They Hired It, Didn’t They?
By Patrick F. Cannon
Although some of my younger family members may be benefitting from it, I think President Biden’s cynical election-year forgiveness of $10,000 in student debt was a bad idea. It thumbs his nose at all those who actually paid back their loans; or worked their way through school; or joined one of the armed-services for their educational benefits; or whose family sacrificed to pay their tuition and other costs.
In a very real way, it also rewards the many colleges and universities that think nothing of charging outrageous sums for what is often a dubious return. The last time I looked, my own alma mater, Northwestern University, was charging $58,700 per year for full tuition and fees. I concede that few students actually pay that much (the average for a middle-class family is $41,600), except for the foreign students who are courted for their parents’ willingness to cough up the entire $235,000 for an American college education.
Why these high costs? Administrative bloat is one reason. Highly-paid professors who don’t teach much is another. I had one complain to me that he was being required to teach an actual class in a coming semester, as if it were an intolerable imposition! In many cases, our children are being taught instead by low-paid and resentful teaching assistants or non-tenured “adjunct” faculty.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I am indebted to my friend Steve for reminding me that Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana and currently president of Purdue University (retiring on January 1), has actually managed to reduce the costs of tuition and fees in real terms during his tenure. Full costs for in-state students are about $20,000 per year; and for out-of-state, $38,000. And let me remind you that no one needs to apologize for a Purdue degree.
In this crazy world, when the Democrat-controlled Congress passes a trillion dollar spending package, they call it a Debt Reduction Act! Now, I guess we’re going to spend another $300 billion to further reduce the deficit! George Orwell would recognize the irony.
It occurred to me that we might ask the Chinese – who hold much of our debt – to forgive some of it, maybe a few trillion or so. It’s the least they can do for their best customer. Perhaps you didn’t know we owed them so much?
Oh well. I’ll stop there. One last thing though. When President “Silent Cal” Coolidge was asked whether we should forgive Great Britain’s World War I war debt, he responded with: “They hired the money, didn’t they?” In those days, people tried to avoid debt in the first place, but believed you were obligated to pay it back. We stopped believing in that a long time ago, and the government is leading the way.
Copyright 2022, Patrick F. Cannon