Thursday, February 11, 2016
Free College: The Bernie Speculation Plan
As the Democratic primaries continue and the race tightens, an exploration of some of the campaign promises by the candidates is necessary to differentiate fact from fiction. One of the biggest claims by Bernie Sanders is to offer free college to all Americans.
‘Free College’ is something that every parent, college student, graduate, or dropout can relate to and some on an even more guttural level than others. Student loan debt, after all, is the one kind of debt that cannot be forgiven by a bankruptcy. Buttress this harsh reality with the narrative of the billionaire class having their way with government and the allure of the promise of free college is indeed hard to resist.
All of Bernie’s plans are first explained by how it’s not radical because everyone else in the world is doing it or giving it away. Certainly, when comparing the current costs of higher education, something has to change, but, is the Sanders plan for ‘Free College’ even feasible?
Sanders’ plan for ‘Free College’ at first glance seems both concrete and sensible. There are actually very relevant arguments he makes for changing the current system. It’s how he pays for ‘Free College’ that should concern every parent and potential college student. This revenue stream he has selected to pay for this ‘Free College’ plan is not just unstable, it’s irresponsible.
The tax is on Wall Street speculation. That sounds great! Of course, part of Bernie’s Wall Street reforms also targets reducing the irresponsible speculation he’s going to tax to pay for his ‘Free College’ plan. That doesn’t make a great deal of sense, now does it? But, the plan is banking on American’s anger at the Wall Street bailout in order to sell it as being realistic.
There’s more to be concerned about with this ‘Free College’ plan. There are currently colleges and universities in the State of Illinois that aren’t even receiving the necessary tax revenues to fund their school budgets. This is forcing layoffs, creating program and service cuts, and potentially shuttering institutions of higher education, all because of a budget stalemate between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Legislature. All of this with no regard for students, communities, or the longterm cost to the state or the citizens.
To summarize the Bernie Sanders ‘Free College’ plan, he pays for it with a tax on irresponsible Wall Street speculation and expects potentially irresponsible governors, legislatures, and Congress to not gut higher education if given the opportunity. I’m sorry, but our collective future depends on higher education. We don’t need irresponsible plans dependent upon irresponsible revenue streams governed by irresponsible politicians to make a reality. We all know what happens when irresponsible people are allowed to do what they want. We all suffer.
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