What seems to get lost in the debate over student loan debt is the very idea of student loan debt. That is, the fixation on restructuring student loan terms circumvents the real issue: Education is now a money-making enterprise more than a societal virtue.
Learning has always been a civilizing force—why must it be a capitalist industry? Shouldn’t some things be elevated above mere profit? The argument cannot be made at this point that athletic programs alone drive up tuition costs at some schools. While this is true in some cases, the national trend for the last few decades has not been a reduction in tuition. And where there is honey, one will find bears.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Even as the growth of student debt stirs debate on everything from whether the government should move to ease borrowers’ burden to the ability to discharge obligations through bankruptcy, some banks are jockeying for position to lend to students.”
Easy victims, in other words.
That not a single politician seems to address the problem of tuition fees (which necessitate student loans) is abhorrent. Ron Paul believes that dismantling the Department of Education and counting on smaller banks to lend to students will solve the problem. Real change, however, will not arrive through a kinder interest rate and less predatory student lending, but through a paradigm shift in how we view education.
It wasn’t always this way, this extremely monetized version of education. It can be changed, all it takes is the political will and courage to speak out. But the same can be said of the healthcare system. As we’ve seen, it’s easier said than done.
[Image: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File]