This is a hot topic lately, much argued on social media. With news of the proposed Elizabeth Warren student debt relief plan, people who are not in debt suddenly have a lot of opinions about those who are, and their worthiness of loan forgiveness.
The proposed plan would cancel up to $50,000 in student debt for households making less than $100,000, with some provisions for making public colleges free. The debt cancellation would offer relief to about 95 percent of people with current student loan debt.
At least, some relief, because it’s very easy to rack up $50K or more paying for college.
Some people complained about the plan’s cost (1.25 trillion over ten years, which sounds like a lot but really isn’t when you consider how much our government already wastes on other shit). But one Twitterer took issue with the plan’s lack of benefits…for himself.
“Canceling debt is tremendously unfair to those who paid theirs off,” he whined. While a few people agreed with him, he was mostly met by a slew of jokes about how improving things for future generations was unfair to those who didn’t benefit.
One of my favorite Tweets notes that, “Plans to regulate food would be a slap in the face to those who have died of salmonella.”
The bottom line: People who don’t like this proposed plan seem to think, “If it doesn’t benefit me, no one should have it.”
Often, these are the same people who earned their degree when college costs were much lower, relative to inflation. In the past thirty years, not only has inflation far outpaced the minimum wage, but the cost of college has far outpaced overall inflation.
There’s also the fact that Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which ensured no student loan could be discharged in bankruptcy unless the borrower can prove “undue hardship.” (This is incredibly difficult to demonstrate, so essentially, student loans are forever. Unlike a stable economy or a job.)
Did I mention student loan interest rates are on the upswing?
So to recap, people who paid less for college, had lower interest rates when they took out loans for college, and had more options for getting out of repaying those loans when faced with financial hardship, believe it is unfair for students today to have their loans cancelled.
Because they think everything should be exactly the same as it was for them, right?
I mean, that’s fine with me. Just raise the minimum wage until it has the same buying power it did in 1970, lower the cost of college until it’s the same relative to inflation as it was in the 80s, allow for discharging student loans upon bankruptcy, and lower the interest rates for student loans.
Don’t want to do that? Okay then, listen up. Instead of trying to explain Basic Humanity 101, I’m going to meet the “What do I get out of other people’s student loans being cancelled?” people where they are, and answer that question.
What do you get out of current student debt being cancelled if you already WORKED REALLY HARD to pay back your loans? I’m glad you asked! Here is what you get:
- 42 million Americans with more money to spend on anything other than student loan repayments. You get 42 MILLION people who no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a month to Sallie Mae. They now have more money to spend on products and services — like whatever the company you work for makes.
- Got a portfolio? All the stocks in that portfolio also belong to companies whose customers now have more money to spend on literally anything else.
- Got the entrepreneurial spirit? Run your own business? Your customers now have more money to spend too. Congratulations.
- But wait, there’s more. Are you stuck in a dead end job? College degree worth less than the paper it’s printed on? Wish you’d chosen another major, or just want to take a few classes to improve your skills in one area or another? Now you can go back to school without getting deep in debt AGAIN.
- Got kids? Now you can send them to college without breaking the bank, or cosigning a loan.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk entitled, “What do I get out of this latest thing I’m outraged about because I can’t think ahead enough to see the benefits to me?”