The following is a guest blog by my good friend and business management expert Synder Rebel which deals with one of the many serious problems inflicted upon the 99% in our wondrous capitalist system, and the particularly rapacious form of capitalism as practiced in our native land of the United States. That would be a topic I myself have discussed before, the phenomenon of massive higher education debt imposed upon so many millions of individuals who have attended college and/or graduate school to work towards gaining skills and training to enable us to make a decent living in the dog-eat-dog labor force. Since you’re probably wondering, yes Snyder is utilizing a pseudonym, since he’s worried that expressing his opinion under his own name would have negative repercussions on him due to working for a government agency. Nice to see how much faith the labor force has on the important democratic principle of freedom of speech… which seems non-existent in an economic framework that is totally dictatorial anyway. I decided not to argue with him about that too much and simply post the important words he has to say about this matter, especially since like too many of us (including me), he’s chest deep in college/graduate school debt and can speak with much authority on this topic. His post was edited for grammar, but nothing he had to say was altered in any way, and he fully approved of the version of this post prior to its presentation. Enjoy!
Before I begin discussing this subject, I will just preface my post with the following: these comments are my opinion and should be taken as such. Everyone else is, of course, free to think whatever they want. Next, I will keep my name and other personal information to myself. The reason for this is simply that I work for a government agency in the state where I live and my comments may be considered inappropriate [You’re worried they’ll fire you if you criticize an aspect of the government that even Emperor Obama has recently been forced to concede is a major problem? – CN].
Alright, let’s get started on the subject at hand. We live in a world full of economic forces that compete with each other. For example, healthcare insurance, in theory, takes care of people who pay for it. However, healthcare providers, insurance companies, drug companies, etc., et al., are all wrapped up in their own layers of bureaucratic processes to avoid paying for whatever it is.
Within the context of student loans and the accompanying debts, I ask you to think about the following points. The costs of a college education continues to escalate each year. Education at the college level must be paid for in this country, whereas in other First World nations, including various European countries such as Germany, college is provided free. Many parents in the United States do not save for college because they cannot afford it, especially when the literal cost of living, i.e., the necessities of life, are likewise in constant escalation. Couple these costs with raising and providing for children, and saving for future college tuition must take a backseat.
On one end of the spectrum, it is expected for people to advance their education and go to college to develop the skills they need to enter the job market later in life. Further, college attendance opens many other possibilities for personal and professional growth, as well as being a good general platform for intellectual development; for me personally, it proved to be a life-changing experience which helped me to overcome a lot of my emotional baggage and begin to open myself up to the wider world. That is how it’s supposed to be for everyone according to all the most ideally constructed sales pitches for colleges. The truth is, I think, that while all of these things are possible, there is also an element of luck involved. Too many young people, I think, buy into the myth and get caught up in the party scene soon after arriving on campus.
This brings us to the other end of the spectrum: a college education, while potentially carrying all of the above mentioned benefits, the tradeoff that came with it was a hefty one. The catch was, of course, one hell of a price tag to have hanging over my head like the Sword of Damocles for the rest of my life. All of the benefits do not change the fact that I currently owe, very literally, a small fortune to the government that I will probably never be able to pay off completely.
So, back to the beginning of the argument, the tradeoff I mentioned amounts to a competing series of variables that leads to a precarious win/loose scenario IMO. I won a college education but I lost all of my peace of mind as a result of the massive debt I graduated with. The concerns connected to it will always be stewing in the back of my mind like a kettle of soup over a flame, with the result being constant worry and fear over what will happen if I cannot manage repayment. For instance, what if all of my education does not help me secure a job that pays me a descent salary so I can both pay back all that I owe and live the way I want? The truth of the matter is that all I want is a good life, which means a decent job and all of the possibilities that come with that. However, in order to work towards that goal and have the chance to get the type of job that I wanted, I needed to acquire those skills and develop my intelligence so I could journey forth into the world and strive for something better. We all know that it’s very competitive out there in the world, and real opportunities for advancement and development in both personal and professional contexts are relatively scarce gifts that must be bought with favor upon favor to the mutual benefit of others involved.
In conclusion, massive student loan debt now seems to be a fact of life; or, at least it is if people actually want the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop into something more and something better. These opportunities now come with a price, a huge price tag that encompasses a lot more than the amount of cash you have, and will ever have, in the bank. I think that education should be open to all without having to metaphorically sell our souls to legal loan sharks like Sallie Mae.