I received my JD 11 years ago. I was only able to study law thanks to a generous academic scholarship. Another merit-based scholarship had paid my way through undergrad. I’ve never had student debt.
Obviously, I’ve worked really hard to avoid building up student loan debt. Despite my own history (or perhaps because of it), I was not the least bit displeased with President Biden’s plan to forgive $10,000 in student loans for nearly everyone who still owes it, and to forgive up to $20,000 for some of the most needy borrowers.
I can’t say I’ve understood much of the decisions of GOP lawmakers over the past decade. But their stupid, frothing collapse of more than $10,000 in student loan forgiveness is a real scare, even by 2022 standards.
If I had known that I might have wiped out $10,000 in remaining student debt after graduating from law school, would I have worked less hard to get and keep an excellent scholarship? Of course not, because that would be insane.
Am I trolling these days about this $10,000 benefit that other people got that I didn’t? Well no, any more than I pass every day furious because people go to the food bank when I personally don’t have to.
You know, Texas is hit by hurricanes all the time. Zero dollars for federal hurricane relief once poured into my home state of Minnesota. Still, it’s not something I spend a lot of time on.
About 8.7% of American families don’t own a car, and yet they can’t choose not to contribute to the more than $200 billion in public money we spend on roads each year.
Just about everything the government offers benefits different people in different ways. And that’s fine, because everyone’s situation is different.
This student loan debt forgiveness policy is just another example of how government always works and really should work. We are all building a country here together. If you could just opt out of anything that didn’t directly benefit you, no one would save you if your need was greater than your contributions (which will happen to each of us at some point in life).
Choose a government policy. They almost all benefit from one group of people more than the other. Farm subsidies cost the US government as much as $25 billion a year. Farmers represent only about 1% of the US population. You must be 62 years of age or older to collect Social Security benefits. Only about one in five Americans benefit from this. I guess you could say, “Oh, we shouldn’t be supporting these lazy older Americans who aren’t working and haven’t saved enough for retirement because of their own lack of foresight,” but you probably wouldn’t say that, because you I’m not a sociopath. Perhaps that’s the next step for the GOP, though, as they seem certain to offend and alienate anyone who isn’t an irredeemable Trump cultist.
Every time the United States has invested something in education, it’s been a good investment. Free Public High School, The GI Bill, Public Universities, Pell Grants; without this sort of thing we wouldn’t have beaten Russia to the moon or invented the iPhone. Expensive educations don’t always work well for everyone, sure, and $10,000 in student loan waivers won’t fix everything that’s wrong with our higher education system. But it’s a start.
Not everyone can go to university. Not everyone chooses to go to university. That’s fine. But every American, whether they went to college or not, benefits immensely from things that we wouldn’t have, things that wouldn’t exist, without a lot of people who did go to college.
So I hope none of you accept the GOP’s cynical, selfish attempt to drive even more of a wedge between college-educated voters and those who haven’t gone to college. Education is a national resource, as are functioning farms and regional disaster relief. We all benefit when our national resources are well managed. Unfortunately, our higher education system is not particularly well managed compared to that of our international competitors. This package of student debt relief will contribute to this.
Jonathan Wolf is a civil litigation attorney and author of: Your debt-free JD (partner link). He taught legal writing, wrote for a wide variety of publications, and made it his business and pleasure to be financially and scientifically literate. All the views he expresses are likely to be pure gold, but none the less his own and should not be attributed to any organization to which he is affiliated. He wouldn’t want to share the credit anyway. He can be reached at [email protected].