03 December 2011
If American are so smart, how come so many are so broke?
Americans believe that the path to success starts with a good education. With a college degree, they theorize, anything is possible: The American Dream of owning a home, full coverage health insurance, two cars, 2.5 children, and, of course, sending them off to college. But colleges have resisted downsizing during the recession and have instead opted to raise tuitions year after year. In short, colleges are one of the last bastions of American bloat, full of professors, administrators, even campus cops who earn relatively extravagant salaries for their relaxed lifestyles.
It's all very pricey these days if you're a student or parent, particularly if you're opting for the "right school." So to pay for all the fat at the top, many young Americans (and in some cases their parents) are taking on student loans -- big, scary loans that cost, in some cases, as much as the price of a small home. And the problem it is exactly that debt that prevents many students from obtaining the very dream they seek. Perhaps too many of them are getting degrees in low-paying professions such as journalism at a time when more engineers are needed. What choice do those workers have when they are downsized but to return for more education, perhaps taking out more loans? Whatever the problem, one factor in the shaky economy, where unemployment is still hovering around 8 percent, is the $1 trillion in outstanding student debt on the backs of many Americans who might be surprised to learn that jobs driving big rig trucks and fishing the Alaska coast for crab might give them the $100,000 a year they think they deserve -- without any of the student debt. What's the government doing to help these debt-saddled saps? Very little, if anything. As the Occupy Wall Street protesters argue, politicians in America are these days in the back pocket of lobbyists for banks, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to politicians who receive insider information on stock trades and, unlike chief executive officers, are allowed to act on them. Politicians in America offer bailouts to corporations, but not to paupers who are over educated.