The college debt “crisis” is a moral question, but it is the opposite of what Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, AOC, and most of the Democratic presidential field are claiming.
An individual forgiving a debt they voluntarily entered into with a friend or family is noble and Christian and laudable. This sort of debt forgiveness happens routinely. I’ve done it. I’ve had it done.
Government eliminating debt is immoral. Here’s why.
If I loan someone money, and for whatever reason I choose to forgive that debt, that is my right and it is supported in the Bible. It is certainly part of American tradition, and actually may be far broader than that. It is a good and noble act, if I judge it is not enabling bad behavior. It is my choice because it is both my money and I voluntarily made the loan to the person.
But that is not at all what is being contemplated in this debate over forgiveness of student debt by Democratic politicians. First, of course, there is the need to label it a “crisis.” That is always step one for the next terrible government intervention idea.
What causes the confusion, however, is that the language is misleading when politicians say “we” should forgive this huge student debt issue. If they meant themselves as individuals, then terrific. But they most certainly do not. In truth, they intend to benefit and perhaps profit off this, not sacrifice.
Of course the concept is alluring if you are a college student with a lot of debt and know very little of the real world. Most all of us have debt and at times struggle with it. Who would not like their debt wiped out?
But when the “we” is the government, it means that the government will forcibly take one person’s money, to pay off the debt of another person. This is egregious behavior. The person whose money is being taken did not make the loan, consent to the loan, or necessarily even think the loan was a good idea.
The students and their parents voluntarily entered into those debts in return for the college degrees they obtained. They signed on the bottom line to take money to pay for something of value to them, and promised to pay it back. They knew at each step the cost they were incurring.
They were then loaned the money — with the promise they would pay it back — obtained the thing of value with that money, and now they and some politicians want Americans unrelated to the decision to take out the loan and getting value from the product to pay off the debt…while the students keep the thing of value.
This is egregious. But all the media will ever do is interview students with high debt loads and low-paying jobs. That paints a distorted picture, which of course is what it is intended to do.
I have sons who are plumbers. These young men chose not to go to college and take on debt. They work very hard, often in the Florida heat, and they actually make pretty decent money. They have no debt. I have another son working up the management ranks at Publix grocery stores, and he works long and odd hours. And another son who went to college and has nearly paid off his debt, again with a lot of hard work and now runs his own company — as one of my plumber sons does.
They have friends who are working to get nursing degrees and law enforcement training without taking on debt.
Now the politicians looking to make political hay on college debt forgiveness need to explain how it is moral that these people, and the millions like them, should be forced to pay off the debts of those who voluntarily went to college, and voluntarily took on the debt and now have a degree.
They need to explain the morality that nurses, police, firefighters, plumbers, electricians, A/C repairers, roadworkers, carpenters, roofers, block-layers, secretaries, etc. should be forced to pay off strangers’ college debts that they have no association with.
They need to explain how it is moral to force all who went to college ahead of this current crop, who all either paid off their loans or are getting close, to be forced to also pay off the loans of someone else. My wife and I paid off our loans. Sure the debts were smaller, as were the incomes. But it took a few years — while both my wife and I worked nearly full-time during college to keep them low.
If individuals want to forgive loans, that is their right and it is laudable. If banks and creditors want to, that is their right and their choice. But for the government to step in and do it — meaning all working Americans have to chip in — then we have a very different but clear-cut moral issue.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.