Student Loan Reform Misses the Point — We Always Attack Financial Problems From the Wrong Angle

Okay, so Common Sense Conspiracy is no stranger to stirring the pot a little bit from time to time, but we want to address a hot button issue in this critical election year that is rising to the forefront as one of the biggest issues.  Student loan reform.  This is one of those fascinating runaway trains that no one heard about until the pot was hopelessly boiled over.  Think back five or ten years.  No one was talking about student loans.  Now, it’s all the rage these days, and there’s a reason for it.  But the government is not looking at this with their heart (okay, maybe that’s not the right word for those life-sucking bastards) in the right place.

Let’s face the facts.  Both sides of the political fence are doing the posturing that they are because it’s election year.  Nobody really gives a steaming crap about the burden that is on middle-class families.  That is, not until it is time to vote.  And both sides want to pull a rabbit out a hat just in time for November to show the people they really understand what they are going through.  But to really understand is not to sympathize, but to understand how we got where we are.

People took student loans out to pay for their education, but the expectation was that this would put them in a better situation to get a higher-paying job when their education was complete, allowing them to pay the loans back in due time and come out better in the long run.  But so many people out there are either unemployed or working in jobs that have nothing to do with their education because of the climate of the job market in our country today.  So, a lot of graduates are growing up to find the real world isn’t exactly as advertised.  And now they have student loans in some cases that amount to having another house payment to worry about.  Meanwhile, trades are exploding, and people that took roads that were once looked down upon are making good money without having student loan baggage to hold them down.  And yet, going to college is considered an absolute necessity in our society still.

Here’s an amazing concept.  Maybe we should look at the cost of college education as the problem.  If the government wants to make a positive impact, maybe they could take a cold, hard look at tuition and expenses across the country and stop them from spiraling out of control.  But the government never looks at things from this angle.  Take health care.  The concept behind President Obama’s much debated universal health care is that the problem is that not enough people have health care.  This means too many people are sticking doctors and hospitals with the bill, which of course, gets passed on to everyone in rate hikes.  If everyone had insurance, everyone would pay and prices would go down.  A great concept, but did anyone think that maybe it would be even more successful to simply take a cold, hard look at the charges that hospitals levy for services and not allow it to continue.  $100 Tylenol pills?  $1500 a night for a hospital room?  Could it be that the problem starts at the source and filters down?  Sure, if you don’t have insurance, you may very well be sticking the rest of us with your bills, because you have to have the care, they have to give it to you, and they are going to charge outlandishly high rates that you won’t be able to pay.  Meanwhile, those that do have insurance get to watch their insurers haggle to get out of paying for anything they can.  Universal health care should mean no more worrying, but it doesn’t.  It just means that everyone will have it.

The government will come up with some sexy plan to help middle class families shoulder the burden of student loan debt.  It will make them look good and pile up some votes in November.  But what will it do for the future?  What will it do for the next crop of graduates that find themselves in the same situation?  Bandaids will stop the bleeding, but they will not stop the disease.  The government has to stop treating the symptoms and get down to what really ails us.