I like everything about Elizabeth Warren’s student loan forgiveness plan except the term “forgiveness.” As if students have committed a sin by going into debt up to their eyeballs in order to obtain a college diploma. What choice did they have? It’s the conventional wisdom, that if you want a career — and not just a “job” — you need a college degree. And for the most part the conventional wisdom is right.
The only ones in this scenario in need of forgiveness are those Wall Street student loan sharks who have economically crippled a whole generation in order to line their capacious pockets. The ones who need forgiveness are those who lobbied to make sure student loan debt, unlike any other kind of debt in our society, could not be written off in bankruptcy.
And Father, please forgive those individuals whose response to Warren’s proposal goes something like this: “I had to pay back my student loans, every penny with interest. Why shouldn’t they? I had to suffer for my education, now it’s their turn.” Forgive these folks, father, for their churlishness. They know not what they do.
A decent, civil, democratic society makes higher education attainable to as many of its young people as possible. In this country, alas, higher education had been treated as just another commodity, a thing to be bought and sold. And if you can’t afford to buy it, well, just go flip burgers, you loser.
Let’s call Warren’s proposal not the “forgiveness” program; let’s call it instead the “student reparation” program. Let our government allow those burdened with heavy student loan debt to jettison most of it, so they have a chance in life.
Dr. Kelly Anspaugh, Ada