There might be many reasons to not like college-loan forgiveness proposals by Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Fairness might be one. Cost might be another. Personal responsibility could be debated, too.
"Nobody forgave MY student loans," is not one.
In fact, it is the lamest and laziest reason possible.
Yet, if you inhabit the world of Facebook and talk-radio as I sadly do, this seems to be a driving reason why aggrieved middle-aged people (is there anything else on those two platforms?) oppose forgiving the $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loans in the U.S.
No word if these aggrieved middle-agers have a problem with government bailouts of Wall Street, banks, farmers, automakers and dozens of other groups with their hands out for taxpayer money.
There seems to be a lot of "back in my day" going on, as if what happened 30 or 40 years ago in higher education has any bearing on what's happening today. It doesn't. The cost of college has risen at an outlandish rate, wages haven't kept pace and Republican-controlled state legislatures have often slashed higher ed funding, shifting a heavier financial burden to students.
While the stories from aggrieved middle-agers about slaving at a $3-an-hour job while living in a rat-infested cardboard box and eating cockroaches to get through college are mildly entertaining, they have nothing to do with current reality. You could do that and scrape out a loan-free college education, or close to it, in the 1970s and '80s. You can't today.
And that's the point, partially, of what Sanders and Warren are proposing.
The average cost of yearly tuition and fees at a public, four-year school in 1971 was about $500 for an undergraduate. In 2019 dollars, that would be roughly $3,100. Instead, the actual average cost of tuition and fees at a public university is more $10,000 a year. Figure in housing, food, transportation and books and students today are looking at $20,000-$30,000 a year, and more than $100,000 for four years.
Working at McDonald's and eating insects isn't going to cover that.
So spare us the stories from 1982.
This isn't about aggrieved middle-agers, anyway. It's about younger generations and trying to figure out a way to keep them from being buried in mountains of debt, crippled financially for most of their lives because they wanted a college education.
It's the crazy idea of trying to make life better for our children and grandchildren. Oddly, though, there seems to be an awful lot of people who want their kids to suffer as they did.
Maybe debt forgiveness is a better way to do things. Maybe not.
Or maybe free public colleges are the answer. Or capping interest rates. Or radically increasing state funding. Or eliminating some campuses altogether.
Or maybe not.
But there are a thousand ideas worthy of discussion when it comes to the cost of college and the debt that comes with it.
How a bunch of aggrieved middle-agers scraped by 40 years ago is not one of them.