Sep 122010
Authors: Samuel Lustgarten

From nation to state, our infantile understanding of the “free-market” undermines our right to freedom.

Our right to an education is threatened. Will we do anything about?

We are the generation that watched the toppling of Iraq’s despotism. Subsequently, we are the generation that is lazily watching the rise of a new tyrannical power in our own country — the maniacal banker.

Banks open their hearts and their wallets. Payment plans for loans are discussed and your signature sells the soul.

As a populace, we’ve come to understand this as customary interaction as the price for a higher education. Universities like CSU campaign on a message of value. But this financial sorcery isn’t convincing.

With record unemployment and rising tuition (increasing faster than inflation), we’re going to falter.

A class warfare that John McCain frequently and sardonically refers to, will occur. When low to middle-income households no longer can afford to assist their beloved children’s education costs, will our generation simply watch?

From gender to race to disabilities, universities are stomping grounds for liberal equality.

Despite this forward thinking, affluence prevails at universities. The educated caste is perpetuated.

I needn’t look further than my roommate, Paul Cyr. A happy-go-lucky senior economics major with a heart of gold, Paul wasn’t afforded the privilege of a parent’s paycheck supplementing the cost of college.

Like many seniors, he’ll be graduating in 2011 with debt. He’s an open book when we talk about the burden he’ll be facing: “$80,000 in variable interest.”

While some debt is subsidized (interest begins post-graduation) by the federal government at 4.5 percent, most is unsubsidized (the clock is ticking) at 8 percent. Conceivably, his debt, with interest over time, will cost $160,000.

The average U.S. salary is about $45,000.

I’m flashing back to the Reconstruction Era. “Freed,” southern African-Americans would be “offered” plots of land. But the land was taxed at such high rates that slavery effectively continued.

This sharecropping is comparable with today’s “freedom” or “right” to an education.

When asked how he’ll repay the debt, Paul quips, “I could see myself in debt for the rest of my life — just from student loans. Money will be a large factor in what job I decide.”

We won’t be free until the enslavement of students has ended.

At the request of insolvent banks, the Troubled Asset Relief Program offered practically interest-free credit to the banking industry. Traditionally, thrifty American taxpayers injected billions of dollars, saving jobs and corporations. In turn, the corporations have rewarded this generosity with succulent 25 percent interest credit cards and 8 percent student loans.

The banking industry spreads a message of necessity. Such lending practices must continue at the threat of losing jobs. Damage the credit market and you’ve condemned thousands.

Perhaps. Or perhaps we cleanse America’s thirst for credit.

One debt that cannot be quenched is student loans. They’re the foundation of lower to middle-income students.

As much as we’d like to be responsible debtors, student loans have now surpassed credit card debt at around $829 billion.
There are a couple of solutions.

One, devalue the importance of higher education. Suddenly a college degree isn’t important for jobs. Instead, employers look for experience and technical skill. Emphasize community college. Let local, two-year schools serve as a plateau for higher stomping grounds. Suggest a year off from academic life proceeding K-12; instead, work. If indecisive about career paths, don’t spend a penny treading in academic endeavors.

Two, rid ourselves of institutionalized debt. Socialize education, progressively tax the income brackets and invest in this generation and those to follow.

America is beautiful. We can, at will, educate ourselves and receive a college degree. Regardless of our income bracket, we are granted this right.

If only, in return, a pound of flesh wasn’t required.

Samuel Lustgarten is a senior psychology major. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

 Posted by at 2:21 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.