Being Right: Where’s My Handout?



Kyle Gavin

Anyone who has been listening to the riff raff of Occupy Wall Street lately knows that student loan debt is one of the biggest problems facing young people today. In fact, two of the demands of the movement call for the abolishment of debt and free college tuition for all. Many of the Occupy Wall Street loons are young, unemployed, debt-ridden and fawning over the idea of “hope and change” from three years ago. It should come as no surprise then that the Obama administration decided to come to the rescue of the unwashed masses of Occupy Wall Street last week when the administration announced a plan to ease the burden of student loan debt.

The amount of student loan debt will reach one trillion dollars by the end of the year and has already eclipsed credit card debt as the second largest source of debt in this country. The Obama plan will radically alter how much debtors have to pay back. The amount of yearly loan repay­ments will be capped at ten percent of the borrower’s income and the life of the loan cannot exceed twenty years. According to a Fox News study, a person who takes out $212,000 in loans and takes an entry level job at a nonprofit making $25,000 a year will only have a yearly payment of $1,411. If the person keeps a similar income level for twenty years then they will pay back $28,220. This represents 13 percent of what they borrowed, so they can walk away from 87 percent of their debt.

The media likes to sensationalize the student debt crisis by saying that the Class of 2010 was the most indebted graduating class in history. Apparently, the average mem­ber of the Class of 2010 graduated with $24,000 in debt. I recognize that $24,000 is not pocket money, but it should easily be serviceable if the individual studied anything that gave them a marketable skill. My answer to the Occupy Wall Street protestors who are bemoaning the fact that they did what they were told by going to college, even though they probably majored in communications and minored in arts and crafts, and cannot find a job is: Wel­come to the global economy. We live in a technical world that requires technical degrees and skills. If your passion is to teach kindergarteners how to spell their names for the next forty years, then you have no business taking out $200,000 in debt to go to a private college. Many public universities offer educations that are just as good if not bet­ter than private schools. If your heart is set on going to a private college, then go to a community college and then transfer in two years. I am sure that disciplines such as Me­dieval History are fascinating, but as my father is fond of saying, “that kind of degree and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.”

If you happen to be someone who took out $200,000 in loans and foolishly pursued a degree in sociology and are now blaming “the banks” because you cannot get a job, then I beg you to please stop. There is no bank out there that held a gun to someone’s head and told them to take on $200,000 in debt in order to major in liberal studies. These people have no one to blame but themselves.

The troubling thing about the Obama plan is that it is only going to add to this country’s sense of entitlement. It is fundamentally wrong to tell people that it is okay to walk away from 87 percent of your debt. I was always under the impression that a loan is a contract and that a person is honor bound to pay it back. You have given your word. The fact of the matter is that someone who took out $200,000 in debt to major in Gender Studies deserves the debt that they have incurred. They will get no pity from this writer.

Contact Kyle Gavin at [email protected]