The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Diploma Debt

The current crop of Democratic contenders for the presidency are nothing if not good at pandering to their key demographic segments. In the case of people under 40, a key pander-point is what could be called 'diploma debt'—eliminating college debt by shifting the burden to taxpayers. It's very important to emphasize that diploma debt is discretionary debt, entered into willingly by the then-student. It's also worth noting that the debt was incurred as part on an investment in the future—the degree acquired should lead to a career that has a high likelihood of generating the income that would enable the debt to be repaid over time. And if that's not the case, why incur the debt in the first place?

Margot Cleveland notes that Democrats use two strategies to make their argument for diploma debt relief—"shock and sob stories." The Dems tell us that there is over $1.4 trillion in student debt—a shocking statistic. But there is over $4.29 trillion in credit card debt. Should every credit card holder get relief as well? What about auto loans, or mortgages—should they be paid for by taxpayers? And yeah, there are sob stories—marriages postponed, living arrangements altered, and nice things unavailable—sad stories, I suppose, but hardly insurmountable.

Cleveland goes on to ask a few intrusive questions:
There are many ways to counter [the Democrat's] arguments, based on both economics and equity. But it’s hard to counter soundbites with sense, so instead, here are my inquiries for these politicians, the press, and all the students demanding relief from the burdens of their debt:

Tell me your sob stories from age 12 on, not what you can’t do now, but what you couldn’t do then. Tell what you had to do then and through college to avoid what is now, to you, crushing student debt.

What time did you get up to deliver papers in junior high? How many hours a week did you work since 14 to save for college? How many toilets did you scrub? How many high school football games did you miss because you were working? What dream college did you forgo to avoid taking out student loans?

Which 8 a.m. class did you take so you could complete your major’s requirements and still work in the afternoon? Which bus line did you take to get to your job because you didn’t borrow to buy a car? What job did you work full-time while completing your MBA at night?

What did you do to afford college? What didn’t you do because of the cost of college? Were you getting tattoos and traveling your way through college? Were you pledging and partying? Did you go to your top-choice university? Maybe an out-of-state public university with higher tuition rates? Which spring break and study abroad destinations did you visit along the way?

Did you splurge on your fairytale wedding instead of paying down your student loans? What cars did you buy or lease? Where did you live? What electronics did you own? What clothing and other personal expenditures did you have? In short, show me the money and how you spent it!

None of my business? You’re right. Nor is your student debt my business or my problem.