competitive people (many without college), working hard with incentives for profit, free to build and grow businesses. These people—many who became wealthy—provided the means for poor people to move into the “middle class.” Successful Americans value saving and disavow debt. I suggest the StarNews Editorial Board spend less time on politics and more time studying history—we could all benefit.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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