Regular readers of this column will know that I am a recently retired English professor.
Most of the time, the opinions I spout are not based on first-hand knowledge of the subject at hand. For example, I have recently written about such wide-ranging topics as what ancient Egypt was like when Imhotep Pelosi was a young girl, even though I’m not an Egyptologist.
And about how you’re not likely to get monkey pox if you don’t bang a dozen strangers with running sores, even though I’m not gay and did not do my graduate work in pustule-avoidance.
But there are two things that my profession has given me first-hand knowledge about. The first of these is language.
So naturally, when impressionable types began to list their pronouns, for example, I jumped on that trend.
Just FYI, my pronouns are “thee/thou/thine.” My adjectives are “brilliant” and “mesmerizing,” and my adverbs are “stunningly” and “breath-takingly.”
“But haven’t you forgotten hyphenated, adjectival phrases, Martin?” you may be tempted to ask.
Don’t be ridiculous – I have two: “sharp-as-a-tack” and “easy-on-the-eyes.” Duh.
But enough about me, and my entertaining linguistic dexterity.
My former profession has also given me first-hand knowledge of how colleges work. So when Biden floated his student loan “forgiveness” scheme, I could instinctively agree with Tom Cotton’s take on it: “Of all the dumb things Joe Biden has done, this may be the dumbest yet — I know it’s stiff competition.”
Here – because as CO has said, everything is better in a list – are 7 reasons why Brandon’s student loan giveaway is a terrible idea:
First, it cannot work well financially, for reasons that truly smart guys like our own CO and Christopher Silber can explain better than I can. But just off the top of my financial-amateur head, universities can obviously keep raising tuition if millions of students have easy access to loans that give them the illusory impression that they can pay for it. (That is surely one reason why tuition costs have outpaced regular inflation by a factor of 4 or 5 over the last 20 years.)
Second, as many commentators have noticed, adding this extra ginormous dollop of spending to the astronomical amount that the Biden administration has already borrowed and squandered can’t help but add fiscal gasoline to the inflationary dumpster fire we’re already experiencing.
Third, it’s unfair to all taxpayers, who will now have to pay for the school loans of other people and their children. It’s amazing to me how few people have learned one of the most basic principles of life: there is no such thing as a free lunch.
It’s infuriating to listen to dullards babbling about “forgiving” or “canceling” loans, as if they just blink out of existence. They don’t. These loans will still be paid by someone – it just won’t be by the ones who actually took them out, and presumably got the benefit from them. (Assuming they weren’t financing a grievance study degree, in which case NOBODY benefited from them other than the profs and colleges who “awarded” those degrees.)
Fourth, they are even more unfair to people who played by the rules and did the right thing, sacrificing and delaying gratification so that they could pay their own loans back.
There’s a great bit of video from 2020 that the GOP should be running in ads from now to November. It features Grandma Squanto Warren being confronted by a dad who had struggled and paid for his kid’s college.
As usual, Liz was in over her headdress (#wemustneverstopmockingher), because when he asked her whether he’d get his money back, since his less responsible neighbors would be getting their loans forgiven, she snapped, “Of course not.”
He rightly pointed out that while the Dems would be forgiving loans for those who didn’t pay them, “those of us who did the right thing get screwed.” I love that guy, and he’s absolutely right.
Fifth, it’s politically stupid, both because it alienates more people than it caters to, and because it screws up the Dems’ usually reliable class-warfare gambit.
The number of people with outstanding school loans is a lot larger than it should be, for sure. But there are a lot more people who never went to college, or who went to a junior college loan-free, or who worked their way through college without loans, or who took out loans and then spent years paying them back.
All of those people are going to be angry about this give-away, and they should be.
And instead of stoking class hatred in the poor for the rich—as the Dems are usually wont to do – this does the opposite. Millions of blue-collar people who never went to college, and on average earn less than the recipients of this welfare gift, are going to be forced to pay for their wealthier fellow citizens’ education.
To be clear, encouraging class warfare is an evil thing to do. But at least when you’re exacerbating that envy in the many and aiming it against the few (the “evil” 1%, for example), your strategy makes some kind of Machiavellian, mathematical sense, and you’re likely to benefit from it, at least in the short run.
This plan does the opposite, and it’s beyond stupid.
Sixth, the strategy has a Logic 101 fail at the heart of it.
The left constantly complains about what a huge, unfair burden student loan debt is on students. And they may be half right: debt is definitely a burden. Listen to Dave Ramsey, channeling your grandma and God: the borrower is slave to the lender, debt is a curse, etc.
But if that’s the case, how can the left simultaneously complain about how terrible student loans are — so much so that they need to force the taxpayers to cover those existing loans — and still insist that the feds keep issuing billions of dollars of student loans every semester?
Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re not trying to get rid of the student loan system; they’re supporting it, and encouraging it, and continuing it.
And then screaming about how terrible it is.
Seventh, like most leftist policies, this scheme sets up a system of perverse, self-defeating incentives which are ultimately even destructive to the “beneficiaries” of the scheme.
During LBJ’s Great Society cluster-schtup, Dems decided to give women welfare, but only if there were no man in the house with them, which produced a generation of man-less households and welfare-dependent women. They paid increased welfare benefits to women for each out-of-wedlock child they had, which produced more kids born out of wedlock.
In recent years, they’ve decreased the penalties for crime, and shazam! — we have more crime.
All of those policies were ostensibly intended to benefit their recipients – though we should never discount the cynical, leftist desire to create an ever-increasing army of dependent Democrat voters. But all of them hurt their recipients most of all, because they eroded the qualities of perseverance, diligence, and honor.
What feels good in the short run – impregnating women and then moving on, rather than supporting them and your children; working full-time, rather than doing the minimum necessary and then quitting as soon as you can; fighting crime and imprisoning criminals, rather than looking the other way – is usually bad for you in the long run.
To paraphrase the New Testament, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but later it produces a harvest of righteousness.
When you took out a student loan, you gave your word that you would pay it back. When you work hard and sacrifice to repay it, you earn the self-esteem and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a responsible adult who did the right thing.
When you let a cynical cadre of vote-buying creeps like Biden, Grandma Squanto and AOC step in and force your fellow citizens to pay your loans, you take a self-destructive step down the path of becoming a dependent grifter whose word means nothing.
That’s not what you want to be, is it?
It’s been a long 14 years of suffering under Brandon, and it’s only been 80 weeks.