Let us start off my latest tirade with a request that my readers peruse this brief but important article on the Daily Kos. Yes, it’s true, people… all of Germany’s universities and colleges are now offering free (yes, I meant to type “free” and not “pee”; you read it right!) tuition to not only all of its citizens, but any international students studying there, including Americans. The last of its universities to still charge tuition–which never amounted to fees higher than $630.00 a semester to begin with–has just recently ended that policy by government decree. And the benefits given to all college students do not end there, either, as noted here on the CBS 10News site: “What’s more, German students receive many perks including discounts for food, clothing and events, as well as inexpensive or even free transportation.”
This should put paid to any lingering American ideology that colleges and universities should charge money for higher education. All governments serve the fiscal interests of their respective ruling classes above all else, no doubt, but many of them remain considerably less onerous than the United States government when it comes to supporting and enabling policies that crush its citizens under mountains of debt, and then justify it as “personal responsibility.” This is largely because the citizens of these other nations are far less tolerant, let alone ideologically supportive, of government policies that leech them dry to enrich a tiny handful to a limitless degree. The capitalist class of owners are still tolerated, of course, but rather than glorified as they are in America, the vast majority of the 99% in Germany and other G8 nations of the “First World” demand degrees of largesse in exchange for continuing to enjoy their privileged status.
The American government has more money to burn than any other government in the world, most of it wrenched not from the bottomless coffers of the super-rich 1%, but the tax dollars of the far more strapped 99%. Yet it provides but a handful of subsidies to students in the form of grants, and backs the charging of ridiculously high fees and legal loan-sharking of American students from its institutions of higher learning, both public and private. Scholarships are hard to come by, and often only awarded based on extremely stringent and arbitrary factors. Bottom line (pun intended): Most American students, if they aren’t lucky enough to have parents willing and able to pay their way in full, will have to take out sizable loans–currently an average of $29,400–to attend a typical four year course of study. The debt these students emerge with stifles post-college progress in numerous ways, and the legal loan-sharking industries like Sallie Mae (what a deceptively harmless sounding name!) actually benefit from a high level of defaults by adding exponential amounts of interest to the already astronomical debt.
Yet the German government is not only completely paying for the college education of its citizens, but also international students… and proving that this can easily be done in a wealthy nation when you don’t funnel huge portions of every tax dollar collected into the military machine or subsidizing corporations to make them “too big to fail” after every cataclysmic screw-up. And this is in addition to providing single-payer universal health care and social safety net programs to the poor.
Americans, however, are conditioned to complain about spending a single penny of their tax dollars to make life easier for their fellow 99 percenters, yet refuse to expend so much as a single word bitching about the vast expenditures of their tax dollars going to fund a bloated military or corporate welfare bail-outs that only benefit the 1% that pays far less into the national treasury than the 99% (unless you want to count their very sizable donations to the campaign coffers of every bureaucrat running for office in the White House or the Senate, of course). This proves who the real parasites are in any capitalist system despite what you hear the typical right-winger whining about. In fact, these typical whiners make it clear that, sadly, they are among the most diligent enablers of the 1 percenters’ out-of-control economic parasitism.
What Germany just did for higher education is an example of what can be achieved if American citizens in the 99% spent more time demanding that tax dollars be allocated to programs that benefit them collectively, as opposed to holding contempt for fellow members of their own class–particularly the poorest members–while ignoring and even glorifying the excesses of the 1 percenters. The latter type of misplaced glorification and loyalty combines with the rampant apathy and defeatist attitudes among those who do actually disapprove to increasingly widen the already herculean gap between what the 99% have and what the 1% control and enjoy despite the former doing all the useful work. This could provide a step towards the working class eventually choosing to organize towards ending the archaic and parasitic system of money and class divisions altogether.