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Oh look, another delay…

They delayed student loan payments again…

It’s time past time to discharge that debt. Raise all but the lowest two income tax-brackets 1% and end the stupidity.

If you paid of your student loans, I’m sorry no one in previous generations looked out for you. But that doesn’t mean we should allow our peers and younger generations to suffer the same wholly unnecessary fate. In fact I’m not even sure why some many people use this as an argument against cancelling student loan debt and making higher education free. The whole argument doesn’t make sense.

Why? Well allow me to begin a pages-long treatise on that…

 

Until the early 1990s college was that best way to ensure a decent middle-class living. However, thanks to a deliberate lack of regulation on the part of our politicians to control inflation around the price of tuition and materials to public institutions, the “free market” did what it does best. It destroys the lives of hard-working people who really just want to be able to afford a real vacation every once in a while.

If you went into a trade, I applaud you. I’ve worked blue-collar jobs and they were hell on my body and underappreciated by the people who benefited from them. I fucking get it, I really do. But not everyone is like you. Not everyone can be a mechanic, electrician, carpenter, or heavy machine operator. They just can’t.

So instead of punishing people who aren’t like you, who weren’t born into a situation that could afford them a ride to college, perhaps see it as balance to the world. We can discuss whether or not certain educational paths are valuable to society, if you can be reasonable at a later date, that is not my objective right now. The truth of the matter is, there comes a point in every STEM field where they turn into philosophy and/or art.

Physics and math are at their highest levels, philosophy. They literally seek to define the furthest limits of our universe.

Engineering sometimes requires creativity that is nurtured by with art throughout our lives.

Data science will put almost all of us to sleep…unless the charts are very, very pretty.

Still with me? Cool.

For my next point I’m going to talk about library sciences, an area of education that requires a master’s level education at minimum, which is oft cited as “worthless.”

Librarians curate the whole of existence, they are the stewards of humanity, their profession is one of the most important one’s societies at large has and thinking otherwise is foolish. Why?

Well, historians use the work of librarians to help us understand where we have been. Artists take the work of historians and make it into a variety of media for us to consume. A child takes finds an early reading about the foundations of astronomy written by a historian who also kinda likes space. This child is utterly fascinated, their room now covered in glow in the dark stars, with a night light shaped like a rocket.

This child grows up with the support of an educational system that gives him the tools he needs to foster his passion for astronomy. One day they become an astrophysicist who find themselves on the cutting edge of research, who’s research gets us one step closer to infinity and beyond. Their research is added to the library of existence, for the next generation to build on.

Are librarians not important?

Are the artists that converted the work of the historian and the astrophysicist not important?

Are the teachers who helped this child along not important?

Are the programs that made sure this child had safe, adequate care while their parents worked to keep a roof of their heads not important?

Was the program that ensured, despite two working parents, that the child had enough food and medical care to get through high school, not important?

Was their ability to access higher education through grants and loans not important?

At this point, if you don’t agree with any of what I just said, I can promise you I’m about to make your blood pressure worse.

Anyhow, let me get to the part that seems the most difficult for many Americans to understand.

 

The now young adult I mentioned before studied hard and got good, but not perfect grades. A 4.0+ isn’t possible when you must help care for a younger sibling, while both parents work to keep a roof over your head. Something that is not this young adult’s fault, in the end what matters is that they got an acceptance letter to college. The first in the family to have the opportunity to go to college.

But full-ride scholarships are limited, and this young adult who will someday define our place among the stars, now must figure out how to follow their dreams. Something they’d been told to do since they were a wee one in pre-k. Yeah, sure they got a few small scholarships, but the competition is fierce and applying for them takes time which they spent on making sure they got good grades. Those scholarships only cover a small part of the expense’s college will incur.   Also, one of their parents just got a raise for the first time in years, last year and now makes just a barely over the line for their child to have grants cover the rest of the expenses. There are no college savings, it wasn’t possible for them to save like that.

This child’s future now depends on coming up with a way to fund their education, so they can expand our horizons. This child takes out student loans and eventually gets accepted into the master’s program they need to even begin working in the astrophysics. Their tuition is covered by the university at this point, but not supplies. Their course of study is hard, and they work as a teaching assistant at the school, which pays a bit but that doesn’t cover everything. Other small scholarships help defray the cost and being in school prevents the subsidized parts of their loans from undergrad from accruing interest, but not the unsubsidized. 4.5% a year, compounding.

Eventually they get accepted as a doctoral fellow, their professors believe they have a brilliant future ahead and want them to continue their education. At this point the whole of their education is covered, minus some living expenses. Again, their subsidized loans are fine, but the rest continue to accrue at 4.5% a year, compounding.

None of this really matters though because once they finish their doctorate, at the age of 30, they begin their career on the bottom rung in the underfunded halls of academia. Where when they were a student on a scholarship, they didn’t have to worry about rent and food. Once that safety net is gone it becomes a matter of survival.

Half their early career is spent on the verge of losing their funding of society changes its mind, or the corporation funding it doesn’t see the use for it anymore. Their take home pay is abysmal for education they have. But they love their work, and they will someday write a piece of the history of astrophysics…

But they don’t. They are forced to give up on that future because they can’t continue to subsist of the poverty wages of academia and pay their student loans. They give up their future making history to become an accountant because at least is pays enough to cover the loans and allows them to eat out occasionally. That librarian will never add their contribution so society to the halls because despite doing everything as well as they could, it didn’t matter.

 

If you read all of that, and you’re not upset…you’re probably about to start on some tirade about how this adult should have chosen a different major that would have made more money and required less education.

Society won’t work if we’re all plumbers, if we’re all accountants, and especially if we’re all doctors.

It’s that simple. We need astrophysicists as much as we need any other career frield. Sure, we can have a reasoned discussion about how many of each we really need…but can you tell the future? How do you know which kid that wants to study the stars will help get us to other worlds? You don’t.

You have no way of knowing, and because of that why shouldn’t we as a wealthy country, take risks that could better humanity?

Let’s go back to doctors. We as a nation are suffering from a shortage of doctors, we have quite literally priced ourselves out of the healthcare we need as a nation because the barrier to entry for someone who was a great student, but not valedictorian…is hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.

Teachers. Blue collar workers have teachers, just as much as academia, to thank for getting them where they are. We as a nation are currently hemorrhaging educators we didn’t have to begin with, and barrier for entry to becoming and teacher a job that pays poverty wages in most place…is a master’s degree.

Keep in mind, full-ride scholarships are limited, and a lot of would-be educators are shut-out from education for reasons beyond their control…like the family they were born into and perhaps, most importantly, the wealth associated with their family.

 

The worst part of this whole story? It doesn’t have to be this way. You and I? We can stop the multi-generational tradition of shooting America in the foot. Right now. We. Can. End. It.

But first I need you to understand everything I just wrote. I need you to understand that our society, our nation, is far more complicated that you and your limited experiences with it.

I need you to understand that discharging student loan debt isn’t about what you went through, it’s about what *WE* as a nation, and the generations that follow us will go through.

Its about a child being exposed to that first board book about space that was written by a historian with an interest in astrophysics, who then found a children’s book illustrator to help them create something children and possibly even adults can enjoy.  It’s about that child growing up with glow-in-the dark stars on their ceiling dreaming of someday turning the deepest philosophies of astrophysics into reality. It’s about getting that child to a place where they can pursue what they love and not forgo the future where they write the history of humanity.

It’s not about you. It’s not about your experiences, what you went through was unnecessary in the wealthiest country in the world. What you went through was deliberate cruelty by people who have so much more than they will ever need, that they’re bored. They’re so bored, because they don’t have a single thing to worry about other than keeping their position above us, that they come up with ways to ensure we keep fighting each other.

Because if we stop fighting each other over the things that will help the whole of society, they lose.

 

At this point, if you’re still sitting there ready to type an angry response to me…don’t bother. Because everything I just wrote, covers the only reservations anyone has that aren’t simply just a adult-child trying to make sense of their subjective life experiences at the expense of society, and consequently humanity. The problem is you, and I do not the time or the energy to argue with people who can’t see the forest from the trees. I have already gone above and beyond what is reasonable with this essay. By all means, continue the childish screaming at the walls of your self-made prison.

The bus of society will leave you behind for the better eventually. The only question that remains, where your opinion is valid, is whether or not you want to get on the bus or be run over by it.

Cheers,

Tiff