Student Debt: Is it more than a Political Issue?

Student debt is a mess. The total owed to the federal government is $1,700,000,000,000.00. An entire book could be written about it, and I’ll attempt to hit highlights (or lowlights) in a page or two.

A student loan should be like any other loan: you borrow money, you pay it back. And historically, many poor students from inner cities, rural areas, and Appalachia, for example, borrowed money from a bank to get a good education. And the extra income from a good job meant they could pay off the loan quickly and get on with their lives.

The student loan business became a mess when the federal government got heavily involved, passing rules, and eventually taking over 90% of the loans.

Let’s start by saying perhaps 10% of these former students have a legitimate reason for not being able to repay the loan. Severe illness, a tragic accident, or they were fraudulently talked into a big loan for a worthless education at a private for-profit school.

The other 90% ought to pay up. College graduates are in a much better income situation than the average person without a degree. The unemployment rate for college graduates is 2%. There are 11 million open jobs. There is no reason why they can’t repay their debt to the federal government.

Suppose President Biden lets you walk away from your part of the $1.7 TRILLION debt. Who will pay it? The debt you signed for will end up being paid by workers who never attended college and college graduates who managed their finances and paid off their student loans. Do you think that’s fair? If Biden cancels $5000 of debt for all 44,000,000 who owe money, should he also give $5000 to ones who already paid off their loans? Maybe the most unfair part of forgiving a loan is that a third of the debt is owed by wealthy families. Doctors, lawyers, and other high salaried graduates hold 40% of the debt.

One suggestion is that if you insist on forgiveness of your student loan, the college should cover at least a third of that cost. “No, no, no!” they would yell. Would colleges allow another feasible plan? As part of their continuing fundraising from alumni, encourage them to contribute to an account that would help pay off loans run up by other alumni. No, colleges only want contributions to help present and future students. Or suppose a wealthy alum offers $25,000,000.00. It’s likely that person wants his/her name on a building rather than simply sharing it among other alumni to help pay off student debt. And the college leaders would fiercely agree.

Student loans should be approved based on the expectations of the recipient paying it off. This is how all other loans operate. For most students, this is the first loan they ever signed for. Paying it off quickly is a good lesson that would serve the rest of their lives. Can you believe a fourth of these loans are owed by grads over 50 years old? They ought to be embarrassed by having their pictures published. A lot of ‘em retired before paying off what they owe. Did they learn nothin’ in college?

Credit: some of this information is from “Forbes Advisor” (Apr. 5, 2022), and the “NY Post” (Apr. 24, 2022).

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“The only salvation I can see for the young is to increase the college term to an additional four years. Give ’em four more years in college, and it will save parents an awful lot of worry, too. Just think of taking a son or a daughter off your hands for another four years. You’ll say, ‘Well, what could they learn in another four years?’ Well, there must be some little something about making a living that they haven’t learned yet, and they could kind of work on that for the next four years.” Radio, June 2, 1935

Hurrah for [Treasury Secretary Andrew] Mellon for answering, today, the Faculties of Columbia and Princeton on debt cancellation. It almost takes a sense of humor for college professors to advise Mellon on money matters.” DT #200, March 17, 1927  (this “debt” was owed by allies in WWI, not students)

A Potpourri for Easter: Twitter, Innocent Border Patrol Agents, Busloads and Planeloads, Ukraine, and Income Taxes 

Elon Musk has Twitter all shook up. He offered $54.20 a share, which is about a 10% profit for anyone willing to sell. Everybody at Twitter, including the Board of Directors, is scared he might force Twitter to allow a few conservative commentators to share the platform with the likes of socialists, communists and terrorist leaders from around the world.

The Board is so mad they passed a rule that if Musk buys more than about one-sixth of the shares, then any shareholder can buy all the shares they want for $40 each. Now I don’t claim to understand such a rule. But you better believe, if Elon Musk backs away completely from Twitter, the bias has been exposed and they’ll be lucky to get $40 a share.

Have you heard apologies from top officials and the media who criticized the Border Patrol employees on horseback at Del Rio for doing their job? I wrote in Weekly Comments Sept. 26, 2021, (“Don’t Blame a Horse in Texas”) that elected officials were outraged. Even though the photographer explained within 3 days there was no “whipping,” a government investigation dragged on for seven months before announcing there was no wrong-doing. Those Border Patrol agents were kept off the job for seven months.

Back in September, VP Harris said she was “outraged” and it reminded her of the treatment of Native Americans and slaves. Has she apologized? Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas was shocked by the “horrific image.” Did he apologize to his employees and the nation? And President Biden said “these people will pay.” Well, they have paid! But don’t expect the President or anyone else to apologize for wrongly accusing them.

Speaking of Texas, the Governor has sent 4 busloads of illegal immigrants to Washington DC as of today. Only 896 more busloads to go. So far, none of them have been invited to have dinner at the White House.

Meanwhile, Biden is sneaking planeloads from the Texas border to a New York City suburb in the middle of the night. If the Biden Administration has their way, in their first two years in power 5,000,000 illegal immigrants will have settled here. That’s about 3 times the population of the state of West Virginia. Imagine if those 5 million had their own state; they would elect 6 Congressmen and 2 Senators. You may say, “But they can’t vote.” The Biden response would be, “Well, not yet.”

Putin’s war on Ukraine has reached 54 days. President Zelensky and his fellow citizens are determined to drive the Russians completely out of Ukraine, including Crimea. Now, the Ukraine government is not perfect; they have a history of poor management. Some Americans object to providing any more military assistance, partly because of the cost. If we help Ukraine defeat Putin and put him out of power, our cost will be a tiny fraction of what it would cost us, with other NATO countries, to defeat Putin. The thousands of innocent victims Putin’s men have slaughtered are enough reason for our help. The sooner Putin is defeated, tried and convicted as a War Criminal for genocide, the sooner we can shift our attention to the expansion-minded Chinese Communists. Will Rogers was in China 90 years ago and recognized a danger, “There is quite a big communistic hold in certain parts of China. The influence is growing rapidly.”

Have you finished your Income Tax Return? It might be painful; if you’re in the top 10%, you are paying 70% of all the federal income taxes collected. And President Biden thinks (and whispers) you’re still not paying “your fair share.” But he won’t say what that would be. Should the top 10% pay 80% of our taxes? How about 90%?

Easter, Passover and Income Tax Day rarely share the same weekend. Years ago, families dressed up fancier to go to church on Easter than they do today. The women would wear a new dress and especially a new ‘Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it.’ In 1929 Will Rogers had an interesting suggestion to increase church attendance, “I believe I discovered a way to aid preachers in getting people to church. Publish their pictures in the papers every Monday, instead of just on the day after Easter. There is no reason why people should have to wait from one Easter to another.”

Maybe if we all filled out our tax returns on Sunday afternoon, we would have fewer people like the ones Will Rogers jokingly referred to in 1923, “The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”

Let’s Laugh a Little. Otherwise, We Would Cry

April is National Humor Month. As Will Rogers wrote in 1931, “Get a few laughs, do the best you can, take nothing serious.” For this column, let’s ignore serious problems here at home and in Ukraine. And believe me, they are serious.

We’re always learning new words. President Biden’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, has to be precise with statements and answers to reporters’ questions. Commenting on immigrants who illegally entered, she said they ‘irregularly’ entered. I guess they gave up on getting us to call them ‘undocumented.’ Now they are just ‘irregular.’

Congress got word that the Texas Governor is sending 900 busloads of ‘irregular’ immigrants to Washington, DC. So, they decided to leave town for two weeks. All except Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She will stay to meet the buses and tell ‘em, “I want everybody to go home.”

Sorry, Maxine, the homeless you told to go home last week in Los Angeles didn’t go home. And neither will these folks. They will all want to camp out on the Mall, right there in front of the Capitol and the White House. Those 900 buses can transport about 35,000 of ‘em. To be representative, among the 35,000, there should be a few hundred MS-13 gang members with pockets full of fentanyl.

President Biden hasn’t decided how to handle 35,000 Mall campers. He has been letting Governors deal with the 3,000,000,000 who crossed the border since he took office. With the expected surge next month, if Governor Abbott can round up enough buses and drivers, the President can expect 35,000 more every two days. Imagine a Memorial Day celebration on the Mall with a million ‘irregulars.’ And all of them talking on their free cell phones. It’ll be a regular ‘irregular’ Tower of Babel. (Genesis 11:1–9)

The folks who run Disney decided to take on the Governor of Florida. They declared, “If you won’t let teachers show and tell 5-year-olds all about LGBTQIA, then we’ll do it. We’ll slip it into kid’s cartoons and parents won’t ever know.” Well, I kinda doubt if Walt would approve. In 1933, Will Rogers wrote this about his friend, “We were all down to a mighty fine dinner they gave to Walter Disney.  He is the Sire and Dam of that gift to the world, ‘Mickey Mouse.’”  I’m darned sure those Disney folks today would demand I replace “Sire and Dam” with “birthing person.”

Exactly a hundred years ago, a high government official accepted a bribe to give two friends a special deal on a valuable resource owned by the federal government. That act did not bring down President Harding, but it ruined his reputation. Today we’re wondering if special financial deals over many years for the current President’s family members might force Biden to resign.

The scandal of 1922 was called the Teapot Dome. The Secretary of the Interior secretly leased oil rights from government petroleum reserves in Wyoming and California to Harry Sinclair and Edward Doheny in exchange for cash gifts. I’m sure those cash gifts were nowhere near the $20,000,000 the Bidens have reportedly received from China, Ukraine and Russia.  If the Biden Clan can avoid convictions until Jan. 20, 2025, the “Big Guy” and his family will leave the White House laughing…. all the way to the bank.

Concerning laughter, Greg Kozera, a good friend and fellow professional speaker, wrote that laughter is good for our health. He suggested turning off the News for a while and watching reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies. I also love those old shows, like The Real McCoys, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction. One thing about Jed Clampett and the Beverly Hillbillies: there will be a few people who will refuse to watch it because they can’t stand the idea of anyone becoming rich from oil.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“With the politicians horning in, our comedian business is overcrowded.” WA #524, Jan. 1, 1935

Weekly Comments: Purposely Ruining the Country?

Will Rogers famously said, “I’m not a member of any organized political party… I’m a Democrat.” In my talks, that line always gets a big laugh.

Will was even-handed and usually neutral in elections, not favoring either side. They will all do the best they can. None of them from any party are going to purposely ruin the country.” (WA #289, July 8, 1928)

Lately, I’ve been pondering on that phrase, ‘purposely ruin the country.’ Up until 2020, of the 45 Presidents I doubt than any set out to ruin the country. Oh, maybe one or two. But the country survived any problems over the last 245 years. Not only survived, but thrived.

Like the majority of Americans, I’ve begun to question the current Biden/Harris Administration. Do you think the following actions might be intended to ‘purposely ruin the country’ as we knew it?

  1. On the first day in office, President Biden declared war on the industry that supplies 80% of our energy. Perhaps that seemed like a logical boost for solar and wind energy. But the passage of time (as V-P Harris might say), has shown how dangerous it is to sacrifice ‘energy independence’ and become dependent on enemy nations, including Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
  2. Biden stopped construction on the border wall that was intended to serve as the major deterrent to illegal immigration. And all policies related to illegal immigration can accurately be called an ‘Open Border’ policy. Biden named V-P Harris to be in charge of our border with Mexico, but in reality, the ones in charge are the Mexican Drug Cartels. Since January 2021, at least 3,000,00,000 illegal immigrants from over 150 countries are now scattered throughout the nation. This includes repeat criminals, gang members, and drug lords. Fentanyl has become the leading cause of death for Americans 18 to 45 years old. Further loosening of border security next month will cause the flood of illegal immigrants to double or triple.
  3. Our foreign policy is a mess. The exit from Afghanistan (which was a good idea) was bungled, leaving behind thousands of Americans and Afghan friends, Billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, and the strategically important Bagram Air Base. Our weakness on the world stage led directly to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Unless Putin is run out of Ukraine, the Chinese Communists figure they can take over Taiwan without any concrete resistance from us. Instead of leading the Free World, we’re not even, as President Obama once said, leading from behind.
  4. On COVID-19, I’m reluctant to criticize except for a couple of decisions. No one would have predicted, two years ago, that we would still be dealing with variants. But too much ‘printing press money’ ($2,000,000,000,000.00) was handed out to states and individuals. Many states still have funds they haven’t figured out how to spend. Fraud was rampant. Giving free money to people who weren’t producing anything contributed to inflation, supply chain problems and empty shelves. Teachers’ unions set policy for the CDC, which kept most schools closed much longer than necessary. Reluctance to blame the Chinese government added to the problem. Could it be because the Biden family has collected millions under the table from China? Inquisitive Americans are “hunting” for answers.
  5. Crime has increased in many states and cities because of anti-police policies and turning dangerous criminals loose on their own recognizance. Stealing is legal if it’s under $1000. President Biden has not condemned these policies nor tried to correct them.
  6. Inflation is over 7%. A couple of items mentioned above are the main cause. A new Biden plan to give people more cash to help pay the higher prices would make it worse. At a time when we need at least two million more qualified workers, higher taxes on individuals and companies in the budget submitted this week would reduce production and create fewer new jobs. Have you ever heard of a poor person hiring anyone?

You are welcome to disagree with these points. Please don’t claim I’m a traitor to Will Rogers’ philosophy. Will freely expressed his opinions about policies and decisions by the people in charge. Also, he never joked about anyone’s appearance, including bald heads. And as far as I know, he never got slapped in the face.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“(President) Roosevelt ain’t going to ruin the country. The Constitution will remain as is. The Russians are not going to take us.”  WA #655, July 14, 1935